Apple officially announced the release of iOS 9.3 today during the company’s special event in Cupertino, and the update is now available. Originally released in January to developers, and then later as part of the company’s public beta program, iOS 9.3 is an unusually feature-packed update for a point iOS release, as we observed in our early analysis of the betas.
With today’s unveiling of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple has dropped the pricing of the iPad Air 2 to $399 and $499 for the 16GB and 64GB versions, respectively. The 128GB version of the iPad Air 2 has also been removed from the lineup, forcing users who want a larger-capacity 9.7-inch iPad to opt for the new iPad Pro instead — albeit it for only $50 more than the 128GB iPad Air 2 previously sold for. The new pricing actually puts the iPad Air 2 pricing on par with the iPad Mini 4, although the smaller tablet retains its 128GB version at $599. All models continue to be available in both Wi-Fi only versions, or Wi-Fi + Cellular versions for an additional $130.
Apple has announced a new 9.7-inch version of its iPad Pro, essentially upgrading the standard-sized iPad tablet to a “Pro” model, with features matching the 12.9-inch version debuted last fall. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will include the same features as its larger counterpart, including the 64-bit A9X CPU and M9 motion coprocessor, support for the Apple Pencil and a new, smaller-sized version of the Apple Smart Keyboard, while the new screen is both a “Wide color display” and “True Tone Display,” the latter of which will automatically measure the color temperature of ambient light to produce a natural paper-white color under any set of lighting conditions.
The upcoming 9.7-inch iPad Pro expected to be announced on Monday, will come in 32GB and 128GB capacities similar to its larger sibling, and have a higher price tag to match, 9to5Mac reports. Apple is expected to shift the standard-sized iPad model away from the iPad Air name, giving it both the name and features to match the larger iPad Pro which debuted last fall, including Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support. Like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the 9.7-inch model is expected to be available in both 32GB Wi-Fi only and 128GB Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+Cellular models, with an entry-level price point of $599 for the base 32GB Wi-Fi version. This puts the new 9.7-inch iPad pricing somewhere in between the $499 16GB iPad Air 2 and the $599 64GB iPad Air 2, with users paying the same price for half the capacity of the previous model, while gaining most of the same capabilities of the iPad Pro. The report also notes, however, that the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is not expected to replace the current iPad Air 2, which sources say will remain in Apple’s lineup in at least a 16GB $499 model, as Apple has done with previous-generation iPads before.
Apple recently released the seventh beta for its upcoming iOS 9.3 update. The new beta was released to both developers and public beta testers. With an iOS 9.3 final public release expected to come as early as next week, it’s already surprising that Apple has released a seventh beta installment. Although the release notes are sparse, it’s safe to assume that this seventh beta predominantly includes bug fixes and minor optimizations to tighten up iOS 9.3 before its final release. Apple also released a seventh watchOS 2.2 beta to developers. Anything particularly noteworthy will be found in a future update of our Inside the betas piece.
Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, has officially debunked the longstanding myth that users should quit background iOS apps in order to improve performance or save battery life, 9to5Mac reports. A 9to5Mac reader emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook asking the company for an official stance on whether this was necessary. The message was passed on to Federighi who responded with an uncategorical “no.”
While Apple’s own support documents and various iOS presentations over the years have pretty clearly implied that force-quitting apps should not be necessary except in cases where apps become unresponsive, there has been a persistent myth for years that force-quitting apps somehow improves the performance or battery life on iOS devices, perhaps due to the way that multitasking works on traditional Windows and OS X-based computers, not to mention Android devices. Further, even Apple’s own stance has not been entirely consistent at the lower levels, with iLounge’s own editors and readers encountering Genius Bar staff in Apple Stores who have recommended closing apps to “improve performance.” However, since the multitasking frameworks in iOS exercise an almost draconian control over background processes, most apps are actually suspended when in the background, using no CPU or battery power at all. While there are exceptions to this rule, these are usually obvious, such as navigation apps that use the actual GPS hardware (as opposed to mere “geo-fencing” apps that trigger location-based alerts), Voice-over-IP apps, and apps that play or record audio in the background. In many cases the user should be well aware that these apps are running, and are likely actively using them in some way.
Apple has released yet another beta for its upcoming iOS update, in the form of iOS 9.3 beta 6. The new beta has been released to both developers and public beta testers. With an iOS 9.3 final public release believed to be around the corner, this sixth beta could be the last beta seen before the iOS update goes live to all users. Apple also released a sixth watchOS 2.2 beta to developers today. Anything particularly noteworthy will be found in a future update of our Inside the betas piece.
