After months of speculating whether or not we’ll get an iPhone 12 and Apple Watch 6 in the same timeframe as previous years, Apple has confirmed it will host a launch event later today — virtually, of course. The Apple Store is down and the company last week sent out an invite for Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. UK). It can be accessed via Apple’s website, its YouTube channel or through the events app on Apple TV. Any other year, the headliner would be obvious: a shiny new iPhone. But the mess that is 2020 has likely forced some changes to the lineup.
Though Apple hasn’t released an official statement about what we can expect, the company did warn investors in July that the next iPhone would be delayed by “a few weeks.” A number of outlets, including CNET and Bloomberg, have also suggested we won’t see an iPhone 12 until at least mid-October.
But even with a new iPhone out of the equation, there’s still a lot left for Apple to announce on Tuesday. We’re expecting new hardware, software and subscription services at this event.
No iPhone 12, now what? Apple’s September event preview
Hidden clues in the invite
The tag line “Time Flies” on the invitation hints that the Apple Watch will be the headliner of this event. But there’s also a very clear nod to augmented reality. Clicking on the event logo in Safari prompts the date of the event, 9.15, to appear as an AR animation. This could refer to a time-of-flight sensor that was rumored to come to the iPhone this year, like the one on the 2020 iPad Pro. Or it could hint at more ARKit capabilities on the next iPad Air, which is also rumored to get a refresh at this event.
We can dissect the invite all day, but the only thing we know for certain is the time and date of this event. If 2020 has taught us something, it’s that we really can’t rule anything out. Instead, let’s focus on what we know right now.
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Several Apple Watches and iPads in the pipeline
Apple has filed multiple versions of the iPad and Apple Watch with the Eurasian Economic Commission, as originally reported by French tech site Comsomac. In the past, filings have provided a fairly accurate insight into what Apple may be launching next.
The Apple Watch Series 6 is expected to have better battery life for more robust sleep tracking, and at least one new health tracking feature. The strongest rumor seems to be about new SpO2 or blood oxygen level tracking.
Read more: Apple Watch Series 6 rumors
The other surprise may be a cheaper version of the Apple Watch, possibly called the Apple Watch SE, with the same look and feel as the current Series 3. It’s likely it would cost the same, starting at $200, but come with a newer processor.
The latest rumors about the iPad Air refresh point to a larger screen without bezels and a similar design to the current Pro model. That means flat edges and no home button. Rather than replacing Touch ID with Face ID, rumors point to a Touch ID sensor integrated into the side button. The updated iPad would likely also get an upgraded processor, as the current Air still uses Apple’s older A10 chip. It may also switch to USB-C instead of a Lightning connector like the iPad Pro. The better processor would enable more ARKit capabilities, though not quite as advanced as what you get from the iPad Pro with its depth-sensing lidar scanner.
Learn more about the expected new iPads here.
Software: WatchOS 7 and iPadOS 14 may get a full release
With the Apple Watch 6 and iPad Air out in the wild, it would only make sense for Apple to release their corresponding OS updates as well.
Releasing the final version of WatchOS 7 is a no-brainer. This update enables sleep tracking on existing Apple Watches (Series 3 or higher) and includes a new hand-washing feature. Releasing just iPadOS on its own would be tricky because it’s so interlaced with iOS 14, so Apple might wait to launch the new mobile OS alongside the new iPhone 12 in October.
New fitness service and a bundle called Apple One
Last year Apple went all-in with subscription services like Apple TV Plus, News Plus and Apple Arcade, and we may not have seen the last of it. Apple is rumored to be launching a new fitness service with guided workouts, mostly geared to the Apple Watch, but also available to stream on the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. There are plenty of third-party apps that do this already, but this one would be Apple-branded and directly integrated with the Health app, similar to what Fitbit offers with its Premium subscription service that costs $10 per month.
And if all that sounds like subscription overload, there’s a bundle for that. Apple is also said to be launching a new subscription services bundle called Apple One. 9to5Google even found a reference of this hidden in the code of the Android version of Apple Music.
The other products that could make an appearance
There’s also a possibility of one more thing at the end of the virtual presentation. If that’s the case, here are a few other products we’ve been hearing rumors about that could make an appearance. In order of most to least likely:
- AirTag trackers: Tile tracker competitors to track lost items
- AirPods Studio: Over-the-ear headphones with the AirPods name
- HomePod Mini: A smaller, cheaper HomePod
- 13-inch MacBook Pro
- Apple’s long-awaited AR glasses
Join us live for our Apple event preview at 9:30 a.m. PT on Sept. 15 on CNET.com and on YouTube, along with post-event analysis following the announcements.