It’s that time of the year. Just ahead of the holiday season, the world’s biggest tech company, Apple, is all set to do what they do best - provide upgrades to their coveted products that ‘enrich people’s lives'.
Apple Inc. announced its annual event -titled ‘Far Out’ - a few weeks ago. Set to take place on Wednesday, September 7, the event would most probably serve as the launch for the company’s newest iPhone (14), Apple Watch Series 8, and a slew of other products.
Why, most probably, you ask? When invitations to cover Apple events and briefings go out to journalists, we’re virtually left with little to no information to go with - it’s a surprise for most of us unless you belong to a league of tech reviewers the likes of Marques Brownlee, Linus Tech Tips, or Macrumours.com. The company posted a June quarter revenue record of $83.0 billion, up 2 per cent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.20 and since the launch of AppleTV+, Apple has become a $2 trillion behemoth few can compete with.
However, most coverage surrounding the launch of the new slew of products is shrouded in mystery. We go with rumours, supposed leaks, and gold nuggets of information from industry insiders and tech experts on what can be expected from the annual mega event.
There’s talk that the iPhone 14 Pro models will feature both hole-punch and pill-shaped cutouts near the top of the display, an always-on display mode, and satellite connectivity.
Exciting news for movie makers who are Apple buffs – there are rumours the Pro version would also have a 48-megapixel wide camera with 8K recording. Xiaomi 12 is the world’s first and only smartphone capable of shooting 8K HDR footage. It’d be exciting to see it on an Apple device, though. The device is expected to hit UAE stores on September 14.
The Apple Watch Series 8 could have a special ‘Pro’ edition, Airpods Pro2, there’s a probability we will have a 10th generation iPad, and maybe, just maybe, the USB-C would replace the lightning port.
This year, Khaleej Times has been given the privilege to be part of the coveted event at the company’s acclaimed Steve Jobs theatre in Cupertino, California.
We will be running live coverage of the mega event on Wednesday, and with one day to go, here’s what Khaleej Times thinks could be the most critical updates to the world’s most sought-after personal device.
What’s so cool about the new iPhone 14?
Most tech experts are placing their bets on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max versions of the phone to carry the bulk of the new and exciting features. The basic model, not so much. Apart from the 48-megapixel wide camera with 8K recording, some expected features include an always-on display (Android phones have had this feature for years), a larger sensor, and a screen that gets rid of the notch in favour of smaller camera cutouts, said The Verge.
MacRumours.com discovered chatter across Chinese social media networks, purportedly originating from Foxconn employees involved in iPhone 14 Pro assembly; the camera and speaker would have separate cutouts when the screen is turned off but will form one long pill-shape when it's powered on. The extra space between those cutouts would prominently display privacy indicators for the camera and microphone.
The devices are also expected to have slimmer bezels and bigger batteries. The most significant update to the non-Pro model is expected to be the introduction of a larger 6.7-inch display in the iPhone 14 Max, accompanied by a considerable price jump, suggested The Verge.
Does the invitation hint at satellite connectivity?
Maybe. Experts are also predicting an upgraded A16 processing chip and two potential colours – blue and deep purple, for a better selfie camera and satellite connectivity in emergencies without cellular service. The ‘Far Out’ branding, a dark blue Apple logo formed by stars, hints at this service.
The Apple Watch Series 8, SE, and Pro
Apple geeks have long maintained that if the company’s pioneering founder, Steve Jobs, were still alive today, he would place a lot of his focus on the Apple Watch. I was 21 when Jobs passed. I was on a bus from Ernakulam in Kerala to Bangalore city, India, when I read the news of his death on an old Android device with a qwerty keyboard. Still, very far from becoming the Apple fiend I am today, Jobs’s untimely death felt personal.
Jobs believed that the Apple Watch was an extension of the human body, and why not? It tells you your heart rate, reminds you to stand up every hour, keeps track of the calories you burn, does an ECG at request, and rings your healthcare provider for you in case of a medical emergency. So, what could be next for this life-saving device?
According to a Bloomberg report, the next-gen Watch will come equipped with a new S8 chip, but it won’t offer a notable performance upgrade over the S7 and S6 chips. It may come with a temperature sensor that will detect if you have a fever, as well as fertility-tracking features. The Watch SE could replace the budget Watch Series 3, and the rugged ‘Pro’ is for seasoned athletes into extreme sports. Leaked designs suggest it could come with a nearly two-inch display that is more ‘shatter-resistant’. For mountaineers, perhaps?
What about Airpods Pro?
The AirPods Pro hasn’t received an update since its launch in 2019. The new device could resemble a BeatsFit Pro with an in-ear wing tip that drops the stem. Thanks to upgraded motion sensors, they could also focus on fitness tracking. I don’t see the need because my Watch does an incredible job of reminding me to move more often.
More interestingly, there is a possibility for Bluetooth 5.2 support which uses a new codec that’s supposed to transmit audio more efficiently, allowing better quality audio and reduced battery usage. There’s also talk of an upgrade to the charging cases, according to Mac9to5.
The AirPods are the only device within the Apple ecosystem I have yet to make my own, as I have a wide ear canal, and I’ve lost more earphones than I can count. Though I shouldn’t be too worried as the ‘Find my Device’ feature on the iPhone keeps track of Apple devices' whereabouts. This may be the year Apple will finally reveal earphones that would fit into my gigantic ears.
Is that all?
One can never know for sure. Maybe the tech giant has a few new tricks up its sleeve? I’m personally waiting, with bated breath, for the rumoured (hopefully, but probably not) launch of the Apple AR/VR (augmented reality/ virtual reality) headsets.
Bloomberg reported late last month that trademark filings hinted at names for the company’s mixed-reality headset – ‘Reality One’ and ‘Reality Pro’. According to its ‘Power On’ newsletter, Apple’s working on at least three headsets of the AR and VR variety. They are apparently under the codes N301, N421, and N602.
VR/AR headsets, a standalone devices that can run games and software wirelessly under an Android-based operating system, are yet to gain mainstream popularity – they are uncomfortable and cannot be worn constantly. Facebook parent company Meta has gone above and beyond to promote the Oculus Quest, a virtual reality headset, and Google Glasses didn’t really revolutionize the world of wearables.
However, these headsets are the only available gateway into the Metaverse, and with Apple entering the game, will headsets become the next big thing? You never know; until September 7, at least.
How to watch ‘Far Out'
The Apple event will take place at 9 pm UAE time, September 7 (10 am PST). Apple lovers can watch the live stream online on Apple.com, the company’s YouTube channel, and the Apple TV app. Khaleej Times will also host a live blog on-site to cover product announcements and other news during the event, with up-to-the-minute updates. Our social media channels will also carry important updates.
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