Earlier this week, Apple officially set the (virtual) stage for its annual September event, inviting members of the press and the public to tune in remotely on September 15. At the event, which was given the “Time Flies” tagline, we expect new Apple Watch and iPad hardware, details on iOS 14, and more.
Read on as we round up everything you need to know about Apple’s September special event.
When is Apple’s September event?
Apple’s special event this year will take place on Tuesday, September 15. It will be completely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we expect a pre-recorded video from Steve Jobs Theater and Apple Park.
You’ll be able to live stream the event through Apple’s website, on YouTube, and through the Apple TV application. It’ll kick off at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET.
New iPad Air
The iPad Air is expected to get a major redesign this year, based on several different reports over the last month. According to a leaked pamphlet from last month, Apple has developed a dramatically resigned iPad Air 4 that bears a strong resemblance to the iPad Pro.
The iPad Air seen in these images features an edge-to-edge display without a Home button, alongside flat edges and USB-C connectivity. Instead of Face ID, these images suggest that the new iPad Air will actually feature Touch ID built into the side button on the iPad Air.
The idea of a Touch ID side button in an Apple product was first suggested by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said that the 2021 iPhone SE Plus would feature Touch ID in the side button. If these images are to be believed, it appears that Apple will also bring the technology to the iPad Air.
Assuming this latest leak is legitimate, it would represent a major upgrade for the iPad Air, which looks rather dated compared to the iPad Pro. The iPad Air sits between the base model $329 iPad and the higher-end iPad Pro models in Apple’s tablet lineup, and giving it a more modern look would help to distance it further from the entry-level iPad.
Bloomberg has reported that the new iPad with an edge-to-edge display will be one of the focal points of the September 15 event, so we expect to learn quite a bit more on Tuesday.
Apple Watch Series 6
In addition to the new iPad Air, the September event is also expected to include the announcement of the Apple Watch Series 6. As has become the norm, evidence suggests that this year’s Apple Watch will focus heavily on new health features.
Code found within iOS 14 by 9to5Mac has indicated that Apple Watch will add blood oxygen level detection this year.
Blood oxygen levels between 95% and 100% are considered healthy; blood oxygen levels below 80% may lead to compromised heart and brain functionality. Risk of respiratory or cardiac arrest is common after continued low blood oxygen saturation. This feature would work similarly to existing watchOS heart rate notification features. If Apple Watch detects a blood oxygen level below a certain threshold, it will trigger a notification for the user.
9to5Mac has also found evidence in iOS 14 that Apple is working to improve the electrocardiogram feature with the Apple Watch Series 6. Apple Watch Series 4 and 5 currently result in inconclusive ECG readings with heart rates between 100 and 120 beats per minute. The Apple Watch Series remove that limitation with an upgraded version of the ECG app.
The Apple Watch Series 6 is likely to look similar to the Apple Watch Series 5. Reports indicate that there aren’t any major changes in store for the Apple Watch Series 6’s industrial design and that it will follow the same general form factor as the Series 4 and Series 5. Of course, things like new finishes, colors, and bands are always possible.
Finally, Apple Watch Series 6 is expected to officially drop support for Force Touch. Force Touch allowed Apple Watch users to firmly press on the device’s display to access additional content and controls, such as changing watch faces or clearing all notifications.
In watchOS 7, Apple deprecated the Force Touch feature, and Apple Watch Series 6 is likely to remove the hardware component of the functionality as well. This change should free up some space inside the Apple Watch Series 6, but it’s unclear how Apple might put that newfound space to use elsewhere.
You can find all of the latest Apple Watch Series 6 rumors in our full guide right here.
Apple Watch Series 3 replacement
But the Apple Watch announcements aren’t expected to end with the Series 6. Bloomberg reported last week that Apple is planning a lower-end Apple Watch for this year. The report explained that the lower-end Apple Watch will serve as a replacement to the Apple Watch Series 3, which Apple continues to sell starting at $199.
Details on what exactly will be upgraded in the Series 3 replacement are unclear. The Apple Watch Series 3 is powered by Apple’s S3 processor, so one of the most logical assumptions is that the new model will feature Apple’s newer S4 or S5 processor inside. Twitter leaks have indicated that the Apple Watch Series 3 replacement will feature a design similar to the Series 4/Series 5.
Additionally, the Apple Watch Series 3 lacks many of the health features that make the newer Apple Watch models so appealing. While it’s unlikely that Apple will bring the ECG functionality to the lower-end Series 3 replacement, it could absolutely add fall detection functionality.
