Official: new Macs coming next week

Apple is expected to replace the current iMac (pictured) on Tuesday, possibly with a brushed metal finish that echoes the Mac Pro design

Apple has invited US journalists to a special event in Cupertino next week - and this time it's the Mac , rather than the iPod or iPhone that's in the frame.

Rumours surrounding the launch of a new iMac have been circulating for some time, with most pundits arguing that Apple will launch a brushed metal version to bring it into line with its Mac Pro desktops.

Little else is known about the new models other than they will feature a radical new design, and possibly feature razor-thin metal keyboards that echo the keyboard design used on MacBook laptops.

The iMac is certainly due for an update. The current design was originally unveiled in October 2005 when it sported an IBM PowerPC G5 processor. Apple migrated the machine to Intel Core Duo series processors in January 2006. The last update - to Intel Core 2 Duo processors - came in September 2006.

The current all-in-one design is available in 17-inch, 20-inch and 24-inch guises. It's not known whether these form factors will remain in the new line-up.

ILife '08 and iWork '08

Think Secret says that a new version of Apple's iLife creative suite - which comprises iDVD, iMovie, iPhoto, iWeb, Garageband and iTunes - could be launched too.

It also says a new version of Apple's productivity suite iWork may appear. The package is expected to incorporate a spreadsheet program called Numbers, alongside the existing Keynote presentation and Pages word processing / page layout apps.

However both iLife '08 and iWork '08 could be held back until the next version of Apple's Mac OS X operating system - Leopard - arrives in October. Both programs are expected to need Leopard to leverage some of their new features.

Apple's invitation-only event takes place at Cupertino Town Hall, California on Tuesday 7th August. Apple UK normally mirrors events in the US by inviting the the UK press to a closed live broadcast of the event in London. Apple UK says it has no knowledge of a London event at this time.