We hear the same thing every year: This is going to be Apple’s biggest event ever. Typically we try to ignore such hyperbole, but the Cupertino-based company’s presentation on Sept. 9 really is shaping up to be its biggest ever. Not only are we expecting the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, but rumors suggest we’ll also see an upgraded Apple TV and an iPad Pro. And more.
Apple’s current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have been phenomenally successful since their release one year ago, and it sounds like Apple’s new devices could top last year’s performance. So what are we expecting from the company’s updated phones? We’ve heard enough rumors and seen enough leaks to make a pretty educated guess. Spoiler: they’ll be pretty close to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but better.
Apple’s biggest competitors have released multiple handsets since the iPhones were released last year, so the competition will be fiercer than ever. But it won’t just be about phones this fall. Apple’s new playground will include a more advanced tablet, more Force Touch, and a game-centric Apple TV. Let’s dive in and explore what we can expect from Apple’s big event on Wednesday.
iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus
This one is easy. Apple has followed a predictable path over the past several years, with a kind of ticktock upgrade cycle. Last year, it was all about the fancy new design; rounded edges, sloping screen, thin aluminum body, and that protruding camera. And while it was a gorgeous design, it was marred by an overblown “bendgate” issue.
In an effort to avoid a repeat of last year, Apple is reportedly going to utilize 7000 series aluminum, which is said to be much stronger than the aluminum that was used in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus; it’s also used as the casing for the Apple Watch, so Apple is very familiar with the more durable material. A recent video actually tested out the theory that the 7000 series aluminum is indeed stronger, and found that the new iPhone 6s is much harder to bend when force is applied.
Beyond more durable shells, Apple is making some big changes internally to its new iPhone update, headlined by Force Touch — another feature first introduced to the Apple Watch. Force Touch is a feature that senses the amount of pressure being applied to the screen, calling up certain functions based on context. A recent report claimed the new phones will be able to differentiate between a tap, standard press, and a deep press.
Force Touch could enhance the experience of applications such as Maps, Music and more. Many of the features outlined in a recent 9to5Mac report mainly detailed Apple’s stock apps, but if the feature is opened up to developers, your favorite apps could soon utilize the technology. Imagine long pressing on a weather icon and being presented with a 5-day forecast.
Apple is also expected to upgrade the internals with an A9 processor and 2GB of RAM, allowing for a much snappier experience. The internals will be able to take advantage of new features such as Motion wallpapers, which is something we’ve seen in the Apple Watch as well. We’re also expecting an upgraded 12-megapixel camera, which should be able to record in 4K.
Some other reports we’ve heard claim the device will come in rose gold, continue to feature 16GB of storage, and improved cellular data performance; a rumor from earlier this year said both new iPhones would feature a theoretical LTE speed increase up to two times, though it would depend on what market you’re in.
It will be interesting to see how much time Apple spends talking about Force Touch, and how it’ll work inside iOS 9. Apple already detailed some of the big features coming to its mobile software this fall, but we’re expecting the company to divulge more details once the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are revealed.
Apple has always focused on the experience rather than outright specs, and it appears the company is going to do the same again this year. We probably won’t see 2K screens, 4GB of RAM or any other bleeding edge specs. But the camera upgrades, stronger materials and inclusion of Force Touch should make for a worthy upgrade over the existing models.
Apple hasn’t done much with its Apple TV for a few years now, and still insists the little black puck is a hobby. That could all change when Apple takes the stage tomorrow. In addition to seriously powerful hardware, the new Apple TV could also introduce some great features, including universal search.
One of the new Apple TV’s main selling points will apparently be its gaming capabilities. At the end of August, a report claimed the device would “actively compete for TV gamers,” and support third-party Bluetooth gaming controllers.
Gamers will be able to download apps directly from the Apple’s TV’s built-in App Store, which is among the most robust ecosystems out there. The iTunes store has been a hive of amazing mobile gamers for a while now, and bringing them to the living room seems like a natural step. Of course, the Apple TV wouldn’t be the first, but it might be the only one that matters.
In addition to support for Bluetooth controllers, the Apple TV will supposedly come with a redesigned remote, complete with a touch pad and Siri voice input. The latter feature is expected to be one of Apple TV’s headlining features, and is rumored to tap into a number of services, and not just Apple’s ecosystem.
