On Thursday, Apple began to send out invitations to members of the media to attend the next big Apple product launch, on Wednesday, September 9 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.
For many years, Apple has used a mid-September event to launch the next generation of the iPhone, and this year will be no exception. Last year, Apple used its September media event--also on the 9th--to launch the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and pre-announce the Apple Watch, which shipped this spring.
This year, Apple's expected to follow pattern and unveil an iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. These phones will probably look almost identical to the current models, but will feature somewhat upgraded specs and a few new hardware features. Rumor has it that these models will support Force Touch, a technology Apple's already brought to the Apple Watch and a few MacBook laptop models. There will probably also be upgraded front and back cameras, a more powerful processor, and--one would hope--more RAM.
(The iPad Air 2 is the only current iOS device to have 2GB of RAM, and it makes a big difference in the usability of that device. Anyone who's been frustrated by apps having to relaunch when you switch between them, or Safari tabs that have to reload, has been stymied by the relative low memory conditions on the iPhone. Those issues are gone on the iPad Air 2--so here's hoping Apple finally brings that extra memory to the iPhone.)
The question is, what else will be on Apple CEO Tim Cook's agenda? After years of speculation, it seems like a new version of the long-in-the-tooth Apple TV set-top box hardware will finally arrive. Apple's been holding this hardware in the hopes of launching a revolutionary TV service, but the company's negotiations with video providers have apparently not been successful. iOS developers have hoped for years that a new Apple TV would provide an App Store and the ability to write apps, especially games, for the Apple TV platform. That might be in the offing with this new hardware, as well as rumored Siri integration.
Speaking of Siri, the invitation for the event features a Siri theme--it's headlined, "Siri, give us a hint"--suggesting some important Siri-related announcement. But it's also just a fun way to tease everyone about Apple's famous secrecy. Turns out, if you ask Siri to give you a hint, she'll just tease you even more.
In past years, Apple has released new iPads at a smaller event later on in the fall, usually in October. It's possible that the company could remove that event from the schedule--what a fall that would be for the iPad--but it seems unlikely to me. We will, however, hear about the next version of iOS--iOS 9--which should be released around the same time as the new iPhones come out. And of course, watchOS 2, the first major update for the Apple Watch, which should be available around the same time.
The event itself will be streamed live by Apple. In the past, those streams--which use the HTTP Live Streaming protocol--have only been playable on Apple devices. But with this event, Apple's officially added support for Windows 10 users on the Edge browser. The show starts at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, on September 9.
As for when the iPhones will actually go on sale to the public, in past years that's been the Friday of the week after the event. If Apple holds to form, that would be September 18.