Next Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 10am US Pacific time (1pm US Eastern), the lights will rise for the first time in the new Steve Jobs Theater, nestled beside the giant metallic donut that is Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California. We will be introduced, most likely, to the 10th installment in the iPhone franchise, along with a litany of other updates and gadgets.
Apple’s press events tend to run exceedingly long—around two hours—given the amount of new content they contain, and Quartz will be there to cover it all in detail. Here’s what we’re expecting from the big event:
The headline of the event will be the launch of Apple’s next iPhone—or three. Under the patten it’s worked with since 2009, logically the next phones should be called the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus. But Apple will be skipping its “S” line of phones for this year’s models and moving right along to releasing the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
These won’t be the stars of the show, though. From what’s been reported, they will effectively be minor upgrades over last year’s iPhones, supporting players to a new phone Apple will be releasing, apparently called the iPhone Edition. This new phone will have a screen similar in size to the iPhone 7 Plus, but in a body the size of an iPhone 7. It’s expected to have wireless charging, no home button, and a powerful set of dual cameras. For a more detailed look at what’s been leaked so far regarding the new iPhones, we refer you to this handy roundup.
An LTE Apple Watch
A year ago, Apple unveiled a new version of the Apple Watch, which was a minor hardware update over the model it first released in April 2015. It had the same design, same basic functions, same screen, and same battery life as the first model. Back in August, Bloomberg reported that the big new feature of the upcoming model will be an LTE modem for wireless data, meaning you won’t need to pair the watch with an iPhone to make full use of it. But it’s unclear what, if any, other new tricks will be included. Apple did buy a sleep-tracking company called Beddit in May, so perhaps it’s looking into ways to allow users to wear the watches overnight after wearing them all day—which would require a longer battery life.
A new Apple TV
Two years ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook told us that “the future of TV is apps,” as he unveiled a new Apple TV streaming device. The updated machine featured a new app store, Siri search, and a remote that acted more like a Nintendo Wii controller than the average TV remote. Even with the updated box, the Apple TV is still in a distant fourth place in market share for streaming devices in the US. Apple will likely be hoping that a refresh will spur more customers to choose its device over its competitors, but the only real information that’s leaked about the updated box is that it’ll be able to stream in 4K high definition. Both Google and Roku already offer 4K versions of their more-popular streaming devices. For now it seems that the future of TV is just more TV all the time, everywhere.
At Apple’s annual developer conference in June, the company unveiled HomePod, a Siri-powered home speaker device that’s expected to take on the likes of Amazon’s Echo line and Google Home. The 7-inch speaker has seven tweeters and a 4-inch woofer, and is meant to pack an acoustic punch that can fill up a whole room more effectively than its competitors. We learned pretty much everything about the $349 speaker over the summer, apart from precisely when in December it will be released. Expect an update at the event.
Apple previewed the forthcoming versions of its software—iOS 11 for iPhones and iPads, watchOS 4 for Apple Watches, and macOS High Sierra for Macs—at its June developer conference. But there always seems to be a few new exciting tidbits that the company saves for its September events. Apple also didn’t say too much about what’s changing with High Sierra, so expect more information on that, along with when each new operating system will be available.
Expect to hear about a handful of updates to other Apple services, like Apple Music and iTunes, as well.
Apple introduced the new iMac Pro (a more powerful iMac desktop computer, that comes in “space grey”) at the developer conference. We’ll likely hear a bit more about it now. On top of the more powerful machine, Apple also introduced updates to its regular iMacs, along with the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines, over the summer. But there are a few other computers Apple hasn’t updated in a very long while: its Mac Pro and Mac Mini machines. In April, Apple said it was working on a complete redesign of the Mac Pro (and a new monitor to go along with it), but that it wouldn’t be ready for 2017. Perhaps like the original Apple Watch, Apple will preview its new machines in September for release the following year.
As for the Mac Mini, Apple hasn’t updated the diminutive desktop in more than 1,000 days—but I’m still holding out a modicum of hope that Apple hasn’t forgotten about desktop users who want something more than an Apple TV but don’t want to buy a computer with a new monitor.
One more thing?
Apple has a history of saving some surprising announcements until the end of its long presentations. Of course, it’s hard to imagine Apple has something that could actually surprise anyone after the months of intricate leaks on the broad array of products expected to make their debut. But then, there has been talk that Apple is working on a few other gadgets—including augmented-reality glasses and another wearable—and the company managed to keep last year’s AirPods debut pretty much under wraps until they were unveiled, so there’s a chance Apple will surprise us all with something that isn’t an incremental upgrade to a phone, watch, or computer it’s been making for years now. One can dare to think different.