Just one month after the release of iOS 7, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is gearing up for another big product event on Tuesday, in which the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is expected to unveil two new iPads among a multitude of other announcements. The company invitations released Tuesday proclaimed, "We still have a lot to cover."
IBTimes first predicted the Oct. 22 Apple event in late September -- after also successfully predicting the Sept. 10 media event for the new iPhones back in August -- and we believe we have an accurate idea of what Apple fans can expect from the Oct. 22 media event. Here are five announcements and three surprises we're expecting from Apple's upcoming iPad and Mac event.
What To Expect At The Oct. 22 Event
1. iPad 5
When it comes to the fifth-generation iPad, we believe Apple plans to release the iPad 5 with the same 9.7-inch Retina display but a smaller, sleeker and lighter form factor that more resembles the iPad mini. In fact, we believe Apple has chosen to release the iPad 5 with the exact thickness, thinner side bezels and symmetrical speaker grilles as the iPad mini, as well as a similar aluminum unibody and less tapered back for an easier grip.
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Given that last year's iPad 4 was powered by a dual-core A6X chip with quad-core graphics, we believe Apple will release the iPad 5 with an upgraded processor -- expect the same A7 chip from the iPhone 5s, or possibly even an A7X chip, which would simply be the same A7 chip optimized for the iPad 5. Whether Apple chooses to release the iPad 5 with an A7 or A7X chip, the iPad 5 may also come with the same M7 co-processor found in the iPhone 5s (which isn't really essential, but it would be a test-run before the chip's mass implementation in the iWatch), and the presence of an A7-esque chip would certainly mean the iPad 5 would be capable of Touch ID.
2. iPad Mini 2
Rumors and allegedly leaked photos suggest that the iPad mini 2 will release with the exact form factor as its predecessor, which means one of two things: The iPad mini 2 could release with slightly upgraded specs and a Retina display, or the iPad mini 2 could feature greatly upgraded specs, and possibly even a gold color option, which would sweeten the deal for consumers hoping for an iPad mini with Retina display. An iPad mini without a Retina display may even feature Touch ID, but that's unlikely since the required A7 chip would be a major jump in processors generation-to-generation -- the first iPad mini featured the A5 chip made back in 2011. If Apple chooses to release a non-Retina iPad mini this month, expect the iPad mini with Retina display to release early next year.
3. 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina display
The MacBook Pro with Retina display was unveiled at WWDC 2012, and this year, Apple is expected to release an update to its high-end laptop line with new Retina MacBook Pros powered by the latest chips from Intel, codenamed "Haswell," as well as Intel's new "Iris" integrated graphics processors for enhanced performance.
The 2013 Retina MacBook Pro is also expected to release with Apple's recently-debuted PCI-e based flash storage, which will help power the new Mac Pro, as well as 802.11ac "gigabit" Wi-Fi, which was featured in the 2013 MacBook Air and the company's latest AirPort and Time Capsule base stations. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also believes Apple will release the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro with a stronger 2-megapixel FaceTime camera that can shoot 1080p HD, which would be a significant improvement over the computer's current 720p cameras.
4. 2013 Mac Pro
Introduced at this year's WWDC, the 2013 Mac Pro is something of a Death Star -- a dense black cylinder designed around a thermal core and brimming with advanced technology. The new Mac Pro is twice as powerful as the previous Mac Pro, which was still the fastest and most expandable Macintosh Apple sold despite its three years on the market. But even with this incredible power, the 2013 Mac Pro is also one-eighth the size of its predecessor with a diameter of 6.6 inches and a height of 9.9 inches, which was all accomplished thanks to a very innovative design built around balancing power and efficiency.
The next-generation Mac Pro is fitted with USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 1.4 ports, and most importantly six ports for Thunderbolt 2, Apple's new connectivity technology that delivers up to 20Gbps of bandwidth to each external device. But since each Thunderbolt 2 port supports up to six daisy-chained devices, the 2013 Mac Pro is an ideal computer for transferring data between your computer and up to 36 high-performance peripherals, such as external storage devices, PCI expansion chassis, A/V breakout boxes and even the next-generation 4K desktop displays.
Thunderbolt 2 makes it easy for the 2013 Mac Pro to connect to peripherals, but users care much more about how quickly they're able to boot up and multitask several applications at once. The 2013 Mac Pro features next-generation PCI Express flash storage, which is up to 2.5 times faster than the fastest SATA-based SSDs and up to 10 times faster than a 7200-rpm SATA hard drive and ideal for launching massive files or applications such as Photoshop or Final Cut. But quick connectivity and boot-up times mean nothing unless the actual tasks perform equally fast: The 2013 Mac Pro is no slouch in the computing department, with configurations up to 12 Xeon processing cores from Intel, dual workstation GPUs with simultaneous support for up to three high-resolution 4K desktop displays, and a four-channel DDR3 memory controller delivering up to 60GB/s of memory bandwidth, which is perfect for video exporting or simulations.
The ultrafast processing and connectivity of 2013 Mac Pro is made possible by the new unified thermal core; instead of utilizing multiple heat sinks and fans to cool the computer's processor and graphics cards, Apple designed a core out of a single piece of aluminum that maximizes airflow and thermal capacity by conducting heat away from the CPU and GPUs and distributing the heat evenly across the core of the Mac Pro. With this single core, the total thermal capacity of the computer can be shared efficiently among the processors, especially if one processor isn't working as hard as the others.
