In Depth

Apple keynote: How to watch and what to expect

iPhone SE and an iPad Pro Mini – together with upgrades to the Apple Watch – likely to be on the agenda

After weeks of rumour and speculation, Apple has confirmed the news fans have been expecting – a keynote event to take place on 21 March.

The tech giant is expected to usher in two new devices and potentially more.

The reveal will be held at the Town Hall auditorium on Apple's California-based Infinite Loop campus, a "tiny venue compared to the last event in September 2015", when the iPhone 6S was unveiled, says Wired.

Apple held a similar event last March, heralding the introduction of the Apple Watch and the latest MacBook. So what could 2016 have in store?

iPhone SE

Not content with the launch of the iPhone 7 in September, Apple looks set to introduce a new entry level device at the March event to replace the iPhone 5S.

The new four-inch handset should look similar to the 5S, albeit with some iPhone 6 traits thrown in, such as a slightly curved cover glass and edges, the same colour options for the body and, if bestowed with the 6S's camera hardware, a camera bump.

Recent case leaks have cast doubt over whether the iPhone SE will usher in a design marrying the old with the new, however. Most recently, a cover found by MacRumors suggests that shape-wise, the phone will more or less be a carbon copy of the iPhone 5S, so it's likely Apple will place an emphasis on the internals of the new entry level device.

Inside, an A9 processor mated to either 1GB or 2GB RAM is expected, as well as an NFC chip for Apple Pay. The display will probably remain the same 326ppi unit used on the iPhone 5S and it won't support 3D touch.

The SE could be on sale before the month is out and prices are expected to be low, undercutting the £379 of the iPhone 5S.  

iPad Air 3/iPad Pro Mini

A recent twist suggests the iPad Air 3 most people were expecting has now morphed into a smaller, 9.7ins version of the iPad Pro.

According to 9 to 5 Mac, the smaller Pro will have "nearly identical features and specifications as the bigger model", so expect the same A9X chipset and 4GB RAM for a powerful tablet, as well as an updated Apple Stylus-friendly display and Smart Connector for a version of the iPad Pro's keyboard attachment. Like the iPhone SE, a quick reveal-to-shelf time is likely.

It's another new device that has been previewed by a spate of case leaks, strongly suggesting that an iPad Pro Mini is on the way with all the features of the 12.9ins device and an LED flash-supported camera.

Apple Watch upgrades

Early hype centred around rumours the company would introduce an Apple Watch 2 this month, but that has since been downgraded to being just a handful of upgrades to the current model.

According to MacWorld, the Apple Watch 2 may have been pushed back for a September release alongside the iPhone 7, possibly with the big addition of a front-facing camera.

As for this month's unveil, a number of new straps for the current watch are expected, including new versions of the existing Sports Band and Hermes wraps alongside some completely fresh additions. A software update is likely to be introduced, too.

Software

Rumours have been nowhere near as thick and fast as the devices expected to headline the event, but according to Cult of Mac, Apple has  "been brewing a big batch of software updates that appear to be ready just in time for the big March event".The biggest software announcement that could be on the cards is iOS 9.3, which, after being in the hands of device users signed up to Apple's public development programme, is in its seventh beta. New features expected include a "night shift", which alters the colours used on iOS devices towards the end of the day, as well as an improved Apple News app.Cult of Mac adds that the company could use the event to introduce the public release of OS X 11.10.4, as well as Apple Watch OS 2.2. An update for Apple TV is also expected, with folders for apps and an app store mated to Siri making for "the biggest update to the new Apple TV yet". 

Anything else?

Almost all rumours are centred on these three products, but MacWorld thinks there's a slim chance of some information regarding the 2016 MacBook Pro models, too. The website "hopes" to hear something at the event, but believes June's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference is a more likely setting for news about the company's next laptop.

AppleInsider says that despite Apple's "ability to surprise at keynotes has waned in recent years". However, there are some realistic additions the company could bring along.                                                               

For instance, while there's no rumours about, Apple could update its "severely outdated" Thunderbolt display to put it on level terms with the Retina one used on its 27ins iMac. There are other titbits that could do with updates, too, though they would be "unlikely to warrant stage time at an Apple Keynote".

Yahoo reckons that given the current backdrop of the legal dispute between Apple and the FBI over data encryption, the tech giant could use the event as platform to announce new security measures for iOS devices.

"Apple executives say the company is continually working on increased security measures," says the website, and while there's nothing official to suggest it will introduce new encryption levels for devices such as the iPhone, the current atmosphere provides an opportunity to pitch security as one of the company's strengths. Apple could very well use stage time to sell itself as a trustworthy, secure brand.

At a long stretch, Wired reckons the wording on the invitations sent out to the media, which can also be found on Apple's webpage, could hint at something big. "Apple's either really good or really bad at dropping hints. Just a play on Infinite Loop? Probably. Something larger? We’ll tell you on the 21st."

When to tune in and how to watch

The event is set to take place on 21 March, 5pm UK time, and Apple will be streaming the event on its website, although Fortune magazine points out that watching may not be so straightforward.To run the stream, you'll need an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 7.0 or later and you'll have to watch through Apple's Safari browser. Mac users will need OS X 10.8.5 or later and again, the Safari limitations are in place. Streaming the event through an Apple TV box can be done, but not if you own a first generation model.As for those looking to stream via a PC, you'll need to use Windows 10, as well as Microsoft's Edge browser.The website adds that Apple has placed similar limitations on keynote streams in the past, "but since it's putting on the show, it can do what it wants". 

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