What to expect from Apple’s “It’s been way too long” special event

Apple Its Been Way Too Long Special Event

Apple’s second big event this fall is happening this Thursday October, 16th at 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM Eastern Time). Apple will unveil new iPad and Mac in this media event which will stream live over the web and on Apple TV. Here are the things we’re expecting or predicting Apple to deliver at the event.

iPad Air and iPad mini

Apple will likely announce updates to its iPad Air and iPad mini. One major hardware changes this round will be the addition of Touch ID fingerprint sensor, as a way to increase login security and also to participate in Apple Pay roll out. Touch ID is a much sought after feature for privacy sensitive enterprise who are deploying iPads for their staffs. 

The new iPad Air and iPad mini is expected to have a thinner frame, and according to some reports from Asia’s parts suppliers, a gold color option. We predict Apple will offer new iPads in similar silver, space gray and gold options as iPhone 6.

Both new iPad Air and iPad mini are expected to sport a higher 3x resolution 3072 x 2304 Retina Display similar to iPhone 6 Plus. Apple will also equipped them with an enhanced A8x processor and higher 2G ram in order to drive the higher resolution screen.

Apple is expected to keep the current version of iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display as a lower cost option alongside the new models.

12.9 inch iPad

We expect Apple to announce the much-rumored 12.9 inch iPad at this media event, which will have the same hardware specs with new iPad Air. This larger iPad “Pro” however will not be launched till the end of the year.

Sale growth of iPad has been relatively stagnant compared with that of iPhone, and the iPad Pro is Apple’s attempt to revive the segment. This bigger iPad model is also strategic in Apple’s alliance with IBM to bring more tablet based solution to the enterprise.

Apple Pay and iOS 8

Apple is expected as planned to launch Apple Pay on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus with the release of iOS 8.1. Apple Pay is expected to work with the new iPad Air and iPad mini, and we should see demos during the media event, and announcement of new partners and services compatible with Apple Pay. 

OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite

Apple is expected to announce the release of OS X Yosemite, which has been available in preview mode since its announcement in WWDC June this year. OS X Yosemite will be free and made available through the Mac App Store. OS X Yosemite has a refreshed interface and comes with features that work together with iOS 8, such as Handoff and iCloud Drive. Any Macs that is capable of running OS X Mavericks is compatible with OS X Yosemite.

Retina iMac

Apple Retina iMac

We might finally see the debut of Retina iMac, which is a dream machine for graphic professionals. Spec wise, the Retina iMac is expected to have a resolution of 5120×2880, double that of the current 27-inch iMac. We predict Apple will use a 28-inch panel for the Retina iMac model.

Retina display is likely to be offered in one high end iMac configuration, as the higher resolution requires a  beefy GPU to drive the display. We expect this initial offering of a Retina Display in iMac to be pricey. The iMac range is also expected to upgrade to the higher bandwidth Thunderbolt 2 port.

Thunderbolt Display

“It’s been way too long” is aptly named especially for Apple’s Thunderbolt Display, which was introduced in 2011. Currently there is only one 27 inch model for sale with a native 2560×1440 resolution. We expect Apple to upgrade this model to use Thunderbolt 2 technology. 

We predict Apple will release a second Thunderbolt Display model using the same 28 inch panel as Retina iMac with a 5120×2880 resolution. It might even be named Retina Thunderbolt Display.

Mac mini

“It’s been way too long” applies equally well to Mac mini, which was last updated in 2012. We predict few possibilities to this Mac line. Apple might just upgrade the Mac mini with newer processor and faster GPU. Due to a year’s gap in release cycle, we predict a new design and form factor for Mac mini, and one that is Made in USA similar to Mac Pro. How about a cube shape Mac?

Some have suggested that Apple might discontinue the Mac mini. Mac mini is still a strategic line up as Apple needs an entry to mid-range level desktop Mac. There is a demand to run Mac as a server for small business, and also for developers who relies on Xcode’s server feature.

Apple TV

Apple TV is the third product in the “It’s been way too long” group that needs an upgrade. Current third generation Apple TV is released in 2012. 

We expect a 4th generation Apple TV with a faster processor and GPU, and an upgrade to 1G RAM from current 512MB. It is likely to have A7 processor as its core to finally enable gaming on Apple TV. Couple with Apple Metal API, this will enable console-like gaming on Apple TV.