Innovation

Diminutive is the new black: Apple delivers new iPhone and iPad versions

Apple unveiled a smaller iPad Pro and a 4-inch iPhone on Monday. Here's what the latest developments mean for business users.

Whenever Apple holds an event, it's guaranteed that the devices being discussed will undergo some type of change in size.

That was true once again at Apple's event Monday, in which the tech giant unveiled a new, smaller, 4-inch iPhone, the iPhone SE, and a new 9.7-inch version of the iPad Pro.

However, before Apple commenced with the twee product videos and tech specs, CEO Tim Cook's first order of business was to address the ongoing controversy between Apple and FBI over whether the tech company should help the government get into accused San Bernardino shooter Sayed Farook's iPhone.

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"We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and over our privacy," Cook said. The Apple CEO told the audience that Apple has a responsibility to protect the data of Apple users and will not shrink from that.

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Then it was back to the show.

For business users, the most notable reveal was the smaller iPad Pro, a new version 3 inches smaller than the original which made its debut in September 2015.

Phil Schiller said that the majority of people coming to the iPad Pro are coming from PCs, specifically from some of the more than 600 million PCs in the wild that are more than 6 years old. Apple sees the iPad Pro as the ultimate replacement and is targeting Windows users.

It will feature the A9X chip with M9 coprocessor, 4-speaker stereo audio with dynamic frequency adjustment, a True Tone display, which uses ambient light to dynamically adjusts color temperature, and color saturation that's 25% better than the iPad Air 2, is brighter and less reflective, and an iSight camera comparable to the iPhone 6s. Also, it will be compatible with the Apple Pencil, and users will be able to use an Apple keyboard with it. Apple also introduced new Lightning adaptors, including a USB camera adapter and an SD card reader.

Why business users might need a smaller iPad Pro was something Schiller acknowledged but didn't flesh out. Gartner analyst Brian Blau suggested some users might not need that extra screen real estate, like those in non-creative fields who are using the iPad Pro.

"There are a lot of business users that use their devices purely for information, they're not using it for content creation," Blau said.

And with regard to the display improvements, he said that users might not notice it in a big way, but it could change the way they feel about spending so much time on their devices, especially in a work setting.

"It'll make the computing environment a lot more pleasing day to day. And that might not be a real perceptible thing, but you can imagine over time, you like looking at an Apple screen better than other screens," Blau said.

This new version will range from $599 for 32GB to $749 for 128GB.

Apple also talked about new features from iOS 9.3, which is available for download to today. One new feature is Night Shift, which will use time and location to adjust devices' displays in order to reduce the amount of blue light emitted. Blue light has been found to reduce levels of melatonin, the chemical your body produces to help you fall asleep.

SEE: Digital eye strain: Understanding the condition and how to fight it

iOS 9.3, among other things, will also offer password or Touch ID protection for Notes. Apple also underlined that 90% of Apple devices run iOS 9, and so Apple does not suffer the same fragmentation that Android does.

The other device that shrank was the iPhone, in the form of a 4-inch version called the SE.

Apple's Greg Joswiak said the device is aimed mostly at users who prefer a smaller phone, as well as those globally who are perhaps getting their first iPhone.

The iPhone SE will have the same computing power as the iPhone 6s and start at $399 for 16GB.

"The new compact iPhone with the powerful features of the iPhone 6 at a more affordable price should help Apple hit volume goals until the release of a more disruptive new device a couple of months after its developer conference," said Thomas Husson, VP and principal analyst at Forrester.

And while Apple Watch has been embraced by many business users, the big update at this announcement was a spring line of new bands.

Other announcements included Apple's continued efforts to go green. Two years ago the company set the goal of becoming 100% renewable in all its operations worldwide, and it now reports to be at 93%, said Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives. In case you run into robot domination jokes on Twitter, she also showed off a robot named Liam that totally disassembles old iPhones and separates parts so they can be used again.

Apple also announced CareKit, another health-oriented framework on which developers can build apps. It's open source and will be available in April.

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Erin Carson is a Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

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