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4 Things to Watch for From Apple

Rumors are always cheap and frequently easily forgotten in hoopla following big Apple tech announcements, but behind all the speculation, there are four key areas that TV executives should be thinking about as Apple unveils some new gadgets on September 9th.

1. Apple TV.

Almost everyone seems sure that Apple will finally upgrade its Apple TV box for the first time in three years. (But then many writers were certain it would happen at the March event earlier this year and at many of the events held in 2014.)

Conventional wisdom also holds that the launch of an Apple over-the-top video service—something the Wall Street Journal and other outlets have been regularly predicting since 2008—will, however, be delayed until 2016.

Even so, upgrades to the hardware are important. Live TV and connected TVs have become much more central part of everyone’s app and digital strategy and any improvement to a popular streaming device like Apple TV is big news.

Much of the betting seems to be that the hardware upgrades will be focused on adding new gaming features and on whether those improvements could bump prices up above $100 to as much as $149, a big jump from the current $99 price.

If so, the gaming features could open up new opportunities for casual games by TV nets, particularly kid specialists, but the price tag might be hard for consumers to swallow, given the widespread availability of streaming players for under $50 from Roku, Google and Amazon.

Improvements to processing power will also be worth watching. And any improvements in the user interface may provide clues as to what Apple hopes to accomplish if it does finally launch its own OTT service.

Here, many believe that Siri and greatly improved voice capabilities will play a big role with improved search, a tactic already being used by cable operators like Comcast in some of their remotes.

2. Smartphone Fatigue.

It is a sure bet that Apple will be announcing new high-end phones, likely the Apple 6S and 6S Plus, in the run-up to the holiday shopping season.

While smartphones are everywhere and hugely important to any content strategy, sales have been leveling off and there are fewer and fewer things that really distinguish high end devices. CNET has aptly described this development as “smartphone boredom.”

So the big question will be whether Apple can once again come up with something that will really wow consumers.

That won’t be easy but for working journalists, it may succeed in launching a very impressive newsgathering tool. MacRumors.com is predicting that the new phones will come with an improved camera that can do 4K recording.

Another widely tipped feature is the Force Touch, which is already available on the Apple Watch. It measures how hard a person is touching the screen, which in turn would open up new doors for app developers.

Read #3 (Bigger Is Better: The iPad Pro?) and #4 (HEVC to the Rescue?) at broadcastingcable.com.