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What to expect from Apple in October

Tim Cook on stage at WWDC 2019

Last updated

There's no guarantee that Apple will have an October event this year, but it is now officially fall. Between announcements, and a lot of rumors, there is a huge amount of hardware and services that we expect to see released very soon.

It's a curious thing, but we're all expecting Apple to hold an event in October that will see the release of new iPad Pro models — and perhaps we shouldn't. Maybe Apple will do precisely this, certainly there are reasons to suspect it will, but actual evidence points in any number of different directions

That does include the possibility that no, Apple won't have an event in October. In the last eight years, it's had an October event six times. And only in three of those did it mention the iPad.

Plus Apple is simply releasing so much these days that products which would previously debuted at an event, have instead seen the light of day in a press release. Apple did that earlier in 2018 when it wanted its Apple TV+ event to focus solely on that service, for instance, and we've now repeatedly seen upgrades issued very quietly. And, it did it with two MacBook Pro revisions this year as well.

Apple TV+ is launching in November and it's hard to see Apple devoting another event to that, since it's unlikely to have any shows we don't know about, and it's hard to get all of that talent back for a rerun.

However, it's easier to see Apple doing what it did at the September iPhone launch and lead off a new event with a last push for Apple TV+.

It's still possible that we'll see the Apple TV hardware updated, most likely with a new and faster processor. If that happens, though, it's something that is likely to have more visible effect with the performance of Apple Arcade rather than Apple TV+.

Still, if the new TV service was what made Apple cut out its hardware launches earlier this year, new hardware could be an excellent peg for talking about the service again this October.

What we know is coming

We are in the decreasingly unusual position, though, of knowing at least some of Apple's forthcoming products in every detail — except the actual release date.

Specifically, we know the Mac Pro is coming in the fall, and we know when the fall is. We just do also know that Apple's definition of any season gets stretched to its limit when they're talking about a release schedule.

The forthcoming Mac Pro
The forthcoming Mac Pro

Look up the official date when the fall ends, and you'll be surprised to find that there are two different ones. Most of us, probably unknowingly, go by what's called the meteorological seasons, which means winter officially starts on December 1 when we put our heavy coats on.

There is, though, an astronomical season, which is to do with the positioning of the Earth and the sun, or possibly between Apple and its manufacturing cycle. It might be pushing things if Apple wanted to claim that astronomical date for the end of the fall, Saturday December 21, but it could.

There is also the fact that Apple has officially said that production of the Mac Pro will start in Texas shortly. That is production rather than shipping, but Apple does not stockpile any more than it has to.

Plus whenever it finally ships, it's hard to picture Apple pulling off another event based around the Mac Pro. Yet that machine could benefit from the promotion of some on-stage exposure.

We also know that Adobe Photoshop is coming to the iPad this year. And we're already nearing the stage where if your company hasn't yet booked its Christmas party, you should bring it up at the next meeting.

Adobe demonstrating Photoshop on the iPad Pro in October 2018
Adobe demonstrating Photoshop on the iPad Pro in October 2018

Apple is also not going to stage an event just for Photoshop, though.

Not enough

Yet here we are with several things that are big but have already been covered in events and don't appear to warrant another one.

Which means it's easier to see an event in which they are all covered. Tim Cook could come out on stage and say some impressive fact about Apple TV+, maybe including new hardware. And then he announces the Mac Pro release date in the same manner he did with Apple TV+ at the iPhone event.

None of that could really make a strong event, but based on what else the supply chain is telling us, there is something that might.

It's as certain as can be that there are new iPad Pro models coming, and it's at least consistently rumored that they will arrive in October.

Apple does like showing off the thickness —  sorry,
Apple does like showing off the thickness — sorry, "thinness" — of its new devices.

Whenever they come, it's rumored that they will feature the

">same triple-lens camera system

that was introduced with the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max in September.

This is perhaps the least certain of all the expectations about Apple's next hardware. But now that we've seen what this camera system can bring, we wouldn't be surprised if Apple showed us some incredible photos — and then had Adobe demonstrate working on them with Photoshop on iPad.

All of this would mean that, so far, such a hypothetical event would also be very Pro-focused, which Apple seems to like this year. There'd be the Mac Pro device we knew for sure is coming, there'd be the iPad Pro we're pretty certain is coming.

And then there could be the device that's pretty convincingly rumored but as yet not quite as strongly as the iPad Pro models.

MacBook Pro

If Apple does have an October event, it will need something new. Even if we didn't know about the iPad Pro models and didn't suspect the triple-camera system, it doesn't feel as if they would make a big enough splash as they're unlikely to be as radically altered as last year's.

That said, few expected Apple's September iPhone event to be significant, and perhaps no one expected just how big a difference a third lens could make.

And there is room for a surprise on the iPad Pro — we're not really expecting to see it yet, but a next obvious move for Apple is to bring OLED screens to these devices.

