What to expect from Apple's March 27 event


An Apple store in Chicago on Oct 19, 2017. The tech giant will be holding its first event of the year at Chicago's Lane Technical College Prep High School on at 11pm Singapore time on March 27, 2018.
An Apple store in Chicago on Oct 19, 2017. The tech giant will be holding its first event of the year at Chicago's Lane Technical College Prep High School on at 11pm Singapore time on March 27, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO - Technology giant Apple will be holding its first event of the year on Tuesday morning (March 27, 11pm Singapore time) at the Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago.

Going by the media invite to the event, sent out last week, there are some clues as to what it will be about.

The invite has a banner saying: "Let's take a field trip". A footnote adds: "Join us to hear creative new ideas for teachers and students."

Apple usually holds its March event in either Cupertino or San Francisco. But Chicago is the city where Apple announced an expansion of its Everyone Can Code programme to nearly 500,000 students last December.

The unusual venue and the telling invite also suggest it is the first education-centric Apple event since 2012, when the iPhone maker announced the iBooks Author and iBooks 2 software in New York City.

The Straits Times will be in Chicago on Tuesday to bring you the latest Apple has to offer.

Meanwhile, here's what else we expect to be announced.

New iPads

Last year, Apple introduced an entry-level 9.7-inch iPad tablet. Given the education focus for Tuesday's event, we expect an even cheaper iPad to be introduced.

This new, cheaper iPad might very well support Apple Pencil, something only available in iPad Pros and sorely lacking in last year's 9.7-inch iPad.

A cheaper iPad could take the form as an iPad mini Pro. The 7.9-inch iPad mini has not been updated since 2015. And with a smaller screen than the traditional iPad, a new iPad mini Pro, if it does get announced, would likely be less pricey too.

New MacBook Air

The MacBook Air used to be the pinnacle of ultra-portable laptops. These days, it is the entry-level model of Apple's laptop line.

While the MacBook and MacBook Pro all feature high-resolution Retina displays, the screen of the MacBook Air is still stuck at an outdated resolution of 1,440 x 900 pixels.

Even an updated MacBook Air with a full high-definition 1,920 x 1,080 screen will be greatly appreciated by students.

ClassKit and iOS 11.3

The ClassKit framework was discovered by developer Guilherme Rambo in one of the betas for the iOS 11.3 mobile operating system. It allows developers to include options, such as quizzes and tests that can be distributed via iPads from teachers to students, in educational apps.

In addition, iOS 11.3 is supposed to be released soon with a highly-anticipated battery monitoring feature.

So, it will not be a surprise to see these features being introduced at the event.

Other products

Last seen in September 2017 along with the iPhone X, the AirPower is Apple's wireless answer to your charging woes. It is an inductive charging mat that will be able to charge your iPhone X (or 8 and 8 Plus), Apple Watch Series 3 and the AirPods wireless earphones at the same time.

But April is coming soon and we haven't heard anything else about it since last year's reveal. If the AirPower charging mat is introduced on Tuesday, we will probably also see more of the new AirPods wireless charging case that was announced in September last year, and perhaps new AirPods that come with the case too.

Surprises?

If Apple is to spring any surprises, it might just be a new iPhone SE. The iPhone SE hasn't been updated since March 2016. And given the education and budget theme for Tuesday's event, an iPhone SE 2 - or whatever it will be called - does sound logical.

In addition, Internet chatter suggests that we might see a new colour variant of the iPhone X during the event. There is no rose gold version for the iPhone X yet, unlike the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Currently, the iPhone X only comes in silver and space grey.

Furthermore, Apple introduced the red versions of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus last March. So, we might also see a red variant of the iPhone X as well as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

With the iPhone X into its mid-year cycle, new colour variants will certainly spice up interest and generate sales for the next six months.