If you’re looking for an extravaganza on the scale of last month’s new iPhone unveiling, chances are you won’t find it at Apple’s “Way Too Long” event to be held Thursday in the Town Hall auditorium at its Cupertino headquarters.
“This will be a very low-key event,” Gartner Research Vice President for Mobility Van L. Baker told TechNewsWorld. “They’re always low-key when they happen on campus.”
While no one knows for sure what Apple has up its sleeve, the consensus leading up to the event is that it will be refreshing its tablet and computer lines and releasing the prime-time version of its desktop operating system, OS X Yosemite. There’s an outside chance it will upgrade its iPod line or Apple TV set top box.
“I don’t expect any announcements from the event to be revolutionary,” Jeff Orr, senior practice director for mobile devices at ABI Research, told TechNewsWorld. “I’m not expecting any major departures from the iterative process this time around.”
What that probably means for the iPad is shaving off a few millimeters, upgrading to the A8 processor, sporting a new color (gold), tweaking the display’s resolution and reflective qualities, and perhaps adding fingerprint recognition with TouchID.
iPad Air Pro
There have been rumors of a new larger iPad Air Pro with a 12.9-inch display, but “I don’t think we’re going to see a larger iPad,” Orr said. “It’s a very small market as it is, and it’s an area where Apple would not be adding distinct capabilities. For a larger iPad, you’d want to see something more than just a larger screen size.”
An iPad Pro would be very much a specialty product, noted Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst at Technalysis Research.
“More and more companies are going to have to make specialized devices. This large iPad is going to be a good example of that,” he told TechNewsWorld. “In general, it’s getting harder and harder for companies to do general purpose devices that everyone wants. You’re going to start seeing more and more specialization and focus going on moving forward.”
Another driver behind a bigger iPad could be Apple’s new good buddy IBM.
“I think, given the IBM deal, which signifies a stronger push into the enterprise, a larger iPad would be a faster way into the enterprise than the Mac,” Carolina Milanesi, chief of research and head of U.S. business for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, told TechNewsWorld.
New 5K iMac?
On the Mac side of things, a new 27-inch iMac with a 5K retina display could be in the offing, as well as a more powerful MacBook and even a new Mac mini.
There have been rumors of a refresh of the MacBook Air, which would add a 12-inch Retina display model and completely reimagine the unit’s design, but those rumors have been losing steam as the event draws nearer.
While Apple is spreading the footprint of Touch ID, it could decide to add it to its Macs as well.
“A huge portion of online purchases are still made on PCs,” O’Donnell explained, “so it might make sense for them to do that.”
Possibly making sense doesn’t mean it will rise to must-have status, though.
“I do not think Touch ID is as necessary on a Mac as it is on iPhones and iPads, where speed of access plays a role in the way we use those devices,” Milanesi said.
TouchID could make a Mac a more attractive corporate buy, though.
“It could be interesting as an extra layer of security in the enterprise environment,” Milanesi noted.
To go along with the new Mac models, Apple is expected to release OS X Yosemite, which, among other things, allows Apple users to work on projects across its mobile and desktop products.
Since the theme of the event is “way too long,” two other Apple products have been connected to Thursday’s happening: Apple TV and the iPod touch.
“Apple TV continues to be enhanced by announcing more partners and things, but I’m not expecting any significant announcements any time soon,” Baker said.
“The iPod touch is a declining business,” he added. “The only question about iPods is when does it cease to make sense for Apple to be in that business, because the unit volume keeps going down and down.”