Every September for the past several years, Apple fans have been treated to a keynote at which the newest iPhone is unveiled along with several other products. No event has been more keenly anticipated than the one scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. In this article we’re making our forecasts about announcements based on current rumors and expectations.
The Steve Jobs Theater
This will be the first Apple event to be held at the new Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park. Up until the media invitations were sent out for the event, many believed that the facility would not be ready for a product rollout. Recent drone videos, however, showed that the above-ground cylinder of clear curved glass was ready to go, and now we know that the work on the underground theater must be complete as well.
Official Releases of macOS 10.13 High Sierra, iOS 11, watchOS 4, tvOS 11
We expect that the release of the new versions of all of Apple’s operating systems will coincide with the big show. Several of the operating systems (iOS and tvOS) are in their ninth beta versions right now, and we’d be surprised if there was another release prior to the issuance of the “Golden Master” (final production) version.
macOS 10.13 High Sierra brings a number of enhancements to the Mac operating system. Metal 2 allows developers to take advantage of the graphics processing unit in the Mac to create stunning, speedy real-time animations. VR capabilities through External Graphics expansion boxes and the HTV Vive VR headset make it possible for creators to easily make and edit 3D content.
Of course, High Sierra also brings major changes to the Mac through a completely new file system, Apple File System (APFS), and all-new compression standards through HEVC and HEIF. (Related: Revealing Five ‘Hidden’ Features of macOS High Sierra)
iOS 11 is bringing a lot of changes to iPhone and iPad. For the iPad — and perhaps the iPhone 8 — there’s a new user interface that brings a Mac-like “Dock” to the OS as well as completely new multitasking features including drag and drop. The simple iCloud Drive app is replaced with a Files app providing a single point of access to a number of popular cloud services.
Apple’s focus on augmented reality through the ARKit framework is sure to be highlighted at the event. Apple has already made a point of showing off some of the unique AR apps that have been created by developers, and I’d be surprised if the company didn’t spend a disproportionate amount of time on AR during the keynote.
Other iOS 11 features that might receive attention during the event include the new Depth Map API that allows developers to make their own custom depth filters for photography, as well as new apps that use machine learning to become more intelligent and customized to their users. (Related: Uncovering Some of the Best ‘Hidden’ Features of iOS 11)
watchOS 4 makes existing Apple Watches more responsive and faster thanks to a lot of tuning under the hood. Many apps can now run in background, so updated information is available when you glance at your Watch without having to wait for processing to occur.
Finally, tvOS 11 provides background fetch and notification so that apps are ready to go when you launch them, and we’re sure to see some demos of the new capabilities during the keynote.
The “iPhone 8” or “iPhone X” is the next-generation iPhone and is probably the most anticipated iPhone since the first one in 2007. This iPhone is designed to be a tenth-anniversary special device to introduce people to an all-new design.
The new iPhone is expected to feature an edge-to-edge 5.8-inch OLED (organic LED) display, a new “thin bar” replacing the familiar home button (see image at right), and replace Touch ID with a sophisticated 3D face recognition system (“Face ID”?) that uses a combination of visual and IR sensors to create a “map” of a user’s face. The new device should also be powered by an A11 processor and — for the first time — bring wireless charging to the iPhone line. This phone is also expected to carry a premium price tag — many believe it will start at the $999 price level with 64, 256, and 512GB versions.
Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 is expected to feature dual rear cameras, but aligned in a vertical arrangement rather than horizontal. Along with the updated camera, Apple may add a laser autofocus system to the high-end iPhone for faster and more accurate autofocusing. There’s even some talk of 3D photography being possible if Apple uses a camera module from LG.
The new camera may support “SmartCamera” features that detect scenes, photo conditions, and subjects, and then set the best possible shutter speed, aperture, and focus to take the best possible photograph.
With the expected announcement of the iPhone 8 on September 12, it’s likely that the device will become available to the public on Friday, September 22. Most industry watchers believe the iPhone 8 will be in short supply for at least three to four months.
iPhone 7s / 7s Plus
Along with the radically different iPhone 8, Apple is expected to release the next generation of iPhone 7 — the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus. As with the existing iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the phone will continue to use an LCD display. So what will differentiate the 7s and 7s Plus from the premium iPhone 8? Many pundits think that the new devices will add wireless charging and the A11 system on a chip.
5th-Generation Apple TV
Apple has allegedly been testing a fifth-generation Apple TV since February of 2017, so this event would be the perfect time to announce the new device. What could we see in a new Apple TV? A faster processor that would give it the ability to stream 4K HDR content and possibly more on-device storage than the existing 32/64 GB options.
Some movies in the iTunes Store have been listed with 4K/HDR labels, which has added to the speculation that the new device is imminent. The new Apple TV would support full 3,840 x 2160 4K resolution and — through HDR10 and Dolby Vision support — also be able to output streamed content in a wider color gamut, making colors more vivid on TVs that support the wider range.
Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch has defied expectations, becoming the market leader for smartwatches despite competition from all quarters. But the one thing that the Apple Watch has not been able to do up to this point is send and receive data without having an iPhone nearby. That’s why many pundits think it’s time for the Apple Watch Series 3 to be unveiled, complete with built-in LTE support.
This device would require a separate data plan for the Watch, something that’s common already with competing smartwatches that have already embraced built-in LTE. Most industry analysts feel that the major cellular carriers are ready to go with low-cost plans for the new Watch.
Does that mean that users would be able to make phone calls from the Series 3 Watch? Not necessarily. It would be able to use voice over IP services like FaceTime and Skype, but not use regular cellular voice services.
Finally, there has been a lot of speculation and a number of Apple patent filings that point towards what some are calling “smart bands”. These are Watch bands that contain extra features; think of an extra battery pack built into a band, or a Watch band with cameras. While I don’t expect an announcement of smart bands at the event, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising.
The Rocket Yard will have all of the news from the September 12 event as it happens, as well as an in-depth look at the announcements afterwards.