Hello, everyone. I’m Shara Tibken, a senior writer for CNET News. I’m online at the Town Hall auditorium at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.
The event kicks off at 10 a.m. PT. I’m joined by Dan Ackerman, a section editor here at CNET and our resident computer expert. He’ll be providing commentary about today’s announcements. Tim Stevens, the head of CNET’s car section, will helps us out by snapping photos.
You can follow us on Twitter - @sharatibken, @danackerman and @tim_stevens
Scott Stein -- who reviews Apple devices, wearables and pretty much anything else you throw at him -- sadly is ill and couldn’t make it today. But stay tuned to CNET for his ongoing iPad and iPhone coverage.
Thursday’s event marks the second product launch for Apple in as many months. It’s expected to be much more low key than last month’s blowout for the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, which featured a performance by rock band U2.
Apple is holding the event at the Town Hall auditorium at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. The venue seats a few hundred people, much less than the 2,000 or so present at the September launch of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch at the Flint Performing Arts Center.
A few words about Town Hall: This is the room where former CEO Steve Jobs introduced the first version of Mac OS X in March 2001 and the first iPod in October of that year. And it’s where he held his famous “antennagate” press event about the iPhone 4’s cellular connectivity issues in July 2010.
There were posters outside the room of Steve Jobs, as well as a quote: "If you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should do do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what's next."
We're getting the warning this will start soon.
Town Hall is a notable location and has a lot of history for Apple. But in terms of product news in recent times, it’s been used for what some consider the lesser events. Apple most recently used Town Hall for its iPhone 5S and 5C launch a year ago, and the iPhone 4S event in the fall of 2011. Those devices were incremental updates rather than the a major upgrade like the 4, 5 and 6.
Today’s probably not going to be much different. We’re not expecting any huge surprises or major new products. We’ll likely see an updated iPad Air tablet, some new Macs and the introduction of Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite software. We also will probably hear more about Apple Pay, the mobile payments service announced at the iPhone 6 event last month.
In terms of the new 9.7-inch iPad, we’ll likely see a gold version that adds the TouchID fingerprint sensor already in the iPhone. We could also see an antireflective coating on the tablet, a faster processor and a thinner and lighter design.
The iPad Mini probably won’t get much attention today, but it should see some smaller updates, as well.
But don���t hold your breath for a bigger, so-called “iPad Pro” today. That probably won’t go on sale until next year -- at least that’s what we’re hearing from analysts.
Apple accidentally posted screenshots of the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 (or so they appear to be called) on Wednesday. Images of the two devices were revealed in an official user guide to Apple’s iOS 8 operating system for iBooks in the iTunes Store. The images were eventually pulled down, but not before news organizations including CNET saw them.
For the Macs, we’re expecting a new Mac Mini and an iMac desktop with a higher-resolution screen. Neither machines have been significantly updated in a few years, and these new models could be what Apple was hinting at in its invite when it said, “It’s been way too long.”
People have been clamoring for a MacBook Air notebook with a high-definition Retina Display, but that’s also unlikely today. Intel’s new chips still aren’t shipping in huge numbers, so that’s something that likely hit unitl next year.
Because this is a smaller venue, it’s easier to see who’s actually here. There were lots of celebrities at the iPhone 6 event (including singer Gwen Stefani and musician Will.i.am, but because the auditorium was so big, I couldn’t see any of them from my seat. I did see Stefani and comedian Stephen Fry hanging out in the white cube demo area after last month’s keynote.
There are usually board members and top executives at the launches, as well as other friends of Apple. Al Gore, the former vice president who’s also an Apple board member, is speaking at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference in San Francisco today, so we don’t expect him here.
Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs' widow is sitting in the second row next to head designer Jony Ive
We're hearing One Republic, which I think Tim Cook said is what he listened to right before he went on stage for the iPhone 6 launch last month
Apple has had a long history with music, and it’s possible Apple could make iTunes news today.
We expect CEO Tim Cook to give us stats on how iTunes is doing, what retail sales are like, and how many iOS devices are out there. He typically gives these numbers at the beginning of events, but he skipped them in September because he had so many things to announce. That’s the event where we first saw the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch, and Apple Pay.
In April, Cook said there were nearly 800 million iTunes accounts. It will be interesting to see if he updates that figure. The previous update, in June of 2013, saw 575 million accounts.
Alight, just finished a call-in with CNET Live from my seat in the auditorium, and now here for you to offer some context and analysis for today's event.
It's worth looking at what products Apple has already (quietly) updated this year so far.