Scratch March 15, as the anticipated date of Apple's next fête. It's now being reported that Apple has chosen March 21 -- the day before the iPhone maker is due in court to begin arguing its case against a Justice Dept. court order -- as the date to show off a number of updated devices. On Tuesday, March 1, Apple's general counsel testifies before the House Judiciary Committee.
BuzzFeed News first reported the calendar update on Feb. 27, citing "sources in position to know."
While Apple reigns supreme when it comes to keeping a secret, below is what the rumor mill is expecting to see.
No, that's not the iPhone 5S you're seeing around the Internet lately. It's a mock-up of what reports say Apple will call the iPhone SE -- a 4-inch iPhone that's an update on the 5S, whether for developing markets or for sticklers for a 4-inch form factor.
MacRumors expects the iPhone SE to feature:
- A new display, with slightly curved glass.
- An A9 chip like the iPhone 6S runs. Apple has called this third-generation chip the most advanced ever in a smartphone. It's capable of gaming console-class performance, and features a built-in motion coprocessor that helps to inform fitness apps and Apple Health features.
- TouchID, the security solution Apple continues to improve on, and has been tied to Apple Pay.
- An 8-megapixel rear camera, like the iPhone 5S has.
- Support for Live Photos, but no 3D Touch -- technology that builds on Multi-Touch, enabling the iPhone to sense how much pressure a user is applying to the display. Leaving this out would improve the device's battery life and keep Apple's costs lower.
- A metal casing much like the one the 5S has.
It's expected that Apple is preparing a software update for Apple Watch, as well as new bands -- in new materials and from new high-end-brand partners.
The fourth beta of WatchOS 2.2 will work with iOS 9.3 and add a handful of new features. The most dramatic of these, reports Cult of Mac, is an updated Maps application, which can help users to search what's nearby (restaurants, cafes, etc.) and offer navigation to or from their home or workplace.
Version 2.2 will also fix some bugs in the settings. If wearing two Apple Watches at once is your style, OS 2.2 will support that by linking multiple watches to a single iPhone.
9.7-Inch iPad Pro
Finally, as reported here earlier, Apple is also expected to retire the iPad mini 2 and the original Air and introduce a 9.7-inch iPad Pro, making its newest tablet more business-friendly, with a Smart Keyboard-slash-cover and an Apple Pencil.
Tim Cook as the New Voice for Privacy
It's likely that the event will receive interest well beyond its usual audiences, as Apple's controversy with the FBI has placed new attention on the brand and moved CEO Tim Cook into a heightened role as a privacy advocate.
Harmit Kambo, director of campaigns and development at Privacy International, described Cook as "playing an extremely valuable role in this massively important debate," according to a Feb. 29 report from Bloomberg, which went on to describe Cook's stand against the Justice Dept. as "extending" and "legitimizing" Edward Snowden's legacy.
[Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the date of the House Judiciary Committee testimony.]
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