What Rene Ritchie thinks will happen at Apple's September 15 event

Apple Watch 4
Apple Watch 4 (Image credit: Rene Ritchie/iMore)

The website is live. The YouTube stream is prepped. The invitations, virtual as they may be, have gone out. That's right. This is not a drill. This is. Finally. For really real. Apple's September 15 event has been set. For tomorrow. Yeah.

Time Flies

Here's what Apple's invitation says:

Time Flies Join us from Apple Park. September 15, 2020, at 10 a.m. PDT.

If you tap into the graphic on an ARKit enabled device, it goes from Apple Logo to data in one hot twisted minute flat.

And yeah, that's one hell of a location-flex for a first tweet, Greg Jozwiack, former vp of product marketing, fresh new svp of all marketing. (Seriously, though, welcome to Twitter, Joz. Thanks for the new #AppleEvent hashtag.)

Tea Leaves

Now, as soon as people saw the event logo and timeline, there was insta-speculation as to what it could all mean. Of course, we go through that every year. Just all the tea leaf reading.

The way it works though, is that Apple marketing communications, marcomms, hands off a spec to the graphic design team, GD, who then come up with the art. In other words, they don't have any inside info when making the actual design. It's just based on what they're told by the people who do. So, think big themes rather than specific Easter eggs.

Blue could mean the color of a new device, the ribbons could mean something Apple Pencil drawn or related, or the mapping of body movement by an Apple Watch through 3D space.

The use of AR and the Time Flies tag could mean a time of flight sensor, aka, LiDAR on the iPhone. Or Time Flies could just be a play on the Apple Watch and sometimes a clever model is just a model. One that combines the logo with the date.

So, what can we realistically expect?

No iPhones

Apple expands 0% Apple Card financing to Macs, iPads, and more

Ipad Pro 2020 Camera Bump Vs Iphone 11 Iphone 11 Pro Hero (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

A couple of Apple beat reporters in the biggest business news outlets added a line to their event coverage saying not to expect the new iPhone 12 next week. That this was going to be an Apple Watch and iPad Air focused event.

That kinda reminds of when these same pubs say "no new hardware" when covering a WWDC keynote announcement. In other words, a way to set expectations.

So, yeah, sure, we could have a whole, fully blown September event, just like usual. And I already made a video covering what an event exactly like that would look like. So, I'm not going to recapitulate that all here.

Let's just assume that when Apple CFO, Luca Maestri said iPhones were running a few weeks later than usual, he meant it. So, having an iPhone event a few weeks from now, with iPhones shipping a couple and several weeks after that, just makes the kind of sense that does. And this will be a smaller event, focused on the Apple Watch and iPad Air.

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 6, already? What, do they do these once a year now or something? Heh. I know some people will worry about whether or not there's enough differentiation to get Apple Watch buyers to upgrade, especially after how incremental the last update seemed.

As much as Apple doesn't really target year-over-year upgraders with the iPhone, though, they really don't target year-over-year upgraders with the Apple Watch. Unlike the iPhone, where almost everyone who wants a phone has a phone already, and it's all about targeting those 2-4 year upgrade cycles, most people still don't have an Apple Watch. So it's about continuing to add feature and remove issues until the vast majority of people have bought in.

Improving battery life helps there. So do things like sleep tracking and blood oxygen levels. Especially with someone like Apple's VP of health, Sumbal Desai, up on stage walking us through how blood oxygen alerts would work for sleep, exercise, and maybe even the pandemic.

Maybe Julz Arney to show off Apple Watch integration via GymKit on those new Peleton bikes… if not Apple's new fitness+ service proper.

Also super interesting is the idea of an Apple Watch SE — something to replace the Series 3 in the lineup. Still offering that great entry level price of $199 but upping the feature set.

My question is, would it get the new design, new features like fall detection and ECG? How much can Apple pack into that price point?

And, of course, what will the latest fall fashions mean for color and bands?

Let me know what you want to see in the comments.

iPad Air 4

Here's where the iPad lineup gets interesting. The 2019 iPad Air 3 was a 2017 iPad Pro with slightly worse display, processor, and camera. So the 2020 iPad Air 4 should be a 2018 iPad Pro without the ProMotion, X-on-the SoC, or LiDAR compared to the 2020 Pro.

But... it looks like it could be even more than that.

The current iPad Air has the old design and old A12 processor. The new iPad Air is rumored to be getting something closer to the new iPad Pro design. But that iPad Pro is still on the A12Z processor. Which is 2 more CPU cores and 4 extra GPU cores.

Would Apple keep the Air on the A12 just so it doesn't upstage the Pro? And if not, if Apple bumps it to the A13 or A14, what does that mean for the Pro? If Apple also announces a new Pro with an A14X, maybe 5G, maybe even miniLED, nothing. But if not?

Especially if this new rumored-to-be 10.8-inch design has bezel enough to fit on the 11-inch Magic Keyboard. Or gets a Magic Keyboard all its own?

Again, hit up the comments and let me know what you think.

Apple One

Yeah, subscription fatigue… it's real. Sure, time was you could only afford a couple of CDs or DVDs or a few magazines or personal training sessions a month. Now you can get almost all of that for just one low sub a month. Never in the course of human history have we been able to get so much for so little. But, especially right now, when it's all adding up, it still feels like it's still… so much.

That's why Apple's folding all these services down to just one. Apple One. A way for everyone to get as much as they want… for as little as possible.

I don't know what to make of the rumors about this new bundle yet, because the more you add the more you save just doesn't sound very… One. Like the contents of the rumor tin just don' match what's on the rumor label.


HomePod Apple TV Audio selection

HomePod Apple TV Audio selection (Image credit: iMore)

The other big questions is what else we might see. I mean, Apple's calendar feature has the show clocking in at the usual 2 hours and… this doesn't seem like enough for that. Assuming there are no iPhones. Probably not any Apple Silicon Macs yet either, though who knows? Maybe the placeholder calendar is just that — a placeholder? Maybe the event won't last 2 hours at all?

Assuming it does, though, what else could take up that time?

Gold masters for iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and watchOS 7, sure. We need watchOS 7 for the new watch and that means we need iOS 14. Even if that means the new iPhones, when they ship, ship with iOS 14.1 or something.

But what about AirTags, Apple's FindMy-network-based tracker? A finally fixed up AirPower? Over the ear AirPods Studio? A HomePod mini? The new A12X Apple TV?

All of those have been rumored for this year as well. It's just a matter if Apple thinks the story and the demos would better fit a watch and iPad event now or an iPhone event later?

I'm guessing Apple waits on the iPhone event for anything even vaguely iPhone related. But that's just a guess. Let me know what you think. And keep it locked to iMore for your full-n event coverage for the rest of the week.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.