Apple may be notoriously tight-lipped about what it's working on, but that's never stopped it from having just a little bit of fun with teasing what's to come. From subtle wordplay to carefully chosen imagery, Apple has a history of dropping hints and hiding details about its next announcement right on the invitations it sends out for each event.
We've collected most of Apple's invitations over the last decade to see just how those hints were hidden, where Apple left no hints at all, and just what it all might mean for the company's next event.
Macworld 2007, first iPhone
WWDC 2008, iPhone 3G
Macworld 2007: There may be no obvious hints on Apple's Macworld 2007 invitation, but it came with a bold proclamation that everything was about to change. Bold as it was, Apple lived up to the claim: it introduced the very first iPhone.
WWDC 2008: A second Golden Gate Bridge? The hint isn't an entirely clear one, but Apple did offer developers a second road to go down: iOS. It launched the App Store alongside the iPhone 3G that June.
WWDC 2009, iPhone 3GS
WWDC 2010, iPhone 4
WWDC 2009: Maybe it was just a simple message to developers, or maybe Apple was hiding the iPhone 3GS right in front of us — either way, it was certainly one of the less exciting invitations it's sent out.
WWDC 2010: While the iPhone 4 was the star of this WWDC, a big part of the story was apps. Apple gave a release date for iOS 4, which finally brought multitasking and added support for folders to keep all those apps organized.
October 2011, iPhone 4S
September 2012, iPhone 5
October 2011: At the time, rumors that Apple would release two phones just wouldn't go away. But a big red "1" made it clear that we'd only be seeing a single new device that time around: the iPhone 4S.
September 2012: This time, Apple couldn't have been more clear. 2012 wouldn't just bring another iPhone design update, it'd have a brand-new device deserving of the name iPhone 5.
September 2013, iPhone 5S + iPhone 5C
WWDC 2013, iOS 7 preview
September 2013: Colorful circles speckled the invitation, including one with an odd silver ring around it. As it turned out, Apple was hiding the home button for the iPhone 5S right in plain sight.
WWDC 2013: Bright colors, gradients, and flat layers? Apple's WWDC 2013 logo certainly gave away a first impression of what was to come in iOS 7, even if it didn't go so far as to perfectly mimic it.
January 2010, first iPad
March 2011, iPad 2
January 2010: There was no obvious allusion to any of Apple's existing products here. Apple promised a new creation though, and it certainly delivered with the original iPad.
March 2011: This year, Apple made it clear that a new iPad was on the way. And while the date may have been just a coincidence, it matched up quite nicely with the announcement of the iPad 2.
March 2012, 3rd generation iPad
October 2012, first iPad mini
March 2012: No, Apple wasn't about to introduce haptic feedback. But it did have a sharp new Retina display for the iPad.
October 2012: As rumors of a smaller iPad gained momentum, Apple came along promising something "little." In fact, Apple actually had quite a bit to show off that October, but the star of the show was the iPad mini.
September 2007, first iPod touch
September 2008, 2nd generation iPod touch
September 2007: After releasing the original iPhone, Apple was ready to show off what was next to come for the iPod. As it turned out, it would be the iPod touch — something the invitation suggested with its Cover Flow theme.
September 2008: Though Apple's invitation depicted an iPod classic, the classic didn't see all that much attention. Instead, Apple update the design on both the iPod touch and iPod nano.
September 2009, 3rd generation iPod touch
September 2010, 4th generation iPod touch
September 2009: Apple again made it clear that it'd be talking music, but there was little hint as to what. This event brought updates to just about every iPod, though there was nothing too major in the scheme of things.
September 2010: No clever phrase accompanied the invitation for Apple's 2010 music event, making hints hard to come by. Apple updated the iPod touch, debuted the tiny, square iPod nano, and — regrettably — introduced Ping.
Macworld 2008, first MacBook Air
October 2008, first unibody MacBooks
Macworld 2008: With a clever turn of phrase, Apple teased the introduction of the original MacBook Air without giving away what it'd really be talking about.
October 2008: Apple's invitation was fairly straightforward this time around. But while we could have guessed that we'd see new MacBooks, the new unibody design was a big shift for the company's laptops.
October 2010, 2nd generation MacBook Air
WWDC 2012, MacBook Pro with Retina Display
October 2010: Apple may have made it clear that OS X Lion was coming, but it had one big secret up its sleeve: a redesigned MacBook Air — the very same design it still uses today.
WWDC 2012: Sometimes, it seems like Apple just likes to use colors. While the squares that made up Apple's WWDC 2012 logo may have resembled app icons, the big story this year was the first MacBook Pro with Retina display.
October 2003, iTunes launches on Windows
September 2006, movie sales on iTunes
October 2003: One of the biggest Apple stories of 2003 was the launch of the iTunes store. A few months later, Apple promised that "story" would get a little bit bigger, and it did: iTunes and its store launched on Windows.
September 2006: Hollywood lights hit the Apple logo for this event, which saw movies come to the iTunes store for the first time ever.
September 2005, first iPod nano + Motorola ROKR
October 2005, 5th generation iPod classic
September 2005: Those familiar with the original iPod's slogan may have assumed this invitation was just pointing to the jeans' front pocket — but they'd have been wrong. When Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPod nano, it came right out of his coin pocket.
October 2005: Those aren't the curtains of just any theater. Apple was thinking of a movie theater when it launched the first iPod that could play video, while beginning to sell TV shows and music videos on iTunes for the first time too.
iBooks + iCloud
January 2012, iBooks 2 + iBooks Author
WWDC 2011, iCloud + iOS 5
January 2012: Apple wasn't hiding the subject of its education event, where it shifted focus into the classroom by making iBooks a whole lot more interactive.
WWDC 2011: In a surprising change of pace, Apple actually announced some of what would be shown off at WWDC 2011 before the event even happened. While the logo may not give anything away, Apple promised details on iOS 5 and the debut of iCloud.
So what's to come this year? Apple promises that there'll be plenty of ground to go over at its October event, and it certainly does have quite a few products waiting for a refresh. Rumor has it that a redesigned iPad is on the way alongside an iPad mini with a high-resolution Retina display. We could see updated iPods, a launch date for OS X Mavericks, updated MacBook Pros, and the release of Apple's long-awaited Mac Pro redesign too.
It's hard to say just what this latest invitation might be hinting at, though. Apple uses bright colors so often that it's hard to put too much stock into expecting something colorful, but perhaps there could be some innovation in the iPad covers. For all the news from Apple's event as it happens, you'll be able to follow along with our liveblog Tuesday, beginning at 1PM ET / 10AM PT.