Apple's next big event is right around the corner and while the iPhone will once again take center stage, there are sure to be plenty of other announcements to look forward to. From iOS 9 and watchOS 2 to a possible iPad Pro reveal, the hype is definitely starting to ramp up.
While most of these announcements will almost certainly focus on the consumer market, there are a ton of things for business users to get excited about. With that in mind, we've taken the opportunity to build the hype a bit more and look at some of the more business-oriented aspects of what Apple is likely to announce at its September event.
Let's just go ahead and knock this one out right away. Every fall, Apple announces its latest iPhone hardware, and there's absolutely no reason to expect otherwise in 2015. Rumors surrounding the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have been swirling since as early as the debut of last year's refresh, but the rumor mill has been winding up quite a bit over the past few months, and a couple of things seem almost certain.
Since this year is a "minor refresh" year, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will likely carry over the same design as last year's models, but with increased performance courtesy of an upgraded processor and, possibly, more RAM. Outside of design, the two models may see upgraded camera modules as well. However, there's one rumored addition that could make the new iPhones pretty interesting: Force Touch.
Force Touch, which made its way to the Apple Watch before being included on the latest MacBook refresh, essentially makes your device's display pressure-sensitive. So far, the Apple Watch has only utilized Force Touch for easily accessing different menu options and functions - which is fine for a small screen - but it will be interesting to see how the function could be fleshed out to increase productivity on the iPhone. For example, with Force Touch built into the trackpad of the latest MacBooks, those working in video editing are able to easily scrub through footage faster or slower by applying more or less pressure in compatible apps. Similarly useful features could certainly make their way to the iPhone with Force Touch.
Yes, the elusive iPad Pro has been rumored for a while, but we have yet to see Apple announce the sizable slate. With rumors swirling that we may get a peek at some new iPads on September 9, it certainly feels like an iPad Pro can't be too far off.
As a refresher, the iPad Pro is said to be a business-targeted tablet with a much larger screen than the current crop of iPads - coming in at somewhere between 12.2 and 12.9 inches. The device is also said to sport NFC, making it a go-to for use as a payment terminal. Other specs are in the air, but with the popularity of Microsoft's Surface Pro line in business circles, there's certainly a proven place carved out for larger tablets in the enterprise that Apple would be wise to capitalize on.
While Apple may not be ready to put an iPad Pro up for sale, we could still get a sneak peek at the long-rumored tablet akin to the Apple Watch reveal, which came months ahead of its final release. Finally, with some of the features in store for iOS 9, it appears that Apple is definitely positioning itself for a larger, productivity-focused tablet.
Of course, along with the annual iPhone refresh comes a new version of Apple's mobile operating system. iOS 9 has been in developer preview since it was announced at WWDC, so we have a pretty good idea on what to expect - especially where it concerns business users.
There's no doubt that iOS 9 is much more of a spit and polish update than it is an overhaul, but there are still some cool minor features coming along that add up to making iOS more of a productivity powerhouse. For example, not only does iOS 9 include better integration with hardware keyboards with support for common shortcuts, but the the on-screen keyboard also allows for easier editing of big text chunks. Simply place two fingers on the keyboard, and it turns into a giant trackpad that allows you to quickly select large amounts of text.
In addition to the keyboard changes, iOS 9 also packs a new split screen view and picture-in-picture for iPad users. For those familiar with Microsoft's Snap windows, split screen will certainly be familiar, allowing you to easily jot down notes or work on a document on one side of the screen while checking email on the other. Picture-in-picture, on the other hand, will allow you to goof off a little by watching video while you're working on your latest spreadsheet project.
Of course, there is much more coming along in iOS 9, like improved Spotlight Search and a low power mode, but this should give you an idea of some of the productivity features to expect in Apple's latest mobile OS.
OS X El Capitan
Apple's mobile offerings aren't the only things set to get some operating system love. Mac users are also set to get an update to OS X in version 10.11 El Capitan. Last year, we saw a major visual refresh to OS X with Yosemite, so El Capitan is much more targeted towards polishing things up.
For the business user, there are a few feature tweaks you can expect from El Capitan. Much like iOS 9, Apple's latest desktop OS is picking up a split view feature. Again, this essentially works like Microsoft's Snap feature in that it allows you to easily split the screen between two different apps.
Spotlight Search is also getting much smarter in El Capitan, with the ability to surface more information from around the web like stocks and weather. Perhaps the biggest improvement, however, is support for natural language recognition. For example, typing "emails Juan sent me last month" will surface just that.
El Capitan also contains a ton of other performance improvements and small tweaks to built-in apps that should result in greater performance, and should be a solid update. There's a chance that Apple may not release El Capitan during its September event (we saw an October release for Yosemite, for example), but it's definitely something to watch out for.
The last of Apple's major OS updates, which was also announced at WWDC earlier this year, is watchOS 2 for the Apple Watch. The second version of the Apple Watch's OS is largely expected to get a full release after its September event, and brings a number of improvements that should make an already intriguing device even better.
watchOS 2 is finally opening up the Apple Watch's sensors to third-party apps, which could have some potentially cool uses such as using the built-in microphone to quickly take voice memos. Additionally, watchOS 2 will add support for native apps - those that run completely on the watch itself - so you should start to see quicker launches and generally improved performance.
Another feature on board is the ability to connect to Wi-Fi networks without the aid of a connected iPhone, which will allow you to keep receiving important notifications even if you leave your phone behind. Additionally, you'll now be able to reply to emails right from the watch, which could come in handy if you trust the Apple Watch's dictation features.