MacBook Pro. We want one too.
MacBook Pro. We want one too.

If we're unlikely to get that this year, though, what we could get is the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Of the past six October events, Apple has unveiled some form of MacBook Pro or MacBook Air four times. This year the rumors, chiefly backed by reliable sources within the supply chain, have pointed to the imminent release of a 16-inch MacBook Pro, and the MacBook Air has already seen an update in 2019.

As with previous alterations to the iPads, that increased screen size is expected to come via a reduction in the bezel around the display. That display is believed to be an LCD one — not OLED — with 3,072 pixels by 1,920, and would actually be 16.4 inches.

With this screen fitting into the same casing as the current 15-inch model, it would be logical for Apple to discontinue that current model. However, pricing for the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is expected to start at over $3,000. The current smaller model begins at $2,399.

Still, if the cheaper price is the sole advantage that the 15-inch MacBook Pro has over the 16-inch, its days are surely numbered. That number is just going to be a lot more than the 31 that are in October.


With any event, and more recently with any series of Apple press releases, there is always the same cycle. Beforehand, there are predictions, and afterwards there is a reckoning, a tallying of what Apple chose not to unveil.

Images within an internal Apple build of iOS 13 point to Apple Tags being close to ready
Images within an internal Apple build of iOS 13 point to Apple Tags being close to ready

Sometimes that's just a way of excusing a failed prediction — Apple would've brought out the car, only they couldn't get it in blue — but sometimes it's more practical.

Such as now, when there are two issues that are so close to being known that Apple might as well have announced them.

One is "Apple Tags," a Tile-like competitor for helping you find your misplaced devices, and since internal iOS code is replete with references to this, plus the new Motion coprocessor seems to aid that idea.

Then there's the business of the reverse or bilateral charging that failed to materialize in the iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max, but which is possibly present and disabled.

This is disputed, but teardowns of the new iPhones show at least an unidentified circuit board and some cabling.

A teardown of the new iPhones shows an unidentified circuit board. (Source: iFixit)
A teardown of the new iPhones shows an unidentified circuit board. (Source: iFixit)

If there is something lurking in the iPhones, you can imagine that it was disabled because it wasn't ready in time. In which case, you could equally imagine Apple switching it on in software.

However, this is all zooming off into the same kind of wishful speculation that AppleInsider abhors.

So let's round up the facts and call it on the likelihood that we will see certain products during October — and whether there will be an event.

Running the odds

The Mac Pro being released in October is possible. There was a hiccup on Apple's website that appeared to prematurely leak the news that it was coming — though it specified September.

Likelihood of October release: 30% odds

For all that we maybe shouldn't assume October is now iPad Pro month, there are definitely models coming and this is a good time of year to release them.

Likelihood of October release: 80% odds

MacBook Pro 16-inch is also certainly coming, and reports have said October. Given that and Apple's history of unveiling MacBook models in this month, the chances are high.

Likelihood of October release: 80%

Which leaves the smaller pickings, like Apple Tags, and new Apple TV hardware

Likelihood of October release: Apple Tags 30%, new Apple TV 10%

Whatever the odds of that or any of the expected devices, though, there is the fact that Apple has a lot it could bring out soon.

That includes things that might in other circumstances have been tentpole products, the one big thing that makes an event fly high. The Mac Pro would've been that, but we've already seen it. Apple TV+ surely could've been it, but we were shown that early in the year.

There is this whole slate of hardware and services releases that Apple could make. There is also that most of the biggest ones have already had their moment in the spotlight.

Event or no event

Generally speaking, Apple seems to like holding an event when it's got a device that has had some kind of change of form factor, such as last year's iPad Pro revision.

There have been times when that change is less about the casing, more about an element of it, such as when the iMac 5K came out in 2014. That had an identical case to the previous several models, but it was a very significant hardware update.

We are anticipating that for the MacBook Pro, but not for the iPad Pro or the Apple TV hardware.

If Apple does go for an event in October, the month does already have some competition. Microsoft is going to launch an updated Surface on 2 October, for instance, while Google is bringing out the Pixel 4 on 15 October.

Microsoft's event is on a Tuesday and Google's on a Wednesday. Apple has favored Tuesdays for its October events in 2011, 2012, 2013, and again last year. But for every other year that it's had an October event, it's been on a Thursday.

There are five Thursdays this October, and Apple only tends to announce events between a week and ten days ahead.

So we won't know for sure that there will be an event until Apple says so, and we can't be sure there isn't until several weeks into October.

However, while this is not backed up by inside or some supply chain-like source, we say the likelihood of Apple actually staging an October event is an even 50%. Really the major factor in favor an event is the sheer volume of items Apple has to release that we've seen signs of — but then Apple always chooses very precisely which few items to showcase at once.

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