What to Expect from Apple's March 25 Event

It's that time again. For the last few years, Apple has hosted its first announcement of the year in March, and this year looks to be no exception. The official date, March 25, already has plenty of rumors flying around the blogosphere. From new Apple streaming services to AirPods and AirPower, we've got all the current rumors right here and ready for your perusal. So pull up a chair, grab your hot beverage of choice, and read on to learn all about what to expect from the upcoming March 25 announcement.

Related: Rumored Apple AirPods 2019 Release Date, Plus StudioPods & AirPower Rumors

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

Services

The big buzz for this year's March event is that the announcement will be services oriented as opposed to focusing on hardware. The blogosphere is on fire with posts about streaming services, the names of the stars and studios attached to exclusive Apple Studios content, and bidding wars for news outlets and other publications trying to get the best possible deal from Apple in advance of the big announcement. While we'd all love new AirPods or an iPad mini, the rumors with the most substance point to the announcement of streaming services for both TV and news publications. We've got all the dirt on what those services might include as well as when to expect those updates to be released. 

Apple TV

Here's what we know for sure; Apple has invited stars and film executives to its March 25 shindig, including JJ Abrams, Jennifer Garner, and Reese Witherspoon. These same celebrities are already signed on and in the process of developing exclusive content for Apple, and they aren't alone in joining Apple Studios. Abrams and Garner have been hard at work on the bio-drama My Glory Was I Had Such Friends. Witherspoon is confirmed alongside Jennifer Anniston as the executive producers of a revival of Spielberg's sci-fi anthology Amazing Stories. And we've recently learned that Brie Larson of Captain Marvel fame is on board to produce and star in another bio-drama, Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA. With all these stars in attendance, the folks over at Forbes surmised that the upcoming event will be held close to Hollywood at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California. With the date and location confirmed by Apple we are left to wonder what exactly Tim is going to announce. 

Bloomberg first reported the rumor that Apple will be unveiling its own streaming service for both original and acquired video content, similar to Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu. Like other streaming services, Apple has also been trying to secure premium networks such as Starz and HBO to feature as add-ons to a basic package that will include original Apple Studios programming. Unlike other streaming services, Apple aims to create a catalog to host competitors like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu as individual channels that would be accessible from a single app. CNBC reports that Apple is trying to convince those competitors to drop their third-party apps in favor of universal support. The kicker is that Apple is asking its competitors for  30 percent cut of the revenue. That's a steep increase from Apple's current 15 percent cut on subscriptions made via the app store. 

So far, it seems that Apple hasn't had much luck making deals with either its video streaming competitors or any major networks. Apple is coming to the online content game pretty late, and most of the big networks already have existing deals, meaning that Apple is not in a position to set its own prices in negotiations. However, Apple has invested $2 billion in original content up front, including movies, reality shows, dramas, sci-fi, and fantasy. Over time, if these efforts prove profitable, Apple might be able to convince big name distributors to sign on for a one-stop catalog. For now, it seems likely that Apple will be releasing a basic package of exclusive content in late March or early April with the possibility of an expanded catalog in the future.

Apple News

Similarly, Apple is moving to expand Apple News into a one-stop catalog for all your favorite periodicals. Unfortunately, Apple is having as much trouble signing on publishers as it's had in their dealings with major TV networks. According to the original report from The Wall Street Journal, sources close to the publication revealed that Apple is offering only half of any proceeds to potential publishers, an offer far below industry standard that is being snubbed by publishers who already have their own third-party apps. 

Beyond the issue of publishers offering their own third-party apps, Apple would once again be competing with existing streaming services. Zinio, currently available on the app store, already provides a one-stop shop for around 6,000 publications. Apple has tried this particular in-road already in 2011 with Apple Newsstand. Newsstand was designed as a digital magazine rack to host all your favorite magazine subscriptions. By 2015, Newsstand had folded and was replaced by the current Apple News, a simple RSS feed similar to other free services like Google's RSS Feed Reader. Likely, this failure to launch was due to overall declining sales in print subscriptions as well as publications creating their own third-party apps that provide a cleaner and interactive reading experience.

As of right now, it's unclear what Apple plans to reveal in terms of the anticipated news-related service. Most likely, the March 25 event will unveil a new platform with a minimal offering of publications that won't be ready for users until later this summer. If this is the case then hopefully Apple will continue negotiations throughout the intervening months to secure larger outlets like The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. For now, Tim Cook will probably be unvieling what the service will become as opposed to an app ready for immediate release.​

One More Thing

As we all know, Tim has carried on Steve's tradition of saving just One More Thing for the big finale of Apple announcements. While the numerous reports regarding streaming services all but confirm those services as the event's highlight, there's quite a bit of speculation as to what might be the One More Thing. Whether Apple gives us a hardware update for the iPad mini or expands Apple Pay's capabilities in the spring, all of the following rumors appear slated for some time in 2019. 

Apple Wallet

If you're looking to build your credit, access exclusive savings on Apple gear, set spending goals, and track your buying habits, then keep an eye out for upcoming changes to your Apple Wallet. According to The Wall Street Journal, via 9to5Mac, Apple is going to partner with Goldman Sachs to provide a credit card that's already being tested by employees and integrated into the iOS 12.2 beta.

