Back on July 30, iMore learned Apple would be holding a special event on September 12, 2012. Last week, Apple went and made it official. In between, we've been subjected to a flood of rumors fast and furious. Sorting the sane ones, the legit part leaks and software sneaks, supply chain gossip and retail chatter, from the 100% crazy stuff isn't always simple. Apple's a supremely secretive company. They take great pains to build hype without giving much, if anything away. But they're also a company that sticks to a tried-and-true formula. 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 CEO Tim Cook typically takes the stage first at Apple events, and is likely to do the same this time around. He'll talk about Apple, their goals and philosophy and vision. He'll give an overview of Apple and the Apple Store. He might show a video. His part of the show will be short and sweet, but it will be packed with the kinds of details Apple's competition always seems unwilling to unable to provide -- real numbers, and really good numbers.
Scott Forstall already showed off 10 flagship new features for iOS 6 at Apple's 2012 Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) back in June. He'll likely review them again on September 12.
The new Google-free Maps app, the newly improved Siri, Facebook integration, Shared Photo Streams, Passbook, Facetime over cellular, mail improvements, Safari improvements, and what, if any, new accessibility features pertain to the iPhone.
We'll also likely get the iOS 6 beta Gold Master (GM) seed announcement, with availability later that same day.
Apple Senior Vice-President of Internet Services, Eddy Cue will probably do iTunes and iCloud duty. We'll get some numbers and usage data. Everything that's leaked previously, including web interfaces for Notes and Reminders, will get some attention, along with any and all improvements to existing services.
If there's a new version of iTunes, even if it's not the long-in-development iTunes 11 total make-over, Cue will show it off, and its feature set. Likewise, if by some miracle Apple has gotten their even longer-in-the-works subscription/streaming music service green lit, or signed any major content deals, we'll hear about them here.
There could be new videos and/or commercials here too. Whether or not it all happens at once, or whether Cue, like Forstall, comes back later, will depend on the size of the iTunes update, and if any of the new online services are dependent on new hardware.
Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller will take the stage and warm us up. Perhaps with some new iPods. Whether or not the iPod shuffle and iPod nano get updates enough to warrant stage time and the debut of a new commercial, or whether they simply get dumped into a slide or press release remains to be seen.
Recent leaks suggest similar price points, though perhaps more color options and less capacity options for the iPod shuffle and iPod nano. That makes a sense. So does the new miniature Dock connector iMore reported on back in February. But what else?
The iPod is a significant yet ever-dwindling part of Apple's business. Quarter-after-quarter, year-after-year, Apple sells less-and-less iPods and more and more iPhones and iPads. The writing's not only on the wall, it's in the ledger. The transition is well underway. Apple isn't discontinuing iPods by any stretch of the imaginations, but the iPhone rather than the iPod anchoring the September event clearly shows where the focus is now.
So, while I'll always hold out hope for an iPod nano with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity that can interface directly with my iPhone and show me notifications, that could make me Dick Tracy, I won't expect it until I see it.
The new iPod touch is more challenging to predict. Not in terms of what it is -- iMore learned a while a new, 4-inch, 16:9 iPod touch to take its place at the high end of the lineup, and recent rumors suggest once again the old iPod touch will keep its place at the low-storage, low-cost bottom. (And It may or may not come in colors.) But the question is whether Apple will show the new iPod touch off before the iPhone, or save it for one last thing. The iPhone usually anchors the show, but with widescreen being one of the major new features, it seems unlikely Apple would let the iPod touch spoil that particular reveal before the iPhone.
Phil Schiller will probably get the honor of showing off the new iPhone -- or iPhone 5 -- this year. He'll show us the tallness and the thinness, and talk about the new 4-inch, 16:9 screen, and the LTE 4G networking, and the antenna that makes it possible. He'll show off the new Apple A series processor and graphics, and without telling us many technical details, tell us how many times faster it is than the one before.
