Apple’s ‘Field Trip’ event: 5 things we might see (and 5 things we probably won’t)

Apple’s semi-annual March event is back. Even though we got a
flurry of announcements last March—a new
9.7-inch iPad
, a
(Product) Red iPhone
, new
Watch bands
, and the
Clips app
—Apple didn’t feel the need to hold an event. So
when we got our
invitation
, we were pleasantly surprised.

Instead of being held at Apple Park’s Steve Jobs Theater or another location near
Cupertino, Apple is gathering media at a high school in
Chicago. This marks the first time Apple has strayed from
California since its last education-focused event, which was
held in
New York City in January 2012
. If you don’t remember, that
event brought
iBooks 2, iBook Author, and iTunes U
.

So what can we expect from this year’s “Field Trip”? Let’s take
a look.

What’s probably coming

An updated 9.7-inch iPad

ipad 2017 hand Apple

If there’s one thing we absolutely expect to see at the March
27 event it’s a new 9.7-inch iPad.
Released last year
with a new display and a killer price
tag of $329, the new iPad was
an immediate hit
, propelling sales of Apple’s tablet and
reinvigorating people’s interest in the device.

Among the changes we could see this year is a lower price, a
faster chip, and Apple Pencil support, especially if Apple is
going to be positioning the tablet as a classroom device.

Apple Pencil 2

ipad pro apple pencil IDG

If you take a look at the invitation, you’ll notice that it was
written entirely using Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro. That’s
likely a pretty big clue that a new Apple Pencil is on the way.

Rumor has it that it will include magnets for attaching to the
side of the iPad, but we’re also betting on a cheaper model
that Apple will expand capability to the 9.7-inch non-Pro iPad
too, as well as some uses the go beyond drawing. After all, the
event will be held at a school, so there will definitely be
some education-related announcements. Maybe a an Apple Pencil
that actually looks like a No. 2 pencil?

A cheaper MacBook Air

13in macbook air 03 IDG

It was only a few weeks ago when we first heard a rumor that
Apple was working on a
cheaper MacBook Air
, and this event would be an ideal place
to show it off. A $799 or $899 MacBook would be targeted
directly at students, so why not unveil it at an education
event?

A cheaper MacBook Air would be a perfect competitor to
Chromebooks, especially if Apple offered significant bulk
discounts for schools. Once upon a time Apple sold an eMac
exclusively for teachers and students, so it’s not
inconceivable that it does something similar with the MacBook
Air.

iPhone X in gold or rose gold

iphone x rose gold leak
Ben Geskin

When iPhone X launched, Apple launched it in black and white
presumably to ensure production went as smoothly as possible.
Now that demand has leveled off, we wouldn’t be surprised to
see a new color join the fray. And right on cue, Apple leaker
Ben Geskin tweeted out a supposed picture of a new iPhone X in
rose gold. Coincidence?

Apple Books

ibooks Apple

Apple has changed the name of iBooks to Apple Books in the
upcoming iOS 11.3 update. Whether that change is merely
cosmetic or ties into Apple’s school-related announcement
remains to be seen, but it’s certainly possible that Apple
launches a new textbook initiative on Tuesday.

What’s probably not coming

iPhone SE 2

iphone se Adam Patrick Murray


iPhone SE
made its debut at a spring event two years ago,
but Apple doesn’t seem to be in any rush to update it. Aside
from a capacity bump last March, Apple has all but ignored its
littlest iPhone, and there isn’t much to suggest a new one is
coming anytime soon, apart from a few sketchy rumors and spy
shots.

At any rate, an education event in Chicago doesn’t seem like
the right venue for a phone that’s targeted at developing
countries.

New modular Mac Pro

Mac Pro

Apple promised last year that it would be releasing a new

modular Mac Pro
to replace its ill-conceived cylindrical
one at some point. Presumably that means this year, but it’s
doubtful Apple uses its spring event to show it to us. A better
bet is the WWDC keynote, where it showed off the
iMac Pro
last year and offered up a sneak peek at the
original Mac Pro back in 2013.

HomePod Mini

homepod beauty shot 01
Dan Masaoka/IDG

HomePod
hit shelves
in February and there are already rumors about
a follow-up model. While a smaller (and cheaper) HomePod is
almost certainly in the works, it’s likely a long way off. If
we hear anything about a new model this year, we wouldn’t
expect it until the iPhone even in September.

iPad mini 5

ipad mini 4 shot Roman Loyola/IDG

Wait, Apple still sells the iPad mini? The current iPad mini 4
hasn’t been updated since September 2015, but it’s still
available on Apple.com. But for how long is the question.

Back when our phones were still 4 inches, the iPad mini made
sense, but with rumors of a 6.5-inch iPhone landing this fall,
the 7.9-inch iPad mini is getting squeezed out. So we’re not
holding our breath for an update.

Apple video service

carpool karaoke ipad Apple

Apple has been building out its catalogue of TV shows for over
a year, and we fully expect the new video service to make its
debut before the end of the year. But it’s probably not going
to happen at this event. WWDC is a better bet, but Apple might
even bring back the fall audio/video event to mark the
occasion.

Other possible announcements

AirPower

Apple wireless charging AirPower
Apple

We already know
AirPower
is coming but we don’t know when or how much it
will cost. So there’s a good chance that we’ll get a release
date and ordering information, if not at the event then on
Apple’s website shortly thereafter.

iOS 11.3

ios 11.3 health messages
Apple

Apple has been beta testing
iOS 11.3
since January, but it’s more likely to see a
release sometime around the Worldwide Developers Conference in
June. Among the features it will bring are: new Animoji for
iPhone X, ARKit 1.5, Business Chat for iMessage, and HomeKit
software authentication.

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