Apple press conference 23 October: What we're expecting to see
Apple set our speculative senses tingling when event invitations were sent out last week with the words, “We’ve got a little more to show you” emblazoned on the bottom.
Could it be the long-rumoured iPad mini? Or perhaps something completely different? Right now rumours go all the way from a smaller iPad up to a new iMac, with lots in between. So just what should we expect to see on 23 October?
Given the fairly suggestive invite tag, we expect this one will be the headliner. Steve Jobs was fairly adamant that a smaller iPad just wouldn’t work, but it looks like the Asus Nexus 7 has proved him wrong.
So Apple wants to get in on the action, or at least that's what rumours suggest. At the moment, the iPad mini looks to be a 7.85-inch-screen, scaled-down version of the iPad, with a cheaper price tag.
A recent inventory leak from a German electronics stockist shows the usual line-up of Apple portables, with the iPad mini coming in Wi-Fi and 3G versions and ranging from 8 to 64 GB in size. Prices start at roughly £229, making it more expensive than the Asus offering, which starts at £159.
As for specifications, there isn’t anything concrete yet, but judging from the price tag, it's not likely to use the flagship processor or display found in the iPad 3 or iPhone 5. Design-wise, leaked images vary from black iPhone 5-style looks to simply a scaled-down version of the current iPad.
On top of a smaller iPad, its bigger brother could be getting an update. Rumours are pointing to the inclusion of a Lightning port, a la iPhone 5, on the new iPad. A spec refresh is also likely, presumably drawing on the highly efficient and very powerful processor in the iPhone 5.
The exciting part comes with the rumour that there will be a global 4G variant of the iPad, which would probably support EE's UK 4G network.
The Mac mini has kept the same looks for a while now, so a refresh wouldn’t be a surprise. The last version of the small aluminium box that we reviewed packed quite a performance punch, but that was in July 2011.
What exactly Apple has planned for the Mac mini remains firmly behind closed doors at Cupertino. Word on the street is that the computer will return in two different configurations, with a more powerful option complete with bigger hard drive. There is also talk of an OS X server Mac mini, which is entirely possible.
Rumour has it, the new Mac mini will go on sale immediately - something which Apple has done before. Keep your eyes on the Apple store at launch day if you want to get an order in; as these things are likely to sell quick.
Next comes the iMac, which is the other main desktop component of Apple’s computer range. Given that it's looking to update the mini, it would make sense that it does the same with the iMac.
The really exciting bit about talk of a new iMac is its thinner, teardrop shape. Right now it is without doubt one sexy piece of kit, but a new form factor would make it even more interesting. Again, the last update to the iMac was in May 2011, so it’s entirely possible a new version is coming.
Retina Display? We sure hope so. Whatever happens, expect Apple to try to do the same with the iMac as it does with the Mac mini - so it could go on sale straight away.
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro
Earlier this year Apple launched a thinner version of its 15-inch MacBook Pro, touting a 2880 x 1800 resolution screen. Having used one since launch, we can safely say it is one of the best-looking screens on a computer to date.
The problem is it costs: the entry level Retina MacBook Pro is £1,800. So a 13-inch model is very much a likelihood, no doubt with a reduced price tag. There is talk of a 2 November launch and, again, this should be a big seller. The Retina MacBook Pro was like gold dust when it went on sale, and these could very much be the same.
One more thing
Tim Cook isn't much of a one more thing kind of guy and there are doubts there will be any sort of surprise on 23 October. Still, we can dream.
Naturally most of this is guesswork, as Apple keeps a lid on its secrets tighter than the Pentagon, but it's always fun to wonder. Given the increasing presence of iCloud, we wonder if Apple might roll out some new functionality there.
The company also hasn’t done much at all to its Mac Pro line in a long time, so who knows, we could see a new computer arriving. An Apple-branded car? Not likely. But then you might get talk of proper Siri integration into cars.
Last but not least, given the iPad mini is due to arrive, why not an iPhone mini as well. Consumers are desperate for a cheaper Apple phone and this could be the time it does it.