Tag Archive for ‘Event’

Notes On WWDC

I was traveling the day of the Apple event and the WiFi on the flight wasn’t quite good enough to stream the video live. So it took me a couple of days before I could watch the entire keynote. The following is my miscellaneous notes and observations taken while watching the full replay:

tvOS 13

  • I’m glad they finally showed off a teaser trailer for one of their Apple TV+ shows. I’m not sure if “For All Mankind” is something I would enjoy watching in full, but it does seem quite compelling.
  • Multiple user support sounds really nice, but what if multiple people are watching TV at the same time, which I expect is quite common. How do you track that? Is there any way to tell the TV that there’s more than one person watching and have that sync back to their respective iCloud accounts? Or are you only able to have a single person viewing at a time?
  • Adding support for Xbox One and DualShock 4 controllers is a huge deal, but I still wish Apple would design and release their own controller.
  • The new Apple TV dock looks nice, but I’m curious to see how it works with existing applications that have Top Shelf extensions. There is already a limited number of top-tier apps with that functionality and introducing a new iteration of Top Shelf doesn’t give me hope that more apps will implement it.

I’d still like to see a bit more movement on the Apple TV front. The updates they introduced sound great, but I would feel more confident in my decision to go all-in on Apple TV if they pushed it a little bit further.

watchOS 6

  • New Apple Watch faces. They seem neat, but none of them look like they’ll knock Utility, Modular, or Activity Digital off of my setup — they’re the three best watch faces and it’s not even close.
  • I like seeing Calculator come to the Apple Watch. I’ve been using Calzy, but I’m not positive that it’s the best calculator experience possible on the Watch. I’m hoping Apple will help to raise the bar for this category.
  • Independent apps could be a huge deal for Apple Watch because there won’t be any need to build a companion iPhone app. But I’m more excited about the streaming audio API. The experience of listening to podcasts on the Watch at the moment isn’t great, but I hope these two features give developers the opportunity to improve it greatly.
  • App Store on the Watch goes hand-in-hand with the independent application capabilities, but I can’t imagine it being a good experience. Who wants to sit there and browse applications on their wrist?
  • Activity Trends is exciting — it’s the type of information and coaching that I’ve always wanted to see from the Watch.
  • I don’t think too much about my hearing and likely am surrounded by dangerously loud environments far more often than I realize. I look forward to a time when I’m notified to move further away from the source or consider using ear plugs to protect my hearing.

Apple continues to do a great job of improving the Apple Watch year-over-year and I’m happy to see this continue. The most exciting aspect of watchOS 6 is the new streaming audio API — I’m hoping that developers will make some great apps with this.

iOS 13

  • I’m interested to see the real world implications of the new application bundle slimming they’re using. Apps launching twice as fast is an impressive feat — if they can pull it off, it’ll be a big deal.
  • I don’t care about dark mode and don’t understand why anyone else does. I just don’t get the appeal.
  • I’ve never even tried a swipe-style keyboard before, so I’m interested to give it a try. I don’t expect I’ll use it long-term, but we’ll see.
  • I like that Mail is finally getting robust text formatting options, but I’m a little worried that this will mean an uptick in the amount of emails I receive with colored text and font size adjustments. That will not be an improvement in my eyes.
  • The new Maps app looks nice, but I think the most important new feature for me is the shareable ETA. I expect I’ll use that all the time.
  • I’m happy that Apple is making strides at fixing the social login issue. It’s such a convenient feature for users, but the privacy implications are larger than the average user realizes. Being able to use Sign-in with Apple is going to be a boon for user privacy. The randomized email address announcement received a huge applause and it deserves it.
  • I’ve thought about purchasing a HomeKit camera for our backyard, so we can keep an eye on our pool when we’re not home. But the privacy implication of an internet-connected camera kept me from actually purchasing. I might pull the trigger when some of these HomeKit Secure Video cameras hit the market.
  • HomeKit for routers is neat, but wouldn’t it be cool if Apple was the company that was building these routers? I guess our only hope is that Eero will add this functionality to its existing routers so I won’t have to spend another few hundred dollars on a new setup.
  • It didn’t take long for Vignette to get Shrelocked by the new Messages app, I guess.
  • I hope the new photo editing features won’t muck up the interface in a way that makes it difficult for novice users. I don’t want to mess with too many advanced settings, I just want to adjust a couple of sliders and call it a day.
  • There are so many instances where my wife and I want to listen to the same podcast or YouTube video. We end up sharing a set of AirPods and each of us wear one, but being able to share audio to multiple AirPod sets is going to be fantastic.