Regardless Apple has in store for the Apple Watch Series 3 replacement, we should learn more during Apple’s event on Tuesday.
Software release dates
Outside of hardware announcements, Apple will likely offer additional details on iOS 14, watchOS 7, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14 during its September event. While Apple unveiled these new updates at WWDC in June, it generally likes to take another look at the features at its September event.
Apple this week released iOS 14 beta 8 to developers and public beta users. This could very well be the last incremental beta of of iOS 14. History would suggest that the golden master version of iOS 14 will be released following Apple’s special event on September 15. From there, we would expect a release to the general public soon after, alongside watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Apple is likely announce the release during the event.
Given that the iPhone 12 won’t be available until October at the earliest. This means that the new iPhone models will likely ship with something like iOS 14.1 out of the box.
As for macOS 11 Big Sur, Apple will likely save that release for sometime in October or even into November, depending on the timeline of the first Apple Silicon Mac.
“Apple One” Services Bundle
Apple is believed to be working on a bundle of its growing collection of subscription services. Reports have indicated that there will be several tiers to the bundle options, including a base tier with just Apple TV+ and Apple Music as well as more premium bundles that include Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and iCloud storage.
Just this week, our colleagues over at 9to5Google discovered evidence of the “Apple One” subscription bundle in the Apple Music for Android application. Whether or not Apple announces the Apple One bundle at the September 15 event or saves it for October remains to be seen.
For over a year now, reports have been circulating suggesting that Apple will soon launch its own pair of over-ear headphones. These are believed to exist separately from the Beats brand and offer features such as head and neck detection, custom equalizer settings, and more.
9to5Mac has also found evidence of so-called AirPods Studio in the leaked iOS 14 beta code, including assets showing at least two color options for the new accessory. As for the price, rumors suggest that it will cost $349.
Most recently, Bloomberg reported that AirPods Studio could be released as soon as this year. If Apple is looking to fill out its September event beyond just iPad and Apple Watch news, AirPods Studio seem like a perfect fit. Rumors have also suggested a cheaper HomePod could be on the way as well.
Read everything we know so far about Apple’s rumored AirPods Studio in our full guide.
Speaking of Apple accessories that have been rumored for a long time, the company is widely believed to be developing its own Tile-like item trackers. In June 2019, 9to5Mac reported on assets within iOS 13 that referenced a product type “Tag1,1.”
Since then, 9to5Mac discovered evidence of the “AirTags” name and references even appeared in a video published by Apple itself. Most recently, a supply chain report indicated that mass production of AirTags was already under way.
You can find everything we know so far about AirTags in our full guide right here. We expected AirTags at least year’s iPhone 11 event, and we still don’t have them, so whether or not they come during the September event this year is anyone’s guess.
New Apple TV
Apple is also reportedly working on a new Apple TV and a new Siri remote. Evidence of a new Apple TV hardware refresh has been circling around in iOS code for a while, and a report recently indicated that one of the changes will be a faster chip for improved gaming performance.
As for the new Apple TV remote, Bloomberg has suggested that one of the upgrades will be support for the Find My application. This will make it easier for people to locate a remote when it goes missing in the house. Whether or not other improvements are also in store for the controversial Siri remote remains to be seen.
Much like AirPods Studio, a new Apple TV would be great fodder for Apple’s September event, but we’ll have to wait to find out if that ends up being the case.
News about the Mac
Finally, the Mac lineup is nearly set to begin its transition to Apple Silicon processors. Apple has said that it will release its first Apple Silicon Mac before the end of this year, but current indicators are that the Apple Silicon transition will not be addressed at the September event.
But no iPhone 12…
In a break from tradition, reports from a variety of sources indicate that the iPhone 12 will not be announced during Apple’s September event this year. The iPhone 12 has faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Apple itself confirmed in July that this year’s iPhones would arrive “a few weeks” later than the iPhone 11 lineup did last year.
So when can we expect the iPhone 12 to be announced? Right now, indications are that Apple will hold another Special event in October focused on the iPhone 12 and perhaps new Mac hardware. In the meantime, you can keep up with everything we know so far about this year’s new iPhones in our full guide.
Even though we don’t expect any news about the iPhone at Apple’s special event next week, there is still plenty to be excited about. Between new Apple Watch models, a redesigned iPad Air, iOS 14 details, and more, it’s easy to see how this event will live separately from the iPhone announcement this year.
9to5Mac will have full live coverage of Apple’s September event, so be sure to tune in on Tuesday, September 10, at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET for everything you need to know. What are you most excited to see this year? Let us know down in the comments below.