Apple’s big fall event is happening tomorrow. Rumors are swirling around new iPhones, an updated Apple TV and maybe even a larger iPad for professionals. Below, GeekWire has rounded up all the rumors, along with our own ratings assessing how likely each rumor is to prove true at Wednesday’s event.
Rating scale: 10 is practically a guarantee, 1 is about as likely as a new Amazon Fire Phone
New iPhone: 10
The September Apple event has traditionally been anchored by the introduction of new iPhones for the holiday season. This is the “S” update according to Apple’s history, so expect some spec bumps, but little in the way of new features or major design changes.
The phone’s shape will stay largely the same, with rounded edges, a slim profile and a camera bulging out the back. However, that camera may be improved, with the ability to shoot 4K video. The front-facing camera is also likely to see an improvement to 1080p video quality, along with slow-motion capture and better low-light performance.
Perhaps the biggest feature may be a Force Touch screen, or “3D Touch,” one of many leaks reported by Mark Gurman of 9to5 Mac. Using the technology introduced with the Apple Watch and now also found on MacBooks, Apple may add a new input method to phones. Force Touch would work by sensing how hard a user presses on the screen, which would let developers add new ways to control apps.
We may also get a new phone color: rose. Apple introduced the reddish hue in its high-end smartwatch line, the Apple Watch Edition, earlier this year with the rose gold option. With the new iPhone, that color may be coming to the aluminum casing found on the current iPhone lineup.
Apple will probably keep the same size options for the phone; a smaller 6C was rumored, but so far no parts have been spotted from the notoriously leaky iPhone supply chain.
Apple TV: 7
The Apple TV is long overdue for an update. Once described by Apple as a hobby, the Apple TV has seen increased scrutiny in Apple’s lineup. The device has a handful of competitors, from Amazon’s Fire TVs and the Roku to more powerful choices like the Xbox One, but Apple TV hasn’t been significantly updated since 2010.
The new box was originally rumored to debut at WWDC, but negotiations around a streaming video service like Netflix or Hulu may have held it back. Now, Apple is introducing the box with or without the streaming option.
Speculation around the upgraded Apple TV is centered around its potential as a gaming machine as the event grows nearer. The new machine will almost definitely have a selection of apps that users can download, as opposed to current Apple TVs which have a handful of apps pre-installed. The downloadable apps are fairly likely to include games, which will be playable via an upgraded Apple TV remote or 3rd-party options approved by Apple.
In order to play these games, the Apple TV will need upgraded internals. While it looks like the new box won’t compete directly with the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, it will be able to play anything you can currently run on an iPhone.
The upgraded remote will also be integral to the Apple TV experience. It will have a touchscreen alongside existing physical buttons, an accelerometer for motion control, and a microphone for voice queries and accessing Siri.
Siri will play a big part in Apple’s new unified search on the TV. Now, users will be able to search across all streaming services for the content they want, much like Roku users have been able to do for a while.
iOS 9 launch date: 5
iOS 9, which we heard all about at WWDC, will probably get a final launch date. The new iPhones will almost certainly ship with the new mobile operating system, so a release date for iOS 9 will be coming up soon either way. While we may not hear about any new features in iOS, the new iPhones may have some tricks up their sleeves that trickle down to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus via iOS 9.
Apple Watch update: 3
The Apple Watch has been out for less than a year, so the chances that it will see an update are slim to none. However, watchOS 2.0 may get a shoutout on stage and may even get a release date. We’ll also likely see some new watch bands in time for the holidays.
iPad Pro: 5
An iPad Pro has been rumored for about as long as the iPad mini has been around. With Apple showing a willingness to bump up screen sizes like in the iPhone 6 series, an iPad Pro isn’t too outrageous of a proposition. Apple is almost definitely working on a bigger iPad, but it probably won’t be showcased at tomorrow’s event.
First, the event is likely to be very crowded. A new Apple TV would likely have all kinds of new interactions that Cook & Co. will want to show off on stage. And a new iPhone is almost guaranteed to have a gratuitous amount of Jony Ive-narrated video.
Also, Apple has held an iPad event in October in recent years and may wait to add the iPad Pro onto its lineup. With a rumored 12.9-inch screen, Force Touch display, stylus, cases and keyboards, an iPad Pro could easily warrant its own event.
With Apple’s virtual assistant getting a shout-out in the invitation to the event, Siri will likely play a role in tomorrow’s festivities. While she’s probably going to be a central part of controlling the Apple TV, will she also compete with Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant currently found in the Echo? As part of the Apple TV, she may be able to interface with speakers and other home entertainment equipment, responding to voice commands throughout the house.
Check back with GeekWire on Wednesday for all the news from the big Apple event.