Apple is getting ready for its biggest event of the year but there won’t be any traditional products on the way.
The company is hosting the world’s media for an announcement at the end of March, during which it will reveal its latest launches.
But those launches won’t be the traditional shiny slabs of glass and metal. Instead, they’ll be subscription services, allowing people to get content over the internet.
TV streaming and news subscriptions will add to the company’s existing offerings with Apple Music as part of a suite of products aimed at making the company a major player in services as well as products.
Some hardware might arrive at the event. But it’s not expected to be the biggest announcement and may not come at all.
The star of the event – hinted at in the invitation – is going to be Apple’s brand new subscriptions service. It will be something like Netflix or Amazon Prime, offering you films and TV for a monthly cost.
Plenty of the actual shows and films that are coming to this have been leaked in some form, since Apple has had to work with the notoriously chatty entertainment industry. It has meant the process has been a lot less secretive than normal, and there have been months of rumours.
Now those rumours are coming to a head, and the event will see the launch of that service. It’s likely to come with some exclusive and original content at launch, as well as a range of films and TV by other companies.
Magazine and news subscriptions
As well as streaming videos, Apple is rumoured to be offering a news and magazine subscription service. It appears that people will be able to sign up on their iPad or their computer, and then receive regular issues.
Apple already offered this kind of service, when the iPad first came out – a feature called Newsstand allowed people to sign up for magazines and pay for them through Apple. And it has been rolling out subscriptions more generally, encouraging app makers to make their products available through regular payments.
But the new version is expected to receive new features, as well as more attention.
This event has repeatedly been said to be a services one, and they are likely to be the star of the show. But there could be some hardware, if only in service of the software.
If that happens, it’s most likely to be an iPad. It makes perfect sense as a way to show off video and magazines from the new subscription services, and the updates do tend to come in March.
The new iPad update isn’t expected to be a drastic rethink, and indeed will keep familiar features that disappeared from the iPad Pro, such as the headphone jack and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. But it will probably get the usual changes, like faster processor and better cameras.
AirPods and AirPower
Ever since they were released, rumours have swirled about an update to the AirPods. And it might finally be coming – soon, if not at this event.
Suggested new features for the new earphones have been various: better Bluetooth technologies, improved batteries, always-on Hey Siri and maybe even breakthrough features like health monitoring through your ears.
Rumours have suggested that Apple could actually release the earphones and the case separately. So Apple could choose to only launch the new wireless charging box at the event, and then update the earphones later this year.
AirPower was first mentioned in 2017 – and hasn’t really been heard from since. It was meant to be a charging mat that would allow users to wirelessly power their iPhones, Apple Watches and AirPods all at once, but technical issues appear to have delayed its release.
Now would be as good a time as any for it to arrive, if Apple has fixed those problems, or to at least make some mention of where it is. It would also slot in nicely with the new AirPods, since the wireless charging case was always intended to work with AirPower.
iPhones and other products
It’s unlikely that there’ll be much other hardware, and there almost certainly won’t be anything major like a new iPhone.
Apple could offer an updated colour for the iPhone XR, for instance, or new bands for the Apple Watch. But those products, and every other, are likely to have their own events and will be held back from this one to avoid them overshadowing it.