In a much smaller, yet often used venue on Apple’s campus at 1 Infinite Loop, CEO Tim Cook and his team announced the smaller iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7-inch model, with just as much performance as their bigger brothers. Plus an update to AppleTV, iOS 9.3, and a firm stand against the FBI’s attempt to backdoor their software.
“We build the iPhone for you, our customers, and we know it is a deeply personal device … but how much power should the government have over our data and ourselves? We believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data & your privacy we will not shrink from that responsibility.” – Tim Cook
Tim Cook acted mostly as a master of ceremonies today, introducing each member of his team, with a few new faces. But before he did, the Apple CEO came out right away and addressed the elephant in the room … Apple’s staunch defense of privacy by refusing to provide the FBI with a back door to iOS.
As you may recall, the FBI has gone to court to force Apple to create a backdoor into iOS and to break open the encryption for a single iPhone 5C that was used by a terrorist in a recent attack. Apple’s position is that if you open up the encryption for one iPhone, you open up all iPhones and Cook’s determined to fight the order all the way to the US Supreme Court.
After that strong statement, Apple spent about 15 minutes crowing about environmental progress, where all facilities and stores in the US are powered by 100% renewable energy and 93% worldwide. A new robot named Liam, which was created to tear apart iPhones for reuse and recycling. They also announced that moving forward, Apple will be working towards a goal of 100% reusable paper packaging on all Apple products. Here’s a video of Liam via Mashable.
They also announced that since it’s release last year, their health initiative Research Kit has made strikes in helping diagnose Parkinson’s Disease, autism and diabetes. They also announced a new software kit called “Care Kit,” which they hope will help patience manage their own health care. The first app is one for testing the progression of Parkinson’s. It’ll be available next month.
We also got announcements of housekeeping updates to the TVOS for Apple TV, which will not allow you to log in with voice dictation of your password, and organize the more than 5000 apps now available through folders, and an update on iOS 9.3, which allows users to password protect their Apple Notes, and a new Night Shift feature that will shift the glow of the LCD screen to a warmer tone to make it easier to fall asleep.
Then we headed into the toys. Frankly, from a mobile filmmaking stand point, there really wasn’t much to write home to mother about. The first announcement was expected, that of a new, smaller iPhone SE. The iPhone SE has a 4-inch retina screen, for people who want a more compact iPhone experience, but under the hood, it’s a smaller iPhone 6S, with the same 64 bit A9 processor M9 Motion coprocessor.
It has the same 12 megapixel iSight Camera for shooting of 4K video, plus 1080p at up to 60fps, and slo-mo at 240 fps. So if you like shooting with a smaller screen, then the iPhone SE may meet your mobile filmmaking needs, although after upgrading to my iPhone 6S Plus, with its larger screen and built-in optical image stabilizer, I can’t imagine ever going back.
But perhaps the biggest feature is the cost: Starting at $399 for the 16GB, $499 for the 64GB, the iPhone SE will be free with a 2-year contract, or $17 a month if you’re buying through Apple’s installment program. It will be available in Silver. Gold. Space Gray. and Rose Gold. Pre Orders begin on March 24th, with shipping a week later on March 31st.
Next came the other smaller mobile device we all expected, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and it looks like the iPad Pro may start to supplant the iPad Air as Apple’s dominant tablet device. It’s essentially a smaller version of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with all the same refinements including the 64 bit A9x processor with a 12 core GPU, which Apple says gives users greater graphics performance than an XBox 360.
It also comes with the M9 CoProcessor, and is 25% brighter than the iPad Air 2 (about 500 nits) with 25% greater color saturation through it’s DCI P3 Color Gamut. That gives it the same resolution and color accuracy as the 5K iMac.
Running iOS 9.3, the iPad Pro will also have Night Shift through it’s TrueTone display, which will measure the ambient lighting of its surroundings and then adjust the display for its best view to watch and read.
Other features include 4 speaker pro audio, smart connector, and support for Apple Pencil. For filmmakers (if you use the iPad for that), the 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes with the same 12 MP iSight Camera for 4K video, TrueTone Flash, 5 MP Facetime HD camera, Live Photos, and LTE Advanced. Available in Silver, Gold, Space Gray, and Rose Gold. Starts at $599 32GB $749 128GB $899 256GB. Available March 31st.
Other announcements included a drop in price for the iPad Air 2, starting at $299. That’s great news. Plus Apple is celebrating the success of the Apple Watch with a $50 price drop to the starting price. They added some new watch bands, including a new nylon woven model, sports leather, and a new black milanese loop design. There was also new accessories including a USB Camera adapter, SD Card Reader and Ethernet adapter for the iPad Pro.
Lastly, this was the last product announcement from the Apple HQ theater. Beginning in 2017, all product announcements will be held at the new Spaceship headquarters, which will launch after the 1st of the year. Meanwhile, we have expected huge product announcements coming around September, usually of the major iPhone update variety.