Apple will hold a press event on 12 September to unveil its much anticipated new iPhones, which are expected to introduce a whole new design and set the tone for the next few years.
Unlike previous years, much is known about at least one of the new iPhones thanks to a large software leak from Apple that revealed several of its key details. But new smartphones are not the only new thing Apple is expected to announce, with the event taking place in the just-built Apple Park and its Steve Jobs Theatre.
Known externally as Apple’s “spaceship”, Apple Park is the firm’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California, built to house its growing workforce in a giant, four-storey ring surrounded by manicured woodland. The multi-billion-dollar construction was designed by Norman Foster with Apple’s Jony Ive and is meant to be part of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ legacy.
The event will be the first time non-Apple personnel will be allowed on the grounds in any number, giving the world a glimpse of the latest hallowed halls of big US technology.
‘D22’ iPhone – iPhone 8/Pro/X
Apple is expected to announce a new design for at least one of its iPhones for 2017. While the details on the naming of the device codenamed “D22” are sketchy – it could be called the iPhone 8, iPhone Pro, or perhaps the iPhone X if it is named after the Apple smartphone’s 10th anniversary – a leak from Apple of the HomePod software revealed much about its design and features.
The biggest change is a new all-screen design, similar to that produced by Samsung for the Galaxy S8 and Note 8, and LG for the G6 and V30. Apple is expected to do away with the traditional home button on the front, with the screen extending to the edges at the top, bottom and sides of the device, with much slimmer bezels.
The top of the device is expected to have a cutout in the screen for the earpiece speaker, selfie camera and sensors, similar to that of Android-founder Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone.
Lacking a home button on the front of the iPhone also means no Touch ID fingerprint scanner on the front. While Apple was hoping, like Samsung, to have an under-screen fingerprint scanner, neither company appears to have been able to get the technology to work for this generation. It is unlikely the iPhone 8 will have such an advancement.
Instead, Apple is expected to rely on infrared facial recognition as its primary biometric system for the iPhone 8, which will be capable of recognising a user, unlocking the device and authenticating payments. Leaks also point to the phone being able to tell when a user is looking at it and automatically silencing notifications.
Samsung’s “smart stay” system uses a front-facing camera to tell when a user is looking at their smartphone to keep the screen lit when actively being used but not touched.
Apple is also expected to integrate more advanced systems for its camera, including augmented reality and further enhancement of its computation photography system, which combines the images from multiple cameras on the back into one photo.
The new iPhone may also include wireless charging for the first time, a feature common on rivals from Samsung and others that allows users to charge their smartphones inductively on small plates or mats, which can be built into furniture.
Alongside the new iPhone 8, Apple is also expected to update its iPhone 7 line of devices, possibly called the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, in line with previous iterations of the iPhone.
These updates, if they happen, are expected be minor improvements, with some new features given by software updates.
Apple’s smartwatch, the Apple Watch, is also expected to receive updates. Rumours suggest that a new version of the Apple Watch could include 4G cellular connectivity, making it capable of accessing the internet without being connected to an iPhone or wifi.
The Apple Watch is the current market leader of smartwatches, which as a category is starting to eat into traditional wearables such as basic fitness trackers, according to the latest data from analysts IDC. Shipments of the Apple Watch were up nearly 50% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2017 with 3.4m units, giving Apple a 13% share of the total wearables market.
4K Apple TV
According to several reports, the company could also upgrade its Apple TV smart TV box to support 4K video and HDR, the two new technologies currently permeating the television market.
The Apple TV was last updated in 2015 adding support for the App Store and a new touch-controlled remote.