You may be aware (or perhaps you just don’t care!) that Apple will hold a media event on Monday night in California, at which the headline products are expected to be a 4-inch iPhone and an updated 9.7-inch iPad.
Due to excessive rumours online there may well be few surprises, besides the fact there’s not much to get truly excited about, it’s worth recapping what might be unveiled and pondering what Apple’s product lineup might comprise for the next six months until the iPhone 7 is unveiled.
A 4-inch “iPhone SE”
Many people have vocally bemoaned the lack of a latest-generation 4-inch device in the iPhone lineup, since the 5s started playing second fiddle to the 4.7-inch iPhone 6/6s and 5.5-inch 6 Plus/6S Plus. Anyone who prefers the smaller and less unwieldy size will no doubt welcome the new device as far as aesthetics and overall size is concerned.
But just why is Apple making such a fanfare over a smaller iPhone? While the 5s has been one of the top selling handsets in recent times, it’s beginning to look (and feel) a little long in the tooth, and also doesn’t support key services like Apple Pay. The 5s however remains a decent smartphone, but a move to the latest “A9” CPU, NFC wireless chip and other hardware, many people will have more affordable chance to pickup a very capable iPhone that doesn’t have the stigma of being “last year’s model”. Yes, apparently that is a very real phenomenon – as we all know, the majority of shoppers would prefer the latest phone even if it’s not as powerful as last year’s.
The iPhone SE may also help boost sales in markets like India and China, where there’s still a lot of room for growth in the mid-range segment.
iPad Pro 9.7-inch / iPad Air 3
The anticipated iPad Air 3 was sadly neglected last autumn; instead the iPad Pro made its debut to largely positive reviews, taking the iOS experience one step further on the road to a more desktop-like experience. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s certainly getting easier to work on desktop class apps with an iPad Pro, Pencil and keyboard, even if the Surface is arguably better at fulfilling that role.
Whatever the new iPad is called, it will no doubt borrow hardware from its larger brother, i.e. the Apple Pencil, four speakers that orient bass and treble based on tilt, and the magnetic “Smart Connector”. These additions will surely help differentiate the iPad Air from the (now most popular model) iPad Mini, which is just as capable in terms of hardware as the Air, albeit with a smaller screen.
An iTunes Refresh
Anyone who uses iTunes will know that the music player has become rather bloated, being the place to play offline and cloud-based music, sync devices, manage playlists, use the Apple Music service, and browse the iTunes Store. It can be unintuitive at times and will benefit from being simplified, streamlined, or perhaps even split into separate apps.
There is an excellent article on 9to5Mac.com discussing some of the ways in which iTunes could be given a makeover – highly recommended if you’re one of those people frustrated with Apple’s music software…
It’s very unlikely new Apple Watch hardware will be shown off tonight, however there is already a space grey milanese loop bracelet in the works, as well as some nylon military style bands and possibly more Hermes designs. A full Apple Watch update is expected in the autumn, so until then we’ll have to make do with some minor updates and perhaps a peek at the latest version of watchOS.
Don’t hold your breath on this one. Despite the fact that a MacBook Pro redesign really should be on the cards in the very near future, Apple doesn’t normally devote much stage time to its laptop and desktop computers unless there’s something tantalisingly new on offer – such as last year’s ultra-slim MacBook. The Mac range is also crying out for a new 5k Thunderbolt display as well as the latest generation of Intel Skylake CPUs.
You can watch the Apple Event (“Let us loop you in”) live at 5pm here.