The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is expected to match the 12.9-inch model in functionality, including support for the Apple Pencil and a smaller version of the Smart Keyboard, but 9to5Mac reports the smaller device could sport improved cameras as well. Sources said internal prototypes of the 9.7-inch model appear to include a 12 megapixel rear camera — a big upgrade over the 8 megapixel camera that shipped with the first iPad Pro last November. The improved camera would make sense given the new iPad’s smaller size. As we noted in our review, beefing up the camera on a 12.9-inch device wouldn’t really make much sense given how difficult it is to use it for photography. The new iPad is also expected to include a FaceTime HD camera above the front display and be able to record 4K video like the iPhone 6s, both upgrades over the first iPad Pro.
Leaked photos said to show the inner workings of Apple’s new ‘iPhone SE’ seem to confirm earlier rumors that the new phone will lack 3D Touch capabilities, French website NowhereElse reports. The images, obtained from an anonymous source, show that the metal plate over the internal components of the new phone lacks spaces for both the haptic engine and screen connections associated with 3D Touch. As previously reported, the new phone is expected to feature some features of the iPhone 6 family in a shell more akin to the iPhone 5s.
New information suggests that Apple may in fact be planning to release the next-generation of the traditional 9.7-inch iPad with the name “iPad Pro” rather than using the “iPad Air” designation. A new report from 9to5Mac claims the new iPad will follow the same trend as Apple’s MacBook Pro series, whereby Apple will simply provide two “iPad Pro” models in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch sizes. The report also notes that precedent for this was also set with Apple’s naming convention for its 12-inch MacBook, basically dropping the “MacBook Air” designation from that particular model, despite it being an apparent successor in that lineup. The iPad Pro designation for the new 9.7-inch iPad model will presumably be based on Apple implementing similar features to the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, including support for the Apple Pencil and a smaller version of the Smart Keyboard. It’s unclear if the iPad Air name would disappear completely, or if it would be used for a similarly-sized iPad in the future which lacks those “Pro” features. The news suggests that the move is an effort by Apple to also simplify its iPad lineup, with sources indicating that Apple is slowing down production of older iPad mini and iPad Air models. Apple is expected to debut the new 9.7-inch iPad at an event on March 15.
Apple may be planning to limit the functionality of the Apple Pencil in iOS 9.3, according to a new report from MacRumors. Several iPad Pro users running the iOS 9.3 beta have noticed that, unlike in the current iOS 9.2 release, the Apple Pencil can no longer be used like a finger to navigate the iPad UI in the beta version. In iOS 9.2, the Apple Pencil can be used to tap on buttons, select text, scroll, access menus, and more, while iOS 9.3 betas limit the Pencil’s functionality to drawing and writing functions within apps. While many beta testers who have experienced this problem have assumed the omission may be a bug, it has now persisted into the fourth beta of iOS 9.3, with no mention of the limitations in the iOS developer release notes either. Further, Relay.fm co-founder Myke Hurley disclosed in a recent podcast that he had heard from insiders at Apple that this may in fact be an intentional design decision by Apple.
Apple has released three of its latest betas to developers today with iOS 9.3 beta 4, tvOS 9.2 beta 4, and watchOS 2.2 beta 4. The public version of iOS 9.3 beta 4 will likely also be released later this week. We’ll update our iOS and tvOS “Inside the betas” article later on with any relevant information, although changes thus far appear to be minimal, with a cosmetic change to the Night Shift icon in iOS 9.3 beta 4, and new firmware for the Siri Remote.
A Bloomberg Business profile on Johnny Srouji, Apple’s recently promoted Senior VP of Hardware Technologies, reveals some interesting details about Apple’s timeline for the iPad Pro, noting that the larger tablet was originally planned for a Spring 2014 debut by Apple, but was delayed to a fall release after falling behind schedule. Notably, the iPad Pro as originally conceived would have included the same A8X processor found in the late 2014 iPad Air 2 model, but due to the delay and the expected debut of the iPad Pro alongside the A9-equipped iPhone 6s, Srouji was forced to scramble to move up the development of the A9X chip by half a year to have it ready in time for the iPad Pro debut. The Bloomberg profile goes on to spotlight Srouji’s background and history of contributions to Apple from the development of the company’s first A4 system-on-a-chip for the original iPad through to the unprecedented 64-bit A7 that powered the iPhone 5s.
