If it's September, it must be time for new iPhones.
Last year, Apple delivered a double whammy at its annual iPhone refresh: in addition to two big-screen phones, theand , CEO Tim Cook also unveiled the . The company's first foray into wearable tech didn't hit stores until the following year, but it offered seven months of hype and anticipation in the meantime -- even as the new iPhones became smash hits, for the world's biggest electronics manufacturer.
For 2015, the company is looking to keep the momentum going with an even more ambitious full-court press. Though the new iPhones are expected to be more conservative upgrades than last year, Apple is expected to ratchet up the excitement by showcasing additional new products -- most notably, an all-new Apple TV box and a revamped iPad.
The event is slated for, at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. And as we count down the final hours, here's the latest rumor, speculation and informed opinion as to what we can expect later this week.
New phones: iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus
New iPhones are a definite. This is an "S" model year for Apple, which means that we expect the external design to remain almost unchanged from the 2014 iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. But under the hood, look for a laundry list of promising upgrades. The latest credible rumors from MacRumors and 9to5Mac suggest bodies that are fractionally larger and formed from the same high-density "7000 series" aluminum used in the manufacturing of the Apple Watch. (So, even if , this should make for a more durable phone.) Inside, expect a faster A9 processor, better camera and a Force Touch screen -- which, also like the Apple Watch, is said to allow different and more granular touch-screen input based on how hard you press the screen.
Look for the same screen sizes (4.7-inch and 5.5-inch for the Plus), and the same basic pricing structures. Unfortunately, it looks like the, despite nearly all similarly priced Android competitors moving up to double that.
A new Apple TV box (finally)
It's been three years since we've seen an updated Apple TV box, but it appears that the drought will finally end on September 9. Stories from BuzzFeed and 9to5Mac point to an all-new streaming video box with what's said to be a Wii-style motion and touch-enabled remote control. The remote, along with the addition of an iPhone-like app store, will supposedly allow a flood of casual games and more channels.
Also on board is said to be Siri-enabled voice control and a universal search function. The latter means, for instance, that you can more easily check if that TV show or movie you're considering renting or buying on iTunes is available on streaming services you're already paying for (such as Netflix, Hulu or HBO). Meanwhile, Apple's rumored TV service -- a "skinny bundle" of core cable channels similar to Sling TV and Sony's PlayStation Vue -- likely won't be hitting until 2016, reports Bloomberg.
Streaming service delay notwithstanding, the new Apple TV looks to offer a nice set of upgrades. But those new features will cost you at least $149 (in the US), if the rumors are to be believed. That's more than double the $69 price of the . It's also far more than you'll pay for streamers and products -- each of which already offer, to some degree, a roster of light gaming, universal search and robust channel selection similar to what Apple will be touting.
In addition to a revamped Apple TV, the company may also be debuting a second long-rumored product upgrade: a bigger, better iPad. Dubbed the "iPad Pro," this larger tablet could wield a screen in the 12- to 13-inch range, and include the same sort of Force Touch pressure sensitive screen that's expected to be added to the new iPhones. In addition to providing ample workspace for thethat Apple has already debuted for iOS 9 -- such as split-screen, slide-over and picture-in-picture video -- it's possible that Apple could also further differentiate this bigger iPad with support for a stylus and keyboard (maybe even Apple-branded ones at that). It would be an intriguing move for the iPad, and one that would put it on a more competitive footing with Windows products like Microsoft's Surface and Lenovo's Yoga lines.
Beyond the iPad Pro, we could also see an iPad Air 3 and/or an iPad Mini 4.
Update on Apple Watch OS 2
In just the past two weeks, competition in the smartphone space has ramped up considerably. Google's, and promising Android Wear products like the and new debuted (or was re-introduced in Huawei's case) at the last week in Germany. At the same show, Samsung also showcased its first 2015 smartwatch, the upcoming . So, how will Apple respond?
The chance of new Apple Watch hardware on September 9 is negligible, but it's not even needed: Apple has already showcased an upgraded Apple Watch software ---- that adds two big improvements: For the first time since its April release, third-party apps will be able to run natively on the watch itself (instead of streaming from a tethered iPhone) and they'll have access to the watch's internal sensors. That should reverse two of the biggest complaints about the Apple Watch -- that , and that they weren't terribly useful -- while offering the potential for a far superior wrist experience.
The September 9 event would be a perfect time to showcase some of those new Apple Watch apps, as well as offer a firm release date for the new software (beyond "later this year"), stealing the wearable spotlight back from Google and Samsung.
Read:(updated July 15)
What about the Mac?
Apple has already slated its free Mac OS X upgrade, dubbed, for later this year as well. In addition to offering more details on that release timeframe, Cook and company could announce some hardware refreshes as well. While Intel's new sixth-generation , are just about to hit the manufacturing channel, seeing new Mac laptops feels like it could be a bit premature: The and were just upgraded back in March, and the new was first released back in April.
For some desktop units, though, the timing could be more fortuitous. The latest rumor pegs the 21.5-inch iMac as getting a high-res 4K screen, which would bring it more in line with the model. That larger model was last upgraded in October 2014 (with the screen upgrade trickling down to the earlier this year). Likewise, the entry-level hasn't seen an upgrade for 11 months, and the high-end was last refreshed at the end of 2013.
All will be revealed on Wednesday -- and we'll be covering it live
Between the safe bets of new iPhones and Apple TV boxes, the possibility of new iPads and Macs, as well as more info on the Apple Watch, Wednesday looks to be jam-packed. And that doesn't even include the possibility of new tidbits on other parts of the Cupertino empire; don't discount that we may get additional news on, , , , and how about a new Beats headphone or speaker, for good measure?
Whatever happens, you can follow it all here, live on CNET. Our pre-game coverage begins around 9 a.m. PT, noon ET, 5 p.m. UK and 1 a.m. AEST, and we'll be live-blogging when the event starts an hour later.
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