There are three things you always count on September for: Kids trudging back to school, the end of summer's oppressive heat and new iPhones. Apple is gearing up to show off a handful of updated models at 1 PM Eastern/10AM Pacific on September 10th, but they're far from the only things the company plans to introduce. Before we jump on a plane and set a course for California, let's take a closer look at everything we expect — and hope — Apple has in store for us when we land.
New iPhones, more cameras
You knew these were coming. The trio of iPhones Apple announced last year are slated to get a handful of upgrades and improvements that have already been extensively covered, so let's run through the big stuff quickly:
New branding: When we spoke to Phil Schiller last year, he quickly admitted that the letters Apple attach to its iPhones don't actually mean anything. Maybe that's why the company is widely expected to drop the "R" and "S" entirely, in favor of calling those sequel models the iPhone 11 and iPhone Pros instead. This solution doesn't feel ideal — the name "iPhone 11 Pro Max" has all the panache of a late-'90s graphics card — but at least it means Apple gets to use the same branding between its Macs and phones.
More and better cameras: This year, we're expecting each of the three new iPhones to get one more camera, though what kind will depend on what device we're talking about. The successor to the XR is said to include a second, telephoto camera to bring it in line with last year's XS and XS Max. The new iPhone Pros, meanwhile, should get a wide-angle camera for more flexibility while shooting. The improvements don't end there, though: Bloomberg says one camera mode will take a photo using all three cameras at once, and stitch the results together with a little AI help. You'll also be able to edit and add filters to video while you're still recording it, for what that's worth.
Improved Face ID: Last year's iPad Pros were notable in that you could use your face to unlock it no matter how you held the tablet. This year's iPhones should take things a little further with the inclusion of a wide-angle Face ID sensor you'll reportedly be able to use even when your face isn't directly in front of the phone.
Wireless charging: You'll soon be able to juice up your AirPods directly from an iPhone, thanks to the inclusion of a bi-directional wireless charging system in the new Pros. Samsung pulled off a similar feat with its Galaxy S10 series earlier this year, but there's still one big question left: Can we use this feature to charge an Apple Watch? Almost definitely no.
New colors: Apart from the extra cameras around back, the new iPhones aren't expected to look much different from the models they replace — they all even use the same sized screens. The one exception is that Apple could introduce some new color options for the iPhone XR's successor: Bloomberg says green is a lock, and others have reported that a sort of pastel purple is happening too. All of a sudden, Apple's glassy, multicolored logo on its invite is starting to make a little more sense.
New-ish Apple Watches
The Apple Watch got a significant upgrade at this event last year, so you'd do well to keep your wearable expectations pretty low this time. The rumor mill has been surprisingly quiet, so it's possible that Apple just doesn't announce a Series 5 model this year. Hints in early versions of iOS 13 suggest that Apple will release ceramic and titanium Apple Watches, but that's no guarantee of a Series 5 — that might just refer to more premium versions of the existing Series 4.
Normally, we'd be pretty bummed at the possibility that Apple doesn't release a new version of Watch. The thing is, the Series 4 has been so good that we could easily see Apple keeping it in the spotlight for another year. It doesn't hurt that watchOS 6 will be released soon — it's one of the biggest updates the Apple Watch has ever received, and packs features like a standalone App Store, ambient Noise alerts, menstrual cycle tracking, support for audiobooks and voice memos and possibly even sleep tracking.
Content Rules Everything Around Me
Apple can't just rely on iPhones to generate record-breaking revenues anymore, so it turned its attention to add-on services to help boost its bottom line. We wouldn't be surprised if Apple took some time on-stage to more clearly lay out its launch and pricing plans for Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, which will offer original video content and exclusive games, respectively. We already have a pretty good idea of what to expect, though: Bloomberg suggests TV+ could go live in November for $9.99/month, and Apple Arcade is said to cost $4.99/month when it launches this Fall.
In addition to iPhones and iPads, Apple Arcade games will be playable on Apple TVs, too. It's no surprise, then, an updated version of the company's streaming box will probably — and briefly — be announced at the event. A tweet from @never_released, an account that has previously shared accurate information about upcoming Apple hardware, suggests that the new Apple TV will pack the same A12 chipset used in the iPhone XS series and the 2019 iPad Air. The A10X Fusion currently used in the Apple TV 4K is certainly no slouch, but if the games available through Apple Arcade are as impressive as the company seems to think they are, this added horsepower will come in especially handy.
Yes, this is going to be a hardware heavy show, but we'll also get release dates for some of the company's biggest new software releases. Apple typically starts shipping the first of its new iPhones around two weeks after its stage show, so expect the iOS 13 update to go live around then. We're expecting Apple announced availability for the watchOS 6 and macOS Catalina updates around the same time, though we can't rule out the possibility that at least one of them could break cover a little earlier. And while Macs don't usually get much attention at these September events, we're hoping against hope Apple will let slip when the ludicrous Mac Pro will hit store shelves.
Plenty of maybes
Apple has reportedly been working on a Tile-like tracking device that you're meant to stick on, say, your wallet or keys. iOS 13 contains references to a device called the "Tag," and it's hard to imagine that name applying to anything but this Bluetooth-enabled tracker. When you consider that iOS 13 is set to launch in mere weeks, this is as good a time as any for Apple to shine some light on these things.
A Bloomberg report also suggests that Apple will show off new versions of its popular AirPods, this time packing features like noise cancellation and improved water resistance. Apple just released updated AirPods earlier this year, so if true, the news could come as a blow to people who already splurged on those minor updates. Still, as I write this, those second-generation AirPods are on sale for about $30 at certain retailers — if that's not a clear sign that Apple is trying to sell through some existing stock ahead of a new product announcement, I don't know what is.
Oh, and then there's the HomePod. Apple has apparently been working on a lower-cost model, which frankly seems like a much better idea than trying to push a smart speaker at picky audiophiles. (I'm convinced Samsung hasn't released its own Galaxy Home speaker because it doesn't want to butt up against the same sales problems the HomePod did.)