“Hey Siri” Tomorrow Widely Anticipated to be One of Apple’s Biggest Media Events

Sep 09, 2015

One hint about the importance of tomorrow’s media event to Apple lies in the choice the company made for this year’s venue: the Bill Graham Auditorium, which can seat up to 7,000 people, as opposed to last year’s September location, the Flint Center, which has a capacity for only about 2,400 folks.  The consensus is that Apple will make announcements for its new generation of smartphones (the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S Plus), the fourth-generation Apple TV, and new wearables (Apple Watch bands and finishes), in addition to updates on the newest operating system releases (iOS 9 and watchOS 2).  Some pundits also expect Apple to introduce new tablet models (iPad Pro, iPad mini 4), although in 2014, the company did split its fall announcements in two events: a bigger one held in September and a smaller more focused one in October, which would mean the newer tablet devices would be presented a bit later in October.  This observation is based on Apple’s modus operandi since 2012, but the excitement being built around this year’s event is so high that it is conceivable that Apple could potentially introduce all of its new product lineups on a single day.

Smartphones

The ninth generation iPhone6S and iPhone 6S Plus are expected to mimic the exterior designs of the iPhone6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with a 4.7" and 5.5" ion-strengthened glass display.  The models will feature the A9 processor, 2GB RAM, 12 MP camera, MDM9x35 modem and come with the standard storage options (16, 64 and 128 GB).   The higher end iPhone 6S Plus will come with optical image stabilization and a higher battery life (2,750 mAh versus 1,775 mAh for the iPhone 6S).  Both units are expected to support NFC and have the same 7mm. thickness.  The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are expected to be generally available by late September, with the former having a $199 and the latter a $299 price tag on contract.  No sapphire crystal displays are expected for this release based on some rumors the material has yet to go through Apple’s rigorous testing.  Also new will be Force Touch feature, which leverages pressure-sensitive technology that can differentiate a light tap versus a deep press on the screen, opening up new possibilities for user interfaces (e.g. shortcut gestures in apps supporting this feature).

Apple TV

The fourth generation of Apple TV will feature a major upgrade to the set-top box, which will showcase a faster processor (A8 chip), a new user inter interface, Siri, a motion sensitive remote control, a full-on SDK and App Store, with an alleged importance being placed on gaming. 

The gaming slant comes from several sources, including a new corporate Twitter account that Apple recently introduced called @AppStoreGames which has a bio stating “Embrace the future of gaming”.   Current Apple TV users can play games on that platform, but that entails mirroring the games from the users’ iPhones or iPads on the big screen, which results in a sub-optimal performance.  Another hint at the gaming emphasis is the brand new remote control featuring a microphone for Siri support, a touchpad on the top and physical buttons on the button.  This remote is rumored to target the casual gaming market, taking on the likes of PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo in the living room.

Siri support will deliver a universal search capability and enable users to manipulate a wide array of HomeKit home automation devices via the set-top box, which will act as a central hub controlling these devices.

Apple Watch

Apple CEO Tim Cook had mentioned during the July earnings call that Watch sales did “exceed our expectations” and hinted at the unveiling of watchOS 2, with a release date believed to be set for mid-September.  Developers have been keen on testing it and it is believed that Apple will make the final Golden Master (GM) beta version available right after the keynote.  watchOS 2 will support native apps, and new, more responsive apps should entice users into using their Watches more.

Apple is expected to introduce new Apple Watch Sport bands in different colors.  In addition, several pundits believe new Apple Watch Sport metal finishes will also be revealed at the event, perhaps including a lower-cost rose gold version.  


Ronald Gruia

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