It’s finally official. Apple has invited the big players of the press to a special launch event on October 22nd. As with many events in the past, it’s taking place at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. While we think we have a good idea of what’s coming, I thought it important to run down exactly what I’m expecting to see at the keynote next Tuesday.
Apple’s iPad lineup has been in need of a refresh for some time. Last year, Apple introduced the iPad mini, the first iPad to feature a 7.9″ display and the anodized aluminum back. It had much slimmer bezels than anything before it, and was incredibly thin. Ever since 2011, the 9.7″ iPad has looked virtually the same. The only real design change has been swapping out the old 30-pin connector for the Lightning found first in the iPhone 5. iPad 3 and 4 were essentially just iPad 2′s with Retina display.
This year, it’s all going to change. iPad 5 is almost certainly going to look different to its full-size predecessors. We’ve been seeing leaks and reading rumors for a while. Design-wise, in a nutshell, it’s a big version of the iPad mini. It’ll still feature the 9.7″ Retina display, but in a much thinner and narrower shell. Like the iPad mini, it’ll have a flat aluminum back with rounded edges. Leaks – surprisingly – have shown it to be just as thin as the iPad mini (thinner than an iPhone), which would point to a much smaller battery.
It’s worth remembering that the iPad with Retina only had such big and heavy batteries due to the more powerful processor and higher resolution display. However, rumors for some time have indicated that the iPad 5 will have a thinner and more efficient display. Coupled with what will almost certainly be the ‘X’ version of the A7 chip will mean that it’ll be less power hungry and won’t require a gigantic heavy battery. You can expect that it’ll have the same 10 hour battery life as every iPad before it.
In terms of other design features, it’s all up for discussion. I guess the most prominent question is whether or not the iPad lineup will feature the same color scheme as the iPhone 5s. We’ve seen leaks of the Space Gray and silver shells from both the iPad 5 and rumored second gen iPad mini. But will we get gold? I wouldn’t be entirely surprised, but I wouldn’t bet on it either.
Also up for discussion are the cameras and Touch ID. Will Apple rollout its fingerprint scanning technology across its entire range of iOS devices, or will it remain an iPhone 5s exclusive until 2014? Recent, rather dodgy leaks, show a Touch ID sensor, but they can’t be trusted. What may make its way across to the iPad 5, thanks to its more capable processor, is the Slo-Mo video camera. As much as I think it’s ridiculous, there are clearly lots of people out there who use their iPads for taking pictures and recording video. It could be a nice novelty feature.
Price wise, we’ll see the same $499 starting point for the 16GB model as we always have, I’m sure. With 4 different storage options and the option of going with the cellular models, there’ll be something for everyone.
iPad mini 2
Some are convinced we’ll see the second generation iPad mini. In fact, most are convinced. But I’m not 100% sure on what display it’s going to have. All we have to go on are rumors, and they seem inconsistent, at best. Some have stated the Retina mini display won’t be ready for full release until next year. That speculation has led many analysts to predict we might see a slightly tweaked version of the iPad mini this year, with a Retina version next year. With that said, the most recent leaks have shown slightly thicker cases for the iPad mini 2 which – like the iPad 3/4 – would suggest it has a bigger battery to cope with the higher resolution display.
Design-wise it’ll be more of the same. It’ll look almost identical to the iPad mini from 2012, but with Space Gray replacing the slate coloring of the current generation model. Again, it could conceivably be available in gold too. But don’t get your hopes up too high on that one. In regards to processor and other technology, much of that depends on whether or not there’s a higher resolution display. If it has Retina, it could also be equipped with an A7 variant. It would also make a lot of sense if Apple’s pushing for 64-bit adoption, to get it across the board as quickly as possible. As for Touch ID, it’s the same case as with the larger iPads. I’m really not sure on whether it’ll be on the iPad this year.
Perhaps not as new – but equally as important – are Mavericks and the new Mac Pro. We saw them previewed back in June at the WWDC keynote address. Apple will almost certainly release OS X Mavericks next week, especially since the Golden Master version was seeded to developers last week. OS X Mavericks features a handful of redesigned apps like Calendar and Mail as well as some new ones making their way across from iOS 7: Maps and iBooks. Perhaps of most interest to me is the way it manages used memory. Essentially it shuts down any RAM while apps are not on screen or hidden behind other windows.
And – of course – the new Mac Pro. If any product was ever just a show off piece of engineering just to reassure people that it knows how to innovate, the Mac Pro is it. It’s a fantastic piece of hardware. Its entirely solid state memory means it’ll be stupidly quick, but its cooling system and bespoke fans mean that it should be quite and efficient. Not to mention, it’s all packed in to a device that’s probably a third of the volume of the old-school models. Plus, it looks like a dustbin. Lastly, there are rumors of slightly refreshed MacBooks. A rumor from a French Mac blog earlier indicated we might see some new MacBook Pro’s.
One more thing? iWatch, Apple TV? I can’t imagine it. But I’d love to see it nonetheless.
Undoubtedly, the iPad is going to be the star of the show. Apple will kick off telling us how many they’ve sold to date, how many apps there are, and how it’s dominating web traffic share. There’ll probably be a dig at Android and how few tablet optimized apps there are on Google’s platform. Probably a “we don’t know what they’re doing with them [Android tablets], leaving them in drawers” from Tim Cook.
What would you like to see next Tuesday? Does Apple have what it takes to surprise us any more?