October 23 preview: Imagining Apple's iPad mini event

October 23 preview: Imagining Apple's iPad mini event

Back in May, iMore learned Apple would be going ahead with a 7-inch iPad and targeting an October release. Now Apple has gone and announced an October 23, 2012 event, and while we won't know the exact agenda until Apple executives take the California Theater stage, it's widely expected that the iPad mini will be star of the show. But it won't be the whole show. Whether Apple runs the October iPad/Mac event like the September iPhone/iPod event, as essentially two separate events glued together, or whether they run them as a single event like the WWDC Keynote that flows from one topic to another, rumors persist of a focus on iBooks, of an updated iPad 3, of new Macs, and perhaps of more.

Figuring out which are red herrings and which are real leaks, which are actual products and which are just products of the imagination is an interesting exercise. Apple doesn't pre-announce, but they also don't just throw things at walls to see what will stick. They're secretive but focused, surprising but sane. Based on their past behavior, we can try and predict their future behavior. And based on their past events, we can make some educated guesses about this week's event.

Apple update

Tim Cook: Year One

As usual, it's likely Apple's CEO Tim Cook will take the stage first, welcome everyone, and the proceed to give a quick overview of how Apple is doing. Apple Retail, iPhone 5 sales, Mac sales, App Store, iTunes Store, iBookstore, and everything else we usually see at the beginning of an Apple event. And again, unlike most other companies, we won't get bullshit percentages of specific markets or inventory stuffed into channels. We'll get numbers, big ones, and lots of them.

iPad mini

iPad mini preview redux

There is a segment of the market for which the current 9.7-inch iPad is too expensive, to heavy, or for one or both of those reasons doesn't make it the reading-centric experience they're looking for. An iPad mini -- or iPad air -- that costs less, is substantially lighter, and is launched in conjunction with an expanded and improved iBooks initiative, addresses that market segment.

It could well be the next big (little) thing, and Apple's next hundred million seller. And it could kick Amazon's Kindle teeth in. Here's the deal:

iPad 3 mark II

Regarding the iPad 3 mark II

Back in August iMore reported that Apple was planning to update the iPad 3 to the new Lightning connector as well. In addition, new chipsets also sounded like their were on the agenda, including an iPhone 5-style cellular radio for international LTE. Although not at all a direct parallel, think of it like the Verizon iPhone 4 and its improved antenna -- a mid-cycle update to add additional markets, that just happens to improve a few things along the way.

iBooks

iBooks 3.0 appears in iTunes listing ahead of iPad mini event

If Apple really intends to use the iPad mini to clear the tablet skies of Amazon and their budget-ilk, than it needs to address books. Apple is so far ahead of any other online content provider in almost every area, it's almost laughable (if those of us outside the U.S. weren't so busy crying...), but books are a different matter. Apple's iBooks have always been technically ahead of Amazon's Kindle books in terms of capabilities, but Amazon is closing that gap. The gap Apple has to close is catalog.

It doesn't matter how good looking your books are if the ones people want to read aren't in your catalog. If Apple can equal Amazon's catalog, only then can their technology really eclipse Amazon's offering.

(And hey, can we get a Mac version already?)

Macs

New details on new Macs rumored for Oct. 23 Apple event

The Retina Mac revolution began with the 15-inch at WWDC. Where it goes next has been the question ever since. 21- and 27-inch iMacs (and Thunderbolt displays) probably aren't imminent. Making panels that big and that dense sounds cost prohibitive at this point. Driving that panel is also beyond the throughput of current generation ThunderBolt connectors. Too. Many. Pixels.

Likewise, the MacBook Air line lacks the discreet GPU needed to run Retina, and lacks enough space in the unibody for batteries to power it. That leaves the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Apple could add a GPU to the 13-inch, and the panel size is smaller than the 15-inch, so it's both doable and affordable. And it looks like that's exactly what Apple has done -- the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

The Mac mini will likely see updates to the latest Intel chipsets, along with USB 3.

That just leaves the iMac. It won't be Retina, it will also get updates to the latest chips and USB 3. The big question is whether it will get the same, new laminated panel the new MacBook Pros enjoy. That wouldn't make it denser, but it would make it better looking.

iTunes 11

Apple showed off iTunes 11 for the first time at the iPhone 5 event back in September, but won't be releasing it until October. That leaves the potential for additional features to be shown off. And that's a mixed bag. People still use desktops and Apple still needs a single hub it can easily port to Windows, but iTunes is the past.

Regardless of what we get this Tuesday, it might just be the beginning of that end.

iOS 6.x

Time was Apple released new versions of iOS in the summer alongside the new iPhone, and updated them to iOS x.1 alongside thew new iPod touch. But now iPhone's are released in the fall, and this year the iPod touch with it, so could there still be an iOS 6.1 before year's end?

We've heard rumors of additional iOS 6 functionality, things that didn't make it into the first release. AirPlay direct, and other direct device-to-device data transfer features are one. Expanded background downloads and other activity is another.

