Two iPhones, an iWatch, and a USB cable walk into a bar...

What to realistically expect at Apple’s September 9th, 2014 special event




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It’s almost here. Tomorrow, Apple is holding its first big special event of the year (excluding WWDC) – and we’re expecting it to be quite the doozy. Apple is certainly going to be using the event to launch its upcoming iPhone lineup, but what else could be in the pipeline? Last year around this time Apple announced not one, but two new iPhones alongside the announcement of the final build of iOS 7, and we’re expecting an equally – if not more – impressive showing this time around. So without further ado, this is what you can realistically expect at Apple’s special event tomorrow. No bullshit, just the good stuff.

What to realistically expect…” is a series of posts which we use to temper expectations concerning upcoming Apple events. We’ve got a pretty good track record here, with only one small miss with our iPhone 5s/5c event predictions. Read on to hear today’s expectations.

Of course, there’s not just one, but two next generation iPhone models – which we’ll just call the “iPhone 6” lineup to make things easier. While Apple had only ever released one new iPhone model at a time right up until last year’s introduction of the iPhone 5s and the lower cost, plastic iPhone 5c, we feel absolutely confident that Apple will be announcing not one, but two new iPhone 6 models tomorrow. While there very well may be some differences in product specifications between the two models, the biggest differentiator will be the size. We’re fairly confident in exactly what those sizes are – Apple will announce both a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 as well as a new 5.5-inch iPhone 6, each not inconsequently larger than the current 4″ iPhone 5s and 5c models.

Both are expected to be treated as “premium” devices, with each getting Apple’s next generation A8 64-bit processor, Apple’s next generation camera hardware, and higher screen resolutions. While we’re still not 100% certain as to what those resolutions will be exactly, I happen to believe that John Gruber hit the nail on the head with his educated guesstimation. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will get a display resolution of 1334 × 750 rendered at 326 PPI with existing 2x Retina graphics.

The 5.5-inch iPhone 6, meanwhile, will likely get a display resolution of 2208 × 1242 at 461 PPI with a new set of 3x Retina resources, which will give way to a whole new class of “Retina-plus” devices (my term, not likely ever to be Apple’s) with more detail than any other display Apple has ever shipped. Recent rumors have also suggested that the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will gain a “one handed mode” functionality similar to that Samsung deploys in their modern Galaxy devices, which will shove all the content over to one side of the screen for easy one hand use. It’s an inelegant solution to one handed use, but I suppose that’s the price you pay for a big screen.

At the end of the day, I think the iPhone lineup will be as follows – a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 starting at $299, a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 starting at $199. The iPhone 5s will drop down to the $99 slot, while the iPhone 5c will stick around for one more year replacing the iPhone 4s as the $0 model. Many outlets are saying that the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will launch at the end of September with the 5.5-inch model launching later in the year – probably October, or November – and I have no evidence to suggest otherwise, I do think it’s possible that the launch will play out a little differently, with each model launching on the same day at the end of September and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 launching in extremely limited numbers.

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Your patience has paid off. Apple is finally getting into that new product category we’ve been hearing so much about, and it’s going to be a wearable. Let’s call it the “iWatch”. I’m not even going to even try to predict what the iWatch will look like or function as. I won’t try to speculate on the price, and I won’t even try to predict the release date – though I sincerely doubt it’ll launch in 2014. All we know is that Apple is going to be announcing their iWatch this week, and Apple is gunning to revolutionize the wearable industry in the same sort of fashion that the original iPhone revolutionized the cell phone industry in 2007.

Recent rumors say that Apple is so certain of this device, it’s gone as far as to invite members of the fashion industry to the event – something that tells us that the iWatch will be useful as more than just a valuable piece of technology, but also as a fashion statement. Another rumor says that Apple has already seeded some high level developers an iWatch SDK so as to give them a head start on an application ecosystem, as the company hopes to launch the iWatch with a dedicated App Store with plenty of apps in hand. If I were to even entertain a single guess, it would be that the iWatch will be central to Apple’s new HealthKit and HomeKit initiatives.

Sensors, sensors, sensors – both in the iPhone and in the iWatchSensors will play a huge part in Apple’s special event tomorrow, taking HomeKit – which Apple officially announced alongside iOS 8 at WWDC this summer – to a whole new level of crazy. Imagine, just for a second, this: you step into your room, iWatch on your wrist, and the lights automagically turn on, the air conditioning unit set to a perfect 68 degrees. Step into your bathroom for a shower, and your “shower playlist” (come on, I know you have one) starts to play over the nearest speaker system.

You leave the house with your iPhone in your pocket, and everything shuts off, knowing you’ve left the area. You walk down the street to the nearest convenience store, where you pick up a juice box and some trail mix. That’ll be $4.75. To pay, all you do is pull out your phone, verify the amount, and use Touch ID to authorize the payment, which is detected via NFC – which gets transferred instantly from your bank account. As you begin walking home, your iWatch tells you that there was an accident up the street. Good thing you decided to walk and not drive.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

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Here comes iOS 8 – a refinement, not a revolution. Six beta releases in, we already know most of everything there is to know about iOS 8, but expect Apple to announce the final version tomorrow. There won’t be any big surprises, barring enhanced support for the new large screen iPhones. A slightly updated (but still very iOS 7) design, third party keyboard support, and better app-to-app interaction. Developers will be able to get their hands on the final bits tomorrow while the rest of us plebs have to wait until Apple releases the iPhone 6 lineup later in September. iOS 8 will, of course, support the iPhone 4 all the way up to the iPhone 6, as well as the iPad 2 all the way up to Apple’s latest and greatest iPads.

What about iPads? Maybe iPods? Apple’s a master of the media, and the company absolutely knows that this event is going to be the busiest, biggest one in a long, long time with two new iPhones and a whole new product category. While I do think we’ll see both updated iPads and iPods this year, I think Apple’s saving both of those for an upcoming potential special event, likely in October. It’s too early to guess as to what that event will bring, but rumors have suggested that the sixth-generation iPad (the “iPad Air 2”) and a third-generation iPad mini are both in the works, each with relatively minor updates.

A reversible USB cable would be nice, but it’s not in the cards. This is a pretty straightforward one. Recently, photos of a new lightning-to-USB cable has made the rounds showing a reversible design that would allow you to plug the USB end into your computer either way, which frankly sounds flipping awesome. But easy come, easy go – sources are now suggesting that while Apple is indeed testing this sort of cable for launch alongside a future product, it won’t be coming tomorrow. Bummer.