Based on the last iOS-related slide, there seems to be a ton of new features that were never showcased on stage. I’m most excited about the advancements to Shortcuts that weren’t discussed, but I’m sure there are several dozen other little improvements that will be nice to see as well.

iPadOS

  • Pinning widgets on the home screen is going to be amazing and it’s likely the first thing I enable when I install iOS 13 on my iPad. I’m a big fan of widgets, but was never in love with how tough they were to access. There was a time when the system would remember that you accessed your widgets last and present you with those when you swiped down from the top of the screen, but that was lost a few major updates ago. I’m glad we’ll have a quick and easy way to always access widgets again.
  • I’m happy to see that they’re adding the ability to use split-view with multiple instances of the same application, but I don’t expect I’ll actually use it in practice.
  • The app exposé and slide over app switcher look quite nice, but I am a bit concerned that this will add an additional layer of complexity to window management, which will inevitably get in the way of productivity. I’m curious to see how it will play out when you’re actually using the device.
  • Support for thumb drives and external disk drives is going to be a major deal. It was one of the things I mentioned to my wife after the event and it will be a big win for her. She recently switched to an iPad as her primary home computer and having the ability to throw a document on a thumb drive so she can take it to work is a major improvement.
  • Hearing a WordPress shoutout during the Safari segment was pretty cool.
  • I’m not too sure about the new gestures for text manipulation. I think I’ll get the hang of the new copy and paste gestures relatively quickly, but I’m concerned that the new text selection gestures are going to feel a little odd at first. There’s a lot of potential for conflicts — how does the system know I’m selecting text or moving the cursor instead of trying to scroll, for example? There were a couple of snafus during the demo, which doesn’t fill me with confidence.
  • The full page markup functionality is kind of amazing. I’m sure this has a ton of applications for web designers and developers, as well as teachers and print publishers.

Apple really hit it out of the park with iPadOS. This has been my primary home computing platform since I first purchased my iPad Air 2 in 2015 and it just continues to get better each year. I’m still a far cry from being able to do my day job from my iPad, but that’s mostly because of some specialty software that isn’t available on the platform yet. Maybe in a few more years, the system will get to the point where I can start pushing our developers toward releasing apps for iOS as well.

Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR

  • I think the new Mac Pro has a snazzy design. It might not be as elegant as an iMac or a MacBook Pro, but it has a powerful, utilitarian look that I love.
  • The machine is incredibly powerful out of the box, but they really gave themselves a ton of headroom to expand and upgrade the machine down the line as necessary. This is exactly what pro customers have been waiting for.
  • The new Pro Display XDR is an incredible piece of tech, but I wish they announced multiple models. A 32-inch display is massive and I’m sure there are plenty of pro users that would have liked to have an option that was a bit smaller, maybe 27- and 24-inch options as well. Even if it meant cutting down the features a bit on the smaller models. This would have been especially nice for users that prefer to have multiple displays instead of one giant display.

The Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR are expensive. Really expensive. I understand that this is aimed at the pro market, but I would have liked to see Apple offer these at lower pricing with significantly reduced specs. Long gone are the days of Mac Pros that can be purchased for $1999 and upgraded over time. And that’s a real shame.

