Updated 12/09/19: Apple’s done with events for 2019, and we probably won’t see another major event until the spring of 2020. We’ve updated this article with a speculative look at the events for next year.
Apple doesn’t often participate in big industry-wide events like CES or E3. The most valuable company in the world holds its own events, thank you very much. Several times a year, Apple invites the press and industry professionals out to a theater to hear all about its latest products and services. Apple calls these “Special Events,” and streams them online to its millions of fans.
There’s also WWDC, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, a multi-day event in the middle of the year focused on sessions for developers, helping them make the most out of the latest Apple tools and products. It kicks off with a big keynote that serves to announce new products (typically the latest versions of iOS and macOS, as well as a few hardware products).
Apple usually announces the exact dates of its special events only a couple weeks in advance, but it tends to hold events at similar times from one year to the next. Here’s a list of the events we expect Apple to hold in 2020, and what we expect it to announce there. We’ll update this list throughout the year as we get a clearer picture of when Apple will take the stage and what it will announce.
The first event of the year: March 2020
For the last decade, Apple’s earliest event of the year has been held in March. And while there isn’t a March event every year, the company has held one during four of the last five years (2017 was the exception).
March events can bring us almost anything. Past March events have included such various products as a second look at the original Apple Watch just before its release, new MacBooks, the iPhone SE, new iPads and iPad Pros, and even the introduction of services like Apple Card, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+.
March events don’t follow any particular monthly timing, either. Apple has held them as early as March 2, as late as March 27, and several dates in-between.
Apple has so many products and services these days that a March event seems likely, simply because the company needs more event time to cover everything it does in a year. But we won’t have a clear picture of what or when until the rumor mill starts to heat up during the start of 2020.
There are rumors of an iPhone SE 2 coming next year—the first iPhone SE was revealed in March of 2016.
We’re still waiting on Apple’s Tile-like item trackers, reportedly to be called “Apple Tags.” That was expected to happen this year, so perhaps a March 2020 event will be the right place for Apple to introduce them.
WWDC: June 2020
Apple’s week-long developer event is always held in June, and always kicks off with a big presentation in which it announces the new macOS, tvOS, iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS upgrades for the fall. It is usually held in the first or second full week of June, which in 2020 would place it on either June 1-5 or 8-12.
We expect to hear about iOS and iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, watchOS 7, and macOS 10.16.
WWDC events often (but not always) introduce new hardware, too. We first heard about the new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR at WWDC in 2019, and the HomePod and iMac Pro were introduced at WWDC in 2017, for example.
One rumor says that Apple will release a new iPad in 2020 with a 3D-mapping “time of flight” sensor on the rear camera, to produce better camera effect and especially to make augmented reality better. WWDC might be a good place to release such a device (if it’s ready), as it would be the preferred development platform for major upgrades to ARKit, which would be part of the new iOS and iPadOS.
iPhone event: September 8 or 9
For the last eight years, Apple has unveiled the new iPhones during an event held around the second week of September (typically on a Tuesday or Wednesday). The most likely date for the 2020 iPhone event is on September 8 or 9.
There are currently lots of rumors swirling around about the 2020 iPhones, some of them contradictory. It’s expected that at least some of the models will feature 5G connectivity, upgraded cameras with “time of flight” sensors, and that once again the high-end models will have OLED displays while the less expensive model has an LCD. We can certainly expect the new iPhones to have a new A14 processor.
Apple also announced the new Apple Watch at each September event, and we have no reason to believe there won’t be an Apple Watch Series 6 this year.
An October event?
Apple sometimes holds an event in October, and sometimes does not. These events showcase all sorts of products—some years it’s a new MacBook, some years it’s a new iPad.
There was no October event in 2019—instead, Apple released products like the AirPods Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro directly online with no public event. We may have a better idea of whether Apple will hold an October event or not as the year progresses.
Awards and honors
Apple has given out app awards for years, but 2019 was the first time there was an actual ceremony for such. The Best of 2019 app awards were held at small event in New York, with mostly the nominated developers and some press in attendance. It was not streamed online.
Also for the first time in 2019, Apple held an awards ceremony for Apple Music. There was a live-streamed performance by Artist of the Year Billie Elish as part of it, the event as a whole was kept mostly to the music industry.
At WWDC, Apple presents its Apple Design Awards. Awards are presented to developers for outstanding artistry, technical achievement, user interface and application design.
Now that Apple has set a precedent with such events, it seems likely to continue in 2020. The only question is whether they will continue to be mostly subdued, industry-specific events or whether it will seek a larger audience.