SAN FRANCISCO — Apple is expected to refresh its hardware lineup Wednesday, with new iPhones, several Macintosh computers, and a new Apple Watch at a press event here.
Apple will live stream the presentation, beginning at 10 a.m. PT. To view, follow this link. Requirements include an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to view, the Safari browser on Apple computers with recent software updates or on Windows computers with Windows 10 and the Microsoft Edge browser.
USA TODAY will be live blogging the event at tech.usatoday.com.
The new iPhones are expected to have minor upgrades from the previous model, with Apple deviating from its usual stance of re-designing the iPhone every two years. Instead, that model is expected in 2017, for the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.
Analysts expect the new models introduced Wednesday to have more power, more memory on the entry-level edition, a dual-camera system for improved photography, and the removal of the headphone jack, for a slightly thinner body. This is good news to headphone manufacturers, who will be able to sell new models that fit directly into the Lightning charging port, or via Bluetooth.
Apple, under CEO Tim Cook, is under pressure from Wall Street and the public to be wowed again with breakthrough products, after poor quarterly results showed a decline, for the first time, in iPhone sales. The iPhone represents about two-thirds of Apple's revenues, and the previous edition, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, was the first iPhone to not outsell the previous edition.
According to market research firm eMarketer, Apple will have a 43.5% share of the U.S. smartphone market in 2016, to 52% for Google's Android system.
Beyond the hardware, Apple is expected to make a big push on software enhancements for the iPhone and the IOS 10 mobile operating system upgrade.
--Better visuals for iMessages. Bigger fonts, emojis and tons of stickers are coming to Apple text messages, as well as "apps within apps," that will bring funny, moving pictures from JibJab, social payments from Circle and Square Cash and e-commerce site Spring to iMessages.
--New and improved Siri. The personal digital assistant for the iPhone is now five years old, and will have a bigger, more prominent role in the new iPhone and on IOS 10. Siri has been opened up to third-party apps like LinkedIn, Uber, Square Cash, WhatsApp and others, allowing developers the ability to innovate and find new ways to use Siri's voice commands. At first, Siri will only be available in six categories--communications, ride-hailing, payments, voice calls, photo search and workout apps. Missing are non-Apple music, news, weather and traffic apps, for instance. Apple has said it hopes to open up additional categories to developers in the future. (Siri is also coming to Mac computers, as part of the Mac OS Sierra operating system upgrade.)
For a complete rundown of all the new Apple products, listen to our #TalkingTech podcast with Bloomberg News reporter Mark Gurman. We run them down and offer our expectations for the event.
Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, projects Apple will sell 236 million units of the new iPhones, compared to 215 million for the 6S and 231 million for the 6.
So how can Apple sell more models of a phone that’s expected to just be a minor upgrade after the 6S suffered by not having major new features?
Munster says the pool of people who have older phones--going back to the 5S, is about 180 million strong, “and those phones are so slow, they’ll need to upgrade this year.”
The problem with the 6S is it came too soon in the upgrade cycle, he adds.
“The improvements will be in battery, processor and camera,” he says, “And those are important to people with phones that are 2 or 3 years old, that’s enough momentum for the 7 to be a success and sell more phones.”