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Getting into the loop: What to expect at Apple's next event

Posted: 21 Mar 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Apple? Apple TV? iPhone?

Apple wants to "loop" everyone in.

On March 10, Apple sent select members of the press and analyst community an invitation to the company's next event, to be held on March 21.

Don't fret if you didn't get an invite; a livestream will also be available. AppleInsider has the deets on required specs:

The March 21 presentation uses Apple's HTTP Live Streaming technology. It requires an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 7.0 or later.

The event can also be streamed from second-, third- and fourth-generation Apple TV set-top boxes. On a Mac, users must be running Safari 6.0.5 or later on OS X 10.8.5 or later, and PC users must use the Microsoft Edge browser in Windows 10.

Apple

The March 21 presentation uses Apple's HTTP Live Streaming technology. It requires an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 7.0 or later.

The event can also be streamed from second-, third- and fourth-generation Apple TV set-top boxes. On a Mac, users must be running Safari 6.0.5 or later on OS X 10.8.5 or later, and PC users must use the Microsoft Edge browser in Windows 10.

What's with the cryptic "Let Us Loop You In" tagline? Plenty of interesting ideas have been floated, but my guess is that it simply reflects the fact that the event will take place at the Town Hall theatre located on the company's 1 Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino, California.

And what will Apple announce there? Glad you asked. Here's what I expect we will (and may) hear:

The iPhone SE

Apple historically has caught heat for being late to the "phablet" market, by delivering 4in diagonal (iPhone 5 family), 4.7in diagonal (iPhone 6 family), and 5.5in diagonal (iPhone 6 Plus family) devices significantly after Android-based competitors did so. But now that the newest 4.7in iPhone 6s and 5.5in iPhone 6s Plus constitute the bulk of the company's product attention, Apple's being accused of abandoning the supposedly still-vibrant 4in smartphone market. Can't win, eh?

Apple does still sell the iPhone 5s, but it's getting a bit long in the tooth, at least according to leading-edge enthusiasts; a two-generation-old SoC, for example, plus lower-resolution and otherwise-defeatured front and rear cameras, a 32GB maximum storage capacity, and other supposed shortcomings. But that's all expected to change next Monday with the release of a new 4in smartphone supposedly named the "iPhone SE" (the first time Apple's used a numerically-absent model name since the initial iPhone).

Consider it, if you will, an iPhone 6s in an iPhone 5s form factor: based an A9 application processor, for example, along with upgraded cameras. Unlike its iPhone 5s forebear, however, it's expected to include a slightly curved screen, although unlike its bigger brethren, that display supposedly won't be 3D Touch-enabled...

... leading to my lingering questions:

  1. How much will Apple charge for it, versus 4.7in and 5.5in alternatives of similar storage capacities, given its comparative size and feature set?
  2. What capacity options will be offered, i.e. will it be low end-niched as the iPhone 5s is today, or be available in a broader storage-selection suite?
  3. Is the rumoured name correct, and if so does "SE" stand for "Special Edition," and if so, how long will it be available for sale (and does this mean that Apple thinks the 4in smartphone market is nearing an end)?

A next-gen iPad Air

Speaking of "long in the tooth," Apple's current 9.7in tablet variant, the iPad Air 2, dates from October 2014, whereas its smaller iPad Mini 4 sibling is a year newer. So a 9.7in tablet update is a fairly safe bet. Only one problem, though... the worldwide tablet market is flat (optimistically) to declining (realistically); not a particularly conducive environment for a next-generation announcement. Cutting prices to stimulate demand isn't Apple's style; adding features while holding prices flat (and ideally increasing them) is...


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