The Internets are a-swirling this morning with speculation and rumor, all thanks to news that Apple called a keynote presentation for the week of September 7. "What's it for?" everyone's wondering. Here's what we think.
New iPods With Cameras (Likelihood: 99%)
This is pretty much a certainty, given Apple's previous iPod refresh timeline. There's also boatload of rumors and leaks out there supporting the idea that the Nano and Touch will get integrated digital camera units, and it represents a neat new direction for Apple's iconic MP3 players.
What's not so clear is what's going to happen with the iPod Classic—it's the oldest member of the family, and it may be time for it to shuffle off to a retirement home, slippers and Poligrip in hand. Though advancing harddrive tech has let Apple push up the storage capacity over the years, the biggest iPod, with its single function design, is beginning to look jaded compared to the young and zippy Touch, the iPhone, and even the Nano. There's also no news about this device getting a camera. Will we see the disappearance of the traditional iPod?
Steve Jobs Rollerblading Onstage Juggling Fresh Apples, Dressed in a Tutu and Spandex Suit (Likelihood: 90%)
Okay, we lied about the spandex...or maybe it's just a fantasy. But many of the 'Net's smartest commenters think this is the time we'll see our favorite Steve return to the helm of Apple media events. It's been long enough since his surgery, he's been back at Apple's office since the end of June, and a keynote address is exactly the right venue for his triumphant return. Picture the scene—Coldplay rocking gently out of the sound system in the auditorium as it fills with tech pundits, the glowing Apple backdrop onstage as shiny as ever...and the lights dim, and out rollerblades Steve. And the crowd goes wild.
What better way to kick off an event that'll see some neat new Apple innovations?
Apple Mixes Cocktails For Everyone (Likelihood: 85%)
This too is pretty much a certainty, given several leaked bits of info that's popped up—though it may not end up being branded as cocktail, which sounds more of a development codename to us. It's an attempt to rejuvenate the concept of the music album for the MP3 age, giving it a swanky digital wrapper and bundling in artwork, video clips, and other goodies that'll get all the hip kids excited about a collection of 14 songs from an artist. Or something like that anyway. However it finally emerges, you can bet it'll have a high degree of Apple polish, and will look swankier than CoverFlow in iTunes.
It'll likely be wedded to a totally new iTunes version, in any case—iTunes 9. There's some speculation about this on the Web too, with the hint that Apple's baking in some social networking goodness—as it's the craze at the moment.
Apple Rolls Out iPhone 4.0 Firmware (Likelihood: 75%)
We're exaggerating again—we don't expect to see Apple's next-gen iPhone update with built-in kitchen sink and tool for removing stones from horse's hooves until next year. But there's a deal of speculation that Apple will announce the 3.1 firmware at the event. It's an incremental adjustment to the code, bringing security repairs and minor tweaks and problem-fixes. Word is that you'll also get voice control powers over Bluetooth, third-party apps will get API hooks for video editing and there's a bit of haptic feedback arriving too: The phone will now vibrate when you move apps on its desktop.
But much more interesting is the idea that 3.1 will properly enable all the API connections for Augmented Reality apps on the phone. This means you'll get to play with loads of navigation, gaming, and location-based service apps—it could be the next big innovation the iPhone popularizes, and may even turn into the killer app for the device.
Apple Announces Sponsorship Deal to Save NASA's Moon Program, Giant Logo on Lunar Surface—Suck on that Microsoft! (Likelihood 0.1%)
...But we can dream can't we? At least this rumor is more unlikely than the next one:
Apple's Tablet PC Meets and Greets its Public (Likelihood 50%)
Assuming A) it really exists, and B) it's ready to show to the public and isn't just an ugly pile of development electronics, the September keynote would be a fabulous place for the tablet to debut in Steve's hands, beneath his big grin and a whole bunch of "Boom!"s. It would totally steal the thunder from Microsoft, whose revamped and (actually pretty neat sounding) Zune HD is due out the next week.
We're not convinced Apple will announce the tablet being ready for public consumption—there's a whole separate debate about that going on around the 'Net—but a show and tell, to stir up the excitement would certainly be believable.
So there you have it. Which do you believe? None of us have long to find out—only around 25 days in fact. And you can bet there'll be a couple more juicy information leaks before then.