Apple's new credit card won't get you the usual perks like points for big year-end vacations, but it will benefit from a seamless integration with the existing Apple ecosystem. Will the new card be worth the unspecified subscription fees? That depends on Apple's ability to rival apps like Clarity. Unfortunately for Apple, apps like Clarity alread track your spending and manages your subscription services from a single hub.  According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple executives close to the project say designers are taking their cues from Apple's fitness-tracking app. If that's true then we can expect interactive goal tracking, achievement badges, and habit notifications from the new Apple Wallet's credit card integration.

Some of these tracking capabilities will probably be available to users who don't sign up for the exclusive credit card. Given how strongly Apple is leaning in the direction of subscription-based revenue, we expect the incentive to sign up for a proprietary Apple credit card will be high. No information regarding required credit scores, the availability of secured credit accounts, or credit limits has been released as of yet, but perhaps we'll get more details at the March 25 announcement.​​

AirPods 2

According to a translation by 9to5Mac, the French site Applesfera has released a somewhat questionable claim that the AirPods 2 will be released on March 29 following the March 25 announcement. The claim is based on a screenshot of Apple's March predictions for sales of in-stock products that shows the current AirPods reaching the end of their "life cycle." Assuming that "life cycle" means that a new device is imminent is a bit of a stretch. While we'd all like to believe that the AirPods will ascend to a higher form on March 29, we have to consider some other possible meanings behind the screenshot, and that brings us to the probable release of AirPower.​

AirPower

Apple has been promising that AirPower is just around the bend for almost a year now. With each announcement that passes without the release of AirPower, Apple fans grow more restless. The good news about AirPower's delayed release is that Apple doesn't like to unleash new features or hardware until all the bugs are worked out. A year removed from the first promise of AirPower, it's safe to assume that Apple has spent that time wisely and that the release of AirPower is imminent.

Of course, just because Apple wants to release AirPower, that still doesn't mean it's quite ready. It's important to keep in mind that Apple likes to give us a little something to hold us over until the next big feature or hardware upgrade is released. In this case, David Phelan over at Forbes thinks it's likely that we'll be getting a wireless charging case for our current generation AirPods.

If the thought of waiting longer for the AirPods 2 and AirPower is giving you angst, don't despair. The release of a wireless charging case could indicate a couple of positive trends; Apple is getting its hive-mind wrapped around universal wireless charging, and such an upgrade means Apple is working on the firmware for the current generation of AirPods. Often, upgrades in firmware allow developers to finalize that firmware in advance of the next generation of hardware.

All this is to say that even if Apple doesn't release the AirPod 2 or AirPower on March 25, we're still likely to see a change to the AirPods' firmware. And if we're given a change to the firmware, then that change will probably be in service of a wireless charging case.

iPad mini & iPod

Here's some even better news. App creator Steven Troughton-Smith uncovered some interesting code in the iOS 12.2 beta that corroborates rumors of an imminent iPad mini and iPad Touch release. The Verge dug into Steve's claims and confirmed the mention of four new iPad models as well as code referring to an iPod 9.1. This means we're almost definitely going to see a smaller hardware release long before WWDC, but the big question is whether or not those items are ready to be announced this month.

According to Bloomberg, if and when a new iPad mini is released, we can expect a faster processor. Those same sources report that the mini will retain the Lightning port, as opposed to the USB-C ports on the new iPad Pro. While we might be getting a decrease in the bezel and an increase in screen size, let's not hold our breath. After all, we're talking about the budget version of the iPad, but an improvement in the processor speed and graphic's quality is highly likely.

With Apple's declining hardware sales, the introduction of new budget items like a second generation iPad mini or a new iPod touch would be a very smart play. While the code discovered by Troughton-Smith is very promising, there's no guarantee the new hardware will be announced on March 25. We might be looking at a release in the fall, but Forbes speculates it's possible the budget devices will be announced via press release in advance of the March 25 event.

If we are going to see a new iPad mini and iPod this month, then it's possible we'll see those devices launched via press release in advance of the March 25 announcement. Forbes speculates that Apple won't want to detract from the unveiling of their streaming services and that the devices will be announced with little fanfare ahead of the event. So far, the idea that the announcement could occur through a press release is just speculation, but it's speculation that has been reported by both Forbes and 9to5Mac. The reason behind the rumor is that since the March 25 announcement is oriented towards service based improvements, Apple might not want to pull attention away from their star-studded gala. It's an outside chance, but just in case, a pre-announcement announcement is something to watch for in the coming days. 

What Does This All Mean

As of now, the March 25 event has been confirmed by Apple. The event's tagline, "It's show time," supports many of the rumors we've entertained here today. Tim Cook will be focusing on the original content being developed by Apple Studios and likely the subscription-based news service as well. And of course, we will all hold out hope that some sort of hardware announcement is forthcoming either at this event or in the near future. Either way, we'll be at our office to join the crowd for the announcement on March 25 and we'll be updating you on rumors as the date approaches. So keep this page bookmarked and be sure to check back in with us as we gear up for the big announcement.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.
Tamlin Day's picture

Tamlin Day is a feature web writer at iPhone Life. He has a degree in Media and Communications from Maharishi University of Management and his work has been published in the Rio Review and Breathe Free Press.