Apple’s October event is less than 24 hours away – and there are more rumors and claims surrounding the event than you can shake a stick at. Many of you might be wondering what we should 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.
Here’s what we expect from the event, in order of likelihood.
Extremely Likely to Near Certain
Apple’s new 5th-gen iPad will almost certainly be a key topic at the event. The device will be both thinner and lighter than the 4th-gen iPad. This will be possible in part due to battery improvements, and a new display technology (such as Sharp’s IGZO) that allow for a thinner, more power efficient Retina display in the device.
The hardware will be significantly revamped on the inside with an improved camera, will incorporate Apple’s new A7 chip, or a variant, such as A7x. It will also likely include Apple’s new M7 chip, despite the fact that a mobile tracking chip will be of limited use in iPad hardware. For that reason, the M7 might only be included in cellular versions of the iPad.
We’re not expecting Touch ID to be included in the iPad at this moment – although we wouldn’t be entirely shocked if it does make an appearance. We expect that the new 5th-gen iPad will include a 128GB option from the very beginning. We also expect the device to be offered in the new Space Grey and gold colors introduced with the iPhone 5S.
The next iPad mini will also be a key topic. It will also feature dramatically updated hardware. Rather than being based on the iPad 2, as the current iPad mini is, it will likely be a variant of the 3rd-gen or 4th-gen iPad hardware. Since the 3rd and 4th-gen iPads were both designed to include a Retina display, we’re expecting a Retina display for the iPad mini as well.
It’s unclear whether the new iPad mini will become any thicker or heavier to accommodate Retina, although this remains a strong possibility. As for the processor – we do NOT expect the iPad mini to include an A7 processor or variant thereof, because it would not allow enough distinction from the 5th-gen full-sized iPad hardware. Thus, an A6 or A6x chip will likely be used.
The inclusion of an M7 or similar chip seems unlikely, as that chip was designed for the new A7 series chips. We are also NOT expecting TouchID to be included on the iPad mini. We also expect the device to be offered in the new Space Grey and gold colors introduced with the iPhone 5S.
We expect pricing to remain the same as the current iPad mini, at a $329 starting price.
We are prepared for the release of OS X Mavericks to occur at the event, or at least be announced on the day of the event. It’s not clear whether the release will occur through an Apple press release, or whether it will be announced at the event itself, although we are banking on the latter. We are expecting the update to be priced at $20, as with Mountain Lion.
You can pretty much count on Apple at least mentioning the new Mac Pro at the event – and we’re betting on them announcing a final date for pre-orders or retail sales. They’ll also likely finalize the specs for the device, and release the pricing for the hardware. We expect pricing to begin at $2500-3000, and rise from there as specs and options improve.
Moderately Likely to Highly Likely
The MacBook Pro is certainly due for an update, and numerous rumors have suggested that new models are coming very soon. We’re counting on either an Apple press release announcing new models, or a mention at the event – but considering how much Apple already has to talk about at the event, we’re not sure it will be mentioned on stage at all.
- New or Updated iWork Apps and iLife apps for Mac and/or iOS
Numerous rumors, as well as the discovery of updated apps for GarageBand, iPhoto, and other Apple apps within iOS 7, as well as on Apple’s own website, suggest that updated versions of many apps will debut at or around the event – likely alongside the next update to iOS 7. It’s been awhile since Apple’s key iOS apps have received major updates, and we are counting on it. The Mac versions of the iLife and iWork suite are also prime candidates for an update.
Apple’s already believed to be ready to release an updated version of iOS – likely to support the new iPad hardware, as well as fix lingering bugs and issues present in iOS 7.0.2. We expect that the release will be iOS 7.1, rather than the 7.0.3 update that has been appearing in site logs.
Somewhat Likely (50/50 odds or slightly better)
New Apple TV hardware remains a strong possibility, especially with Apple’s apparent excitement over 4K in the new Mac Pro, and the increasing affordability of 4K television sets. The new hardware is anything but certain – but would be right up Apple’s alley timing-wise. It’s possible that such a device would act as a cable TV set-top box, as Apple has reportedly been working hard with cable providers. It would also require a faster chip, such as a variant of Apple’s A7 chips.
- Updated Apple TV Firmware
With new Apple TV hardware will come new Apple TV software. The revamped software, if released, will accommodate 4K support in the new Apple TV hardware. It also may allow for additional 3rd-party apps, as Apple has been hard at work on adding additional 3rd-party content in recent months. It will also likely sport some manner of redesigned interface.
- New Mac mini models
The Mac mini has never been a high priority for Apple. Nevertheless, the Mac Mini is overdue for some manner of upgrade. Likely possibilities include a Haswell processor, support for PCIe SSDs, like Apple has added to the iMac and MacBook Air, and so forth.
- Updated Thunderbolt Display, with Retina or 4K support
Apple has been actively building enhanced 4K support into OS X for quite some time. They also specifically mentioned 4K support coming to the new Mac Pro. Ss such, we would be entirely unsurprised to see a Retina version (2x resolution would be 5120 x 2880) of their Thunderbolt Display, or a 4K version (resolution of 4096 x 2304 pixels or 3840 x 2160).
We’d expect Apple to product this at as low a price as possible – likely under $2000, or at least under $1500. The display would be intended mainly for the Retina MacBook Pro, and would likely include HDMI output, as with the Mac Mini, and the Retina MacBook Pro models.
Not gonna happen
While we expect Apple to enter the wearable computing at some point, we highly doubt it will happen this year. We are happy to be proven wrong.
Much to Gene Munster’s disappointment, a full-blown Apple television set is also very very unlikely to be released this year.
Yet another rumor that won’t go away – and yet another we do not believe will be happening in the near future.
The following are also moderately possible, but things we won’t necessarily be hedging any serious bets on for this year (or perhaps ever).
- 13-inch iPad
Despite presistent rumors that Apple has been working on a larger version of the iPad, we do not believe they have plans to release such a device in the near future. Don’t count on it.
- Updated AirPort Express with 802.11ac
It’s not clear why Apple did not release an 802.11ac version of the AirPort Express when they updated the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule hardware – but we don’t expect them to launch it this year. They appear to consider this as less than important, and in truth, they do have a lot of other important more important things to focus their attention on.
Anything We Missed?
This sums up pretty conclusively what we expect Apple to unveil or talk about tomorrow. Is there anything we missed that you think merits discussion? Let us know by sounding off in the comments! Make sure to tune into MacTrast tomorrow morning for our full coverage of the event.