6 things to expect from Apple’s Watch event today
Monday is going to be big316
Monday's event may be the biggest that Apple holds this year. Not only is Apple expected to unveil final information on the Apple Watch and detail a release plan for it, it may also discuss a new MacBook, an update to iOS, and a whole lot more. Below is everything you can expect to see on Monday — and a few things you shouldn't expect just yet.
The event starts Monday at 1PM ET / 10AM PT. We'll be in California covering the event, and you'll be able to follow along with our live blog for up-to-the-second reports. We'll also be collecting all of the news on a page for this event.
Follow along with our live blog starting Monday at 1PM ET / 10AM PT
Apple's spring event: catch up on all the news
Apple Watch pricing and availability
Here's the big question: we know that the Apple Watch will be available starting at $349, but how much higher will it go?
Update: Read our review of Apple Watch.
It seems like a very safe assumption that $349 will get you the Apple Watch Sport. With its aluminum body and synthetic rubber strap, it's clearly the cheapest option and meant to be sold to the masses. It's possible that there will be multiple configurations of the Sport, but we really know nothing yet of how Apple plans to sell this. All Apple Watch models are available in two different sizes, and we'll also find out how much more the larger model will sell for than the smaller model.
Even with all of those questions, there's still plenty left to speculate on. The first question is what the standard stainless steel Apple Watch will cost. Apple pundit John Gruber, of Daring Fireball, wrote a lengthy piece on this late last month: he speculates that the standard Apple Watch will have an average price of around $1,000, which sounds like a reasonable guess. He also suspects that it may start lower, at around $700, but could jump up to well over $1,000 depending on what band it's paired with.
How much for the gold watch?
Then there's the question that's received the most heated attention: how much will the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition models cost? Many are speculating that their pricing could be around what you'd pay for a fine analog watch. Gruber is in that camp, placing the price between $10,000 and $20,000, also depending on what band they're paired with. Developer Marco Arment, on the other hand, writes on his blog that he suspects these high guesses could be off the mark, with the real pricing landing around $5,000. Either way, it should be one of the most expensive products Apple currently sells, and everyone's going to be talking about whatever price Apple chooses.
Apple has already said that the Apple Watch will begin shipping in April. On Monday, it should announce the exact date, where you'll be able to get it, and when preorders will begin.
Bands and accessories
Personalization is a big part of the Apple Watch, and — as with most watches — swappable bands play a major role in that. Apple already showed quite a few bands during the Apple Watch's introduction event last year, but this time we should learn about which ones you'll actually be able to buy — and how much you'll pay for them.
It seems likely that all of the sport bands will be available for sale. But the story could be different for the leather and metal bands, especially given that some of them have body color-specific attachments. This may make them more expensive to sell on their own or simply impractical to sell, whereas the sport bands all terminate in their own color, thus preventing this issue.
Some bands could cost a lot more than others
As for third-party bands, we may have to wait to hear about that. Apple doesn't often discuss accessories from other manufacturers on stage, so even if it is encouraging manufacturers to make these — another thing we don't know yet — we may find out after the fact. The big exception might be if Apple, as a report at TechCrunch brings up, provides a way for manufacturers to create smart bands that interface with the watch. While this would be a nice addition, it doesn't appear to be in the cards — at least for this version of the watch.
Apple could also discuss an accessories program for the Apple Watch. Apple's biggest products all have vibrant accessory ecosystems, and part of that is because Apple monitors them through an accessories program. You can bet that, one way or anther, accessories are going to start showing up for the Apple Watch very soon. Whether Apple decides to make it official on Monday isn't clear, but it's something to look for down the road.
Apple previewed a number of apps during the Apple Watch's introduction, but it'll have a lot more to show this time around. That's in large part because of third-party apps: developers have had coding tools in their hands for almost four months now, and you can be sure that Apple will want to show off the biggest and the best on stage. Expect to see a lot from outside developers, possibly large and small, and potentially even some from Apple itself that it didn't show last year.
Along with previewing apps, Apple may also detail what it's doing with the App Store to account for them. For now, it's possible that there won't be many changes. Apple Watch apps will all be running off of iPhone apps, so they may just exist inside of iTunes as they do today. Eventually, Apple plans to bring native apps to its watch, so Apple could have a Watch App Store app to show off. If not, that may be something for another time, such as when native apps become available later this year.
A new MacBook
Apple is due to introduce a new notebook, and it's looking like Monday could be the day. Apple is expected to debut the successor to the Air — be it a new MacBook line or simply a new version of the Air — that's lighter, smaller, and has a much better display.
9to5Mac first detailed the new model in January, reporting that the laptop will have a 12-inch display, but in a body that's in most ways smaller than the current 11-inch Air. Notably, Apple was said to be exploring a version of the laptop that only included two ports: a headphone jack and the new USB Type-C connector — not even a separate power connector. That'd be a bold and, certainly, divisive move, but it's probably safe to expect an impressively small laptop as a result.
The new MacBook is expected to be the line's first model not to include a fan. That would be wonderful news for anyone who's sick of being unable to hear Netflix because their laptop's fan is blaring. The laptop is also believed to no longer have a clickable trackpad — you'll instead have to rely on taps. The keyboard, according to 9to5Mac, is also supposed to be slightly narrower than on other MacBooks.
The new MacBook is expected to ship between April and June, according to The Wall Street Journal. That makes Monday a fairly good time for Apple to talk about it.
Updated MacBook Airs
Don't expect Apple to throw out the old Air just because it introduces a new one. Apple loves to hang onto older products and sell them at different prices, and it would require little effort for it to give the Air the basic spec refresh that it's due for.
The Air was last updated in April 2014 to include Intel's Haswell processors. Those are now a generation old, and it's a safe bet that Apple will want to put Broadwell processors in them sometime soon. Don't expect anything too exciting, but it should mean new Airs that are faster or have longer-lasting batteries. If Apple does, in fact, introduce a new MacBook, there may be some price shifting, too.
The Apple Watch can't work without talking to an iPhone, but first, iPhones will need to learn how to talk to the Watch. That's all happening with iOS 8.2, which introduces support for the Apple Watch. Most notably, it includes an Apple Watch companion app that'll allow you to change the watch's settings, as there's a lot that's easier to do on the phone.
Otherwise, the updates in iOS 8.2 are expected to be minor, including some bug fixes and tweaks to the Health app. Perhaps the biggest disappointment here is that you'll have to wait until iOS 8.3 for that awesome new emoji picker.
Don't expect: a larger iPad, a new Apple TV, or a streaming music service
Two big products that Apple is said to have in the pipeline probably won't be showing up on Monday. The most notable of those is the larger, 12.9-inch iPad, which more and more reports have come out on over the past year. It very much seems like something in the works, but the latest news, from Bloomberg, says that manufacturing on it isn't expected to start on it until around September. That would put its release in line with most other iPads, in the October / November timeframe.
For a while now, Apple has also been said to have a new Apple TV in development. Those reports have largely subsided over the past year, seemingly as Apple focuses on the bigger projects that we're expecting to see on Monday. So hang tight… Apple will have to release a new Apple TV someday.
Some of this is expected later in the year
Lastly, Apple's said to be transforming Beats Music into its own iTunes streaming service. That's almost certain to come out soon, but the latest report, from 9to5Mac, says we shouldn't expect it until Apple's developer conference in June.
Oh, and probably nothing yet on that Apple car. Maybe next decade.
Update March 9th: Updated headline to reflect that today is March 9th, 2015.