As expected, Apple released invitations on Tuesday for its media event scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 23. The event will take place at the California Theatre in San Jose, Calif., and start at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. The invitation’s single tagline reads, “We’ve got a little more to show you.”
In all likelihood, this event will see the release of Apple’s heavily-rumored 7.85-inch iPad Mini, as well as a newly-updated new iPad, a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and a completely redesigned iMac.
Here’s a brief synopsis of what we know about each product, based on rumors, reports and patent filings for these devices.
1. iPad Mini: On July 10, a photo set of the alleged iPad Mini suggested the mini tablet would be much wider and a little taller than the Nexus 7, Google's 7-inch tablet, and it would be slightly thinner than Apple's third-generation "new" iPad. Gotta Be Mobile believes the iPad Mini will measure about 213.36mm tall and 143.67mm wide, which is "approximately two-thirds of the size of the new third-generation iPad." (The new iPad is 185.67mm wide, 241.3mm tall, and 9.39mm thick.)
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Since the very first photo set of the iPad Mini surfaced, various other photos have only confirmed details, features and tech specs about the upcoming device. Sources close to Apple believe the new iPad Mini's screen will stretch further to the face's edges. From 9 to 5 Mac's original report:
"The lack of bezel on the side will not allow you to carry it like you hold a full-size iPad when in portrait mode without triggering some multi-touch on the display," said Seth Weintraub. "Perhaps Apple has some software to dull the side touches when in portrait mode. But, really, this is unnecessary. You will need to hold it from the back more like you hold a phone (or one of those 7-inch tablets above). This is not hard, and in fact, it is the de facto way I tend to hold a Nexus 7 even though it has a bezel."
We haven't seen many reports on the processor that will drive the activities on the new iPad Mini, but we presume Apple will either use the same dual-core A5X chip with quad-core graphics used to power the new iPad's display -- this is most likely -- or it will jumpstart the iPad Mini with the rumored A6 chip, which may be unveiled in the new iPhone, too. That said, if Apple did put a quad-core A6 processor in the new iPhone, it would be unlikely to also appear in the new iPad. These chips have not yet been proven or popularized yet, and that Apple would be taking a very big chance on a relatively untested chip. Apple loves to push the limits, but only with reason. Pushing the A6 like this would be a little too crazy, even for "the crazy ones."
The iPad Mini will almost definitely feature a Retina Display, front and rear cameras (iSight and FaceTime), and the new Lightning dock connector (like the iPhone 5).
2. 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro: Before Apple shocked the WWDC audience with a completely-redesigned MacBook Pro with Retina Display in June, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted Apple would unveil such a notebook, and he even correctly forecast most of the features, including a lighter and slimmer form factor than the current MacBook Pros, the lack of a disc drive, and the Retina Display.
After WWDC saw the release of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, Kuo followed up on his earlier report by sharing a new note with AppleInsider, in which he described how Apple will follow up the 15-inch model with a smaller, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, to be released in early October. Kuo had actually mentioned the 13-inch model in his initial report, adding that the basic computer would sell at $1,199. Apple starts selling the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display at $2,199.
To give credence to these rumors, just yesterday, a user posted cell phone images of alleged Mac computer parts coming off the line at Foxconn on a WeiPhone.com forum, mentioning a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro was currently in production.
“Apple will improve on the production technique in D2 line,” the poster wrote, referencing the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro as the D2 to its younger sibling, internally dubbed D1.
“Apple will launch the 13-inch rmbp. Ghosting and thermal issues will be fixed but internals and design will be similar to 15-inch rmbp,” the poster said.
Just one day after the WeiPhone user posted the photos and description for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, trusted Apple news source 9to5Mac reported on Apple’s intentions to release a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro at its iPad Mini event this month, citing “a consistently reliable source at a high-profile US retailer.”
The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is expected to have the same general design and infrastructure as the 15-inch model, but be sold at a slightly lower price point, likely below the $2,000 sweet spot for desktop computer users.
3. Redesigned 21.5-Inch iMac: On that same WeiPhone.com forum thread, the poster, who claims to have a brother-in-law working in Foxconn building the new Mac computers, said the iMac has been completely redesigned, and from side to side, you “almost cannot see the new iMac’s thickness.” The poster compared the iMac to a drop of water with “tetragonal” elements, even though the computer still has that trademark “chin” below its giant display.
“My uncle has seen the fully assembled iMac but recently unable to take a picture of it,” the WeiPhone user wrote in a separate post. “If he did take the picture, I will update this thread.”
The poster also noted that the display has been completely redesigned, which could mean the new iMac has a Retina Display. The poster said the display is a “very pretty special glass glued directly” to the computer, rather than a display manufactured separately from the machine, but the poster did not mention the words “Retina” in his post.
“The new iMac is using a special ‘glue’ to glue the display to the frame and is facing very strict quality control,” the poster said. “Products from Foxconn is having a lot of issues. In this case, after the glue dried, there will be minor air gaps.”
According to an old benchmark from Geekbench makers Primate Labs, the new iMac, described as “iMac 13,2” internally, reportedly runs on a 3.4 GHz Core i7-3770 quad-core processor with 4GB of 1600 MHz RAM, and run on OS X Mountain Lion. In August, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released his own product launch schedule, pegging the release of a new iMac in mid-October.
4. iTunes 11: Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet software, told a packed auditorium on Sept. 12 that a brand-new version of iTunes – iTunes 11 – would be released in late October; sounds like it’s going to be released just in time for the new iPad Mini event.
Jeff Robbin, Apple’s VP of consumer applications, showed off iTunes 11 at Apple’s iPhone event on Sept. 12.
“We’ve got a beautiful new edge-to-edge design where you can really focus on your music,” Robbin said. “When you click on your album, it expands in place and iTunes automatically analyzes the album cover to provide this beautiful themed experience.”
The redesign makes album artwork more beautiful and navigation substantially easier and more seamless, with easier playlist manipulation, new features like “Up Next,” and an all-new mini player with built-in search and playlists. In addition, like the App and iTunes Stores on the iOS platform, Apple has redesigned the iTunes Store for the Mac and PC to appear more like the popular iOS stores.
“The new iTunes will be available in late October,” Cue said. “We think you’re going to love it, and we can’t wait for you to get your hands on it.”
Apple has not specified a release date for iTunes 11, but the company will likely take this Oct. 23 event as an opportunity to launch the new music platform. In all likelihood, Apple will release the new service before the iPad Mini is released, probably by the end of the week on Friday, Oct. 26.