Apple’s iPhone event is upon us, and there’s been no shortage of speculation about Apple’s platforms and products, but what should we really expect from Apple’s big event? We’ve donned our hip waders and trudged through the swamp of rumors to help get a better idea of what might unfold this week at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
As usual, Tim Cook will start things off by welcoming the media. He’ll say a few words about how excited he is, perhaps offer a few statistics for how well Apple’s products have been doing, and then hand the meeting off to Apple’s various VPs to discuss new hardware, iOS 6, and more.
So, what about the rest of the event? We’ve sorted the main rumors into three main categories based on how likely we think they are.
Extremely Likely / Certain
- New iPhone / iPhone 5
The most significant announcement from tomorrow’s media event – indeed, the single biggest reason the event is being held – is to announce the new iPhone.
Apple’s new iPhone is expected to feature a taller 4-inch screen, thinner design, and a two-tone metal rear casing, as well as a smaller dock connector, relocated FaceTime camera, global LTE support, a new smaller nano-SIM, and more.
Check out our iPhone 5 roundup for the full scoop on what to expect from Apple’s new iPhone!
- iPhone 3GS will be Discontinued
Once the next-gen iPhone is released, there’s no good reason for Apple to keep the iPhone 3GS around any longer. I expect that it will go the way of the Dodo (although iOS 6 will apparently be supported on the 3GS). I don’t have a source to back this up, but it seems extremely likely. As of the beginning of September, Apple Store seem to be facing extremely limited stock of the iPhone 3GS, suggesting that it might be discontinued.
If the 3GS does indeed get discontinued, the iPhone 4S will become Apple’s $99 phone, and the iPhone 4 will become free with a 2-year contract.
With a new model of the iPhone come a new version of iOS. Apple previewed iOS 6 earlier this year, which includes a number of great new features, such as an all-new Maps app, Apple’s Passbook app, enhancements to Siri (including Siri for iPad), and a whole host of other features and improvements.
If Apple keeps with tradition, Apple will release iOS 6 at least a few days before they launch the new iPhone.giving a closer look at some of its new features, such as Passbook, improved Siri support, a new Apple-made Maps app with 3D-enabled flyovers, and more.
I expect we’ll hear a lot about Passbook in particular, which is already being supported by various airlines, and even theme parks, before iOS 6 is even officially released. Passbook could easily become a serious contender in mobile payments, and for management of gift cards, tickets, and more.
iOS 6 will also feature a redesigned App Store, an intriguing new Bluetooth Sharing feature (nobody knows exactly what this even does yet), and a whole host of other changes and improvements.
Check out our iOS 6 archive and Apple’s iOS 6 page for more details!
Apple’s been increasingly focused on pushing iCloud to their customers. It’s very likely that iCloud will be mentioned, and usage statistics will be given. It’s also been rumored that Apple wil unveil new iCloud Web apps for Notes and reminders, which makes a lot of sense and seems very likely.
- New iPods
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about new iPod models that Apple may have in the works. and it seems highly likely that Apple will release updated models of the iPod touch, the iPod nano, and the iPod Shuffle at tomorrow’s event.
The iPod touch update could be especially exciting, as the device is rumored to get a 4-inch screen, like the iPhone 5, and a faster A5 processor. Leaked part numbers for the three new iPod lines have already been leaked.
- iPod Classic will continue to be available
There’s been no shortage of rumors about the death of the iPod classic, but frankly, until Apple can crank out a 128GB iPod touch for a reasonable price, there’s really no reason to think the Classic is going anywhere.
- Facebook Integration for Mountain Lion / OS X 10.8.2 Update
Apple has been telling us all for a while that Facebook integration would be coming to Mountain Lion. They showed the feature off at WWDC, and the current developer builds of OS X 10.7.2 feature fully functional Facebook support. It’s highly unlikely that Apple will release OS X 10.8.2 sometime around the event, even if they don’t announce it on stage.
- iTunes 11 / Significant iTunes Update
Apple will need to release some some sort of iTunes update to add support for the new iPhone. This will probably happen some time around the release of iOS 6. The question remains as to whether Apple will introduce a major new version of iTunes.
iTunes hasn’t seen a major update since 2010 (when they added Ping), and their sync software is very much in need of some attention. Numerous reports have claimed that a majorly revamped version of iTunes will be released this fall (including one from well-known Apple pundit MG Seigler), and the update is thought to be nearly complete.
Bloomberg reported that a major new version of iTunes would be released by the end of the year, and one report even specifically claimed the update will be released in September.
Despite the rumors, there haven’t been any developer seeds or serious leaks of a major new version of iTunes. I’m still on the fence about this one.
While there’s little doubt that Apple is preparing to release a smaller version of the iPad, the most recent reports suggest that it will be announced at a separate event in October. Apple doesn’t typically like to crowd the iPhone with other significant announcements. Staggering the two releases (iPhone 5 and iPad mini) by a month or so would also help from a manufacturing standpoint.
- New Macs
While updated iMacs and a new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro are both rumored to be released this fall, it’s unlikely that Apple will spend any time announcing new Macs, as such announcements would only detract from the focus of the event: the iPhone.
The way I see it, there are two possibilities for new Macs: either they will be announced in October alongside the iPad mini, or they will be silently released to the Apple Online Store whenever Apple decides the time is right.
Wrapping it Up
Nothing is official until Apple announces it themselves, but after wading through a large, fast-moving river of rumor and speculation, these are our predictions for Apple’s big event. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments!