Apple took to their old, familiar stage in Cupertino on Monday to announce a few changes to their product line. We wouldn't call the new iPhone SE or the 9.7" iPad Pro full blown product announcements since they feel much more like upgrades to Apple's existing offerings but, when combined with updates to the AppleTV OS and iOS, it was a nice bundle of innovation from the tech giant that helps mitigate the fact that we haven't seen any new offerings from Apple since before the holidays.
Easily the most important announcement yesterday was the iPhone SE. Obviously intended for emerging markets and Asia, the SE is a beefed up iPhone with a four-inch screen. Imagine, if you will, yesteryear's iPhone 5S but with specs similar to that of the current models of iPhone 6S's. Bolstered camera, RAM, processor and battery life give the SE a real appeal to anyone looking for cheaper alternatives to the current iPhone models or simply for those who never bought into the larger form factor and screen real estate that have marked smartphone trends in the US lately. The iPhone SE is still a far cry from the retro revamping of the original 2007 iPhone that we occasionally yearn for, but we can see why Apple would offer this class of phone and imagine it'll be a global bestseller by year's end.
Next up was the 9.7" iPad Pro. A cross between the iPad Air 2's form factor and the power of last year's 12.9" iPad Pro, complete with Apple Pencil capabilities and enhanced horsepower, the latest iPad Pro is also the first iPad to offer a 256GB hard drive configuration. It also adds compatibility with the ingenious cover/keyboard that Apple introduced as a go-along for the iPad Pro before the holidays. Apple made it clear that their Pro iPad line is meant to put Microsoft in their crosshairs now that they've seen consumers have taken to Microsoft's Surface line of tablets that also double as full-fledged laptops running Windows 10. We do think that the move is premature on Apple's part given the fact that there's still major shortcomings when comparing the app-centric ecosystem of iOS to the robustness of Apple's complete operating system, OSX.
Rounding out yesterday's announcements were upgrades to the Apple Watch (new nylon bands, y'all!), updates to iOS, and a beefed up version of AppleTV's OS that now features more Siri. That's a good thing, because Siri is still one of the best things Apple has innovated in the past few years and still continues its reign of excellence. Siri is certainly welcome in the home and AppleTV is one of the surest ways to fast track that happening. The latest iOS, 9.3, was revealed and unleashed on the world yesterday as a free upgrade for existing users. It adds Nightshift for better viewing in different lighting environments, privacy to the Notes app, bolstered 3D touch shortcuts (applicable only to the iPhone 6S and 6S+) and the new Health Center app that's supposed to aid in keeping track of your own physical metrics. These are all rather incremental upgrades, but that's to be expected from a March refresh. We'll be watching for hints down the line as a proper upgrade to the Macbook line, and the inevitable iPhone 7 are undoubtedly in the cards for 2016.