We've all seen the iPad before. We've all seen iOS 6 before. Apple makes their money on hardware, but their soul is in software. If there's something else to either the device or the event, if there's something else on the roadmap this year, we'll know it when and if Apple SVP of iOS, Scott Forstall, takes the stage.

Join us for our coverage on Tuesday.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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October 23 preview: Imagining Apple's iPad mini event

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1. Apple's problem with ibooks is not so much selection as it is DRM. You're tied to iOS devices. Amazon's is preferable because the Kindle apps are available on multiple platforms. Until Apple makes ibooks available on multiple platforms, they won't be kicking Amazon's teeth in.

2. Itunes isn't anywhere near the end. It's a critical part of iOS. You cite that people still use desktops as if that's an endangered species. You need itunes and a computer if you want the best iOS experience. Without itunes, managing iOS devices would become a pain.

Apple uses a standard eBook format. As long as you don't use any of the fancy Apple-only features (something that Amazon does also), you can read the books on any eReader.

Yes, the DRM is a problem, especially when you don't even have a Mac client yet!!! And, correct, to really compete, they will need Windows, Android, Web-browser, etc. based clients as well. People might put up with DRM if they don't feel too locked in (like we already do with Kindle). Outside pop-novels, books are something we look at more long-term than stuff like music or movies... it's critical Apple gets that and responds. But, as Rene mentioned, content is another equally huge issue keeping many of us at Amazon for now.

When he talks about ending iTunes, he doesn't really mean end iTunes. He's talking about ending iTunes as we know it now. As he has talked about in the past, along with many other bloggers, iTunes is old and overweight. iTunes started as music, but over the last 11 years, has gobbled up every other media Apple has introduced (movies, TV, apps, books, etc.) And it was all lumped into iTunes for 2 reasons. 1) convenience for the user and Apple, and 2) an simple way to get all of that media on Windows. But now, iTunes is getting two bloated. It needs to be split up. Some of the media should be spun-off into separate apps. They should release a separate iBooks app definitely. And others could be re-released separately.

Nobody wants to pay extra $$$ just to store their massive iTunes libraries on the cloud when they have a desktop/laptop. It would be a self-inflicting wound if Apple were to kill the desktop version of iTunes.

1. I'm not suggesting iTunes should be killed. I'm suggesting it should be reimagined... it was once for music, but has since gobbled up every other media type Apple has rolled out. Which has made iTunes a slow app, for one thing, and has also made it complicated. So, no it shouldn't be killed. But, it is in desperate need of slimming down. I'm simply suggesting they should adopt their iOS iTunes strategy and implement it on the desktop. They have separate Music, Video, iBooks, and Podcasts Apps. So no, don't kill iTunes, simply slim it down.

2. You don't understand how iTunes, the iTunes Store, iCloud, and iTunes Match work. When you buy something on the iTunes Store, it is forever attached to your Apple ID. When you use iCloud, you're not "storing" your media files. iCloud just allows you to redownload those purchased items to your other devices. If you ripped music from CDs or downloaded from sharing services and you have those songs in your iTunes library, you can pay $25/year for iTunes Match and the iTunes Store will scan your songs and match them to songs in their store and then those songs will be attached to your Apple ID. So on the only way you have to pay to "store" your media in iCloud is if you ripped or illegally downloaded.

I'm excited by the hints that the new iBooks might support comic book like content. This will do a lot for independent comic book artists if true.

AirPlay direct!!! That would make my day. Even though I'm interested in the iPad mini, that would pale in comparison to AirPlay direct.

Not betting on a 9.7 inch iPad upgrade this soon after The New iPad came out. Less than 6 months away from what has become their usual cycle doesn't seem likely.

It's not going to be a full refresh. Most likely, if anything, the iPad 3rd gen will get a Lightning port (for transition purposes) and global LTE. Nothing that should make the people who have already bought it upset.

Apple is known for giving away advanced hints of a feature of what they will show off at their events. For the iPad Mini, it is of note to notice that "colour" is in style. Perhaps the iPad Mini will come in colors other than white and black? Perhaps the iPad Mini will be called the iPad Color. Perhaps it will have a retina display that brings out true colour. Well, I guess we'll see tomorrow.

Only a few more years, and I'll be taking my courses in University/College to pursue my future career. I dream of being able to use textbooks from iBooks, so the only thing I have to carry around is my iPad. The problem is, that iBooks is US only. :(. They'd better make it available here in Canada within the next 2 years. I hope they announce Canada support for textbooks soon.

Really excited for this Apple Media Event! Really hope that they do unveil iPad Mini, as well as a 13 inch MacBook Pro! Oh and of course, iTunes 11 will be fantastic!

I'm not excited by these tech events anymore, it seems like there's a special event every week for products that we already known about. What if Apple just quietly added new products to their store. No media events, just check out Apple.com one day and BAM new iphone whhaaattt???