SAN FRANCISCO - If you have been following Apple, you will know we’ve come around that time of the year when the Cupertino tech giant debuts its new lineup of iPhones.
So it was no surprise when journalists received invites from Apple to attend a special event tomorrow in San Francisco. What left many baffled was the choice of venue: the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
In the past, most iPhone-related events were either held at Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco or at the Apple Campus’ Town Hall, both of which can hold an audience of under 1,000. The only other time Apple deviated from these two places was in 2014, when it launched the Apple Watch at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino. That space can hold some 2,400 participants.
So what’s Apple doing this year at a venue that can fit up to 7,000? Sure, the event might not host fill all 7,000 seats. And the extra space may be used for product briefings and presentations. If Apple does indeed need such a big space for these purposes, my guess is there will be a suite of new products being announced at the event. Here’s what we may see on Thursday:
Apple has rolled new phones every September for several years already so this event will almost certainly see new iPhones - more specifically the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
Like the previous iPhone models suffixed with an “s”, the design and feel of the new iPhones will not likely differ much from the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
The new phones will likely see upgrades and new features added, including a faster processor, more memory, a better rear camera that is rumoured to be ramped up to 12 megapixels from the current 8 megapixels. Word is the front-facing camera will be also upgraded to have a 5-megapixel image sensor and a flash for better selfies.
Also hot on the rumour mill is the possibility that the new iPhones will come with a Force Touch display, which was first seen on Apple Watch. Depending on the pressure you exert on the display, you might be able to open up a new menu or options.
New Apple TV
The Apple TV set-top box has not been updated for three years, which seems an eternity in the tech world. Apple has lots to catch up in this aspect with stiff competition from the likes of Amazon. It’s likely we’ll hear about Apple TV this round.
If Apple’s “Hey Siri, give us a hint” message on the media invite is any indication, we might just see Apple’s virtual voice assistant feature big in the upgrade of Apple TV. Instead of searching movies or TV shows using a spartan remote, you may soon be able to tell Siri what you want to watch.
We are also hearing that a new remote control that has a touchpad and doubles as a game controller is in the works. Gaming is rumoured to be the main selling point of the new Apple TV. If the Apple TV becomes a causal gaming console where you can install your favourite games, the growth potential will be tremendous. Apple is believed to be taking nearly a third of its revenue from iTunes Store via sales of gaming-related apps, according to industry estimates.
New iPad Pro?
With global tablet sales slowing, Apple will need some injection for growth in this market. A larger iPad Pro might just be that catalyst.
The new iPad Pro is said to feature a 12.9-inch Force Touch touchscreen display of 2,732 x 2,048 pixels with a similar thin aluminium unibody design as the iPad Air 2.
And it supposedly comes with a stylus.
While the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs may have hated the stylus, with more creative professionals - who are used to using a pen or stylus - turning to tablets for their work, having a stylus for the iPad may not seem such a far-fetched idea. The new stylus is believed to work with iPad Pro’s Force Touch capability for different functions.
Might it be Apple’s weapon of choice against Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3?
Catch the latest from Apple on Sept 10, 1am
The Straits Times Deputy Tech Editor and Apple expert Trevor Tan will bring you updates from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco from 1am (Singapore time) on Sept 10 (Thursday) on ST’s Twitter account @STcom.
You can also catch the live video stream at http://www.apple.com/live. If you’re not staying up, remember to check back for more on what Apple announced.
New gold Apple Watch model?
It is unlikely that a new generation of Apple Watch will be announced, given that it has not been even six months since the smartwatch was rolled out.
However, there are signs that Apple might release a new gold-coloured model that is actually not made of gold but aluminium. Given that the Apple Watch Edition - made of 18-karat gold - starts from a hefty $15,000, a more affordable aluminium gold Sport model will help to drive sales of the smartwatch.
There is also speculation that Apple will be announcing new colours for the Sport watch bands - rumoured to be dark blue, red, light pink and yellow - to complement the new gold model.
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