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Apple iPad event: what to expect from Thursday's announcement

iPads, iMacs, and OS X Yosemite are coming

It's barely even been a month since Apple last got up on stage to unveil new products, but it's already time for another presentation. So what are we expecting this month? It's looking like most of Apple's biggest announcements for the year have already passed, meaning we're expecting far more modest updates this month. Still, Apple has plenty ready to show off: new iPads, a new iMac, and the next version of OS X.

A new iPad Air

There's no doubt that this is on Apple's agenda. A new iPad Air is coming, but don't expect dramatic changes.

The biggest addition is believed to be a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. This would be the first time that Touch ID has shown up on a tablet, and it'll be a helpful addition as more and more apps begin to take advantage of it. In fact, a Touch ID sensor is all but confirmed thanks to a small slip up by Apple. It also looks like the tablet will be called the iPad Air 2.

Right now, the iPad Air comes in white and black, but this new one is expected to also offer a gold color option. It's also been reported that the new iPad will have an anti-reflective coating on its screen, which could make seeing it much easier in daylight.

Otherwise, expect pretty much the same iPad Air you already know, with at most some subtle design changes. You can also expect all of the regular tune-ups on the inside: a faster processor (likely a version of the new A8 that's in the iPhone 6), and potentially more RAM or lower prices for additional storage.

Some long shots? Apple is supposed to be working on a huge, 12.9-inch iPad, but it's not supposed to be ready until next year. We also know that Apple is working on letting the iPad do split-screen multitasking — we just don't know if it's finished yet.

iPad mini with Retina display 1024px

A new iPad mini

It'd be surprising not to see an updated iPad mini, given that Apple has a habit of refreshing its major product lines each year. But that said, there has also been a surprising dearth of reports on what's in the works.

If Apple does update the iPad mini, expect it to stay more or less in line with the iPad Air. That means Touch ID will be its biggest improvement, and that it'll likely also get a gold color option, an anti-reflective screen coating, and a new processor too.

As with the new Air, it's effectively confirmed that there's a new iPad mini coming on Thursday with a Touch ID sensor, as it's detailed in a document published by Apple. The document also notes that it'll be called the iPad mini 3 — a somewhat confusing name given that there was no iPad mini 2 (the second mini was instead called the iPad mini with Retina display).

But say Apple decides not to update the iPad mini? Last year Apple made the iPad mini way faster, but it also made it way more expensive — with the newest model now starting at $399. Should the mini go without an update, Apple could start to bring its price back down toward where it started, $329. Then again, Apple's rarely cut prices just for the heck of it.

iPad Air and iPad mini sections updated October 15th to note Apple's references to new tablets with Touch ID sensors.

A new iMac with a Retina display

Recode reports that an iMac with one of Apple's high-resolution Retina display will be one of the stars of Thursday's show. This will be the first time that Apple puts a Retina display on a desktop computer, which would make this a significant update.

What we're still not certain of, however, is what sizes the Retina iMac will come in and what resolutions it'll come in. Some reports suggest that Apple will likely start with just a single iMac model, potentially one with a 27-inch display and a 5K resolution. Apple's current 27-inch model has a 2560-by-1440 resolution, so this would be double that.

Apple generally prices products with Retina displays a bit higher than their standard counterparts, and it's likely that it'll do that here too. This Retina iMac will probably sit at the top of its product line, and it may be a good year or so before it becomes the norm (Apple is even still selling one of its old non-Retina MacBook Pros with a CD drive). The Retina model and all existing models will likely receive some modest spec bumps as well.

Still, it's important that Apple starts getting these out the door. The next version of OS X is coming, and its new design looks far better on a high-resolution display than it does on the ones currently shipping on the iMac.

Yosemite preview 5

The arrival of OS X Yosemite

Apple first previewed the next version of OS X back in June, and now it's finally ready to be released.

OS X Yosemite has a number of major changes and new features, easily the most noticeable of which is a new design that's more in line with the simple and colorful style of iOS.

A handful of new features bring OS X's abilities much closer to iOS as well. Yosemite lets you answer phone calls or send and receive text messages on a your Mac, and it'll even let you pick up a document where you left off on your phone or tablet. That alone is a huge deal, and there are a number of other useful additions coming too. You can read all about them in our Yosemite preview.

So what about MacBooks?

Apple also likes to talk MacBooks this time of year, but it doesn't look like that's on the agenda this season. Both the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro have seen spec updates in the past year, so there isn't necessarily much for Apple to do.

That said, there's one big update that's been brewing: a redesigned MacBook Air with a 12-inch Retina display.

The MacBook Air has had the same design for four years now, which is basically an eternity for laptops. There's little doubt that this new MacBook is coming — and in the near future — the only question is when exactly we'll see it. Early reports suggested that Apple was targeting a late 2014 launch, but it sounds like delays to the next-generation Intel processors that Apple wants to use may be holding it back. The Wall Street Journal reports that it'll enter mass production in December.

It's possible that, like the Apple Watch, we could just get a preview months ahead of time on Thursday. But that's rarely been Apple's style, and Recode reports that Apple currently has no plans to unveil it this week.

Section updated October 13th to reflect a report in Recode.

And the iPod?

Apple has barely touched the iPod lineup since 2012. But as much as it's due for an update, there's no sign that we're getting one on Thursday.

While the iPod touch is slowly growing more dated, Apple has been using that to its advantage and dropping the device's price. It's now down to $199, which makes it far more accessible than the $299 it debuted at.

There have also been no reports suggesting that there's anything new in the works just yet. Which makes sense: the iPod is a declining business for Apple. Don't expect it to disappear any time soon, but don't expect regular or exciting updates either.

Apple's presentation begins Thursday, October 16th at 1PM ET / 10AM PT. The Verge will be reporting from the event live, and you'll be able to follow along with us for all the news.