What to expect from today's Apple event: 'iPhone 7,' Apple Watch with GPS, more
Today Apple will hold its now-annual September event where it is expected to unveil new products, most notably its next iPhone. Here everything insiders need to know about the highly anticipated announcements.
tl;dr: Expect the unveiling of the "iPhone 7," "iPhone 7 Plus," new Apple Watch with GPS, and new Beats products. iOS 10 golden master should also launch Wednesday and become publicly available before the end of the month. New Mac hardware will wait until later this fall.
When and where
Apple's keynote takes place Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. It will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Calif.
AppleInsider will be there live and will be providing instant coverage, analysis, and hands-on impressions with any new products. Visit our official live stream page, and also follow us on social media:
Count on it: Faster "iPhone 7" with new cameras, without headphone jack
It would take some sort of a cataclysmic event for Apple to not stick to its annual iPhone upgrade cycle. The company's cash-cow product has seen yearly updates for the last 9 years, and the 2016 10th-generation handset should be no different.
All evidence points to the so-called "iPhone 7" ditching the legacy 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. It's believed that Apple will ship the "iPhone 7" with a pair of Lightning-connected headphones in the box, while also offering an adapter for traditional headphones. Eliminating the headphone jack would allow for a waterproof design that could enable thinner form factors.
Water resistance could also be improved with a new haptic feedback home button that will simulate a click when pressed, rather than moving. It's expected that the new home button will operate in a manner similar to the click-less Force Touch trackpad found on recent MacBooks.
Apple is also rumored to be working on its own wireless earbuds with completely separate left and right earpieces, which are expected to be dubbed "AirPods."
There has also been last-minute evidence suggesting that Apple could ship a Lightning to headphone adapter in the box, allowing users to connect legacy headphones without the need to pay extra for a separate adapter.
The most significant upgrades this year are rumored to be in the larger 5.5-inch model, which is expected to boast a unique dual-lens camera capable of capturing more advanced images and, for the first time ever, optical zoom. The smaller 4.7-inch version is rumored to have an improved 12-megapixel camera, but lack the dual-lens design.
Internally, the so-called "iPhone 7 Plus" is also expected to feature more capable hardware in the form of 3 gigabytes of RAM. It's believed the smaller "iPhone 7" will stick with 2 gigabytes of RAM. Apple doesn't usually talk about RAM onstage, so it's likely this won't be mentioned during the keynote.
Both cameras are expected to have improved camera flash and better performance in low-light conditions, as well as a newly improved 3D Touch sensor for pressure sensitive input. The external design is also expected to have reduced antenna lines, but feature the same general construction of the iPhone 6s.
The "iPhone 7 Plus" is also rumored to come in a total of five colors, with two of them new: a dark shade of matte black, and a glossy piano black. Apple is expected to do away with space gray this generation, but continue to offer silver, gold, and rose gold.
Less certain are rumors that the "iPhone 7 Plus" will feature a magnetic Smart Connector port on the back of the handset. Some leaked parts and schematics have shown the connector above the Lightning port, while others have not featured one.
Also expected: A new Apple Watch with GPS
A year and a half after the first model went on sale, Apple is expected to unveil a second-generation Apple Watch at its Sept. 7 event. The key upgrade this year is rumored to be a GPS radio, which will allow users to measure distance and pace without the need for a connected iPhone.
Leaked parts have also suggested this year's model will feature a slightly larger battery, which could be used to offset the battery power needed for GPS tracking.
Other rumored features include a barometer and better waterproofing than the first-generation model.
Reports have also suggested that Apple could tweak the first-generation Apple Watch with slightly better waterproofing and an improved processor based on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's 16-nanometer process.
Those waiting for cellular data connectivity in the Apple Watch, allowing it to be used fully independent of an iPhone while on the go, will have to wait, however. Rumors claim Apple hoped to introduce LTE to the Apple Watch this year, but current technical limitations prevented it from happening. The company is now said to be aiming for a 2017 launch for a cellular-capable Apple Watch.
Bank on Beats, too
An Apple marketing partner inadvertently sent out an email revealing that new Beats products will be announced at Apple's Sept. 7 event.
It's unknown exactly what Apple's Beats brand may have in the works, but considering the company's established lineup of headphones and speakers, it's safe to say they will probably introduce new models.
Given Apple's expected switch to all Lightning and Bluetooth headphones, it's likely that new Beats headphones would follow that lead. Currently, none of the Beats lineup features Lightning-connected headphones, though the Beats Pill+ speaker that debuted a year ago features a female Lightning port for charging.
Obvious, but worth noting: iOS 10 GM and launch date
Apple already announced iOS 10 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference back in June. It still doesn't have an official launch date beyond this fall.
However, if Apple sticks to their usual release schedules (as it is expected to do), then a golden master build of iOS 10 will likely be issued to developers on Wednesday. The public release of iOS 10 should then follow a week or two later, depending on when the "iPhone 7" becomes available. In years past, new iOS releases have launched the Wednesday before a Friday iPhone launch.
It's also likely that watchOS 3 and tvOS 10 will be released alongside iOS 10.
macOS Sierra is a bit of a wildcard. It could launch alongside the other four platforms. Or perhaps Apple will wait until its new Macs debut.
And about the Mac...
Macs will have to wait, however
Apple's entire Mac lineup is due for updates. That doesn't mean they're imminent.
Multiple reports have indicated that Apple will not, in fact, update Mac hardware at the Sept. 7 event. Between the iPhone, Apple Watch, Beats and iOS 10, it'll be packed enough as-is.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that Apple will roll out new Macs in October.
It's been said that the company doesn't want to host two fall events anymore, as it has done in the past, which would mean private, one-on-one media briefings — under embargo — Â will probably occur in October. When the embargo lifts, then the new Macs can launch.
Most anticipated is an entirely new MacBook Pro design boasting a dynamic OLED touch bar. The new feature is rumored to display context-sensitive commands, such as playback options in iTunes or word processing shortcuts in Pages. The touch bar is expected to replace the current row of function keys.
Apple is also rumored to bring Touch ID to the Mac for the first time, with a fingerprint sensing power button next to the dynamic OLED function row.
More expensive configurations of the new 15-inch MacBook Pro are rumored to use AMD Polaris GPUs, chosen because they're thin and power-efficient enough. Lower-end 13-inch models and 15-inch configurations are likely to use Intel's integrated graphics.
The MacBook Pro is also rumored to make the switch to USB-C, the next-generation reversible, high-speed port already found in the 12-inch MacBook.
Other Mac-related hardware rumored to be in the works are a MacBook Air refresh and a standalone 5K monitor.
A new MacBook Air could be just a simple processor speed bump. Apple would seem unlikely to introduce major new features, like a high-resolution Retina display, when the 12-inch MacBook serves as the company's flagship thin-and-light machine.
As for the new 5K display, Apple discontinued its Thunderbolt Display in June, having long been surpassed by high-resolution monitors available at much more affordable pricing. Apple could differentiate its rumored 5K display with an integrated graphics card, allowing less powerful machines like the 12-inch MacBook to be able to drive the massive pixel count of an ultra-HD screen.
But again, all of that will have to wait. Sept. 7 is the iPhone's stage.
AppleInsider's own Daniel Eran Dilger will be at the keynote, providing exclusive impressions as Apple makes its highly anticipated announcements. Join us for live coverage.