As Apple customers have come to look forward to every year, the team from Cupertino took to the stage this week in their annual March keynote to announce a few new exciting updates that will be heading our way over the coming weeks.
From minor tweaks to the Apple TV to a brand new iPad and iPhone, here's a full recap of what Apple has in store for the first half of 2016:
Nearly one year after Cupertino released its flagship wearable device, the Apple Watch just got easier to own. According to Apple, the smart watch will now be available for as low as $299, down from its previous price of $349. Apple also announced several new bands for its timepiece, including new sport and leather bands, as well as a new line of woven nylon straps that will come in a range of bright colors.
When Apple unveiled its new Apple TV late last year, what really captured people's attention was the powerful new software behind the set-top box. This year's software update will further refine the operating system that brought the App Store to Apple TV for the first time, adding features such as folders for organizing apps and a voice dictation tool that will let users enter their passwords using their voice.
While this will remedy a major complaint from many Apple TV owners, navigating the keyboard using the touch-enabled remote was a pain it does so with a slight compromise in security, as anyone you're watching TV with would be able to hear your password. So, when its time for a movie marathon with friends or your kids, we still recommend typing your password, even if it takes a few seconds longer than you'd like.
Now fully available to the public, the long-awaited software update makes a few small but significant changes to some of Apple's most popular mobile apps. Most useful for the enterprise, perhaps, is the new option users will have to password-protect notes. The Health app in iOS 9.3 will sport an all-new app suggestion engine, while Apple News will finally feature pertinent articles in a top stories and an Editor's Picks feed.
Perhaps most exciting are the three largest changes iOS 9.3 will usher in. Night Shift mode will limit the use of sleep-disrupting blue light, giving those who use their phones before bed a chance to get a better night's sleep. CarPlay will also see improvements, such as being able to locate out points of interest in its Maps or suggest the perfect song for your trip. Finally, as we reported earlier this year, iOS 9.3 will bring a host of new features to the Classroom app, such as multi-user support for iPads shared amongst students.
9.7-inch iPad Pro
Enterprise tablet users, rejoice! Apple's newest tablet, a 9.7-inch iPad Pro, packs all of the power and functionality of last September's release into a more portable device. Just like its big brother, the smaller tablet includes four speakers and a 12MP camera, and is also compatible with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. Unlike the original iPad Pro, the 9.7-inch version will be available in a 256 GB configuration.
After months of rumors and speculation surrounding a possible new 4-inch iPhone, Apple finally unveiled the iPhone SE (short for Special Edition) at this month's keynote. Replacing the iPhone 5S as Apple's entry-level smartphone, the iPhone SE maintains much of its predecessor's external design. Powered by the same processor as the iPhone 6S, the iPhone SE will be twice as fast as the 5S. Other improvements include an NFC chip for Apple Pay functionality and a 12MP camera that can capture 4K video. The only notable exception to the SE's list of features is 3D Touch technology, which for now is limited to the 6S and 6S Plus.
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