What we’re watching for at Apple’s Oct. 16 event

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Update: This story was updated Wednesday afternoon with information about Apple's new iPads, which were confirmed in iTunes screenshots the company posted.

Apple just released new phones, a new version of iOS, and teased its new watch and payment system, but the company isn’t done yet. Apple has a few more surprises in store at a media event on Thursday in Cupertino.

Well, at least we hope there will be a few surprises. A steady stream of leaks indicate that we’ll see new iPads—as is expected from Apple at this time of year—as well as a new Mac, but maybe Apple’s teasing invitation tagline (“it’s been way too long”) was a knowing joke about its slate of new releases.

Either way, here’s what we think we know so far:

iPad Air

The iPad Air 2 will reportedly have Touch ID and 2GB of RAM.

New iPads

An Apple slip-up on Wednesday revealed that iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, both with Touch ID, are on deck for Thursday's event, but the iTunes screenshots first noticed by 9to5Mac didn't have information on pricing or internal specs. Adding Touch ID to both tablets makes sense, given that iOS 8 allows third-party developers to make use of the fingerprint sensor in their apps. Apple Pay also uses Touch ID to authenticate purchases, and while we’re not sure the iPad will come equipped with NFC technology for in-store buying, Apple Pay also works behind-the-scenes in partner apps like Seamless. You might be able to use your iPad to pay for food delivery by simply scanning your finger. Touch ID could also have use cases for small-business owners who use iPads to accept payments.

Appearances aside, reports indicate that Apple is beefing up the iPad’s internals to make it a true productivity machine. Power users have clamored for Apple to add more RAM, and supply chain photos of an A8X chip published by 9to5Mac show a hearty (for the iPad) 2GB of RAM. That’s double the existing iPad’s memory and would allow for split-screen multi-tasking, a possibility that 9to5Mac reported earlier this year.

Retina iMac

iMacs are getting cheaper and slimmer, but this year they might get Retina: After new iPads, a 27-inch, ultra-HD machine is expected to headline Apple’s event on Thursday. Reports are mixed as to whether a smaller Retina iMac is also on deck, but if you’ve been waiting to upgrade your desktop, this may be the year. 4K content is all the rage these days, and it’ll look pretty fantastic on a 5120x2880 display.

What we won’t see: A Retina MacBook Air. I know, I know, every Apple device needs that beautiful, high-res display, but Re/code says it’s not in the cards this year, and I trust them.

yosemite beta entry image 3

OS X Yosemite is expected to launch soon, so we can finally use Handoff and Continuity with iOS 8 devices.

Yosemite’s launch

If history has taught us anything, it’s that Apple likes to stick to a schedule. That means OS X Yosemite is likely to drop on Oct. 16 or shortly thereafter. Gold master candidates have been released. Public beta after public beta has been combed through for bugs. iOS 8 is out and iPhones and iPads are ready to take advantage of Continuity and Handoff. It’s been awhile since Yosemite has had time to shine, so we’re expecting Oct. 16 to be its day in the sun.

A few more things

Apple’s event invitations included a nod to its six-color logo of yesteryear, with the teasing tagline: “It’s been way too long.” Naturally, we made a list of products that are in desperate need of updating, and settled on the Apple TV as the likeliest candidate for a refresh. My colleague Chris Breen thinks a new Apple TV with HomeKit integration will have huge implications for both home automation and streaming TV. A world without bloated cable subscriptions? Talk about disruptive. Plus, the Apple TV hasn’t seen a major update since 2010—and no, we don’t count that 2012 model as major.

It’s possible that the Mac mini will see an update after two years without one.

Apple Pay is expected to launch this week, so Apple might highlight the new payment system—and maybe a few of its partners will take the stage so we can see it in action.

Macworld will be on the scene at Town Hall on Thursday as the event unfolds, so join us at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern for full coverage during and after Apple’s big announcements.

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