Apple March 2016 'Loop you in' event preview

In March of 2011, Steve Jobs took to the keynote stage to introduce the iPad 2 and to tell us technology alone was not enough. That was the beginning of the modern Apple spring event. In 2012, it saw the introduction of the Retina iPad (iPad 3) and the 1080p version of the Apple TV. Then, in 2013... nothing. In 2014... nothing again. It wasn't until 2015 that Apple held another March event, and that year brought the final Apple Watch introduction and the all-new MacBook. Now rumor has it Apple will be holding another March event in 2016 — for the iPhone SE, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and new Apple Watch bands.

When is the spring event this year?

March 21st, 2016 starting at 10am. Here's what it says:

Let us loop you in.Please join us for a special invitation-only event at the Apple campus in Cupertino on March 21.

Commence with the Loop insight!

Where is the event going to be held?

Apple's campus located on Infinite Loop in Cupertino at Town Hall, which is the company's small on-site venue for these types of events.

It's where, for example, Apple held the October 2014 event that saw the introduction of the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, and Retina 5K iMac.

What's with the iPhone SE?

The iPhone SE is rumored to be an updated 4-inch iPhone that packs the performance and optics of the 2015 iPhone 6s into a case pretty much identical to the 2013 iPhone 5s. In other words, incredible power in an itty-bitty package.

Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, should hand off to senior vice-president of worldwide product marketing, Phil Schiller to give use the complete intro.

Read our full iPhone SE rumor roundup

And the 9.7-inch iPad Pro?

Last year came and went without an update to Apple's original 9.7-inch iPad — in other words, no iPad Air 3. Instead, we got a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. This year, rumor has it, Apple will be bringing that pro-ductivity (sorry!) down to the Air size.

That should include support for the Apple Pencil and the Apple Smart Connector, which enables the Apple Smart Keyboard and third party keyboard like the Logitech Create.

Again, we should get the full Phil Schiller tour.

Read our 9.7-inch iPad Pro rumor roundup

Rose gold for both?

We'd love to see it!

Watch bands... but no Watches?

The original Apple Watch hardware isn't even a year old, and we've never had an update cycle before, so it's possible Apple will go 18 months or more before the Watch goes next generation.

In the meantime, space black Milanese loops might be ready to go into production, and recent rumors suggest new sports bands and even an all-new Nato strap option might be made available as well.

We could even see new Hermès products, but it's unclear how or if those would integrate with the existing Watches.

Read our Apple Watch bands roundtable

What about new Macs?

Apple's Mac roadmap is dependent, in part, on Intel's chipset roadmap. Currently most MacBooks run on Broadwell processors. Skylake has been shipping for a while though.

We'd love new MacBooks, of course, but Apple loves focus. Last March saw the new MacBook and updated 13-inch MacBook Pro, this year it's six to five and pick'em whether we get anything early or have to wait until WWDC in June.

Anything on the software side?

iPhone 6s Plus

iPhone 6s Plus (Image credit: iMore)

Apple recently put iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2, and tvOS 9.2 into beta. When better to launch them than during the March event? If that's the case, we could even see a Craig Federighi walk through of the new education features for iPad, right on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and perhaps Night Shift on the iPhone 5se.

Then it's just a matter of whether he announces the Gold Master for developers, or the release version of everyone. Typically, it'd be the former.

What about the FBI?

Apple goes back to court the day after the event, fighting stop the FBI from compelling the company to create a version of iOS that would be easier and faster to crack open. It's one of the most important civil liberties issues of our time, but it's not something we'd expect Tim Cook to dwell on at a product event at the expense of new products.

One more thing...?

The last "one more thing" was back in June 2015 with Apple Music. Before that it was September 2014 with Apple Watch. If Apple has anything it believes is as important as those two projects, it's possible. But given the on-campus setting, it's probably not likely.