I’ve been looking to upgrade our home server to something new because the 2011 Mac Mini that we had been using is a bit long in the tooth. It would be nice if I could have replaced it with a Mac Pro so that all of the storage was internal and the ability to rip/convert DVDs and Blu-ray discs was faster than the Mini is capable of. I hate the fact that if I want a ton of storage connected to our Mac Mini, I have to use a bunch of external drives that leave the whole setup looking like a mess.

macOS

  • Catalina is an excellent name.
  • I’m glad they’re finally unbundling iTunes into separate applications. And I’m even happier that they’re doing this after I’ve moved on to Plex for managing my media library. I just feel a bit better about the transition knowing that it will take place without me having to really feel any of the pain points associated with it. I still maintain an iTunes library for iTunes Match, but that’s far less important to my media workflows than our main library is.
  • Sidecar seems like a really nifty feature. It’s just a shame that they had to Sherlock an entire class of applications in the process. But I’m not someone that has really spent much time using multiple displays for any of my workflows. I tend to have my iPad propped up next to my MacBook Air while I work, but that’s mostly for managing music playback and occasionally testing a webpage issue on a different system. I’m curious to see if Sidecar changes that for me.
  • The Find My app seems like a massive upgrade from the previous iteration, with the separate Find My iPhone and Find My Friends Apps. I love that they’re utilizing other people’s iPhones to help you find your devices wherever they may be.
  • Project Catalyst is something that we’ve already heard about, back when it was called Marzipan. I’m hoping it will mean less Electron apps in my Dock and more native applications on my machine.

macOS seemed like less of a step forward compared to the rest of Apple’s platforms. Which makes sense, since the Mac is a much more mature platform. But I guess a large portion of their efforts in that regard went toward developer-level improvements with things like Swift UI and their AR endeavors.

Overall

This was one of the most impressive WWDC events that I can remember. The entire keynote was just packed with little announcements that will have a real impact on Apple device users’ lives. I think they probably could have cut a bit more from the keynote, giving us a more streamlined, compact event. I’m not sure if Swift UI and the AR segment really needed to exist within the main WWDC keynote and might have been better suited for The Platform State of the Union later that day.

But I look forward to getting my hands on all of the new software that they introduced during the event. I’m not sure if I’ll end up installing iPadOS or iOS 13 on my main devices, but it’s tempting. Perhaps I’ll take the plunge when the public beta releases this Summer.

Seen on the Seventh

I can’t say I was too impressed with the opening video of Tim Cook riding to the event with Pharrell Williams and James Corden — whoever that is. It felt a little bit too much like every other “hilarious” CEO video that never quite manages to be funny, or even interesting. But Apple delivered an impressive set of announcements — headlined by a second-generation Apple Watch, new iPhones, and wireless headphones.

I wasn’t able to watch the event live — aside from a handful of moments in 5-10 minute chunks. Instead, I kept a close eye on my Twitter timeline and watched the full event earlier this morning. The following is my impressions of each of the major announcements, in the order they appeared on stage.

Nintendo

There’s been this hope within the Apple community, for the past several years, that Apple would purchase Nintendo and make a big push for gaming on their platforms. But having Shigeru Miyamoto on stage is proof that an acquisition wasn’t necessary. Nintendo is bringing a brand new game to iOS — Super Mario Run — but that’s only the beginning.

It wasn’t discussed on stage, but Nintendo also plans on releasing at least two more games this spring — one based on Fire Emblem and the other on Animal Crossing. If this is a successful endeavor, I expect we’ll see them bringing even more properties to iOS in the future. It’s a little unfortunate that their first game feels a bit like mobile fodder, but even with its simplistic gameplay, I’m sure it’ll be well received.

What I’m excited about, though, is a future where Nintendo is building games for Apple’s platforms. Nintendo has a knack for building some of the most innovative and entertaining games on the market. And paired with Apple’s hardware prowess, we could be in for something really good.

Apple Watch

Apple has announced Apple Watch Series 2 — the second-generation Apple Watch. They’ve made some solid improvements over the previous model, but I’m not convinced it will spur existing Apple Watch owners to upgrade. I don’t currently have any plans to purchase a Series 2, but don’t get me wrong, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Apple doesn’t need to convince every existing Apple Watch owner to upgrade, they just need to continue iterating and expand the Apple Watch’s appeal. I think the water proofing improvements and GPS will do that. They’re clearly positioning the Watch more as a fitness device — between swimming and being able to map your route while running — and I think that’s the right move.