Many of today’s top set-top boxes are capable of searching through their own ecosystems, but Apple’s search will allegedly be universal, allowing users to pull information from services such as Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and more. The new feature is supposedly part of iOS 9’s Proactive search, which attempts to provide users with more relevant information from a number of different sources.
Speaking of software, the interface is expected to receive a major overhaul as well. With iOS 9 at its core, the Apple TV interface is rumored to be more familiar to mobile users, and prominently feature Siri’s assistant powers. Tomorrow’s search invite actually alluded to this, and it has been one of the longer running rumors over the past several months.
With a more powerful Apple TV could come a higher price, too. The device is rumored to start at $149, and possibly even cost as much as $199 depending on the storage option a consumer chooses. That’s a far cry from the current $69 model Apple offers. But, again, the new device sounds like it’s going to escape its “hobby” territory into something completely different.
Bonus: Although reports have said Apple has run into major obstacles recently, there is a small chance we could hear about its new streaming TV service.
Apple fans have been eager to see what Steve Jobs meant when he told Walter Isaacson he had “cracked” TV, but it doesn’t sound like we’ll learn the answer anytime soon. A report as recent as August claimed negotiations are the cause of the service’s delay, which means we might not see any announcements until later this year, or even early 2016.
Similar to Sling TV, Apple is apparently trying to work out deals that would allow users to pay a monthly fee for a handful of channels. That’s not exactly the a la carte future we’ve been dreaming of, but we’re getting there.
This is another device that has been on our minds for the past few years. Apple knows its iPad marketshare is falling, so rather than continue to introduce minor upgrades year after year, the company is apparently prepping an “iPad Pro” as its new flagship tablet. To be clear, this device won’t run OS X, though it will apparently feature a more advanced version of iOS.
The 12.9-inch device is expected to feature a familiar iPad design — think of a larger iPad Air — but feature some big upgrades over Apple’s traditional slates. For one, the device will supposedly house stereo-style speakers (two on the top, and two on the bottom), allowing for a more immersive audio experience. Apple’s iPad is perfect for a lazy couch experience, and it sounds like Apple really wants to emphasize content consumption.
That being said, Apple’s Pro model will also emphasize content creation. Force Touch is rumored to be a big feature, and will be similar to the experience introduced to Apple’s iPhones. But going even further, Apple is expected to include stylus support, which will be able to take advantage of Force Touch and be optimized for enhanced drawing and design apps.
Building on that, the iPad Pro will utilize new features introduced in iOS 9.1, such as an optimized versions of Split-Screen apps, Picture-in-Picture, and more. We actually demonstrated some of these features with a recent iOS 9 beta, but they’ll supposedly be even more optimized for the Pro’s larger screen, which will allegedly be a resolution of 2732 x 2048.
Because the device will supposedly rely on iOS 9.1, the iPad Pro isn’t expected to launch until November, and even then supplies will be limited. It isn’t really clear how much the device will retail for when it launches, but I’d expect a premium price — maybe starting at $600, and going up from there.
Bonus: Since we’re expecting an iPad Pro, Apple will supposedly skip an upgrade to the iPad Air for now, and instead introduce a the iPad mini 4, which will come with improved specs and take advantage of iOS 9’s new multitasking capabilities.
Clearly Apple’s event tomorrow is going to be huge, which is probably why it chose the 7,000 capacity Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. All of the above information is based on leaks and rumors, so tomorrow’s presentation could be wildly different from what we summarized above. But chances are good we’ll see the big three of iPhones, Apple TV and iPad Pro. That should give Apple plenty of ammunition to stave of the competition this holiday season.
It’s unlikely we’ll get any surprise announcements tomorrow, though there might be some new software features Apple didn’t talk about at WWDC this past summer. We’ll probably get a release date for iOS 9, and maybe even a release date for OS X El Capitan, though there’s a possibility that could wait until October when Apple holds another event.
In addition to the stuff above, Apple is also expected to touch on new Apple Watch Sport band colors, and maybe share a release date for watchOS 2, which will feature a new Time Travel feature, native apps, and more.
Sept. 9 will be a huge day for Apple fans. What are you most excited for?