What will Tuesday's big Apple announcement bring? The odds makers have their money on Apple unveiling two new iPhones, the 5s and the 5c, at the event scheduled for 10 a.m. Pacific Time, Sept. 10. The 5c is expected to be a lower-priced iPhone targeted in particular at the huge, growing market in China. Other expectations revolve around new color options and possibly a fingerprint scanner for identity management.
The 5c's price is not yet known, but some analysts are predicting it could be under $250. The new model is also expected to have a plastic casing available in several bright colors, as suggested by Apple's press invitation for the event. The invite, pictured above, shows a variety of colored circles around the famous Apple logo and the words "this should brighten everyone's day."
The 5s is also expected to come in a variety of color options, such as gold, aluminum or graphite gray to add to the current options of black or white. Other improvements reportedly will include a larger battery and an improved camera flash.
There has also been much discussion that a fingerprint scanner could be integrated into the iPhone's home button to enhance identification of the device's owner.
Last week, a patent application that Apple had filed in Europe for a fingerprint sensor was reported on the Web. The application includes specifications for a touch sensor that could also include near-field communication (NFC) technology, so that the same sensor could be used either for biometric identification of an individual or for the transmission and reception of NFC signals.
Potentially, NFC transactions could be conducted through the same circuitry that recognizes a user's fingerprint, thus adding an additional level of security to point-of-sale financial exchanges.
A beta version of iOS 7, released in July to developers, contained code for biometric scanning that handled fingerprint recognition from a left or right thumb. The code also included a tutorial section with a photo of a person holding the iPhone with their right hand "while touching the Home button with their thumb."
AuthenTec Identity Management
A year ago, Apple spent more than a third of a billion dollars to buy a company called AuthenTec, which provides fingerprint sensor and identity management technology for devices, and for governments and networking companies.
Also last week, a new patent was awarded to the company for accessing levels of apps, device services and functions via a series of gestures. This could be used, for example, to allow different family members to share the same mobile devices but access their separate accounts via different gestures. It's not yet clear if such gestural levels will be included in the new models.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said he had been hearing the same rumors of two new iPhone models, with the less expensive one being targeted at prepaid and emerging markets.
There have also been reports of some form of new release for Apple TV, although not the long-rumored, major TV set-based product line aimed at disrupting the entire TV industry. Instead, it might be an update to the existing, $99 Apple TV box for watching Internet-based videos on a TV, an update that Greengart said is due.
Following Tuesday's anticipated announcement in the U.S., another press event is scheduled for Wednesday in China, presumably to show the new iPhones and to announce a new agreement with that country's largest wireless carrier, China Mobile.