Following reports that the iPhone 5se and iPad Air 3 will be unveiled on March 15, it now appears that the models will also be available in Apple Stores three days later, on March 18, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. With the devices going on sale so soon after the event, sources suggest that Apple is unlikely to offer pre-orders for either of the new devices, although they cautioned that Apple’s plans could still change. In the case of iPhones, in particular, Apple has traditionally opened pre-orders within two to three days after it unveils a new model, with in-store availability coming one to two weeks later, around the same time pre-orders begin arriving in customers’ hands. While Apple’s iPad releases have been a little less consistent in this regard, it would still be unusual for Apple to release both devices in-store so quickly following a major Apple event. Sources have suggested that Apple has already begun ramping up production of the new four-inch iPhone, which is intended to bring the latest technology — specifically NFC for Apple Pay — to the iPhone 5 family for users who may be reluctant to embrace the larger iPhone 6 screen sizes.
Apple has released three of its latest betas to developers today with iOS 9.3 beta 3, tvOS 9.2 beta 3, and watchOS 2.2 beta 3. The public version of iOS 9.3 beta 3 should be released later this week. We’ll update our iOS and tvOS “Inside the betas” article later on with any relevant information.
Ahead of the expected March 15 reveal of the iPhone 5se, conflicting reports have emerged about which shade of pink will be featured on the new iPhone. Macotakara reported that the new model will be available in the hot pink color that appeared in the new iPod touch and iPod nano last summer, instead of the rose gold featured in the iPhone 6s. 9to5Mac pushed back against that rumor, claiming its sources are holding firm that the new phones will be available in the same silver, space gray, gold and rose gold colors as the iPhone 6s models. Apple is even said to be adding a rose gold variation to the iPad Air 3, in an effort to keep hardware colors consistent across all of its iOS devices. New versions of the 12-inch Macbook and iPad mini may also be available in rose gold, but are unlikely to debut on March 15.
Apple is looking to hold an event on March 15 to unveil a new iPhone, iPad Air, and Apple Watch band options, 9to5Mac reports, following a report last week that the new standard-sized iPad would be available in March, while also revealing that the rumored 4-inch iPhone model will debut at the same time. Sources suggest that the new “iPhone 5se” will include an A9 chip, improved cameras, Live Photos support, and Apple Pay, while mirroring the general design of the iPhone 5s and coming in at the same price, starting at $450 for 16GB, with a 64GB model also being available. The report suggests that the iPad Air 3 will look much as suggested in previous reports, with enhanced speakers, a possible rear LED flash, and a Smart Connector like that found on the iPad Pro. Apple will also reportedly introduce new Apple Watch bands and software at the same event, although it appears no actual new Apple Watch device hardware will be unveiled.
A drawing representing the alleged iPad Air 3 shows a number of rumored features for the device, along with a slight size increase. The drawing, published by Engadget, shows a Smart Connector and four speakers, in addition to a rear camera flash. If the drawing is correct, the new iPad Air 3 will be 0.1 mm wider and 0.05 mm thicker than iPad Air 2 — a thicker screen could portend Apple Pencil support. Another recent report featuring an alleged case for the device showed support for similar features.
A Chinese company has posted photos of an alleged case for iPad Air 3. Spotted by Macotakara, the case photos reveal a small cutout on the left longer side of case where the Smart Connector would be on iPad Pro, implying that iPad Air 3 will also have Smart Connector support. The alleged case also has four speaker cutouts — two on each short side, like the iPad Pro. It also appears as if the camera hole has been extended, possibly to make room for an LED flash. The Smart Connector support is a new development — it’s possible this company may only be guessing at a final iPad design, as these cases are both early and extremely low-cost. However, early reports have noted the possibility of extra speakers and a rear LED flash. iPad Air 3 is expected to debut in March.
Apple is planning to unveil its new iPad Air 3 at an event in March, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. After skipping the release of a new standard-sized Apple model at last fall, the new 9.7-inch iPad Air 3 is expected to replace the year-old iPad Air 2 with an upgraded model — possibly including a rear-facing LED flash, additional speaker grills to match the audio quality of the iPad Pro, and possibly even support for the Apple Pencil. A separate report from DigiTimes also seemingly confirms the March release, also suggesting that the new device will include a 4K resolution LCD panel and up to 4GB of RAM, although it should be definitely be noted that DigiTimes’ track record is unreliable, to put it mildly. 9to5Mac’s sources note that Apple is planning to hold its keynote during the week of March 14th, although the exact date is yet to be determined.