A New iPad? What to Watch for at Apple's Event Tomorrow

IPads at Apple's store on Fifth Avenue in New York Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Almost six weeks after Apple introduced two new iPhone models, the company will be back Tuesday with what’s expected to be a refresh to its iPad lineup as well as news on other products. As you read this and other predictions of what Apple’s going to do, it’s wise to remember what screenwriter William Goldman once said about Hollywood: “Nobody knows anything.”

That said, here’s the scuttlebutt. Enjoy.

New iPad! The standard-size iPad is expected to get a new, slightly thinner shape that’s more in keeping with the design of the iPad Mini. Inside, the iPad will get a new processor based off the A7 64-bit chip that’s already in the iPhone 5S. As is Apple’s custom, expect the iPad version of that chip to be called the A7X, which gets tweaks to support the much larger display on the iPad. Given that the iPhone 5S has a better camera than its predecessor, it’s likely the same hardware will be added to the iPad as well. A couple of questions: Will the iPad also get the iPhone 5S’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor? Will there be a gold iPad?

New iPad Mini! Apple’s very successful smaller tablet will also get some changes. It’s still running the two-generations-old A5 processor, so it’s almost certain to get an upgrade. But to what? The smaller Mini doesn’t necessarily require the computing horsepower that the standard iPad does (smaller display = fewer pixels to keep track of = easier load on the processor), so it may not make the leap to the expected A7X chip like the iPad. Instead, the Mini may make do with the A6 chip that’s in the iPhone 5C (with a possible tweak or two to justify calling it the A6X). The other big question is about the Mini’s display. Currently, it lacks the higher resolution of Apple’s Retina displays, which appear on the iPhone 5S and 5C, the full-size iPad, and a MacBook Pro. It seems like it’s the Mini’s time, particularly since its competitors already feature higher-resolution screens. Touch ID seems less likely here, but we may see a further proliferation of silver, gray, and gold.

Date and price for OS X Mavericks! Apple’s new OS has already gotten plenty of stage time at previous Apple events, so Tuesday’s event should complete the rollout with a date and a price for the new operating system. When? Maybe right after the event on Tuesday, or within a couple of days of it. How much? Apple’s charged $20 or $30 for its recent OS upgrades, so probably not more than that, and possibly even less.

Upgrades to the MacBook! Earlier this year, the MacBook Air models got upgraded to Intel’s latest processor, code-named Haswell. The super-thin laptops picked up a serious increase in battery life, among other things, so it’s likely that the larger MacBook Pros will get versions of that newer processor as well. One thing that we may see tomorrow is a rationalization of the MacBook line. Right now, Apple is supporting three different types of laptops: super-thin MacBook Airs, not-as-thin but more powerful MacBook Pros with Retina displays, and tried-and-true MacBook Pros without Retina displays (and with older optical drives and spinning hard disks, which makes them practically Amish in Cupertino). That’s probably one product line more than Apple wants. Keeping on the older MacBook Pros has been a price thing—there’s a $300-$400 price difference between the cheapest MacBook Pros and the Pros with Retina displays. But if Apple can lower the price of the Retina models, it may spell the end for the older MacBook Pro.

More on the Mac Pro! The boss-level Mac has already been previewed, but look to hear more about Apple’s forthcoming top-of-the-line desktop model, including possible price and availability information. The current Mac Pro starts at $2,500, and given that the newer model is going to be chock full of the latest tech, it’s extremely unlikely it will cost less than that.

Oh, and there may be an Apple watch, a full-size Apple TV, and the announcement that Apple is buying Netflix. And David Chase will be there to explain what the ending of The Sopranos really meant, and A Tribe Called Quest will announce plans for a reunion album. Or not.

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