Apple’s learned very quickly that fitness tracking is the killer app for smartwatches. At least for now. I expect they’ll continue to focus on this aspect of their wearable until third-party developers find that next big killer app. We all know that it’ll come eventually, but I don’t think anybody will be able to pinpoint what it is until it’s already upon us.

Series 2 comes in the familiar aluminum and stainless steel metal casings — just as the original did — but Apple has replaced the incredibly expensive gold model with a slightly less expensive ceramic edition. I have to admit, it’s an absolutely stunning model based on the product shots on Apple’s website. I have no interest in spending over twelve hundred dollars on a smartwatch, but I can appreciate Apple’s interest in exploring new materials.

Building devices out of ceramic may be expensive today. In the future, that might not be the case. But the only way we’ll ever see an improvement in the kinds of materials used in consumer products is if someone actually takes the time to work with them — I’m glad Apple’s still trying to push the industry forward.

Returning to their focus on fitness, Jeff Williams invited Trevor Edwards on stage from Nike to talk about Apple Watch Nike+ — a special edition of the Watch designed for runners. Apple has had successful partnerships with Nike in the past — the Nike+ kit for iPod immediately comes to mind — and I expect this to be no different. The design doesn’t particularly appeal to me, but judging by the current lineup of Nike running shoes, I think Watch Nike+ will become a highly sought-after product.

I think it was a really smart move to keep the existing Apple Watch in the product line. It gives me hope that they’ll continue to support the first model for several years to come and it gives them a much more affordable price point to get people in the door. I have a suspicion that the Apple Watch isn’t going to explode in popularity until they reach a sub-$200 price point. And continuing to sell last years model is a great way to help them inch closer to that pivotal price.

iPhone

It’s becoming harder and harder for Apple to keep the new iPhone under wraps before its unveiling. As with previous years, most of the design details had leaked weeks (or months) before yesterday’s event. But despite the amount of information we already knew about the product, Apple still managed to impress me with the new iPhone.

Apple conveniently broke down the iPhone announcement into ten landmark features and I’ll tackle each of them individually.

Design: They’ve introduced a new finish — jet black — which has a glossy appearance. This gives the illusion, when the display is off, that the entire device is made from a single material. They’ve also introduced another color — black — which looks a lot like space gray albeit in a much darker hue.

Of the two new colors, I prefer the standard black option. Granted, I haven’t seen them in person, but I’m not typically fond of glossy finishes on devices. It is unfortunate that jet black is only available on the two higher-end storage tiers, but I suspect that’s because of the additional engineering work that goes into manufacturing it.

Home Button: Apple has redesigned the home button and, much like the latest trackpads, removed the physical mechanism. The home button is now Force Touch enabled and uses a Taptic Engine to provide feedback when pressed.

This is something that I’ll have to experience for myself before I pass judgement on it. I’ve read mixed reports on Twitter, from members of the press, with some saying it feels exactly like a button and others saying the opposite. I was initially skeptical of the Force Touch Trackpads when they were introduced in the MacBook, and while I haven’t used one on a day-to-day basis, I was very impressed by them when I tried it out in-store.

Water and Dust Resistant: The iPhone 7 is rated as IP67, which means it is capable of surviving immersion up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. That will protect you from accidental spills or drops in a puddle, but I wouldn’t suggest taking it in the pool.

This was my biggest disappointment from the entire event. I suppose I got my hopes up with my theory of Apple hitting it out of the park with water proofing, but I shouldn’t have let that get the best of me. If my theory was true, there would have been many more rumors about it. Maybe they’re saving it for next year’s model.

Camera: Apple completely redesigned the iPhone’s camera system this year. The iPhone 7 feature’s optical image stabilization, a larger aperture lens, a new high-speed sensor, a quad-LED True Tone flash, and a brand new image signal processor. It’s a pretty impressive upgrade from last year’s model.

Apple didn’t stop there, though. They have further widened the gap between the 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhone cameras by adding an additional camera assembly. Using these two 12MP cameras — one with a wide-angle lens and the other with a telephoto lens — the iPhone 7 Plus will have optical zoom, digital zoom with drastically improved image quality, and a new portrait mode which uses software to mimic a shallow depth of field.

