What to expect from a March 25 Apple News and streaming video event — and what not to
If the date is correct, we're likely to have an event on March 25 that will see Apple launching two major services including a more coherent Apple News service with magazines and other publications, plus the debut of Apple's streaming video service — but what about hardware?
Strictly speaking, we don't even know for sure that there will be an Apple event on March 25. If there is, it's likely that the first official confirmation will be a press invitation which is typically issued a week or two before. Until then, everybody is guessing — but some people are guessing with their fingers crossed and some are looking at evidence.
Based on reliable sources, tea-leaves read from supply chain sources, or in this case especially from Apple's deals with other companies, here's what you can expect to see on March 25, and what is in the works at Apple but less likely to appear as well.
"Apple News Magazines"
Multiple sources are saying that not only will Apple launch this service of newspapers and magazines, it will make it the chief highlight of the event. It's known that the company has been working on a paid Apple News subscription and now it's rumored that this will be called "Apple News Magazines".
That name was seemingly confirmed in beta versions of iOS 12.2 which also indicated that payments will be linked to your iTunes account. There also appears to be what's going to be called a bundle subscription, which could mean one fee for "Apple News Magazines," Apple Music, and the forthcoming Apple video service.
A subscription to "Apple News Magazines" by itself is rumored to cost $10 per month, the same as an individual subscription to Apple Music.
This follows Apple's acquisition of Texture, a service that offered access to magazines. The Apple version is expected to continue with magazines but also add newspapers.
However, there are reports of issues over just how it will do that, and specifically which titles it can carry. Reportedly, Apple is planning to take 50 percent of the income from the subscription and at least some publishers are balking at that.
Apple's video service
Despite sources saying news will be the highlight, there is also the possibility of Apple's video service being launched. Previous reports have suggested that it is likely to start in April so a March 25 event that didn't include it seems questionable.
Only, if the event does have both of these new services, it seems to us that "Apple News Magazines" would be eclipsed in the public eye by the video one. It would seem odd if the service did launch, and yet had no appearance from any of the celebrity casts and producers we already know are involved. JJ Abrams, Jennifer Garner, M. Night Shyamalan, Richard Gere, Steve Carrell, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Ophrah Winfrey are all providing shows to the service.
Apple is known to be spending over $1 billion on these original shows so it's not going to launch that service with a press release. Equally, though, Apple has never run two full-scale events with less than a month between them.
Apple does not hold events every March. Since 2011, it ran five events but had no announcements in 2013, 2014 or 2017. Each time it has had an event, though, it has always unveiled new hardware.
That may not be the case this time, at least according to the same Buzzfeed sources that claim the news service will launch. That report says that the rumored AirPods 2 and fifth-generation iPad mini will not be launched at this event.
While there have been conflicting rumors, the most likely evidence says now that AirPods 2 will launch in the fall.
It is expected that Apple will be releasing a new "iPad mini 5" and also a refreshed regular iPad some time in the first half of this year, however.
China Business Times claimed in December 2018 that manufacturing was about to start on the new iPad mini, although there were no details of the design changes from previous models. By contrast, the same sources reported that the 7.9-inch iPad will come in a new low-price version.
They also say that the regular iPad will be both lower price and refreshed to follow much of the iPad Pro's latest design. Cheaper and better sounds a bit more like wishful thinking than it does Apple pricing policy, though.
If it's true, though, then conceivably Apple will release these new wonder iPads at the March 25 event, because they're as close to mass-market as the company will ever have got. And an event with video celebrities is equally mass-market.
Again, though, we're being told to not expect iPads just yet. This is getting into guesswork, however, whereas the news that AirPods will also not be featured is more certain. While recent rumors have been contradictory, the trend has been to expect them launching in the Fall.
Other reports say that the much delayed AirPower charging mat, however, is so close to release that TV advertisements are being filmed now.
We're just speculating now, but it doesn't seem very likely that Apple will champion its news service, herald its video one — and then throw in that it's also finally made that charging mat it showed us in 2017.
We'd be less surprised if the company showed us these new services and then announced some hardware that you can read and watch them on.
Apple has actually said that it will be releasing an updated case for the AirPods which would let it use the AirPower charging pad. In which case, the case and the pad are effectively an inevitable pairing.
There is other hardware that has long been expected, though, as Apple is arguably overdue to update the iMac. It was the surprise omission at the October 30, 2018 event which otherwise saw the Mac mini and the MacBook Air released.
However, Apple now has a history of doing certain hardware updates with just a press release as it did with the refreshed MacBook Pros in summer 2018.
If an iMac update were something like a minor speed or other specification improvement, we'd be certain Apple would do it via a press release. And equally if it were a major change, we'd expect a new iMac to appear at an event. However, some of the updates to the MacBook Pro line were substantial so it may be more a case of what Apple can best fit into its events.
It's never just a case of what's ready to be launched. It is always a case of what Apple can make the most impact with and that involves both launching major products and making sure that they don't compete with each other for attention too much. Apple wants everyone buying everything, it doesn't want us diverted by too many options.
Which does again make us question the idea that it will launch both the news and the video service together. The news service doesn't feel like enough of a show to make an Apple event about all by itself, yet it would be drowned out if Apple also launched its Netflix competitor at the same time.
Maybe Apple has a good story to tell us that features both. Maybe Apple is happy to put the news service out there when it won't get our full attention and we might miss just how many publishers it has failed to sign up.