SAN FRANCISCO – Apple Inc. is hosting its annual splash on Wednesday to unveil a new version of its most important product, the iPhone. The company has also used the occasion to update customers, analysts and investors on its performance and other products — and this year will probably be no different.
Here are some of the main things to watch for when the event starts at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium at noon Twin Cities time.
Apple last year introduced its biggest iPhone redesign since the device’s 2007 debut. This year’s changes are far less significant. The body design will be similar to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with an upgraded camera and speedier processor. The device will probably include a feature called Force Touch, which lets the user pull up features by pressing down harder on the screen. The iPhone may also get a new rose-gold color option. Analysts have predicted limited growth for the new models following last year’s record sales.
Apps for Apple TV
Absent deals for Apple TV to carry live programming beyond cable and satellite packages, Apple is opening up its TV set-top box to outside apps. Developers will for the first time be able to build games, videos and other content for a new version of Apple TV. The device’s remote control is also expected get an upgrade, with a touch pad and motion sensors so it can double as a video game controller. At $150 more than rival devices from Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc. and Roku Inc., quality apps will be needed to help win over customers.
Expect a larger-screen iPad that further blurs the line between a tablet and laptop. Apple hinted at the bigger model earlier this year when it previewed a new iOS feature that lets users display two applications on an iPad’s screen at the same time. Apple has targeted business customers as an area for growth in the declining tablet market. A new iPad mini is also expected to be unveiled, 9to5Mac reported.
Blocking online ads
Apple’s new iOS 9 operating system for the iPhone and iPad will also let people download software that blocks online ads. The move is controversial because it undercuts the advertising-based business models of much of the Internet. A recent report by Adobe Systems Inc. and PageFair Ltd., a Dublin-based start-up that helps companies respond to ad-blocking, estimates that ad-blocking tools will wipe out $22 billion in online advertising revenue this year.
Apple shares are down about 16 percent since it last reported earnings in July, because of concerns that iPhone sales are slowing, especially in China. Even though the stock typically has a muted response at product events, investors will be watching closely for clues about the company’s long-term outlook. The winners and losers among the manufacturers who make the components that go inside Apple’s products may also see swings to their share prices.