Apple may not have held an event for its latest announcements, but it has certainly been an eventful morning in terms of rumored products launching. There’s also a lot left in the product pipeline that didn’t get announced (and would warrant an event). Here’s what we learned from today’s announcements:
For starters, we now know that Apple actually will pre-announce when the Apple Online Store is going down for several hours of ‘maintenance’ to update product pages. I was skeptical but optimistic yesterday. The mystery created hype like a small-scale Apple event, although anyone waiting for an iPad Pro 2 was disappointed.
Shortly before the store came back online, we saw the still rumored red iPhone teased by a Chinese retailer without confirmation one was coming today. Then came this year’s March iPhone announcement: Product RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in 128GB and 256GB capacities.
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Last year it was the iPhone SE in 16GB and 64GB capacities that got revealed in March. This year the iPhone SE doubles in storage to 32GB and 128GB without any other changes.
The red iPhone was first rumored to be coming as a new iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus model later this fall, before later being rumored to be a mid-cycle iPhone 7 option alongside a 128GB GB iPhone SE.
Apple also announced six new iPhone case colors.
Then there are the iPad announcements. Apple discontinued the iPad mini 2 (which uses the same A7 chip as the iPhone 5s) and increased the storage for the iPad mini 4 to 128GB at the same $399 price (or $529 for cellular). That’s easy enough to follow.
The 9.7-inch iPad announcement requires reading a little closer to get. Simply called iPad, this new 9.7-inch iPad replaces the originally priced $499 iPad Air 2 and starts at $329 (or $309 with education pricing). It drops the Air name but returns to the first iPad Air dimensions which means it’s thicker and heavier than the iPad Air 2.
iPad upgrade options include cellular for $459, 128GB for $429, or 128GB and cellular for $559.
The iPad Air 2 that it replaces in the lineup featured an A8X chip while the new iPad uses an A9 chip. For comparison, the iPad Pro models both use an A9X with better graphics performance (and both work with Apple Pencil and Smart Connector accessories unlike the new, cheaper iPad).
The year-old 9.7-inch iPad Pro and year-and-a-half-old 12.9-inch iPad Pro remain the flagship tablets in the lineup for now. An all-new 10.5-inch iPad and a spec-upgraded 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 are still rumored to be in the works. We’ll have to see which of the four device identifiers belong to the new budget iPad.
For now, the iPad lineup includes iPad mini 4, iPad, and iPad Pro in two sizes.
Apple Watch got updates in the form of new bands and default configurations. There’s a new Woven Nylon band style, Classic Buckle gets new colors and its second redesign, and Sport Band now includes three new colors.
Apple also sells Nike Sport Bands separately for the first time, and there are new colors in the collection. Along with these changes, Apple has reduced the options for which bands you can buy with new Apple Watches to only include Sport Band and Milanese Loop. All other bands including Classic Buckle and Link Bracelet are now sold separately.
Finally, Swift Playgrounds for iPad got multi-language support with five additional languages and other new features. Apple also unveiled a new video editing app coming soon called Clips to go along with the new iPhone announcements. Bloomberg reported that the new app was in development last year.
Clips doesn’t have a release date yet, but the fine print mentions that it requires iOS 10.3 which is still in beta:
Clips is compatible with iPhone 5s or later, iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation), iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, and iPod touch (6th generation) and requires iOS 10.3 or later.
Speaking of iOS 10.3, none of Apple’s software betas were released today. Current betas include iOS 10.3 with Find My AirPods, macOS 10.12.4 with Night Shift for Mac, tvOS 10.2 with SDK updates, and watchOS 3.2 with Theater Mode which should be ready any day now based on previous beta cycles.
And here’s the state of the Mac line:
- 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar launched in October
- 11-inch MacBook Air discontinued, 13-inch MacBook Air still on sale with 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar also in the lineup since October
- 12-inch MacBook turns year old next month
- iMacs rumored to be updated with USB-C and AMD graphics this year
- No one remembers the last time the Mac Pro and Mac mini were updated but they’re still for sale
So MacBook Pros are in good shape for a while still but the rest of Apple’s Mac lineup is ripe for updating which could warrant an event along with new flagship iPads anytime. Whether that means April, September, October, or some other time is up in the air for now.
The one thing that is set in stone is WWDC 2017 which kicks off on June 5th in San Jose this year, where we’re expecting to see iOS 11, macOS 10.13, watchOS 4, and tvOS 11.
So ‘meh’ may be winning the plurality of our poll on today’s announcements (probably because flagship hardware wasn’t announced), but there are definitely a lot of new products from Apple today.
Last year it was the iPhone SE (mostly iPhone 6s specs in an iPhone 5s casing) and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro (similarly spec’d to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a better camera and True Tone Display) which marked tweaks to existing hardware. This year the spring tweaks are even more minor, but it’s a change in Apple’s product portfolio no less.