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Apple Event Predictions
Tuesday, 2015 September 8 - 9:34 pm
There's a big Apple event scheduled for tomorrow, with the new iPhone a near-certainty. But there's also a lot of speculation about what else might be coming.

iPhone 6S
The announcement of the new iPhone will be largely anti-climactic, what with the many leaks that have already come out. The form factor of the two flagship models should be nearly identical to the existing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. We'll probably see the introduction of haptic feedback ("Force Touch"), and we'll almost certainly get an improved camera and faster processors. There's also a good chance that Touch ID will be improved (faster and more accurate response), that the body will be more resistant to bending.

There's a bit of uncertainty about the naming ("iPhone 6S Plus" is a bit of a mouthful; maybe Apple will call it the iPhone 7, or just call it "iPhone"), and it's a near-tossup on whether there'll be a 4-inch "6C" model at the low-end. I think a 4-inch model is likely but it might just be the 5S, or a slightly cost-reduced version of it.

Personally, I'm hoping for specific camera announcements: optical zoom, and optical image stabilization on the non-S model. I'm also hoping for more RAM and as always, better battery life.

Apple TV
A new Apple TV hardware box is about 90% likely. Reportedly, though, Apple has not yet managed to secure license agreements for a subscription TV service, so tomorrow will likely focus on three other aspects of the device: support for third-party apps, a drastically improved UI, and HomeKit integration.

Third-party apps means we'll see the Apple TV emerge as a casual gaming device (enough so that we might ditch the "Apple TV" name in favor of something like "Apple HomePlay" or something). It's not going to take on Xbox and PS4 at the high end of the console market. Rather, my hope is that it will be a capable gaming box, but with more of an emphasis on solving the problem of "what does everyone else in the room do while one person is playing a game"? This could involve an emphasis on multiplayer and social gaming. I'd expect iPads and iPhones to be able to interact with the device for multi-screen games.

The improved UI should involve two things: a touchpad remote, and a navigation system that integrates multiple sources (i.e., the ability to switch from a Netflix show to a Yahoo video to a cable show without having to navigate through multiple lengthy menus). Siri integration is likely, to help avoid having to deal with tedious on-screen keyboards.

Finally, I think the new box will be a HomeKit hub, allowing devices from multiple vendors to be incorporated into an integration solution. Hopefully this will help jump-start HomeKit adoption and development.

WatchOS 2.0
This seems 75% likely. Apple will want to encourage Watch sales with the holiday season approaching, and a software update seems like a no-brainer. I think changes are likely to be minor refinements rather than anything radical.

With Siri likely to be a key part of Apple TV as well as the new Apple Watch, I'd expect some improvements to be announced. I think the service will be smarter in that it'll be linked to more data sources, allowing Siri to provide more relevant answers. 50% likely.

Apple Music
I think there's also a 50% chance we'll get an update on the music service. Specific announcements will probably include new curated Beats radio stations (adding to Beats 1) and perhaps some streaming exclusives. Will Taylor Swift be involved? Wouldn't surprise me.

iPad Pro
I still don't get the speculation of a large iPad with a stylus. It seems to go against Apple tablet philosophy to date. A big iPad would be heavier, making it uncomfortable to use. A stylus-oriented UI would conflict with the normal touch-based UI, requiring developers to rewrite their apps. I put the chances of this at 20%.

Apple Car
There's a lot of noise about a self-driving car from Apple, what with the hiring of Tesla executives and talk about Apple renting time at a testing facility. But even if a car is in the works, I think it's years away. If there's anything in the near term, it'll be new announcements about the existing CarPlay technology, and even that doesn't seem worthy of bringing up tomorrow. Likelihood: 5% or less.

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Posted by Ken in: techwatch


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