As you’re no doubt aware, later on today Apple is holding a press event which will likely include the launch of its next-gen iPads.
"We still have a lot to cover," Apple said in its invites, and that does indeed seem to be the case. While last month's event focused on the iPhone, today’s gathering will be all about the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2. But reports indicate that we'll also get some news on the Mac and OS X front, not to mention the possibility of an Apple TV refresh... and an iWatch wild card, perhaps?
So we’ve put our heads together to see what we think – and hope – Apple might announce at the launch event which takes place at 18:00 BST today (13:00 EST, 10:00 PDT).
A few of our writers requested that Apple think outside the box ("Don't be boring" was a popular refrain), but rumours and leaks have suggested a modest update to the iPad rather than an entirely new form factor. However, perhaps Cupertino has done a good job of keeping a lid on its latest achievements this time around.
Those who need something a bit more full-featured than an iPad will likely have a few new Mac options – from the MacBook Pro to the completely revamped Mac Pro.
Anyhow, read on to find out our most requested features – and of course check back later today at 18:00 BST for our full coverage of the launch event.
Retina iPad mini
The number one most requested (and expected) announcement from Apple later today is an iPad mini with Retina display. Or, as Joel Santo Domingo suggested: "At the very least, an iPad mini 2 with the A7 processor in it.”
There have been a lot of rumblings about a mini with Apple's boosted Retina display, but just as many rumblings concerning supply constraints that might push shipments into 2014. We'll just have to see if Cupertino and its suppliers are up to the task.
The iPhone 5S (pictured above) isn't the only device that would benefit from Apple's fingerprint-based security feature. There were requests for Touch ID on Apple's new iPads, in part because it allows for iTunes purchases with the touch of a finger rather than the need to re-enter an Apple ID password.
“Radical” new battery tech
The reason that the iPad 3 was thicker than the iPad 2 is because it needed a larger battery to support that new high-res screen. But over the past year, we've been seeing high-res tablets arrive in thinner, lighter form factors thanks to lower-power screens and processors. Sascha Segan pointed to the University of Illinois' new Li-Ion system, or lithium-sulfur. "Apple probably won't be the first to bring this to market (I'm betting on LG, as they make batteries), but it would be awesome if it did," he wrote.
USB port on the iPad
For all its conveniences, adding photos, files, or music can be a chore on iDevices. There are ways to do this, of course, but the easiest option would be to add a USB port for easy transfers. Microsoft's Surface has one (pictured above), and Redmond has played this up in recent ads, but Apple's design aesthetic probably won't allow for it just yet.
"I'm bored with the iPad," Sascha Segan wrote in a recent column, a sentiment echoed by security analyst Neil Rubenking. "I'm bored with the tablet form factor in general. I want a REALLY big display that I can roll up when not in use," he said. "Or a holographic display that I can manipulate with both hands, like in Minority Report. SOMETHING different. If it's just another tablet, even a bigger tablet... meh!" It might take a few more years for those ideas to materialise, but rest assured Apple is probably considering new technology – like the translucent iPad concept from Yanko Design pictured above, perhaps?
Today’s event isn't just about the iPad, of course. We're also expecting the arrival of the revamped Mac Pro. Joel Santo Domingo wants "more details on the Mac Pros and why the Mac power-user faithful would upgrade to it now that there's no internal expansion." Brian Westover also predicted "some new accessories to take advantage of the weird 'expansion by way of peripherals' paradigm the Mac Pro was designed around."
Both Santo Domingo and Westover expect a Haswell bump for the MacBook Pro, but Westover hopes the device will finally lose the optical drive. "Just be done with it already!" he said. Santo Domingo, meanwhile, wants more battery life. "Can we get 20+ hours?" he asked.
Westover also wants a Retina MacBook Air. "Unlikely, but I still want it," he said. But how about an iPhone 5C-like makeover? "I want an inexpensive MacBook Air," he said. "Make it 'unapologetically plastic' like the iPhone 5C. Make it light, and cheap, and basic. Heck, make it like HP's Chromebook 11 running OS X! If Apple dropped an ultraportable MacBook for less than $500 [£310], it would devour the entire value-priced category."
Could the iWatch possibly be Apple's "one more thing"? Jill Duffy hopes so. We haven't heard too much about the so-called iWatch lately, what with all the iPhone news – but it's still a hot category, with smartwatches from Sony and Samsung hitting the market.
Image Credit: Nickolay Lamm