When Apple announced it would be holding a September 9 media event titled "Hey Siri, give me a hint," technology reporters everywhere immediately pulled out their iPhones and said, "Hey Siri, give me a hint." Of course, Siri's "hints" were none too helpful. But technology reporters have found other ways to uncover a lot of information about what will — probably — be unveiled on Wednesday.
A new iPhone is expected to be the star of the show, but there will also be several other major announcements. Read on for details.
1) A new iPhone 6S
The iPhone is Apple's most successful product by a wide margin, so upgrades to the iconic product are a huge deal for the company. The last three iPhone models have all been unveiled at September media events like the one Apple is holding on Wednesday, and it would be shocking if Apple didn't announce a new one this week.
Apple has upgraded the iPhone on a two-year cycle: Every other year comes a major upgrade — iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and iPhone 6 — that updated the look of the device and (in the last two cycles) increased the screen size. In alternating years are "speed bump" models — iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5S — that look identical on the outside but have better, faster chips on the inside.
Apple is widely expected to follow this pattern on Wednesday, releasing a new line of phones that look like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on the outside but replace the A8 chip that powers the current iPhone models with a faster and more capable A9 chip. It's a reasonable guess that these devices will be called the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus — but it's also possible that Apple will rethink its naming conventions.
The new iPhone is expected to adapt the "force touch" feature of the Apple Watch and the latest MacBook. Pushing harder on the screen will trigger different results than an ordinary tap — though we don't yet know what they'll be.
The new iPhone is rumored to include an upgraded camera. Recent iPhone models have sported an 8-megapixel camera. According to some leaks, Apple will bump that up to 12 megapixels. On paper, that will help Apple close the gap with high-end Android phones. However, more pixels aren't necessarily better, because beyond a certain point other factors — particularly the size and quality of the camera's lenses — become the limiting factor in image quality. The new iPhone may also be able to capture video in the next-generation, high-resolution 4k format.
The new iPhone may also sport an upgraded shell with lighter, stronger aluminum.
2) A revamped Apple TV
Apple has been selling a set-top box for years, but it has never captured the public imagination like the iPod, iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, and the company always downplayed expectations for the product by calling it a "hobby." On Wednesday, Apple is expected to drop the hobby talk and take a big swing at the television market.
The company is expected to upgrade a number of Apple TV capabilities. The new model will reportedly have an improved remote, a new app store, and Siri, Apple's voice recognition software. The new Apple TV is also expected to be based on the same iOS software that powers iPhones and iPads, which should give it a number of powerful new capabilities.
Some rumors suggest the Apple TV will double as a video game console. It probably won't pose a serious threat to Sony or Microsoft, whose consoles appeal to hardcore gamers, but it could make the device more attractive to casual gamers who are accustomed to Apple's app store model.
But the most significant thing about the new Apple TV may turn out to be what it's missing: a new content strategy. For years, users have been able to buy movies from the iTunes store and watch them with an Apple TV, but this is much less popular than either traditional cable bundles or Netflix's over-the-top streaming service. Apple has been trying to put together a new streaming service that would cost around $40 per month and serve as a replacement for a conventional cable TV subscription. But negotiations with content companies haven't gone well, and so the product is not expected to be ready for announcement on Wednesday.
3) A new iPad Pro
Apple followed the original 10-inch iPad with the 7-inch iPad Mini. Now rumors suggest that Apple will make a move in the opposite direction, unveiling a new tablet, possibly called the iPad Pro. It's expected to be larger than the current iPad, at around 13 inches.
Aimed at business users, it's rumored to sport a stylus — aiding the kind of precision work business users need to do — and allow users to run two apps side by side. Apple may partner with companies like IBM to help it sell the product to corporate customers.
Apple may also release an updated iPad Mini, though details on its features haven't leaked. And at least some observers expect Apple to wait until a later event to unveil new iPads.
4) Apple News launch
Apple announced a new news-reading app called Apple News earlier this year, and some reports suggest that the product will be released on Wednesday.
Over the past few years, the news business has fragmented, with a growing number of people getting most of their news by following links from social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Apple is hoping to reverse this trend, creating a dedicated human-curated news-reading app that people will browse the way they once browsed a newspaper.
5) A smarter Siri
At an event called "Hey Siri," it's a safe bet there will be some announcements about Apple's voice-recognition software. One likely announcement, as already mentioned, is that Siri will be added to the new Apple TVs, allowing you to call up your favorite TV show by speaking its name instead of having to peck at the tiny Apple TV remote.
But other upgrades to the Siri are likely as well. For example, Siri may come with new capabilities to control "internet of things" devices. Companies are putting tiny, wireless computers in everything from lightbulbs to thermostats, but as these devices become more popular, keeping track of them all will become a hassle. Some rumors suggest that Apple will make a bid to put Siri at the center of this experience — perhaps in the future you'll be able to say, "Siri turn on the lights" or, "Siri turn up the heat," and have your iPhone make the necessary changes.