We’ve finally made it to September, and Apple’s September 9 iPhone event is just days away. The annual event is as hot a subject of speculation as ever, and the flurry of rumors an reports doesn’t look like it’ll let up anytime soon. Whether you’ve been following the iPhone 6s rumors since the iPhone 6 launched last year, or if you have a little catching-up to do before the event goes live, here are the last-minute Apple rumors you need to know before September 9.
1. The iPhone 6s’s key features will likely be Force Touch, a rose gold color, and an improved camera and Touch ID sensor.
Apple Insider reports that reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has reaffirmed that Apple’s sales pitch for the new iPhone 6s expected this week will center on Force Touch, a new color option, and upgrades both to Touch ID and to the iPhone’s camera system. Kuo does not expect the new iPhone to include a sapphire cover lens, a part that reportedly failed durability testing and has been replaced by ion-strengthened glass.
Affirming previous rumors, Kuo thinks that the rear-facing camera on the iPhone 6s will be upgraded to 12 megapixels, while the front-facing camera will be bumped up to 5 megapixels. However, there may not be any additional storage space for those higher-resolution photos, as Kuo expects that the storage options offered will remain at 16, 64, and 128GB. Other upgrades expected with the new iPhone include the Force Touch input method introduced with the Apple Watch, a faster and more accurate TouchID system, and a new rose gold color option that will match the Apple Watch. The iPhone 6s is expected to be slightly thicker than the iPhone 6.
2. Apple could add gaming functionality in the next Apple TV, which is expected to appear onstage this week.
Speculation is mounting that Apple will unveil a new version of its Apple TV set-top box at the annual iPhone event. Several of those rumors indicate that Apple is building gaming functionality into the next Apple TV, which could potentially include support for game controllers and a dedicated App Store.
Apple Insider reports that Apple activated a new gaming-centric Twitter account ahead of the expected Apple TV refresh. The account, @AppStoreGames, will be run by App Store editors, and is seen by some as evidence that the new Apple TV will come with gaming capabilities. An Apple representative told The Verge’s Casey Newton to expect “sneak previews of games, tips and tricks, and profiles of talented gamers.”
John Paczkowski reports for Buzzfeed that the new Apple TV will start at $149, and will feature more powerful hardware and a new touchpad remote with motion sensors that would enable it to function as a game controller. It’s also expected to introduce Siri integration, an App Store of its own, and a universal search feature that would show you results from a number of different sources. That would enable you to search for a TV show or a movie once, and see results across streaming services, as well as Apple’s iTunes store. Search on the Apple TV is expected to tie into Siri, and is likely the reason why the September 9 event’s invites bear the tagline, “Siri, give us a hint.”
Apple’s rumored streaming service is not expected to make an appearance at this week’s event, and reports have indicated that setbacks in negotiations with content providers have pushed the launch of the streaming service back to sometime in 2016. Andrew Wallenstein reported for Variety last week that Apple is exploring the idea of creating original programming, with a source alleging that Apple’s goal is to establish development and production divisions that would create long-form content that could compete with that of, for instance, Netflix.
3. The iPad Pro and an iPad mini refresh could make an appearance on September 9.
Mark Gurman reports for 9to5Mac that Apple is planning to debut a pair of new iPads at its annual event this week. The two models are reportedly the super-sized iPad Pro and a refreshed version of the iPad mini, according to Gurman’s “trusted sources.”
The iPad Pro, which is reportedly actually the planned name of the device, would be announced on September 9, launch a pre-order campaign in October, and begin shipping in November. Gurman notes that while rumors indicate that the iPad Pro will be on stage this week, it’s possible that Apple could hold on to the larger iPad until an October event. If the iPad Pro is shown off this week, it’s expected that the iPad mini 4 will be introduced alongside it. A third version of the iPad Air is also in the works, but reports indicate that it won’t be ready until 2016. If Apple does introduce the new iPads this week, another Apple event this fall can be effectively ruled out.
The iPad mini 4 is expected to include a faster A-series chip with support for split-screen apps, plus a pair of upgraded cameras. The iPad Pro will be marketed toward power users, and will support a Force Touch-enabled stylus, speakers on two sides for a stereo effect, plus iOS 9-based tweaks like optimized versions of Siri and the Notification Center interface.
4. iOS 9 will bring new features, like the News app.
Speaking of what iOS 9 will bring, the annual iPhone event heralds the coming of the next version of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. Typically, Apple releases a new version of iOS before it begins shipping a new generation of iPhones. This year, the iPhone 6s is expected to be revealed on September 9, and to begin shipping on September 18.
Peter Kafka reports for Re/Code that at the iPhone event, we likely won’t hear much about Apple’s News app, a Flipboard-like reader that will be included in iOS 9. But that’s not because Apple isn’t excited about getting the word out about the app, which first debuted as a beta after WWDC in June. At the time that the app was announced, Apple had 18 publishers on board. Now, it tells Kafka that it has more than 50.
As the Cheat Sheet recently reported, another iOS 9 addition, policies and tools that enable developers to create content-blocking apps, will only drive publishers toward the News app, where users can’t block ads. Publishers will get to keep all revenue for News ads they sell themselves, and 70% for backfill spots sold by Apple. Both iOS 9 and News are expected to debut mid-September.
5. The Apple Watch could gain new color options for Sport bands.
Apple Insider reports that Apple will unveil a new assortment of color options for Apple Watch Sport bands at the September 9 event. There’s no word yet on what colors the company will add, though the publication notes that earlier this year, Apple gave a number of celebrities special Sport bands in a more muted palette, which is a likely direction. The colors included flesh tones, yellow, red, and navy blue, while the selection of bands currently available is centered around the brighter end of the spectrum.
Aside from watchOS 2, the much-awaited new version of the Apple Watch software, no other watch-related announcements are expected at Apple’s annual event, which will likely focus more on the next-generation iPhone lineup and an iPad refresh.
6. A 21.5-inch iMac with a 4K display may be on its way — but don’t expect it this week.
Some of the rumors about this week center around some clarifications about what we won’t see at the annual iPhone event. Included in that group is reportedly a 4K, 21.5-inch iMac, which Mark Gurman reports for 9to5Mac should appear in October.
According to what Gurman characterizes as “reliable sources,” Apple’s plan is to announce the refreshed version of the smaller iMac by the end of October, alongside OS X El Capitan. The company would then begin shipping the new iMac by the beginning of November. Gurman reports that the new iMac will feature a resolution 4096 x 2304, up from the current model’s screen resolution of 1920 x 1080, plus a faster processor and improved color saturation.
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