Apple wants to loop you in on March 21 at 5pm GMT. At that time, it will announce new and shiny things that your brain will immediately crave while your bank balance screams for mercy.
If the rumour mill’s correct, this event will mostly be Apple doing a handbrake turn on device sizes. Having churned out giant iPhones and iPad Pros of late, we’ll now see smaller versions of each. But that's not all we expect to see.
Here’s what we think will be unveiled…
1) A tiny iPhone SE
Well, we say tiny, but all evidence (and we use the word ‘evidence’ extremely loosely) points to a new smallish iPhone to replace the now-ageing iPhone 5s.
Rumours have bounced around about the device’s name and specs, and the general consensus is we’ll get the mutant offspring of the 5s and 6s. Our hope here at Stuff is that Apple doesn’t just see the smaller iPhone as the ‘cheap’ iPhone (for a given value of ‘cheap’, which in Apple language is ‘not very’).
Many people want a smaller iPhone that won’t be hamstrung by a lack of features nor an arbitrary cut-off regarding storage. We’ll do cartwheels if we get the option of what’s essentially a 128GB 6s with a 4-inch screen.
There’s going to be a new smaller iPhone. The question is whether Apple will hobble it to ‘urge’ more people to buy the 6s and its successor.
2) A new, smaller iPad Pro
Apple rather conspicuously didn’t upgrade the iPad Air line during its most recent iPad-oriented event. Cynics might point at the company wanting to put space between it and the iPad Pro. But rumours had suggested the Air would at least get a boost this spring; now, the thinking is we’ll instead see a smaller iPad Pro.
Depending on how much it will mug your wallet, a 9.7-inch iPad Pro could be a very good thing. The iPad Air 2 still tops Stuff’s tablet chart, and we love the form factor more than that of its bulkier cousin; we’d therefore be thrilled to see an Air-sized device with support for Pencil and Smart Keyboard, and with increased RAM, a more powerful processor, speakers that don’t suck and even a better camera.
We think this one’s almost a dead cert. Something needs to happen to the 9.7-inch iPads. Making some of them ‘go pro’ seems like a smart move.
3) Something something privacy something
We’ve previously reported on Apple’s scrap with the FBI. Astonishingly, things have gotten even crazier in the weeks since, and we’re heading towards a terrifying future if Apple loses, and lawmakers force the tech industry to dramatically compromise device security.
It’s unlikely Tim Cook will go nuclear on stage about this, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple bigging up the importance of security and encryption, offering some hints regarding relevant upcoming iOS improvements — at least improvements as Apple sees them, because the FBI certainly won’t.
Tim Cook isn’t Steve Jobs in terms of barely contained fury, but he’s no pushover. And an Apple event is a great platform for outlining why device security is vital.
4) OS revamps
Updates to iOS, tvOS and watchOS are waiting in the wings. Expect them to drop once the event’s done or very soon thereafter. (And then for Apple’s servers to have their usual meltdown as millions of people simultaneously hammer ‘update’ buttons.)
None of these are major upgrades, but all include welcome new features. Night Shift for iOS will automatically adjust the temperature of a device’s display as night draws in, potentially interfering less with sleep patterns. The Apple TV will get app folders and voice dictation input (the latter enabling you to avoid the hideous single-line keyboard). And watchOS 2.2 will bring ‘nearby’ search to Maps, and the means to pair multiple watches to a single iPhone — great for rich show-offs.
These will happen, but updates might not be explored in detail at the event. It depends how many hours of your life Apple wants to steal.