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Apple announcement updates: With iPhone SE, iPad Pro and encryption, that was a pretty predictable show

What was revealed at today's Apple announcement at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif:

• The iPhone SE, a return to the 4-inch model, but one that is as powerful as the iPhone 6S

• A new, 9.7-inch iPad Pro — a smaller version of the initial 12.9-inch iPad Pro

• The cheapest Apple Watch is now cheaper at $299 and there are new bands to go with it

• iOS9.3 is available as new update today

Apple's high-profile fight with the FBI over the iPhone's encryption was addressed immediately and forcefully by CEO Tim Cook

Is predictability what's next for Apple?

The tech press has jumped on Apple in the last two years, repeatedly blasting the company's increasingly predictable media events in headlines as "boring." And social media commentators have piled on.

The rhetoric continued Monday as Apple announced a new 4-inch-display iPhone, called the SE, aimed at consumers whose small hands, tight pockets or thin pocketbooks couldn't handle the big-screened iPhones unveiled last year. IPhone SE starts at $399, making it the most affordable iPhone ever by $150.

The Cupertino, Calif., company also released an iPad Pro that doesn't have a giant screen; colorful wristbands for the Apple Watch; and minor software updates for the Apple TV, iPhone, iPod and iPad. Nothing was a big surprise.

Couldn't a company that heralds itself for being innovative find a way to spice things up? Yes. But close followers of Apple say nothing is likely to change soon.

See how the sizes have changed

About that new iPad Pro and other lower-priced products: Analysts initially bullish

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Technology analysts offered some initial bullishness about the new smaller iPad Pro, but it’s unclear whether the powerful tablet computer will click with consumers who consider the tablets they already own or their phone-and-laptop combination to be good enough.

Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, noted the new iPad Pro could be appealing to businesses when it’s viewed in comparison to the more expensive, larger iPad Pro announced last fall. The same could be said for consumers debating whether to put extra money toward getting a laptop versus settling for a tablet.

Indeed, analysts said the variety of lower-priced options announced Monday across Apple’s mobile product lineup, including the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, is a major step for the company to attract new users as it deals with slowing sales growth.

But reigniting sales could be complicated with the iPad, as the move may do more to shift the types of customers who buy Apple products than the overall number of Apple customers.

Jan Dawson, an analyst for Jackdaw Research, said Apple’s marketing language for the smaller iPad Pro cemented a shift in identity for Apple’s tablet line. Consumers looking for entertainment are turning to their smartphones. People who want tablets now are looking at it as a business device.

Closing with nostalgia

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook closed out Monday’s event with a minute of nostalgia.

Next year, Apple plans to move into a new ring-shaped building in Cupertino. That means the auditorium at its current headquarters, where Monday’s news conference was held, will be defunct.

“It’s a very special place, with lots of memories,” Cook said of the room he was standing in. “The iPod was announced in this room, and so was the App Store.”

He didn’t mention Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder who unveiled those offerings — and dreamed up the new headquarters before his death in 2011.

Here's the whole iPad line

Rose gold — also known as pink — for everything

Again, smaller everything

Prompting lots of "small" jokes in general. Here's just one.

Smaller everything! Including an iPad Pro

Among the new OS9.3 features: Help sleeping

iPhone SE is cheaper than Apple's last most affordable model

Siri comes to Apple TV

One of the worst things about Apple TV, Roku and other streaming television boxes is the tediousness of entering usernames and passwords for Netflix, Hulu and other apps when setting them up.

Starting Monday, Apple TV users have a potential solution: They can dictate their passwords using Siri voice commands. The feature arrives on the 2015 model of Apple TV via an update launching Monday.

Users also can use Siri to search the App Store.

The iPhone SE is real

It will have, as expected, a 4-inch screen. It will be available in the U.S. on March 31. More details:

Apple Watch starts cheaper and has ... new bands

It will start at $299. Apple seems to be responding to retailers' slashing of prices recently.

And there will be new bands in several colors. 

CareKit introduced — here's what it does

On Apple vs. FBI: 'We will not shrink from this responsibility'

 (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook addressed the elephant in the room – the company’s legal battle with the FBI -- right off the bat Monday morning.

Cook said Apple has a responsibility to protect information on people's iPhones and other Apple products from intrusion because the devices have become an “extension of ourselves.”

“We will not shrink from this responsibility,” Cook said.

Though his remarks were being streamed online across the world, Cook directed his comments about privacy primarily to U.S. users.

“We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and our privacy,” Cook said. “We didn’t expect…to be at odds with our government. But we believe we have a responsibility to protect your data, your privacy. We owe it to our customers.”

Apple and the FBI are expected to meet in federal court in Riverside on Tuesday afternoon as a judge considers whether to enforce an order requiring the company to help the agency unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.

There's a robot that takes apart iPhones, it turns out

This is the takeaway:

Encryption fight is the first thing

For many of us, the iPhone is an extension of ourselves ... we need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and over our privacy. ... We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with our own government.

Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, who has refused to capitulate to the FBI's request to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists

Apple's smaller space for this announcement is apparently a tight squeeze

Watch this with us, but we can't promise it won't be something you've seen before

When Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook offers his classic, event-opening refrain Monday, he’ll set off a chain of on-stage remarks that will be predictable to the huge, worldwide audience who follow the company’s tri-annual product launches.

During the last four years, about the time winter gives way to spring, spring to summer and summer to fall, Cook has begun on a Northern California stage by trumpeting the Cupertino, Calif., company’s growth. Then he and other executives run through demos of a varying set of new hardware. Faster processor. Better camera. More battery life. Just as expensive as ever. Throw in a celebrity or two and an unexpected twist, and you’ve got the gist.

But with Apple confronting declining annual sales growth of the iPhone for the first time since it launched in 2007, is the Apple way of events in need of a refresh?

Watch with us here on Safari, Apple TV and Microsoft Edge.

Some people want smaller phones because of their hands

This is an iPhone 5 (Dan Krauss / For The Times)
This is an iPhone 5 (Dan Krauss / For The Times)

For Apple, a smaller iPhone is likely most about attracting customers who want or need a better deal. But for some who can afford a more expensive phone, it's about their hands. 

The release of a smaller device could help Apple retain customers who simply prefer smaller gadgets — cyclists who want to tuck their phones into their jerseys, runners wary of extra size and weight, or those who simply don't have big hands. It could also appeal to customers who reluctantly transitioned to the iPhone 6 line but are unlikely to go any bigger.

"I've gotten pretty used to the size of my iPhone 6, but I do have to stretch my hands pretty far sometimes," said Adam Rippon, 35, a software developer and Apple shareholder from Oakland. Despite having what he describes as "normal-sized" hands, he says he misses his old 3.5-inch iPhones because he "never had that problem" with those.

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