The 11 most significant announcements made by Apple

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Apple's announcements

Apple on Monday hosted a special media event at the company’s town hall auditorium where Tim Cook and other Apple executives delivered a number of interesting announcements and product introductions. Though Apple’s new iPhone and iPad will understandably attract the most attention, Monday’s event was filled with a host of other developments that are worth highlighting.

Apple addresses encryption debate
Credit: Reuters
Apple addresses encryption debate

It’s no secret that Apple right now is currently embroiled in a controversial legal battle with the FBI over mobile encryption. Somewhat surprisingly, Tim Cook subtly referenced the issue at the start of Monday’s event.

“This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility,” Cook calmly but sternly declared. “We need to decide, as a nation, how much power the Government should have over our data and our privacy."

Apple Watch price cut
Apple Watch price cut

Curiously, Apple hasn’t divulged any information about Apple Watch sales to date. This has naturally led some to believe that sales of Apple’s relatively new wearable aren’t exactly through the roof. That said, Apple on Monday announced that it was lowering the base level price of the Apple Watch down to $299. Is this a ploy to increase sales or simply to increase marketshare? Only Apple knows the answer to that question, but if you’re at all interested in an Apple Watch, now’s a good time to jump in.

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iPhone SE

Apple finally gave users who prefer a smaller form factor a device to be excited about. The iPhone SE is essentially as powerful as an iPhone 6s but in the body of an iPhone 5s. The device comes packed with an A9 processor, an M9 motion coprocessor, a 12 megapixel camera with 4K video recording capability, an NFC chip for Apple pay, support for faster Wi-Fi and LTE speeds and, according to Apple, battery improvements across the board. Notably, the one iPhone 6s feature that didn’t make it into the iPhone SE is support for 3D Touch.

Apple doubles down on the environment
Apple doubles down on the environment

Apple executive Lisa Jackson took quite a bit of time during Monday’s event to highlight all of the progress Apple is making on the environmental front. For instance, Jackson noted that 99% of the paper found in Apple product boxes comes either from recycled paper or sustainably managed forests. Not only that, but Jackson touted that 93% of Apple’s facilities worldwide run on renewable energy. The company also unveiled a quirky and engaging video touting how they disassemble used iPhones and reuse the parts for other products.

iOS 9.3 is coming.. TODAY!
iOS 9.3 is coming.. TODAY!

After an endless number of beta builds, Apple is finally ready to ship iOS 9.3 to customers beginning today. While mid-cycle iOS updates are typically not that exciting, iOS 9.3 is an exception. The device comes with an intriguing Night Shift mode, more security for the Notes App, Car Play improvements, expanded language support for Siri, and last but not least, some new 3D Touch shortcuts.

9.7-inch iPad Pro
9.7-inch iPad Pro

Apple opted not to release an iPad Air 3 and instead introduced a new 9.7-inch model of its iPad Pro. Apple’s latest tablet packs an improved speaker system, a blazing fast A9x processor, new display technology that promises a brighter screen with less glare, a new True Tone technology which aims to match the color temperature of the display to the surrounding light and an improved camera system. The base model iPad Pro will start at $599. Notably, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be the first Apple tablet to be available in a 256GB configuration.

New Apple Watch bands
New Apple Watch bands

With Tim Cook stating that approximately one-third of Apple Watch wearers regularly change their bands, the company announced a new spring lineup of Apple Watch bands. In addition to new colors for the company’s lineup of sport and leather bands, Apple also introduced a new selection of nylon bands and a space black version of its popular Milanese loop.

iPad Air 2 price cut
iPad Air 2 price cut

In an apparent effort to boost iPad sales, Apple on Monday quietly instituted a price cut for the iPad Air 2, dropping the price from $499 down to $399.

CareKit
CareKit

Apple executive Jeff Williams spent a good amount of time on Monday talking about Apple’s strides in the health space. Of particular interest is the introduction of CareKit, an app framework that will enable developers and health care providers to roll out apps designed to better help patients learn about and appropriately treat their condition.

tvOS update
tvOS update

Tim Cook on Monday took a few minutes to talk about some updates to tvOS, the operating system that powers the Apple TV. The new Apple TV update will finally include support for folders, Live Photos, Bluetooth keyboard support, and dictation. As a result, Apple TV users will at long last be able to enter in their usernames and passwords via Siri as opposed to entering it in one letter at a time. Additionally, Siri in the new tvOS update has the ability to search across even more apps than before. Like iOS 9.3, tvOS will be available today. As a point of interest, Apple said that there are now more than 5,000 Apple TV apps currently available for download.

WatchOS update
WatchOS update

Apple didn’t spend a lot of time on the Apple Watch, but it did quietly roll out a WatchOS update alongside iOS 9.3 today. The new WatchOS update allows users to pair an iPhone to more than one Apple Watch device and also includes mapping enhancements.