Those sounds you hear are the gathering herds of expectations as to what Apple will present at its press event on Sept. 12. On Monday, the technology giant officially confirmed the rumored occasion.
The confirmation came in the form of a press invitation on Tuesday that showed the number 12 casting a shadow in the shape of a 5, which has been taken by all to indicate the announcement of the new iPhone 5. "It's almost here," the invitation said.
Screen, Connector, LTE
The iPhone 5 has been the subject of an avalanche of rumors and leaks, so there is no shortage of possibilities to choose from.
Let's start with the name. The consensus, backed by the invitation, is that it will be called the iPhone 5.
Then there's the screen, which most observers believe will be larger than the current 3.5-inch screen. A 4-inch screen, possibly with a somewhat different aspect ratio, is anticipated, perhaps on an even thinner device. Industry observers have been speculating that a larger screen would help Apple stave off some of the competition, such as the Galaxy Nexus' 4.65-inch screen or the Galaxy S III's 4.8-inch display.
Purportedly leaked photos have also shown a new 8-pin connector to replace the venerable 30-pin one. A smaller connector could allow for a larger battery, for instance, but the downside is that owners would be unable to utilize the wide variety of 30-pin-based accessories and cables, except with an adapter.
One of the biggest expected enhancements is the inclusion of 4G LTE high-speed networking capability, which would boost the use of AT&T and Verizon's growing next-generation network . Apple is also expected to include iOS 6, which was previewed in June for developers, and to specify the official launch date of same. New features in iOS 6 include turn-by-turn navigation and an Apple-branded mapping service.
There's also speculation that the new device will have an upgraded antenna, a more powerful processor, and possibly even biometric security, where a user's unique biology, such as a fingerprint, is used to verify identity. The latter may be premature, but is based on the acquisition in July by Apple of Florida-based AuthenTec, which makes fingerprint sensors for notebooks and phones.
And then there's Siri, Apple's popular intelligent voice agent. It is expected that the newest version of Siri will have the ability to launch applications, and possibly contain features that interface with technology popping up in cars.
We asked Ross Rubin, principal analyst for Reticle Research, what his expectations were for Sept. 12. Rubin said he was hearing a lot of speculation about a larger screen size, Passbook features being offered in iOS6, near-field communication (NFC) for wireless in-store e-commerce, and "almost certainly" LTE.
Passbook provides the ability to organize loyalty cards, coupons and other transaction-related assets, and would seem to go hand-in-hand with the availability of NFC.