The new camera features really have me torn — along with many others, I presume. As much as I enjoy having a 4.7-inch iPhone that actually fits in my pocket, the two lens camera is intriguing to me. I don’t take photos as often as I’d like to, but when I do, I’m usually taking pictures of my nieces and nephews. The shallow depth of field effect in the new portrait mode looks like a killer new feature. And I suspect there will be a lot of users who upgrade to the larger device just for that feature alone.

Retina HD Display: The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus displays are now 25% brighter and sport a wider color gamut. There isn’t too much else to say about the new iPhone’s display. It’s always been impressive and nothing’s changed there. The additional brightness should help when using the device in direct sunlight and the wider color gamut will allow for more rich images.

Speakers: For the first time in an iPhone, Apple has added stereo speakers. This will allow for twice the volume output of previous iPhones and offers an increased dynamic range. Even though I have Bluetooth speakers, AirPlay devices, and headphones, I still find myself regularly using my iPhone’s built-speakers. I’m happy to see they’re making improvements on this front.

EarPods: Apple is removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. There’s been plenty of articles written about why that is or isn’t a good idea, but truthfully, I don’t really care. In my life, there are only two items that I connect to my iPhone with an audio cable — the Apple EarPods that ship with the device and my car stereo. Both of these are easily fixed when I eventually upgrade to a device without a headphone jack. I can simply use the Lightning EarPods that Apple ships with the iPhone and I can use the included Lightning to headphone adapter in my car. Super easy.

I understand that this is a major concern to people who regularly use the same pair of headphones with a handful of devices. Not all of them have a Lightning port and some of them don’t support Bluetooth. The good news is that you can continue using your headphones with the Lightning to headphone adapter. It isn’t the most elegant solution, but it’ll certainly get you by until all of your devices support the newer technologies.

I think Apple did an excellent job explaining why they were moving on from the headphone jack. The key to it all is that handset manufacturers are doing everything they can to pack as much technology into their devices as possible. Space is at a premium and it doesn’t make sense to waste so much of it on a single-purpose connector. As annoying as it may be to a large number of users, I think any rational individual can understand why Apple’s doing this.

AirPods: Apple has removed the wires from their EarPods and engineered their own W1 Bluetooth audio chip to produce a set of wireless earbuds. They use infrared sensors to detect when they’re in your ear which will prevent them from wasting energy by unnecessarily playing back audio. They last up to five hours with their built-in battery, but come with a charging case that can provide a total of 24 hours of listening.

The pairing process is quite impressive — which is exactly what I would expect from an Apple product like this. You simply open the AirPods’ case near your iPhone and tap the connect button. The headphones are then automatically setup with your iPhone and Apple Watch. They even use iCloud to propagate the pairing to your iPad and Mac.

Apple’s AirPods are impressive from a technological standpoint, but I don’t think I’ll end up buying a pair. They’re fairly affordable, at $159, but I’m not too keen on truly wireless headphones. Having two independent earphones leaves me worried that they’ll get lost too easily.

And I’m not thrilled about the five hours of battery life either. I frequently wear headphones at work for several hours at a time, I don’t want to take them out for a recharge just to make it through an entire day. Until they offer battery life in the neighborhood of eight hours, I’m just not interested.

Apple Pay: The iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 will support the NFC standard used in Japan for contactless payments. Apple will be using this to rollout Apple Pay for Japan in October.

Performance: The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus include a brand-new generation of A-series chips called A10 Fusion. It features a four-core CPU — two high-speed cores alongside two high-efficiency cores. This allows the iPhone 7 to achieve significantly improved performance on CPU intensive tasks while allowing for better battery life while running less demanding applications. The A10 Fusion will offer improvements by just about any metric and really shows the advantage Apple has over other handset manufacturers — no one else has access to chips like this.

The story of performance is just about the same every year — massive improvements over last year’s model. What’s most interesting to me, though, is that the iPhone 7 is likely at or beyond parity with the performance of the most powerful machines in my house. I haven’t seen benchmarks quite yet, but based on the increases over the iPhone 6s, that means the iPhone 7 will be the most powerful computer many people have ever used in their life. And it fits in their pocket. That would have been unbelievable just a few years ago.

