Apple is holding an event on March 9, just over a week from now, and a couple days after Mobile World Congress ends. Is it a coincidence Apple would hold an event following announcements from its biggest rivals? Ha, no. It’s typical for companies to attempt to one-up each other, and with the Apple Watch just around the corner, Apple will of course want to remind people that the wearable’s release is imminent.
While the invitation clearly hints the company wants to focus on its upcoming wearable, Tim Cook could use the stage to reveal other new products, too. Over the past few months, there haven’t been a ton of rumors, though, to be fair, we haven’t seen very many leaks—in Apple’s case, we typically see a waterfall of product leaks before a new announcement is made. Things have been much more muted recently.
So what can we expect? In addition to much more information about the Apple Watch, it’s very likely Apple will not only introduce a larger iPad, but a new MacBook Air, which is overdue for an upgrade. There’s always a chance Apple could surprise us with something we haven’t heard about, but that’s becoming more difficult to do in the Internet age. And, no, we won’t hear about Apple’s mysterious car project.
12-inch MacBook Air
It’s been a long time coming, but Apple might finally announce its rumored 12-inch MacBook Air, which has been circulating the rumor mill for awhile now—some as far back as early 2014. But it was the beginning of 2015 when the biggest bomb was dropped.
9to5Mac unleashed a ton of confidential details about Apple’s new laptop, saying the device will be the company’s thinnest and lightest yet. The report said the 12-inch MacBook Air will supposedly be even narrower than Apple’s 11-inch model, suggesting the device will be both bezel-less and feature a keyboard that’s a little more cramped than Apple users are used to.
Beyond that, the new laptop will allegedly sport a fanless design, a redesigned trackpad, and possibly even a Touch ID sensor for Apple Pay. It’s also very likely the 12-inch Air will feature a single USB Type-C port, which will be used for both charging and data syncing.
This one has been touch and go because reports initially said the device would be announced as early as Feb. 19 (and then again on Feb. 24), but obviously that date has come and gone. But this spring might be the perfect time for Apple to unleash its new gear. Kids will need something shiny to play with after spring break, right?
If indeed the 12-inch model is fanless, and does sport a single USB Type-C port, it could wind up being the cheapest laptop of Apple’s portfolio. And, come on, the renders sure look nice.
Apple’s new MacBook Air won’t be the only new 12-inch gadget being adding to the company’s portfolio. There have been plenty of rumors about a new 12-inch iPad—dubbed iPad Pro—coming to Cupertino. Apple’s iPad lineup hasn’t found the same success it once had over the past few years, which could give Apple the freedom to experiment with a new form factor. Chances are it won’t look too different compared to the current iPad Air 2, but it could potentially be more feature-rich, with a particular emphasis on content creation.
Or will it be Apple’s Surface?
While Apple’s 12-inch iPad could simply be just that, a 12-inch iPad, some of the more dubious rumors claim the device will be a hybrid of sorts, a la Microsoft’s Surface. Apple has already said it has no intentions of combining the experience of OS X and iOS, but what if? What if Apple did introduce a hybrid device? It seems unlikely, especially with a 12-inch MacBook Air on the way. But it would certainly give Apple’s iPad lineup a nice jolt of adrenaline, which it sorely needs.
Apple’s iPad has transformed into a terrific creation tool, as I mentioned above, and the iPad Pro could be made specifically for that crowd. The company’s latest ads focusing on the tablet have been about music and movie creation, so giving users a bigger canvas to work with is a no-brainer. But what will the “hybrid” aspects of the device entail? As weird as it is to say, there’s a possibility it’ll feature its own stylus, but beyond that your guess is as good as ours.
There’s a very good chance Apple’s larger iPad will simply feature a big display and no other defining qualities to set it apart. But there’s that very slim chance the device will be a hybrid of some sort, a device that’s both computer and tablet. Reports from last year claimed the device will look similar to a MacBook Air, and have an emphasis on landscape usage for productivity. That definitely conflicts with the ethos of Apple’s original iPad vision, but it just might be what the company’s tablet needs to make a comeback.
We already know what the Apple Watch will do, and we know it’s coming out in April. But we don’t have a precise release date, nor do we know how much the more expensive models will cost. Better yet, Apple still hasn’t said how long the battery will last, so the company might take the opportunity to talk about that, especially following rumors about the device potentially getting less than a day with regular usage.
Apple typically likes to rehash information it’s already talked about, so the March 9 event will likely spend plenty of time talking about what we already know. But with the device’s arrival said to be just over a month away, hopefully we’ll see how it’ll play nice with some of the bigger apps currently on the market. Apple has supposedly put pressure on some of the biggest app makers to finish its wares, so there’s a possibility we’ll get some slick onstage demos of how the wearable will integrate with these new wrist experiences.
There’s a chance Apple might introduce a new subscription-based streaming service based on Beats Music, though that might not be officially unveiled until WWDC in June. Beyond that, what kind of surprises might Apple have in store?
Maybe some information about allowing users to beta test future versions of iOS? It’s too early for Apple to talk about iOS 9, so that news might have to wait until WWDC as well.
A lot of crazy patents have shown up over the past several months, but those typically don’t indicate what to expect down the road. Apple VR? Unlikely. An Apple lightsaber? Apple Pay rolling out to more countries? So many questions, so few answers.
We haven’t seen Apple up on stage since September, though the company has been in the news quite a bit for its insane iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales last year. It’s clear, however, that the company’s other products need a kick in the butt, and this “spring forward” event is a big opportunity for the company to show us the future of these products, not just more iteration.
A completely revamped MacBook Air is a solid start, and a hybrid tablet would certainly show Apple’s commitment to the creativity/productivity crowd. We’ll find out in just over a week.