iPhone 9, new iPad Pro, AirTags and other hardware exposed in iOS 14 leak

Chris Davies - Mar 10, 2020, 9:38am CDT
iPhone 9, new iPad Pro, AirTags and other hardware exposed in iOS 14 leak

A glut of new Apple hardware and features have been revealed by leaked iOS 14 code, including details on the so-called iPhone 9, an update to the iPad Pro, and other devices the company looks set to announce in 2020. It’s unclear at this stage when Apple might be unveiling its new hardware, and at what venue: a rumored event at the end of March looks increasingly unlikely given the coronavirus situation.

Similarly, there’s no guarantee that health authorities will have got a grasp on the spread of coronavirus by the time WWDC 2020 is due to take place. That may well be turned into an online-only conference, much as we’ve seen Microsoft, Facebook, and others do with their own events.

Unfortunately for Apple, while COVID-19 may scupper its launches, the leaks of new features and hardware keep on coming. Latest is courtesy of 9to5Mac, which has been digging through an early leak of iOS 14. That’s not expected to actually be released until late in 2020.

The iPhone 9 will coax out some new upgrades

Arguably the most hotly-anticipated phone in some time for Apple, the iPhone 9 – also known as the iPhone SE 2, since we’re yet to see confirmed branding for the handset – may not be a powerhouse but it should be a lot more attainable. Expected to inherit the same role as the iPhone SE, it should slot into Apple’s range as a smaller, more affordable device.

It’s already leaked that it should resemble the iPhone 8 for the most part, Apple using a familiar design to presumably cut down on new tooling costs. Like the iPhone SE before it, though, that design will be packed with more up-to-date hardware. One of the goals this time around, it’s suggested, is to encourage those still using devices as old as the iPhone 6 to finally get around to upgrading.

As a result, there’ll be both Touch ID and Express Transit capabilities on the iPhone 9. That, it’s suggested, will be a big lure for those with older models, who can’t save their transit passes into the Apple Pay wallet. We shouldn’t have to actually wait for iOS 14 to drop for Apple to reveal the phone, though: it’s predicted to be unveiled in spring 2020, most likely with iOS 13.4, and an upgrade to iOS 14 later in the year.

New iPad Pro focuses on AR

Apple’s intention to use the iPad Pro as an augmented reality platform has been widely discussed, and the hardware that allows the upcoming tablet to do that is gradually taking shape. According to the iOS 14 code, the rumored triple camera array is, indeed, in place. That will also add a time-of-flight sensor.

It’ll be a big step up from the photography functionality on the current iPad Pro. According to the leaks, there’ll be a regular wide-angle lens, together with an ultra-wide lens and a telephoto lens, as on the iPhone 11 Pro. To that, Apple will integrate a ToF sensor that can be used for more accurately measuring things like depth, which has applications both in augmented reality and in boosting autofocus.

Apple TV is getting a new remote

It’s fair to say that the current Apple TV Siri remote control isn’t exactly the most beloved of peripherals. Criticized variously for its lack of buttons and the fact that it’s tricky to figure out by touch alone which way around you’re holding it, there’s been no shortage of requests for an updated design. Now, according to the iOS 14 code, there’s some news on that front.

Exactly what the new remote will look like is unclear, but the leak does indicate that Apple has a new version. It’ll work with a new Apple TV, it’s expected, which has previously been leaked. With iOS 14, there’ll be new functionality to expand the set-top box away from its current focus on streaming.

For example, there’s a new workouts app tipped, which would put exercises and training sessions on your TV. That would act as a virtual coach, it’s suggested. Integration with Apple Music would allow for curated playlists, while synchronization with Apple Watch would log the workout data into each user’s Health app records.

Apple AirTags are slowly being discovered

One of the more intriguing new Apple hardware launches for 2020 is actually one of the smallest, too. AirTags are widely believed to be the Cupertino firm’s entrance into the tracking space, standalone tags that can be attached to bags, bikes, and other items, and then tracked using an iPhone.

According to the iOS 14 leak, the AirTags will have replaceable batteries, which is something many tracker-buyers insist upon. That does often come with the downside of the tags being bulkier than sealed trackers with non-replaceable batteries, mind, and it can interfere with waterproofing too. Tile’s latest tracker range, for example, includes versions with both replaceable and sealed batteries, to satisfy both sides of that.

AirTags will apparently support setting up in bulk, and the tags will be able to play a sound to aid in finding them. Or, you’ll apparently be able to use augmented reality to track them down, presumably seeing a virtual graphic of the AirTag’s location overlaid onto a scene of the room seen through the iPhone’s camera.

Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple over-the-ear headphones

These aren’t the first tidbits we’ve heard about courtesy of the leaked iOS 14 code. Apple’s upcoming over-the-ear headphones – another product long rumored – have also been name checked, seemingly suggesting that the time is almost here for AirPods and AirPods Pro to get some more traditionally-shaped cordless company.

The Apple Watch Series 6, meanwhile, is also expected to bring some big new features. Sleep tracking is one long-anticipated upgrade, though it’s unclear whether existing Apple Watch owners will be able to unlock that functionality with a watchOS update later in 2020. We’re also expecting to see blood oxygen detection, adding to the wearable’s health credentials.


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