For those of you that haven’t been keeping up with the Apple rumor mill, there’s big news brewing. Several sources have confirmed a September 12th Apple media event to announce the release of the next wave of devices from Cupertino. The only question is what are the devices that will be launched?
The device most likely to be talked about is the next generation of iPhone. Whether it’s the New iPhone or iPhone 5, we’ve had too many bits of evidence for it not to be close to being in the hands of consumers. We know some likely aspects: a larger screen, LTE integration, and some changes that will make accessory manufacturers cringe like a new, smaller sync port and the headphone jack being moved to the bottom.
There is strong evidence for a refreshed line of iPods as well. The iPod Touch is likely to be updated to take advantage of the production lines of the new iPhone. The iPod Nano is believed to have been reconfigured too; the updated chassis will look like a shrunken iPod Touch instead of its current quirky square form.
The last strong possibility is the long-rumored iPad Mini. The form is said to be identical to the existing iPad, just shrunken from 9.7 to 7.8 inches. The smaller tablet form factor has been shown to be a viable niche (contrary to the opinion of the late Mr. Jobs) and Apple would be negligent to leave the Nexus, Kindle Fire, and Nook Color unchallenged. No word yet on exact prices or construction; Google sells the Nexus at or just below cost, something Apple has had no interest in doing to date so I’d wager the starting price to be slightly more than the Nexus’ $199.
There are some not-so-likely devices that have been bandied about the rumor mill as well. The Apple-produced television has been talked about for some time, but there has been no concrete evidence that such a device is even close to manufacture (if it will be made at all). Google is still attempting to gain traction with their Google TV line of set top boxes and integrated television sets made by partner firms, but to date it hasn’t been embraced by consumers. The Apple TV has sold respectably well for a device dubbed as a “hobby”, but it’s a big leap from making the diminutive input device to a full fledged TV set.
Lastly there’s the not-so-widely rumored changes to the Apple TV itself. Some have stated that Apple could make the Apple TV a competitor to lower-end gaming platforms like Nintendo’s Wii if they added Bluetooth and the ability to run iOS apps on the device. Access to the App Store would also open up a world of new content to the device, from TV shows via Hulu or streaming video from HBO Go or other provider-specific apps. While AirPlay provides a way to enjoy these services over an Apple TV now, a second device to push content is required; having native apps on the Apple TV would be a boon. The devices already runs a limited version of iOS and contains the same system-on-a-chip internals as other iOS devices, so the leap isn’t unreasonable even it if is unexpected.
I for one am rabidly anticipating getting a new iPhone (my current iPhone 4 has been a great handset, but I’m ready to upgrade). Thanks partially to AT&T’s two year contracts I held off upgrading to the iPhone 4S (the second ‘S’ version I’ve skipped). While I see the benefit of an iPad Mini, I doubt I’ll be buying one unless I have a couple hundred dollars lounging about with nothing else to spend it on. The smaller size would make it easier to hold in one hand and might be a bit better for personal media consumption, but I can’t see replacing my current iPad with one. The smaller form wouldn’t mesh as well with Bluetooth keyboards (like my current ZaggFolio case) and the extra screen space is handy when working with something like iWork Apps.
No matter what iOS device you prefer, you’re likely going to have some decisions to make come September. Start saving those spare coins now, the latest and shiniest doesn’t come cheap!