Read our Apple March Event editors' roundtable

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I just bought a 5K iMac (which has a skylake chip) so I THINK I'm safe, but I'm gonna be SUPER peeved if my iMac get trumped with a better model! That happened when I bought my MacBook Pro a few years ago, I got mine with 4GBs of Ram, JUST before they went to 8 like 2 months later, LOL
  • Thats how technology is, improvements are always on the way.
    But if youre happy with it whys it matter? Im sure there will be many better models before you give yours up. Enjoy it Sent from the iMore App
  • Yeah, I need to replace my MacBook that's way past its tech years...(laughing). Anyway, I'm looking forward to the March 21st event.
  • Oh wait....Where's the wallpaper?...:)
  • Time to replace my iPad 3. Had it for 3.5 years, but it's starting to show its age.
  • The colors of the invite seems very pointed...
  • Should be time to dump the old non-retina MacBook Pro that has been around since mid-2012. Many other manufacturers, including Apple, offer better computers for the money. Sent from the iMore App
  • Look forward to the iPad Air 3. What am I calling it that?? Because only one rumor called it an iPad Pro 9.7 inch and I seriously still don't think that Apple would add 6 month old specs, and slap a price tag currently $50-$100 more than the iPad Air 2 currently is. But then again. . .
  • The retina Macbook Pro rumours seem to have completely died down to nothing. Loads of expected stuff on the iPad, iPhone and Watch fronts but nothing Mac? Surely they won't wait until WWDC? That's another 3 months away which means probably another month on top of that before shipping.
  • So the "loop you in" is nothing more than meaning "invites into infinite loop"???
  • just please don't cripple the new little iPhone! iPhone 6S-, not iPhone 5SE! I am willing to pay for a premium device - please no budget phone!
  • Any word on if the iPad pro (9.7) will gain 4 gigs of RAM? To match the larger iPad pro? That's a must have feature for my next device.
  • gimme that skylake pro please
  • Any chances of a Thunderbolt Display update?
  • Any ideas on why there is quite clearly a German flag in the invitation picture? Apple Pay for Germany? Or just some German brand now making watchbands?
  • I was looking forward to this, but given that we pretty much know what's going to be announced (iPhone whatever-they-are-gonna-call-it), iPad) and what they should update but probably won't (MacBooks are in desperate need) I'm starting to believe this event is going to be lukewarm and boring. I do hope I'll be proven wrong ... Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm torn on whether I want to hear news about a new Mac Mini or not. On the one hand, the current Mini is a mid 2014 design. That's waaaayyy overdue for an update. On the other hand, I JUST bought a new Mac Mini roughly a month ago, and had intended to not have to replace it for 3-to-5 years. It'd REALLY suck to have a brand new one that's much better come out RIGHT after buying a new one.
  • I have been using iPhone since 2010. Now 2016.
  • What about the "one more thing" that Apple is looking to develop it's own cloud ? That to me is far more important than Apple music was... and hopefully along the way they'll iron out some kinks. Then again,,, this could also be some kind of "public WWDC" right before Apple goes under the hammer with the FBI. Its good to go out with a bang,
  • Why is it called "Let us loop you in"?
    Hook, line & sinker!!! Sent from the iMore App
  • My needs are minimal—just the new tvOS (the current version is VERY buggy) and new watchOS (the current version is too slow).
    I want/need a Skylake 12" MacBook or 13" MBP to replace my 2009 MBP (still going strong on non-Apple SSD and RAM expansion) but the 12" MB MUST come with more than one USB-C connector. I've seen people use the 1st gen and they struggle with dongles IMO. I'm happy to wait until WWDC for this.
    My two very old MacPros do need upgrades but the current MacPro cylinder design with lack of internal storage does not cover my needs—I don't want 20 TB of external (expensive) Thunderbolt cases. The 2013 MP was designed when Apple thought Thunderbolt was going to revolutionize external storage, etc., but it has been slow to catch-on with peripheral makers and the available solutions are rare and too costly. I'd imagine the 2013 MP sales figures are awful—I don't have one client who has moved to the model. At present, there is not ONE Mac model that can support more than 4 TB of internal storage; that's a miserable indictment of the Mac lineup for video professionals—and this from a 30-year Mac veteran.
  • Hey, Rene, since when has the four-letter word beginning with h and ending in l been deserving of censorship? That is prudish beyond common sense.