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Here's what to expect from Apple's 'Loop You In' event

With any luck, we'll get a supersecret 'one more thing.'

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In just a few days, Apple is going to make headlines for more than just its hard line on encryption. The company invited the tech press to Cupertino on Monday to "loop" us in to the newest additions to its product lineup, and we'll be there live-blogging and hands-onning and generally doing what we do best. Before we board our flights and check our bags, though, let's take a few moments to run through all the things we expect to see (plus a few things we're quietly hoping for).

The Locks

A new, smaller iPhone

If current iPhones are squeezing your pockets to the limit, stay tuned. All signs point to a smaller iPhone (the SE?) with a 4-inch display and a design that's highly reminiscent of the old iPhone 5 line, just with more modern internals. Likely suspect: the A9-M9 chipset combination that powers the iPhone 6s. The 6s similarities don't end there, either, if the rumor mill is to be believed: The iPhone SE is said to have a 12 megapixel camera that shoots Live Photos and 4K video, along with a Touch ID sensor and NFC sensor for Apple Pay. MacRumors suggests that 3D Touch will remain a 6s-exclusive feature, though, and that the SE will get less RAM (just 1GB) and fewer storage options (16GB and 64GB) than Apple's current flagship phones. Fair enough, as long as SE has a lower price to match.

A more portable iPad Pro

"Making things smaller" might well be the theme for Apple's event Monday. Expect to see a shrunken-down version last year's iPad Pro fitted with a 9.7-inch display -- because that enormous 12.9-inch screen surely wasn't going to work for everyone. The new iPad will likely feature (among other things) a snappy A9X chipset, an impressive array of speakers etched into each corner and a Smart Connector to provide access for keyboard cases and other accessories. Oh, and according to leaked schematics we obtained, it looks like the new Pro will have an LED flash (because iPad photography is apparently a thing that needs encouraging). As you'd expect, though, this stuff requires just a little extra breathing room: The new iPad will be slightly thicker and wider than the Air 2.

The Likely

Software updates!

In case you haven't been keeping track, Apple has already pushed seven beta versions of iOS 9.3 to testers. At this point, we'd say the company is very close to pulling the final build out of the oven. And really, what better opportunity to show off new features like Night Shift (which adjusts the screen by reducing blue light and enhancing "warmer" colors when it's dark) and Touch ID protection for Notes.app than with a new iPhone. Then again, iOS 9.3 is also said to pack an improved dashboard for Apple Health and expanded support for 3D Touch gestures on first-party apps, so there's a little something for everyone here.

The Apple Watch should get a software update of its own, too: WatchOS 2.2 will allow people to link multiple watches to a single iPhone, as well as search for nearby points of interest through an updated Maps interface. Apple has released six beta builds since January, so we'd be shocked if this didn't get some sort of shout-out. Meanwhile, 9to5Mac suggests that we'll also see relatively minor updates to Apple's tvOS and OS X. While such updates don't really fit in thematically, it'd be odd if Craig Federighi and his amazing hair sat this event out completely.

A slew of new Watch bands

While not as cool as Vic Gundotra's potentially life-saving strap, the Apple Watch will probably get a handful of new bands as of Monday. We shouldn't be shocked to see some new elastomer Sport straps in jaunty spring hues, and if we're lucky we just might see another appearance from Hermés. Curiously, 9to5Mac is also fairly sure we're going to get some "NATO" bands too -- you know, those typically nylon ribbons that curl though a series of metal loops. And since Apple is such a sucker for puns, we wouldn't be shocked if the "loop" in the invite were a reference to the black Milanese loop band that's expected to appear. (Suffice to say, we hope there's more to Apple's choice of words than just that.)

The Long Shot

A new Apple Watch

It's been year since Apple released the Apple Watch, and Apple's all about those annual release cycles, right? While TechCrunch's sources suggest that a slightly refreshed Watch with a FaceTime camera is coming soon, there's no indication that it'll actually get stage time next week. Then again, we're happy for Tim Cook to prove us wrong (especially if Apple managed to squeeze in a better battery on v2).

Chris spent his formative years taking apart Sega consoles and writing awful fan fiction. To his utter shock, that passion for electronics and words would eventually lead him to covering startups of all stripes at TechCrunch. The first phone he ever swooned over was the Nokia 7610, and to this day he cringes whenever anyone says the words “Bengal Boy."He also really hates writing about himself in the third person.
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