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Apple’s iPhone event: 5 things to watch for


SAN FRANCISCO — Apple is hosting its annual splash on Wednesday to unveil a new version of its most important product, the iPhone. The company has also used the occasion to update customers, analysts and investors on its performance and other products — and this year will probably be no different.

Here are some of the main things to watch for when the event starts at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium at 1p.m. ET Wednesday.

iPhone Upgrades

Apple last year introduced its most significant iPhone redesign since the device’s 2007 debut, with two big-screen models and a revamped version of the iOS mobile software. This year’s changes are far less significant. The body design will be similar to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with an upgraded camera and speedier processor. The device will probably include a feature called Force Touch, which first debuted with the Apple Watch and lets the user pull up features by pressing down harder on the screen. The iPhone may also get a new rose-gold colour option added to the lineup of white, grey and gold. Analysts have predicted limited growth for the new models because last year’s record sales make for a tough comparison.

Apps for Apple TV

Apple has sought for years to convince media companies to strike deals for Apple TV to carry live programming outside traditional cable and satellite packages. Absent those deals, Apple is using the strategy that helped make the iPhone and iPad a success — it’s opening up its TV set-top box to outside apps. Developers will for the first time be able to build games, videos and other content for a new version of Apple TV. The device’s remote control is also expected to get an upgrade, with a touch pad and motion sensors so it can double as a video-game controller, TechCrunch reported. And with Buzzfeed reporting the new product will cost $ 150 —more than rival devices from Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc. and Roku Inc. — quality apps will be needed to help win over customers.

Bigger iPad

A larger-screen iPad is expected to debut that further blurs the line between a tablet and laptop. Apple hinted at the bigger model earlier this year when it previewed a new iOS feature that lets users display two applications on an iPad’s screen at the same time. The tablet’s sales have been declining and Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook has targeted business customers as an area for growth. A new iPad mini is also expected to be unveiled, 9to5Mac reported.

Blocking Online Ads

Apple’s new iOS 9 operating system for the iPhone and iPad will also let people download software that blocks online ads from being shown on websites. The ad-blocking capability is controversial because it undercuts the advertising-based business models of much of the Internet at a time when more people are browsing the Web through mobile devices. A recent report by Adobe Systems Inc. and PageFair Ltd., a Dublin-based startup that helps companies respond to ad-blocking, estimates that ad-blocking tools will wipe out $ 22 billion (U.S.) in online advertising revenue this year. AdBlock Plus, one of the most popular ad-blocking services, says it will have software available for the iPhone and iPad soon after Apple releases iOS 9.

Investor Reaction

Apple shares are down about 16 per cent since it last reported earnings in July, because of concerns that iPhone sales are slowing, especially in China. Even though the stock typically has a muted response at product events, investors will be watching closely for clues about the company’s long-term outlook. The winners and losers among the manufacturers who make the components that go inside Apple’s products may also see swings to their share prices.

TORONTO STAR | BUSINESS | PERSONAL_FINANCE

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