The invites are out, anticipation is building, and all over the world people are 'accidentally' dropping their last-gen iPhones and readying their insurance claims.
Yes, Apple's holding a launch event next week at the Flint Center for Performing Arts, in Cupertino, the venue where Steve Jobs introduced the original iMac. The countdown to the 9/9/2014 event has begun, and can be viewed on Apple’s site.
So what shiny new iThings will we all get to see on the day? We've doffed our best guessing hat to make 10 predictions…
1. iPhone 6
Apple's next-generation iPhone, to replace the 5s at the top of the line (probably - see the next item), and make everyone scream that the company is doomed if it doesn't sell 50 million units in approximately five seconds. (Apple will then sell 50 million units in approximately five seconds and people will yell Apple's doomed anyway.)
As per our preview, you can expect the device to have a bigger screen, be insanely powerful, and to make every anti-Apple Android device owner throw their toys out of the pram regarding Apple ‘copying’ Android by finally making a larger smartphone.
The only way this won’t occur is if Tim Cook tears off his face, to reveal the grinning visage of Bill Gates, who’ll yell SURPRISE! and break the news that Apple’s entire history has been a Microsoft prank.
2. iPhone 6L
An embiggened iPhone 6, supposedly with a 5.5-inch screen, possibly also doubling, in a pinch, as a surfboard.
As per our report, rumours suggest it might have a kind of super-Retina display, a ginormous battery, and be a hundred bucks pricier than the iPhone 6. On the plus side, anyone who really wanted the iPad Mini to be a phone will be in luck.
Parts have supposedly been spotted, but rumours are the device has been delayed. It also somehow doesn’t seem very Apple-like to fragment the iPhone line so much. On the other hand, ginormophones are where the profits are, and Apple likes to be surrounded by lovely, lovely profits.
READ MORE: Apple iPhone 6L preview
3. iPhone 6c
To the iPhone 6 what the iPhone 5c was to the iPhone 5s. In other words, a previous-generation top-end iPhone wrapped in plastic, that precisely no-one asked for, and that won’t be cheap, because Apple doesn’t do cheap. No parts have leaked, but then perhaps everyone was distracted by the sheer size of the iPhone 6L.
We won’t discount this entirely, because it could happen, but sales of the 5c were dwarfed by those of the 5s, which was more profitable. Instead, expect the 5s to take the 5c’s slot, the 5c to take the 4s’s slot, and the 4s to be dumped on a few select countries but made unavailable elsewhere.
4. iOS 8
The new operating system for iPhones and iPads. With iOS 7, Apple made major visual changes; but with iOS 8, it’s all about the architecture. Apple’s being surprisingly open, in enabling you to swap out keyboards, and boosting sharing/integration options for apps. There’s also Continuity, meaning iPhones will communicate with Macs in very clever ways, and a bunch of other stuff that we mentioned in our iOS 8 preview. It all looks rather spiffy.
The new iPhones will ship with iOS 8, and it’ll then be a free download for compatible devices. If it’s not made available on 9/9, we’ll at least get the date for ISPs to add ‘We hate you, Apple’ to their diaries.
5. OS X Yosemite
The latest version of OS X. Apple’s revamp for OS X is sort-of set to do what iOS 7 did for the iPhone and iPad. The system gets a visual overhaul that’s flatter and simpler, but there are also architectural changes (Continuity) and improved features (a revamped Spotlight; an enhanced Notification Center with widgets). Again, we've already written about this in depth, so we’ll heroically avoid copying and pasting that entire article here. Because we care.
Apple doesn’t like crossing the streams at events, so we won’t be surprised if OS X Yosemite barely gets a mention. Additionally, it’s very unlikely to be ready to download, given the buggy beta that was only just issued. We suspect Yosemite proper will be released in October.
READ MORE: Hands on with Mac OS X Yosemite beta
6. Some kind of payment feature
NFC or similar gubbins. There have long been rumours iPhones will include some kind of payment system. A Wired report has said this will now become a reality, but people claimed the same last year - and the year before.
If this does happen, Apple will probably come up with a clever brand name, and you’ll be able to pay for things by waggling your iPhone at a receiver, assuming the place you’re buying something from actually has a compatible receiver. Otherwise, you’ll just be waggling your iPhone around and people will look at you as though you’re a bit strange.
Yep, we’re hedging our bets. But if this is coming, it’s been kept fairly heavily under wraps - unless no-one really cares any more.