Now that the dust from the launch of Apple's new iPhones has started to settle, it's time to wade into the fray one more time. It's been just about a year since the folks from Cupertino trotted out the iPad Air, and now it's going to show off its next-generation model -- along with a handful of other updated goodies -- at a big media event at its corporate headquarters on October 16. Before we descend into the depths of Apple's auditorium and liveblog our fingers off, though, let's just take a moment to suss out what Tim Cook and pals have in store for us.
A trimmer iPad Air
Apple's got a whole new (fine, maybe not whole new) aesthetic going on with its newest pair of iPhones, and it looks like that design DNA has been infused into the next-generation iPad Air too. The prolific gadget leakers at Tinhte.vn got their hands on what appears to be the new iPad's chassis and man is it ever thin -- they claim it comes in at 7mm thick, which puts its waistline right between that of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. It's pretty hard to miss the telltale stainless steel ring around the home button too, so you won't have to wait too long before you can unlock your iPad and authorize iTunes purchases via Touch ID. Chances are also good that we'll finally get a gold version of the Air to please all you chromatically picky types. Alas, some of the most important tidbits are the most difficult to suss out: The iPhone 6 Plus has earned itself some fans with its Retina HD display, but we can't tell if Apple's looking to bump up the resolution here too. Alas, it seems unlikely that the engineers in Apple HQ would be able to cram an even higher-resolution display into a frame that thin (to say nothing of the battery that'd power such a beast).
We've gotten a better look at what's actually inside the new Air in recent days too: Photos of the iPad's logic board obtained by Apple.club.tw suggest it'll pack a more powerful X variant of the A8 processor nestled inside the new iPhones, not to mention 2GB of RAM just as icing on the proverbial tablet cake. And what of the iPad mini? It's very possible that Apple's updating its tiny tab too, but the rumor mill's been awfully quiet on the matter. Japanese fan site Mac Otakaraclaims that such an unveiling is in fact in the cards, while a few other reports suggest we're looking at a very modest upgrade -- we're not sure what we'd see beyond the inclusion of a Touch ID sensor for parity and a rounder design to bring its looks in line with the rest of Apple's iOS gadgets.
But wait, Apple just cranked up the size of its iPhones -- what about a bigger iPad? You really shouldn't hold your breath. Apple's said to be working on a 12.9-inch version of its tremendously popular tablet (some have started calling it the "iPad Pro"), but no one thinks it'll land any sooner than next year.
A slew of updated Macs
We've already seen the Retina MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air get modest upgrades this year, so don't expect much in the way of flashy new notebooks. There were some sporadic whispers of a new Retina-screened MacBook Air in the works, and while they probably have some weight to them, a new report from Re/code suggests they're not going to pop up on Thursday. No, most of the Mac-centric scuttlebutt we've seen over the past few weeks deals with the desktop, and it seems like the long-running iMac line will get most of the attention. The most prominent rumor we've heard alleges that the 27-inch iMac will finally get a Retina display running at 5,120 x 2,880 for your viewing pleasure -- it'd be the first time Apple's brought such high-definition love to your desk, and with any luck it means a standalone Retina Thunderbolt display isn't too far off either.
We'll probably see a refreshed version of the 21.5-inch iMac too, but the particulars aren't as thrilling: MacRumors doesn't expect any change in screen resolution, though a shift to AMD graphics in the higher-end version might get your motor running. And what of Apple's tiniest desktop? The Mac mini hasn't been touched since 2012, which is ages ago in computer years -- if it does show up on Thursday, expect it to come packing a speedier Haswell chip so it can keep up with more modern MacBooks.
More than just hardware
There's no way Apple's going to talk new Macs without invoking Yosemite, the new version of OS X that developers and guinea pigs have been playing with since late July. Apple has spent all the time keeping mum about when it'll actually launch, but there's a good chance we'll be able to get our hands on it after the event on Thursday comes to a close. After all, we're already three Golden Master builds in, and the folks in Cupertino only issued two before it officially released OS X Mavericks last year. The thing is, some of Yosemite's neatest features (like Continuity with your phone) require iOS 8.1 to work properly too -- if a few reports are to be believed, it's set to land on iPhones starting on October 18. Apple Pay is inching closer to its public launch too, so it wouldn't be crazy to think we'd get one last onstage run-through before the big day hits. 9to5Mac points out that a slew of companies (including McDonald's, seriously) are training their employees on how to handle Apple payments, and a supposedly leaked memo to Walgreens employees mentions that the service will officially go live on the 18th alongside iOS 8.1.
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