Obviously, the level of centralized thermal energy in the 2013 Mac Pro required an equally powerful and efficient fan, so again, Apple focused on engineering a single fan large enough to pull air upward through a vent at the bottom of the computer. Apple designed the Mac Pro's fan so air absorbs heat as it travels vertically through the center of the computer and carries it out the top. By also carefully engineering the number, size, shape and spacing of the blades, Apple was able to make the fan in the 2013 Mac Pro surprisingly quiet by minimizing air resistance with backward-curved impeller blades that run at fewer revolutions per minute to draw air more efficiently.
5. OS X Mavericks
The new Macs unveiled on Tuesday will ship with a new operating system, which will be an over-the-air update for current Mac OS X users of 10.8 Mountain Lion. Introduced at WWDC 2013 in June, OS X Mavericks introduces plenty of new features to the Mac experience, including the new Tabbed Finder and Tags system for keeping files orderly, and the ability to run full-screen apps on multiple displays.
Mac OS X users are used to looking at their files in separate windows, but Apple has merged these windows into orderly tabs in the release of OS X Mavericks, with each tab fitted with its own custom view setting. With Tags in OS X Mavericks, users can save their documents with as many tags as they want, either previously listed or created on the fly, which makes it exceedingly easy to search through one’s files later. And with full-screen apps optimized for multiple displays in OS X Mavericks, users can utilize Spaces to swipe back and forth between various applications, and even drag assets across the apps. Apple TV owners can also use that display as yet another screen to do work.
In its OS X Mavericks release, Apple also makes Safari a much faster and more effective browser for Mac users. Browsing through bookmarks, favorite sites and even links shared by others via social networks is extremely easy, and it’s all organized directly on the home page. And, of course, OS X Mavericks will release with iCloud Keychain so you’ll never have to blame your faulty memory for having the same password for every site, or never being able to remember your various passwords.
Mac OS X Mavericks also introduces much-improved battery life for OS X power users, thanks to features like Compressed Memory, which rapidly compresses inactive memory used by the computer to give free space to any application in use; Timer Coalescing, which reduces the level of CPU interruptions and transitions by up to 72 percent from OS X Mountain Lion; and App Nap, which puts unused apps to “sleep” automatically.
Apple also brought over more iOS features to the Mac in OS X Mavericks, including the new Maps and iBooks applications finally optimized for the Mac; the refurbished Notifications Center that makes it much easier to reply directly to emails, texts and FaceTime requests; and the new iCloud keychain, which is always encrypted and memorizes all of your passwords, including credit card information.
Surprise #1: 2013 Mac Mini
We haven't heard much at all Apple's most affordable and compact Mac desktop, but it's a new year and that almost always means a new Mac Mini, even if it's just an upgrade to the processor department. Similar to the new MacBook Pros, we believe Apple will release its 2013 Mac Mini with OS X Mavericks built-in, as well as the latest Haswell chips and Iris graphics processors from Intel. Apple may even increase the minimum hard drive to 1 TB of storage, which will likely be offered in the traditional hard drive and Fusion Drive options, and configure the 2013 Mac Mini with the faster PCI-e flash. We also believe Apple will update the current Thunderbolt port from the current Mac Mini to a new Thunderbolt 2 port, and possibly rid of the FireWire port altogether.
Surprise #2: A Redesigned iPad Smart Cover
The iPad is great for gaming and Web browsing, but many consumers use the iPad for productivity purposes, too. In an effort to make the iPad an even more effective work tool, Apple may not add any more buttons or functions on the tablet itself, but it’s possible Apple could have reworked its Smart Cover to allow for more viewing angles, and this time around, it’s possible the covers may feature an integrated keyboard.
Sure, an iPad Smart cover with an embedded keyboard would essentially look like Apple stealing from Microsoft and its Surface tablet’s Touch and Type Covers, which include QWERTY keyboards with a myriad of functions and shortcut keys. Apple’s iPad may have the Surface beat when it comes to market share, but the iPad has sorely missed having its own connected keyboard to complete the iPad ecosystem; in the past, Apple has relied on companies like Logitech to create iPad-friendly keyboards (the Ultrathin Keyboard for iPad is still the very best iPad keyboard on the market, and I highly recommend it).
An improved Smart Cover may not seem like a big deal for the iPad initially, but if Apple can successfully create an iPad cover that's protective and useful for typing, Apple will have effectively made its iPad into an extremely cheap laptop starting at just $499. If the accessory is anything like Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad, it could act as both a kickstand and a keyboard, which would make it a highly flexible and creative solution for the iPad's longstanding problem with typing. And if Apple can make the new “Smarter” Cover can transform the iPad into a full, ideal computing solution for all things work- and fun-related, the iPad 5 with Smart Cover combination, with the right marketing, could end the PC as we know it, once and for all. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens on Oct. 22.
Apple Event Nears: Release Date Timeline For All Devices
Following Tuesday's event, we believe Apple will release its new Mac hardware and software within the week. Whenever Apple introduces new Macs, the computers tend to be sold a few days after the event; last year, new iMacs introduced on Tuesday were released that Friday. We know Apple is a creature of habit, which is why we believe Apple will follow the same release pattern as last year when it comes to launching its new computers and new desktop operating system, and release its new Macs and OS X Mavericks on Friday, Oct. 25.
As for the company's new iPads, we believe Apple will similarly follow its release date pattern of selling new iPhones and iPads the following Friday after the devices' unveilings, which would mean the release date for both the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 will be Friday, Nov. 1.
Are you excited about the Oct. 22 Apple event? Are you looking forward to the release of the iPad 5, iPad mini 2, or maybe one of the new Mac computers expected to be released this week? Do you think Apple has any other surprises planned for its Oct. 22 event? Sound off in the comments section below.