What to expect from Apple's Oct. 22 event: iPads, Macs, Mavericks & more
Apple on Tuesday confirmed that it will hold a media event next week, where the company is preparing to unveil its second-generation iPad mini and fifth-generation iPad, along with other anticipated products. Here's a rundown of what the company is expected to announce, based on the latest leaks and rumors.
What to expect: Redesigned fifth-gen iPad
Fifth-generation iPad mockup by Martin Hajek.
Apple's fifth-generation iPad will represent the first major redesign of the hardware since the iPad 2. Specifically, it's expected that the full-size iPad will adopt many of the traits of the iPad mini first introduced last year.
The 5th-gen iPad is expected to be noticeably thinner and lighter, while sporting a speedy new processor.
Most significantly among those is a thinner bezel to the left and right of the display when the iPad is held in portrait mode. To date, the full-size iPad has featured a generous bezel, allowing the device to be held without touching the display.
But starting last year, Apple adopted smart technology in the iPad mini that could differentiate between when the iPad was being held, and when a user was touching the screen to control it.
With this year's fifth-generation iPad, it's expected that the thicker bezel will go away, allowing Apple to reduce some of the size and weight of its 9.7-inch tablet. That's been supported by numerous part leaks, which have appeared throughout 2013, showing off the anticipated new design.
Accordingly, new Smart Covers that will fit the new form factor are also expected. It's possible that Apple could also adopt the all-fabric Smart Cover design the company current offers for the iPad mini.
Based on years past, it's likely that next iPad will feature an improved version of the current high-end A7 processor, which debuted in the iPhone 5s. A so-called "A7X" chip would likely offer even greater performance to drive the 9.7-inch display, powering the latest games and apps in a 64-bit architecture.
The rear camera on the next iPad is also expected to see a significant upgrade to an 8-megapixel sensor. That's an increase from the 5-megapixel camera found in the fourth-generation iPad, released last fall.
As for colors, it's expected that the new iPad will be offered in white and silver, as well as the new space grey option, replacing the outgoing black and slate design. It's unknown whether the full-size iPad will also come in gold, as the iPhone 5s does.
Also unknown is whether Apple will add its new Touch ID fingerprint scanning technology to its next iPads. It's possible that Apple could wait to introduce Touch ID on the iPad until future generations, leaving it exclusive to the iPhone 5s for now. One potential iOS improvement that Apple could implement to better take advantage of Touch ID on the iPad would be multi-user login support — something that is not currently available in iOS 7.
Given Apple's previous launch schedules, it's likely that the new 9.7-inch iPad will go on sale the Friday after it is announced. That would mean a Nov. 1 launch date.
Ahead of that availability, readers can lock in a high cash payout for their old iPad through AppleInsider partner Gazelle now, before the new models are announced. The reseller recently raised its cash payouts as trade-in numbers spiked in anticipation of Apple's Oct. 22 event.
What to expect: Second-gen iPad mini with Retina display
The next iPad mini is not expected to feature a major redesign of its chassis like its larger alternative. But Apple is expected to significantly revamp the display to the company's Retina-quality branding.
Second-generation iPad mini mockup by Martin Hajek.
The 2nd-gen iPad mini will likely upgrade to a high-res Retina display.To simplify matters for developers, it's expected that the iPad mini Retina display will feature the same pixel count as the full-size iPad. That would place the iPad mini with a much higher pixel density than the 9.7-inch iPad, by packing the same amount of pixels into a smaller 7.9-inch display.
Driving that many pixels requires power, and Apple won't want to sacrifice battery life. As a result, it's rumored that the new iPad mini will be slightly thicker than its predecessor, to accommodate a larger internal battery.
If true, that wouldn't be a surprise: Apple's third-generation iPad — and its first iPad with a Retina display — Â was slightly thicker than the iPad 2.
As for what chip will power the next iPad mini, that's less clear. Last year's first-generation iPad mini is powered by the A5 CPU — the same custom chip used to power Apple's iPad 2 and fifth-generation iPod touch. Following that logic, the most likely candidate to appear in the second-generation iPad mini would be the A6 CPU.
But AllThingsD reported earlier this month that the next iPad mini could skip a a generation with its processor and use the same A7 chip found in the iPhone 5s.
Regardless of what CPU it runs, it's rumored that the second-generation iPad mini will sport the same 8-megapixel rear facing camera upgrade as the fifth-generation iPad, putting the two devices on par with one another.
Also like with the full-size iPad, it's unknown whether the iPad mini would gain Touch ID support. Given that Touch ID debuted last month in the flagship iPhone 5s, but not the mid-range iPhone 5c, it would seem that the iPad mini is less likely to gain the feature than its full-size — and more expensive — counterpart.
What to expect: Mac Pro and Mavericks
Apple has promised to deliver both its new Mac Pro desktop and OS X 10.9 Mavericks upgrade this fall, so those products are likely candidates to appear at the company's Oct. 22 event.
Mavericks has been available to developers in golden master, or potential final form, since early this month. As a result, it's possible that Apple could announce same-day or next-day availability on the Mac App Store.
Last year's OS X upgrade, 10.8 Mountain Lion, was sold on the Mac App Store for $19.99. It's unlikely that Mavericks would be priced any higher than that.
As for the Mac Pro, one rumor claims the device will be available to own on Nov. 15. Pricing for the new professional-grade desktop is unknown, but since the device is marketed toward power users, it will likely be the most expensive Mac in the company's lineup.
Wildcards: Potential other products, surprises
Apple still has a few Mac models due for upgrades to Intel's latest-generation Haswell processors. Most notably, the MacBook Pro lineup has yet to see an upgrade, trailing the MacBook Air by months.
One rumored wildcard announcement for Oct. 22 is an Apple TV hardware update.
While a MacBook Pro update is expected for this fall, rumors of a Mac mini update have been nonexistent. Given the small role the desktop plays in Apple's lineup, it's still possible that a refresh could be pushed out with little fanfare.
Beyond the Mac, there is the potential for another surprise. Recent rumors have suggested that an update to the Apple TV set-top box hardware could be imminent.
Exactly what an Apple TV hardware update might include is unknown. But the current third-generation model was released in March of 2012, making the diminutive device a prime candidate for a refresh.
One rumor shared in August claimed that Apple could launch some sort of TV-related product this year with enhanced control functionality. Reporter and venture capitalist MG Siegler suggested that Apple had some surprises in store for its media streaming device, and that revamped hardware would offer new ways for users to control it.