5 iOS announcements to expect at Apple’s September event

Connor Mason
  • Connor Mason
  • September 4, 2015
5 iOS announcements to expect at Apple’s September event

Dressed for 6s

The biggest news coming out of next week’s event will be the latest iteration of the iPhone, likely named 6s and 6s Plus. The new iPhones are rumored to feature 12-megapixel cameras capable of recording 4K video, a front-facing LED flash to illuminate your selfies, and Force Touch capabilities like those found on Apple Watch and the latest generation MacBooks.

The new devices will debut at the $199 and $299 on-contract price points respectively, the current 6 and 6 Plus will shift to $99 and $199, and the 5s will live on at the free on-contract tier. It’s unlikely that Apple will deviate from its 16GB entry-level storage option, but new iOS features like app thinning and on-demand resources could make that limitation less frustrating.

What’s more, the new iPhones could launch with a Rose Gold finish option for the aluminum enclosures to match the $12,000 color option of the Apple Watch Edition. (Apple has similarly been rumored to add new gold and rose gold finishes to the aluminum Apple Watch Sport, but this iteration may come with Apple Watch 2 next spring.)

Apple may fall far from the TV

On the heels of Apple Music’s June launch, Apple is expected to eventually introduce an over-the-top television streaming service to complement a new generation of its Apple TV set-top box. Similar to Hulu and Netflix, the Apple TV service will likely provide customers with on-demand access to a wide library of television and movie content in addition to live streaming options from a variety of content providers. However, complex and drawn-out licensing deals with content companies may put the service on hold until a later date.

The new hardware is rumored to include a redesigned and more capable remote as well as new navigation options like voice controls and universal content search result options, allowing users to search for media across Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, and more in one fell swoop.

The specifics of the service and its associated hardware are still largely a mystery, but fall in line with Apple’s new focus on cloud-powered content streaming services that modernize its iTunes offerings for a new generation of digital customers. Apple’s biggest hurdle remains content partnerships and licensing, but customers only need to worry about the new hardware’s rumored $149 price point.

If iPad a million dollars

In previous years, Apple has split its fall announcements into a September iPhone event and an October iPad event. However, lackluster news on the iPhone front and minor improvements to iPad Air and iPad Mini last year have led many industry pundits to suggest that Apple might combine its iOS product families into one event, introducing the next-generation iPad lineup alongside the iPhones.

The third-generation iPad Air and fourth-generation iPad mini are most likely to see spec bumps alongside the release of iOS 9, and the Mini in particular is overdue for a thinner enclosure after receiving only a modest processor addition last year. The real question is whether the iPad mini will match the specifications of iPad Air—last year’s Mini didn’t see an upgrade to the A8 processor, but could be a more compelling option with the addition of this year’s likely A9.

In addition, pervasive rumors surrounding a larger, more powerful “iPad Pro” have yet to materialize into a real product. The lack of substantial component leaks from Apple’s deep and complex supply chain suggest that the tablet might be far from launch, but new multitasking enhancements to iOS 9 seem to indicate that a workhorse iPad would be aligned with Apple’s intentions for the platform. (As for the rumored stylus? Hopefully the legacy of Steve Jobs still has some influence over input device decisions at Apple.)

The details make the iOS 9

In addition to specifics about the release dates for OS X El Capitan and watchOS 2, Apple will announce the launch date for iOS 9 alongside the new iOS hardware at this year’s event. And, if previous years’ patterns are any indication, iOS will see a handful of surprise new features to complement or support new hardware capabilities across the refreshed iOS product lineup.

First among these is Force Touch, which could be included as a developer-facing API to add a whole new dimension to the user experience in third-party apps. Force Touch on Apple Watch powers enhanced menu options and switches between interface types, and may be used to add or reorganize functionality in iOS apps.

Apple’s Siri-focused event invitations suggest that Siri may be a product focus for the launch of iOS 9, seeing enhancements alongside new proactive search features and perhaps powering a rumored universal voice search capability on Apple TV. Siri has long been a relatively underpowered piece of Apple’s product ecosystem, and this year’s enhancement might finally take her capabilities to the next level.

If the glove don’t fit, TVKit

Finally, the attention Apple is likely to be spending on its set-top box offerings might be an opportunity to open the platform to third-party developers. Today, only selected partners are allowed to develop applications for Apple TV, but rumors suggest that a new framework to extend iOS applications to the television like “TVKit” might open the door to more developers.

Just as CarPlay (another private ecosystem) and WatchKit extend iOS application views onto new form factors, TVKit could be the final piece of Apple’s iOS-centric development environment. In addition, Apple is rumored to be considering leaning on Apple TV to be the central hub of its HomeKit-powered connected home ecosystem, allowing users to relay Siri scene instructions through Apple TV and on to other connected home devices on their network.

Specifics around whether the apps run natively on Apple TV hardware or operate as an extension of iOS apps running on iPhones—like the arrangement in WatchKit 1 and similar to the approach of existing AirPlay capabilities for interactive iOS games—remain to be revealed, but the Apple TV might be on its way to becoming a lot more interesting.


Let’s Build Together

Thanks for reaching out!

We will be in touch shortly.