By Jason Snell
September 11, 2018 9:22 AM PT
Apple’s big Wednesday is almost here
So here we are. A day away from the big Apple event, the second public media event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino. And while last month’s inadvertent image leak was a huge spoiler, there’s always room for last-minute rumors and leaks.
Just outside the 24-hour window is MacRumors, who reported new tidbits from well-connected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, most notably the idea that the iPad Pro might be going to USB-C, and that the new low-cost Apple laptop might be replacing the 12-inch MacBook, and might include Touch ID. Both of these reports are a bit sketchy, but it’s Kuo, so they need to be taken seriously.
In the last week there’s also been a back and forth about possible product names, in the wake of Guilherme Rambo’s clever image sleuthing. Yesterday Mark Gurman reported that the “likely” names for the top-of-the-line products are, as Rambo reported, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Gurman also says that Apple at one point considered calling the new lower-cost 6.1-inch LCD device “iPhone Xr.”
I don’t know. Those names seem weird, though I can see how Apple could easily spin it as the flowering of the iPhone X product line. The “Max” addition seems particularly inelegant and a little bit tasteless, though in the phone business I suppose not spelling it “Maxx” actually indicates restraint. (Maybe Max Headroom will make a cameo appearance?)
At this point I’ve written many articles about what will probably happen tomorrow, but there are always surprises. News reports can spoil the sweeping, big-picture items, but the details can still delight.
What differentiates the iPhone XS from its predecessor? Will there be new features, perhaps involving more image processing using the depth information from the front and back cameras? Will Face ID get improved? Are there some nice iOS 12 tidbits that have been withheld from the summer betas in order to “save” them for the iPhone XS?
That 6.1-inch iPhone remains a bit of a mystery, too. Yes, we know of its existence, but its price and the way it’s marketed are going to tell the tale. Even the name is still not entirely confirmed. How cheap is a “cheaper iPhone”? Is it $799? I’d guess so, but it could easily be $749 or even $699. (Still: nobody ever got rich betting the under on Apple pricing.)
The edge-to-edge display of the new Apple Watch was a nice catch by 9to5Mac, but there are so many questions still to be answered. Are there new sensors? How do all those new complications work, and do they work on a single watch face or across numerous faces?
Then there are the other products. Will AirPower finally get a ship date? Will we see a second generation of AirPods? These seem likely. Less likely are the dispositions of the other products rumored to be in progress for a release this fall: new iPad Pros, iMacs, and consumer Mac laptops. The lack of any explosive iPad Pro leaks this close to the event makes me feel that their appearance is not guaranteed, but I’m still going with my gut feeling that Apple doesn’t want to do two separate fall events, and so they’ll announce the iPad Pros on Wednesday… but hold the Macs for an announcement similar to this summer’s MacBook Pro roll-out, via press release and embargoed news and reviews from a small group of tech journalists.
Anyway, my point is: Apple’s going to roll out a whole lot of stuff tomorrow. We may know some of the big-picture stuff, but if you’re a regular reader of sites like this one, you know that the delight is in the details. How Apple pitches a new product is, at least to me, more interesting than the bare product specs themselves. And there are always, always surprises.
I’ll report in from Cupertino tomorrow!
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