Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, the news that Apple will be holding a press event on October 22 should have made it to you. From the looks of the rumor mill, it’s going to be a big one.
The invitation to Apple’s announcement lead with “We still have a lot to cover,” and while I don’t think it’s worth it to read too much into that, the message seems clear: Apple has a smorgasbord of new hardware and software coming down the pipeline. Here’s what you can expect from the company’s keynote in San Francisco this Tuesday.
At this point, it’s basically guaranteed that we’re going to see a refresh of both the iPad and iPad Mini lines. According to the rumor mill, the iPad will be getting a slim-down to match the style of the iPad Mini, and it looks like both devices will be receiving a silicon upgrade to Apple’s new 64-bit A7 chip.
The rumor mill seems divided on the subject of a retina screen iPad Mini. On one hand, it seems like a logical move for Apple, which likes to tout its display specs. On the other hand, driving a Retina display takes a lot of power, and I don’t see Apple wanting to produce a new Mini that can’t last as long as its predecessor.
Similarly, it’s not clear whether Apple is going to be bringing Touch ID to all the new models of the iPad, but I think there’s a decent chance that you’ll be able to unlock your next tablet with only a fingerprint.
OS X 10.9, “Mavericks”
Apple unveiled Mavericks on stage at WWDC in June, and both the consumer and server versions of the software received gold master certification in the past couple weeks. I fully expect we’ll get a release date for the new OS announced during the keynote, and I certainly won’t be surprised if you’ll be able to pick up Apple’s new desktop OS within the week.
Mavericks brings a number of improvements, including major changes to the Finder, as well as dedicated Maps and iBooks apps that pair with their counterparts on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. If Apple’s previous OS updates are any indication, it’ll probably set you back $30. While Mountain Lion only cost $19.99, Mavericks’s feature set seems to be more in line with Lion, which carried a $30 price tag.
Updates to iBooks and iWork
When Apple updated its first-party apps for iOS 7 last month, there were a couple notable exceptions: its iWork productivity suite, and iBooks, its e-reading application. Because the iPad is well-suited to work with both applications, I’d be surprised if Apple left iWork and iBooks out of its announcement. We may also see iWork on iCloud lose its beta label with those announcements, bringing Apple’s productivity suite closer to Office 365 in terms of functionality.
Apple brought Intel’s new Haswell processors to its MacBook Air line of laptops, ushering in a suite of ultra-portable notebooks that boast between 11 and 13 hours of battery life on a single charge. The company hasn’t updated its MacBook Pro line of laptops yet this year, which means we’re likely to see what Haswell will be able to do for Apple’s workhorse notebooks.
In addition, Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, unveiled a new version of the Mac Pro at WWDC, saying that the next iteration of Apple’s top-end Mac desktop would be available this year. Since Apple is running out of months before holiday shopping season, it seems like this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about when the Mac Pro will be available, and what its undoubtedly hefty price tag will look like.
There’s a chance we’ll see a new version of the Apple TV announced in time for the holidays. AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka seemed fairly certain we’ll see a refresh to Apple’s set-top box on Tuesday, and I’m inclined to believe him, given his recent track record. Supply shortages of the Apple TV on Amazon’s French and German sites may also point to a refresh. Google’s $35 Chromecast dongle seems like a serious competitor to the $99 Apple TV, so it would make sense that Apple would want to make a move.
We may also see an update to Apple’s Thunderbolt Display alongside the new Mac Pro. The Mac Pro is supposed to be able to drive up to three 4K displays at once, so it would make sense for Apple to release hardware that compliments that capability. The Thunderbolt Display hasn’t seen an update since its introduction in 2011, so it’s high time for a new one as well.
Blair Hanley Frank is GeekWire’s Bay Area Correspondent. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.