We'll get battery life, talk time, and everything that goes with it. If, like the last 3 years, there's new and improved camera optics to go along with the new and improved iPhone, Schiller's the man to show that off too. The iPhone 3GS got video recording. The iPhone 4 got 720p and the iPhone 4S got 1080p. They all got better, brighter sensors as well, and features like HDR and facial recognition. They've been the subject of TV commercials.
4K on a smartphone is probably a few years off, but Nokia showed the world what's still possible last week, and Apple has their work cut off them now. Panoramas were never made public in iOS 5 but an automagic panorama camera could be a feature, and great demo, for Apple for iOS 6. Likewise, filters, both for stills and for videos, would be consumer-friendly additions.
But the camera itself, even if it's not Lumia 920-caliber, will still need to be good enough to impress.
Schiller will show us everything there is to show us about the hardware, and then he'll turn to software.
Schiller and Forstall will show off whatever makes the new hardware sing. In addition to camera features, gaming might get a mention, either for iPhone or iPod touch, to show off the new chipset. VoiceControl got the spotlight for the iPhone 3GS, FaceTime for the iPhone 4, and Siri for the iPhone 4S. What iOS 6 features will be spotlighted for iPhone 5?
Maps and flyover will get some time, perhaps highlighting some the transit apps they'll be integrating with. Siri will make a great demo. Again. Whether Apple still has more Siri services and partners to show off, or if it's just a rehash of WWDC, it should get some stage time.
We heard rumors a while ago that Apple was looking into doing more background actions with iOS. Not dissimilar to Power Nap on OS X Mountain Lion, pre-fetching local maps, downloading subscribed content, and other activities could join iCloud backups and Newstand updates.
If Apple has any device-to-device communications to show off, be it Bluetooth 4.0 or Wi-Fi Direct based, or specifically AirPlay Direct, that would also make for a great demo and commercial.
So would Passbook. Apple demos features, not specs, so showing someone paying at JC Penny or Starbucks with their iPhone and Passbook is a also a great demo, and maybe a great commercial.
Schiller will likely take the reins back at that point. He'll sum up everything so far, and there's every chance he'll introduce a video with Jonathan Ive, Greg Jozwiak Bob Mansfield and/or Dan Riccio showing us just how amazing the technologies behind the new unibody frame, the new antenna, the new in-cell display, the new camera, and everything else truly are.
Then he'll talk specifics -- storage capacities, price points, and shipping date. We'll finish with a clear, understandable product grid. We'll know what's coming and when.
My guess is Apple will keep that the same as last year. $199, $299, and $399 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB respectively, on contract. Likewise, my guess is the iPhone 4S will move down to $99 and the iPhone 4 will become the $0 on contract phone. Importantly, it will work not just on AT&T/GSM like the iPhone 3GS, but on Verizon and Sprint as well. Speaking of the 3GS, if Apple wants to go toe-to-toe with Nokia and RIM in emerging markets, and the bill of materials is low enough on the iPhone 3GS that they can practically give it away off-contract, it could make for an interesting year in parts of Asia, Africa, and South America...
As for when, last month iMore heard pre-orders were planned to start the same day, like they did with the iPad 3 back in March. (Friday, September 14 has now also been rumored). Either way we heard they'll hit stores September 21 in the U.S. and first-wave countries, and October 5 in second-wave countries.
It'll be a fun month.
We originally heard October as the timeline for the iPad mini. Then we heard September. Now smart, well informed folks are saying October. If that's the case, the mini-Dock updated iPad 3 will likely be the same.
Tim Cook will likely end the show by summing up everything we saw.vThat's Apple's real magic. They tell us what they'll be telling us. They tell it to us. Then they tell us what they told us. It's a linear product narrative in highly digestible form. They told a story. The same story they've been telling us for 5 years. And it will be just as compelling in September of 2012 as it was on January of 2007.
Again, this is pure speculation. It's trying to predict the future based on what's happened in the past. But it's pure fantasy at this point.
We'll find out reality on Wednesday.