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Apple March 21 event: As it happened



Welcome to our rolling coverage of Apple's March 21 event. Below is a blow-by-blow blog of what went down and what was announced.

We've had the iPhone SE, a new 9.7in iPad Pro and some Apple Watch bits and bobs including a price cut. Read about it below, along with our opinions.

Related: iPhone SE review

18:30 –Trusted's verdict

We've had some time to get our breath back and retrieve our jaws from the floor (may be an exaggeration), so I've collected the thoughts of various Trusted contributors and staffers. Here's what we thought:

Trusted contributor Chris Smith doesn't mince his words:

"For the first time in recent memory, Apple feels like a company that’s truly reaching. An entire event dedicated to additional (and unoriginal) size options for existing gadgets and a nylon strap? That’s almost as embarrassing as the Apple Watch price cut that tells us sales are probably lower than expected.

The rest of the time (well, most of it) was dominated by holier-than-thou PR guff and scoffs at Android and Windows users. Can I have my hour back please? "


How about Trusted's editor, Evan Kypreos?

"There was nothing too exciting about Apple's event but there's one area that will be overlooked by those who enjoy shiny new tech: the environmental angle. Apple rightly made a big deal about this and it's something we should all care more about. Recycling and ethically sourcing metals won't just help us sustain the planet but it also helps people. Some work in horrific conditions or even as slaves in mines run by warlords in certain areas of Africa, and only Intel and Apple seem to highlight this issue on a regular basis. Apple's clearly doing something right since Greenpeace crowned it the most environmentally friendly tech company. This is important, and we need more tech giants to take a stand.

Indeed, Apple really helped its environmental credibility tonight, along with its Liam project for disassembling phones.

Max Parker, who covers all things handheld for Trusted, had mixed views:

"Sometimes a press release would suffice, tonight's apple event proved that. It seems strange to release new Apple Watch straps when people will surely be waiting version 2 and I'm far from convinced anyone is going to be wholly excited by a smal- screened phone will last year's specs.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro, though, is a product I could get on board with. The regular Pro had the features I wanted, but it was too large and a pain to use. Having it smaller, but keeping the power, display and support for a couple of decent accessories could be a really exciting move."

Deputy editor Andy Vandervell was quick to catch Apple re-inventing the wheel (and True Tone):

Trusted regular Simon Osborne-Walker wasn't best pleased with his Monday evening's entertainment:

"This was the least exciting Apple event I can remember. And I've seen a LOT. I’m not interested in the iPhone SE. It’s just not aimed at me. I have big hands and bad eyes. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro, on the other hand, may be just what I need – a tablet I can second-screen with and sketch on, without feeling like I’ve somehow been conned into buying another laptop. Shame I had to be bored by just how much Apple's doing to save the world before they unveiled the shiny stuff."

Rushed-off-his-feet acting news editor Sean Keach feels sorry for original iPad Pro owners

"For me, the main takeaway from today's Apple event is how paltry the 12.9-inch iPad Pro now looks. Before today, it was a powerhouse tablet that had 6-inchers quaking in their puny frames. Now, it's been usurped by the far superior 9.7-inch iPad Pro and, frankly, I'm glad. Who the heck needs 13 inches of tablet? Ludicrous. And then there's the pathetically small iPhone SE. What is this, 2013? Size matters, Apple. Stop playing whack-a-mole with our form factors."

As it happened:

I've re-ordered my live blog entries so you can read today's event highlights in wonderful, high-definition chronological order:

17:15 – Numbers, FBI and sustainability

Tim Cook began with the stuff we're all midly interested in: numbers. There are now 1bn active Apple devices around the world. Not to be sniffed at.

Related: There are now 1bn active Apple devices

He also made reference to the ongoing wranglings with the FBI, whose wrangling with Apple's encryption systems continues: "We believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy. We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country. We will not shrink to this responsibility," he concluded to a slightly awkwardly long bout of applause.

He then introduced Lisa Jackson, who talked about something we rarely hear about from Apple: the environment. Lots of talk about the various initiatives the firm is trying to achieve, with its overall goal of becoming 100% renewable as a company. Currently they're at 93%, according to Apple's numbers. Meanwhile, 99% of Apple's packaging sustainable in some form: either made from recycled materials or from sustainable forests.

Most iPhones that are returned and traded in are re-used. Apple's Liam project was also introduced. The machine - a deconstruction robot - is able to separate the iPhone into its individual components and ensure they're all recycled efficiently. This is super impressive, especially when you consider how much flak Apple has had in the past for its iPhones' lack of breakdown-ability.

Apple Liam

Good Guy Apple.

