What to expect at Thursday’s Apple event
Five weeks after unveiling its long-anticipated watch, mobile payment system, and next-generation phones, Apple is back on Thursday with a much more low-key affair. The event, which kicks off at 1 p.m. Eastern time, is on the company’s Cupertino, Calif., campus, where it typically holds its less dramatic announcements.
Here’s a roundup of what the company is expected to announce:
Mac OS X Yosemite
In June, Apple previewed the latest version of its operating system for desktops and laptops, OS X Yosemite. The software has been available in beta version to testers for the past few months, and it will be released as a free update to all users, most likely on Thursday.
OS X Yosemite brings even more of the look and feel of the company’s “flatter” mobile operating system to the bigger screen. Switching between and sharing documents among Apple devices is easier. Apple is playing catch-up with Google Drive by introducing iCloud Drive to allow documents to be shared in the cloud; by early next year, it will retire its clunky iPhoto program and replace it with Photos, which also stores all images in iCloud (for a price).
With Yosemite, the distinction between text messages using Apple’s Messages platform (blue bubbles, all devices) and traditional phone-based SMS messages (green bubbles, phones only). Yosemite and iOS 8 allow the phone to pair up with nearby Mac computers to let you type messages on your computer keyboards to your non-Apple friends. A minor but welcome upgrade.
The full-sized iPad, now christened the iPad Air, is rumored to be receiving an update to add Apple’s fingerprint identification technology, Touch ID, to the device. Touch ID, which is currently limited to iPhones, allows a users to unlock their devices and make purchases with the touch of a thumb or finger. The iPad also may get an updated processor and, perhaps, a new color – gold, to mimic the color choices of the iPhone. The iPad mini also may gain Touch ID.
Apple’s desktop workhorse, the iMac, is rumored to be getting crisper Retina displays, at least on the largest 27-inch models.
The company’s super-thin laptop, the Macbook Air, is supposed to be coming out in a 12-inch model with Retina display – a sweet spot between the existing 11- and 13-inch models. The latest rumors speculate that it won’t be introduced until 2015.
Likewise, Apple’s former “hobby” project, the Apple TV, has not been updated since March 2012. Tim Cook finally admitted this year that, with $1 billion worth of Apple TVs sold, “it’s a little bit harder to call it a hobby.” Remember, Apple founder Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson just before his death in 2011 that he’d “cracked” the code on how to deliver a simpler, revolutionary Apple TV. While Apple has issued software updates here and there and added channels and features, a new Apple TV doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.