Apple Holding Event on September 7 ➝

I’m excited about this one. We’re almost certainly seeing new iPhones, but I’m not sure what else Apple has planned. The rumors have been a little erratic. We could see a new Watch, Macs, or something else entirely.

Apple Announces iPhone and Apple TV Event for September 9 ➝

It will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium which holds around 7,000. That’s a huge room for an Apple event and I’m surprised the rumor panned out. I was even drafting a piece last night conveying my doubts and ending with a quip about John Gruber forgetting to announce a Daring Fireball conference — you know, because of the “exterior wall mounted star graphic sign.” The joke was good, I had to mention it.

If you’re curious about what I expect Apple to announce at the event, I published my predictions yesterday. Although, the bit about the iPhone 6c doesn’t look promising.

Predicting Apple’s Upcoming Events

I wrote some preliminary predictions when I linked to Matt Birchler’s piece about the upcoming iPhone lineup. But, shortly after publishing my thoughts I created a note in Vesper to jot down a revised — and complete — version of what I expect we’ll see from Apple over the next 7-8 months. There’s been a few rumors since last week which forced me to rethink the iPhone announcement, but I don’t expect my thoughts to change again unless something drastic comes about through the rumor mill.

It’s pretty clear that Apple is going to be holding an iPhone event the week of September 6. Once the press begins receiving invitations on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, we’ll know the date for sure. I’m still holding out hope for September 8 — of course, I want to be right — but the ninth is looking like the most likely date.

Here’s what I expect we’ll see from Apple at their September iPhone event:

  • WatchOS 2
  • New Watch Bands
  • iOS 9
  • iPhone 6c
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • New Apple TV

I think the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will sport updated internals with Force Touch-capable displays being the landmark feature. I expect they’ll both be available September 18 with storage options starting at 32GB. As for the iPhone 6c, it will become both the free and $99 iPhone option going forward for 16GB and 32GB respectively. It will have iPhone 6-like internals, a 4-inch display, and an “unapologetically plastic” casing. But I don’t expect it will ship until October or November.

My iPhone predictions are likely the boldest of the bunch, but I think Apple wants to cut ties with all previous models. Apple will continue selling the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5s, and 5c until stock is depleted, but going forward I believe Apple wants all of their lower-priced models to have plastic bodies and 4-inch displays. At least for the foreseeable future.

Apple has already announced that iOS 9 and watchOS 2 will be coming this fall and I believe golden master builds of both will be available for developers hours after the event with a public release as late as September 14. Apple will also announce new watch band colors that will be available to order that same day, shipping at the end of the week.

The long rumored new Apple TV set-top-box will be announced with a claimed ship date similar to the iPhone 5c’s October or November timeframe. The Apple TV will gain a refreshed user interface and hardware design, an updated remote control, iOS 9-dependent features like universal search, a developer SDK, and App Store. Apple will most likely bring a couple of hand-picked developers on stage to show what they’ve been able to build for the Apple TV in a very short period of time.

The remaining questions I have regarding the Apple TV is on pricing and game controllers. I would love to see this new Apple TV priced at $99. But if Apple is going to build it on rather beefy internals, I just don’t see how that could be. I suppose Apple could differentiate pricing based on storage, but I don’t know if Apple really wants to do that. The target market — the masses — isn’t likely to know how those storage capacities will impact the Apple TV’s usability and most will just buy the cheapest model available. And that won’t make for the best overall user experience.

As for game controllers, I’m not sure if Apple will release a stand-alone controller themselves, expect third-parties to build controllers for them, or if the new remote could be turned on its side to be used as a controller with hardware direction buttons on the left and action buttons on the right. Of the three, I think a mixture of the second and third are the most likely. That would prevent most customers from needing to acquire a controller with more hardcore fans having the option to buy something more ergonomic.

Looking Further Forward

At first, I thought Apple would skip their typical October event and announce their new iPad lineup at the iPhone event, but that would make for a jam-packed event with far too much to cover in just two hours. And after the less-than-stellar Apple Music announcement, I’d guess Apple will be a bit more touchy about long-winded events than they normally are.