17:21 – Health and CareKit

Apple then talked about the various benefits of its Health program. It's looking pretty good, with dozens of diseases already being researched hwith the help of Apple Health. We had a special video about Autism, and using Apple Researchkit to understand how children with Autism respond to images and videos on screen.

They're also using Researchkit to allow people with Parksinson's and epilepsy to record their lives around their respective conditions. The Apple Watch, for example, is being used to measure the signs that lead up to an epileptic fit with a goal to eventually pre-warn sufferers that a fit is likely.

It's all very cool stuff, and, as it was said in Apple's video, "it's all in your pocket". It's hard to be snarky about this sort of research, because it's actually rather excellent.

Apple's main announcement here is CareKit, which is a breakaway from ResearchKit doing the research outlined above. It can be used by patients, who will be able to send the data directly to their doctor through the app. CareKit will be open-source, so everyone can take a look at the code behind it.Apple Carekit

17:28 – Apple Watch has a new look

Now: Apple Watch. Apple says it's the best-selling smartwatch and that customers love it. Not particularly surprising. I am underhwhelmed by this breaking news.

People like customising the bands, apparently. A third of customers change bands frequently. How do they have time for this? Either way, there are new bands, though including new colours and new materials such as woven nylon and milanese (which I happen to really like)

The biggest news? Apple's dropping the price down to $299, so hopefully around £249 - down from £300.Apple watch bands

The worst non-news? No software update, although really this would make more sense to be announced at WWDC later in the year.

17:36 – iPhone SE announced

New iPhone! As we were hoping, Apple launched a 4in device. The firm sold 30 milllion of them in 2015, which must have been a bit of a wake-up call.The iPhone SE has an iPhone 5S-style design, with new colours. There's the Apple A9 chip alongside the A9X co-processor. This makes the iPhone 5SE twice as powerful as the iPhone 5S and three-times better graphics performance, according to Apple. The new 12MP camera is on-board, with better video quality, slow-motion and low-light performance. Live Photos have arrived, too.

Apple Pay is built-in, too, bringing these smaller devices in-line with the latest models.

Related: 10 things you need to know about the iPhone SE

The price? $399 for 16GB and $499 for the 32GB model. We await UK prices.se

128GB and $899 for a new storage configuration: 256GB.

17:44 – iOS 9.3

iOS 9.3 is on its way. You can read all about the improvements and tweaks on our preview page. CarPlay has received updates, with better music and better mapping.

17:53 – New iPad Pro

Phil Schiller has been on stage to talk about the iPad. First he talked about some fairly dull examples of where the iPad Pro has been used in various businesses.

Then onto the real meat of things. A 9.7in iPad Pro has been announced, which puts it back in the same league as the original iPad. Anyone on an iPad or iPad Air will probably see this as a decent upgrade.

Phil Schiller had a little dig at Windows, saying the OS was conceived before the internet was a thing. Indeed. One could say they were ahead of the game. Anyway, Schiller went on to say that there are 600 million Windows devices active more than five years old, which he said was 'sad'. Booooo, hisssss. Upgrade to a new iPad Pro, he concludes. Such a salesman.

ipad pro

So, what's in the iPad Pro? Same screen tech as the iPad Pro, including its adaptive refresh rate, lower reflectivity and higher maximum brightness (500nits, if you care). It has the same DCI P3 colour gamut, too - excellent for professionals.

True Tone display is a new feature: It measures the ambient temperature of light and and adapts the display to suit it. Essentially it changes the colour of white to how a piece of paper would appear under whatever lighting conditions you're under.

There are four speakers, too, with twice the audio volume as the iPad Air 2.

There's and Apple A9X chip inside, again putting it in line with the iPad Pro in terms of processing performance and 3D rendering. It'll be interesting to see whether it matches the larger iPad Pro despite being in a slightly smaller chassis. I'll leave that to our benchmarkers.

There's a new camera, the 12MP EyeSight camera you'll find in the latest iPhones. Good luck holding that up at concerts. There's also a 5MP front-facing camera for all your chatting needs. 'It's the ultimate PC replacement for all those old PCs in the world'. Yup. Four colours, gold, silver, grey and... eugh... rose gold. A big slathering of pink. I'm not a fan. 32GB version starts at $599 ($200 less than the 12.9in version), $749 for

18:09 – It's all over

Thanks for reading.

We've done a stonking amount of coverage in the last hour. Head to the home page for all the latest details on every product, including our writers' thoughts on the new announcements. Or read my updates below to get an overview of everything that happened at the press event.

Did you enjoy the Apple event? Let us know in the comments below.

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