It's been about a year since Apple revealed new iPads. That can only mean one thing. This Tuesday, Tim Cook, Phil Schiller and friends will take the stage to reveal the latest versions of the company's market-leading tablet. But what exactly will we see? And what other surprises might be in store? Join Gizmag, as we break down the rumors leading up to Tuesday's Apple event.
iPad (5th generation)
This is the surest bet for Tuesday's event. Expect a new 5th-generation iPad with the same 9.7-in. Retina Display, but a body that resembles a larger iPad mini.
In addition to the form factor change, we'd bet on the same colors from the iPhone 5s making their way to the iPad. That means "space gray," silver, and possibly gold. It's possible that the iPhone 5s' Touch ID sensor will make the leap to the iPad, but we'd consider that more of a long shot.
The new iPad will likely pick up a variant of the iPhone 5s' A7 chip, either a standard A7 or, more likely, an A7X chip that's designed to help push that 2,048 x 1,536 screen. Maybe we'll also see the 5s' M7 (motion coprocessor) chip, but we wouldn't bet on that.
Pricing will almost certainly stay the way it always has for the full-sized iPad: starting at US$500 for 16 GB Wi-Fi only, and moving up in the same increments from there.
iPad mini (2nd generation)
There will be a new iPad mini on Tuesday, and we'd bet it will have a Retina Display. Rumors have been a little inconsistent on this one, though, with some analysts seeing a non-Retina model with upgraded internals, and other seeing a Retina iPad mini that will only be available in limited supplies at launch.
We'd also expect to see the same new colors arrive on the mini. It could run the A7 or A7X chip as well, though maybe it would borrow the iPad 4's A6X SoC. Either way, it will see a big performance boost over the original iPad mini.
Pricing is more of a question for the iPad mini. It's possible Apple will raise the price of the Retina version, and sell the older model (or a new non-Retina model) for the current price points or less. If we had to bet, we'd say the same $330 starting price for the Retina model (but we wouldn't put too many chips in that pot).
Updated MacBook Pros
The MacBook Pro line has yet to receive a 4th-generation Intel Core Haswell processor, so this would be the logical time for it to happen. If any MacBooks get updated, then you can bet the house on Haswell-based Retina MacBook Pros. Though they could be nearing end-of-life, we'd wager that the non-Retina MBPs will stick around as well.
Mac OS X Mavericks
Apple still hasn't announced the release date for its latest version of Mac OS X (announced in June), so we'll probably find out more on Tuesday. We expect a quick recap from software head Craig Federighi, followed by official releasing and price info. We'd guess on a $20 price, and would bet the farm that it will be available sometime this month.
New Mac Pro
Remember that wacky new redesign of Apple's professional desktop, the Mac Pro, that Apple showcased at WWDC in June? We'd expect to see that again on Tuesday. This is when we'll likely get a release date and pricing. It should be available before the holidays, perhaps starting at the current $2,500, or even higher.
When Apple demoed iOS 7 in June, they showed us a new cloud-based password manager called iCloud Keychain. When iOS 7 launched to the public last month, though, the feature was nowhere to be seen.
Tuesday seems like a logical time for Apple to add one of iOS 7's coolest new features. And though Apple hasn't mentioned this, it seems like a natural marriage to pair iCloud Keychain with the iPhone 5s' Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Having a treasure trove of lengthy and secure passwords stored in the cloud that are only accessible via your fingerprint? Sounds like an excellent blend of security and convenience (provided the NSA doesn't get its grubby hands on it).
Apple TV (set-top box)?
There have been murmurs about an updated Apple TV box coming soon too. If this does arrive on Tuesday, we wouldn't expect any enormous updates there. In fact, barring the shift to an actual TV set (extremely unlikely this year), it's hard to see what Apple would change about the set-top box. It streams in 1080p, runs quickly and smoothly, and any new features could be added via software. But who knows, maybe Apple has something else in mind for the $100 hardware.
Surprises?There's always the distant possibility that Apple will rekindle its "leave our jaws on the floor" mojo and drop something completely unexpected like an iWatch or iTV. But that's about as likely this year as Tim Cook and Phil Schiller breaking into a musical dance number onstage. Apple's supply chain is full of leaks, and there haven't been any signs that these rumored products are anywhere near ready for public release. So, basically, almost no chance.
So how else could Apple surprise us? Well, our best guess is that they won't. The days of major Apple releases coming out of nowhere and blindsiding event audiences appear to be over. The company has grown so big, with so many people interested in what's coming next, that it's going to be very hard for them to keep that big of a secret. We'd love, however, to be proven wrong.