Here’s my broad-strokes expectations from an October iPad event:

  • OS X El Capitan
  • 21.5-inch iMac with Retina Display
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad Air 3
  • iPad Pro

Again, these are some super-extra-early predictions. If I get any of this right, I’ll be just as surprised as you. However, I can’t imagine I’m too far off the mark.

El Capitan will likely get a GM build around the time of the event with a public release coming before the end of October. A new 21.5-inch iMac has been cropping up in rumors lately and it feels like a natural fit at the October event. I could also see some stealth updates to the Mac mini and Mac Pro which would quietly appear on Apple’s website — both are due for an update and releasing them before the holiday season would certainly contribute to a strong quarter for Mac sales.

I don’t expect much more than internal hardware upgrades for the iPad mini 4 and iPad Air 3, but the iPad Pro will obviously be an entirely new product. And I think we’ll see a few iPad Pro-specific features in iOS 9.1 that take better advantage of the increased screen real estate. I’m not sure what they could be, but wouldn’t it be neat if you could run two apps simultaneously that faced users on opposite sides of the device? A true multi-user device sounds like a novel idea, but imagine if schools could purchase half the number of iPads for classrooms.

As for an event to be held this spring — March or April:

  • New Apple Watch
  • Television streaming service
  • MacBook refresh

I won’t elaborate too much on the announcements at a potential spring event, but I do think the new Apple Watch will come in additional colors — such as gold or yellow — and obviously the streaming TV service will be entirely dependent on Apple’s ability to acquire the necessary rights. I expect Apple would be able to cut deals by then, but there’s always the possibility that one or more of the networks will decide that it’s not in their best interest to play ball.

Eager Anticipation

Of all the announcements Apple is likely to make over the next several months, I’m by far the most excited for the iPhone 6s and Apple TV. That’s partly because I plan on buying both of them as soon as I’m able to, but also because my current iPhone 5s is really starting to show its age. I can barely go a full day on a single charge at this point due to the wear and tear on the battery — my phone spends much of the day in airplane mode trying to preserve as much battery life as possible.

I also see the Apple TV as a huge opportunity for Apple. The Apple Watch will never be as important to the company as the iPhone because there’s only so many people that are interested in wearing a watch, but nearly everyone watches television. And if Apple can find a way to build a compelling device that’s powerful and easy to use, they could have a real hit on their hands.

Update 9/3/15: Matt Hauger asked me whether I thought there’d be a stylus for the iPad Pro and what I think Force Touch will be used for in the iPhone 6s. To reiterate what I replied with on Twitter, I do think Apple will release a stylus for the iPad Pro. There’s certain applications for which a stylus makes perfect sense — drawing, handwriting, annotating documents, etc. — and if Apple thinks they can make a better one than any other on the market, they’re going to do it. My guess is it’ll cost $69 and be sold separately.

Regarding Force Touch on the iPhone, I’m a little less clear on what I think Apple’s going to use it for. Assuming Force Touch begets pressure sensitivity, there’s plenty of applications which would benefit from such a feature — drawing applications, games, and possible accessibility use cases. But as for Force Touch specifically, if I were to compare it to traditional desktop computers, a long press is like a right-click whereas a Force Touch will be like a keyboard shortcut — a way to perform an action quickly without the need for an additional menu.

As an aside, Apple’s October event would be a great opportunity to introduce the new wireless keyboard and mouse that popped up in FCC filings a few weeks ago. They could be launched and demoed alongside the 21.5-inch iMac with Retina display.

Apple’s ‘Spring Forward’ Live Stream ➝

In about 20 minutes, Apple will begin live streaming their Watch event. I’ll be watching the stream from my Apple TV’s Apple Events channel and I’ll also be following The Verge’s live blog.

Spring Forward ➝

Apple has sent out invites to a special media event to be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on March 9. I expect we’ll get another look at the Apple Watch and they’ll also probably debut the new MacBook Air that has been rumored for several months.

Apple to Live Stream October 16 Event ➝

Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch this one live. But, the  stream can be viewed on Apple’s site at the aforelinked page. It will also be available to on the Apple TV through Apple’s live events app.