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Latest Apple event holds some unexpected surprises

The final Apple event of 2018 is upon us! The wait is finally over. What does Apple have in its sleeves this time around?

The event nicknamed “There’s more in the making” starts at 10 a.m. EST (7 a.m. PST), and in a surprise move by Apple, it will go eastbound to the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York, instead of the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California.

Well, the new gadgets are certainly something to get excited about but wait, there’s one more thing – there are iOS 12 surprises that will roll out, too.

Read on and see what Apple hardware and software surprises are inbound.

New iOS 12 feature you’ll love

Aside from the new gadgets, Apple may also finally roll out iOS 12.1 after the event. What’s in iOS 12.1 that’s exciting? The much-awaited Group FaceTime feature, of course.

With Group FaceTime, Apple gadget users can finally do FaceTime video calls of up to 32 participants at a time. Yep, prepare for those extra chaotic group iPhone video calls with your friends and colleagues.

However, not all iOS gadgets are invited to the Group FaceTime video chat party.

9to5Mac said that the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus will only get audio from Group FaceTime call and will not support video. Same with the iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, and the iPad Air. It’s apparently a processor issue. These gadgets simply don’t have the power to handle multiple video feeds.

If you’re still rocking these older iOS gadgets, at least you can still talk and listen in to your friends’ Group FaceTime chats.

Aside from Group FaceTime, other delayed iOS 12 features that might roll out in 12.1 are dual-SIM card support for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR plus Smart HDR camera fixes.

New iPad Pro with Face ID

The biggest product unveiling this time will most likely be the next iteration of the iPad Pro.

With the rumored redesign and spec bump, the new iPad Pro is going to be the real star of the show! But what do we know so far?

  • Credible leaks are saying that the iPad Pro will follow the latest iPhone design trend and it will get significantly thinner bezels.
  • Another iPhone X design that will likely make it to the next iPad Pro is the absence of the physical Home button.
  • Without the Home button nor Touch ID, Apple will likely introduce Face ID to the next iPad Pro. Reports are saying that Apple has figured out a way to make Face ID work in both portrait and landscape mod, so that’s something worth waiting for.
  • The new iPad Pros will get the new A12X Bionic chip, an even more powerful processor than the current iPhones’ A12 chip. This chip is also said to sport an upgraded image processor and GPU for even better graphics performance than the iPhone XS, XS Max or XR.
  • The switch from the Lightning connector to a USB-C port for charging and other functions like 4K video output to external monitors.
  • Apple is probably going to stick with LCD screens on the new iPad Pros.

As usual, we could see price drops to the older iPad Pros, and hopefully, the regular iPad gets a price cut, too. Around $299 for an iPad sounds like the sweet spot, don’t you think?

New entry-level MacBook

As we reported earlier, a filing Apple made with the Eurasian Economic Commission suggests at least three new Macs and one MacBook are on tap to be unveiled next week.

Is the new laptop going to be a refresh of Apple’s entry-level MacBook?

The MacBook Pro had its processor and memory upticks last July, but they were mostly ho-hum improvements that didn’t warrant an upgrade for owners of last year’s model. However, another Apple gadget that desperately needs a refresh is the MacBook Air.

Except for a slight processor upgrade in 2017, this entry-level MacBook line hasn’t been updated for years and casual users who want a simpler and cheaper alternative to the MacBook Pro have been waiting for a long time.

Is 2018 the year of the major entry-level MacBook revamp? According to reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it could very well be.

In fact, Apple may even drop the MacBook Air line in favor of a new entry-level laptop that will simply be called the MacBook. Similar to the MacBook Pro, this new entry-level MacBook may be dropping all existing ports (SD Card slot, USB 3, Thunderbolt, MagSafe 2) in favor of a single USB-C port.

Touch ID may also be incorporated with the power button and unlike the MacBook Air, the 13-inch version will finally sport a Retina Display. Another improvement we might see in the new MacBook Air is a Force Touch trackpad (a feature already in the current MacBook Pro).

The rumored price tag for this new entry-level MacBook? A not-quite-entry-level $1,200.

New Mac Mini

On the desktop side, the three new model numbers may be referring to the long-overdue refresh of the Mac Mini.

Are we going to see three new configurations of Apple’s mini-desktop computer? We certainly hope so! The Mac Mini has not been updated since 2014, so it definitely needs a makeover.

Kuo and Mark Gurman, another trusted Apple analyst, have both suggested that a new Mac Mini will be unveiled later this year. A processor upgrade is a given but Gurman also hinted that the Mac Mini may get the “Pro” treatment and get higher storage and processor options.

If this year’s Mac Mini retains its affordable price point, it should be a great option for people who want to upgrade their aging Mac Minis, which are perennial MacOS favorites for running personal media servers.

Other products

High-end Mac Pro?

Another Apple product that’s due for an update is the Mac Pro line. Apple said last year that it is working on an expandable and modular Mac Pro. With the non-upgradeable iMac Pro in the mix, professionals will definitely appreciate the return of a user-customizable Apple desktop.

There are no details about the next Mac Pro and it’s unlikely that it will make it to Apple’s October event lineup of new products. But given Apple’s penchant for surprises, we never really know for sure.

Wireless charger for all your Apple gadgets

Another Apple product we’re excited about is the AirPower, a charging mat that can wirelessly juice up your iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods simultaneously.

Although Apple announced the AirPower together with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X last year, there’s no pricing nor release date yet. The October event may just be the venue where Apple finally releases it.

Upgraded AirPods?

Ming-Chi Kuo also hinted that an upgraded version of the AirPods will be released in the second half of 2018.

There aren’t any substantial details about the upgrades, but Kuo wrote that the second-gen AirPods will include a “smaller quartz component” and they will be compatible with a new AirPower charging mat. We’re also hoping that Apple will have solved its AirPod production problems by this time.

How to live stream the Apple event on October 30

To follow the event as it happens, you can watch Apple’s official video stream on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using Safari on iOS 10 or later, a Mac using Safari on macOS Sierra 10.12 or later, or a PC using Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge.

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