What to expect from Apple’s ‘show time’ event on March 25

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Apple Show time event
Apple is expected to launch a number of new services this spring.
Photo: Apple

The first Apple event of 2019 is nearly here. Tim Cook and friends are set to take the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater on March 25 to unveil the company’s newest goodies, only instead of unveiling some shiny new gadgets you can buy, Apple is supposedly going to bust out some services you can subscribe to.

The Apple rumor mill has been working in overdrive leading up the event, so we have a pretty solid idea of what we’ll see.

If you hate Apple keynote spoilers, stop reading now.

Expect Apple services

Apple’s “It’s show time” event is expected to be the first one ever where services and software play the starring roles. In fact, if we do get new Apple hardware, it might not garner any time onstage at all.

You can expect our first real look at these new Apple services:

Apple video streaming service

Apple TV
Apple is working on a ton of original TV shows.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s upcoming streaming video service likely will headline the show. Apple has been not-so-quietly readying its push into original video content for nearly two years. Now we’re finally going to get a glimpse of what it’s got.

Instead of trying to be just like Netflix, Apple’s new TV service is expected to pull in content from other sources like Hulu, Showtime and HBO. If you’re subscribed to one or more of those channels, you’ll be able to see all the content available to you in one area. According to early rumors, Starz is on board along with Viacom and CBS. Apple is supposedly rushing to sign up Showtime and HBO for the service, but it remains unclear if they will participate.

As for Apple’s own TV shows, don’t expect them to be available at launch. The company allegedly will show a few previews at the event, giving us our first glimpse of the TV series it’s been working on. Some of the shows likely will come out later in the year, but Apple has so many projects in the works that most won’t come out until later.

Apple News subscription service

Apple News is getting some big upgrades
Apple News is getting some big upgrades.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Rumors that Cupertino plans to launch the Apple Music of news and magazines have been floating around for a year. On March 25, we’ll finally get to see if Apple’s subscription news service lives up to the hype.

Details about what, exactly, the service will look like remain a bit murky. Rumors indicate it will cost about $9.99 per month, giving readers access to unlimited articles from sites that usually put their content behind a paywall. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and other publishers have all been approached to join the service. Some of those companies reportedly chafed at Apple’s proposed 50/50 revenue split, so we might not see all of them on board at launch.

The other element of the service is magazine subscriptions. Apple bought Texture, a service that gives users unlimited access to magazines for $10 per month, last year. We don’t really know if Apple plans to charge an extra monthly fee for magazines or bundle that long-form content inside the Apple News subscription offering. The company might even choose to let you pay for individual magazine subscriptions.

Probably no new Apple hardware

Hardware is expected to take a backseat to services at Apple’s keynote. In fact, Tim Cook and his lieutenants might not even mention new hardware at the event. They potentially could just put out some press releases about minor hardware updates after the big show.

Nevertheless, new Apple hardware reportedly will land soon, including:

10.2-inch iPad

Get ready for more iPads
Get ready for more iPads.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s cheapest iPad is supposedly set to get updated with some minor improvements. The display reportedly will measure slightly larger than the current 9.7-inch version but the design should look pretty similar. Sources predict the new iPad will retain the Home button with Touch ID. The headphone jack might stick around, too. Most of the upgrades would be internal, with a new processor and maybe a bit more RAM.

iPad mini 5

The new iPad mini won't look much different
The new iPad mini won’t look much different.
Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

We wrote off the iPad mini as dead last year. However, it looks like Apple’s tiny tablet might make a small comeback. Like the 10.2-inch iPad, the changes on the iPad mini 5 aren’t expected to be significant. If the rumors come true, the new device will look pretty much exactly like the old iPad mini. Apple probably will update the inside with a newer A-series processor, faster Wi-Fi, maybe a better camera and even Apple Pencil support. Other than that, don’t get your hopes up for anything amazing.

Updated AirPods

AirPods could soon do more than just play music.
AirPods could soon do more than just play music.
Photo: Apple Apple

Remember when Apple said it was going to make a wireless charging case for the AirPods? It sounds like we’re finally going to get it — and maybe even an AirPower charging mat to go with it. AirPower has been fraught with problems ever since Apple announced it back in September of 2017, so it might not ever come out. Many Apple fans hope to see AirPods 2.0 at the event. However, those probably won’t land until later this year.

Also in the pipeline…

Apple’s never had an event focused only on services, so it will be interesting to see if there’s “one more thing” to surprise fans. There are a couple of other services the company is rumored to be working on, but they might not be ready in time for the March 25 event.

Apple credit card: Apple is supposedly working with Goldman Sachs to release a credit card. It will apparently take the place of the company’s current Rewards Visa. The card will be offered under the Apple Pay brand. Goldman Sachs will allegedly replace Barclays as Apple’s partner for credit cards.

Apple gaming subscription service: Apple allegedly wants to tap into the booming gaming industry to boost its growing Services business. The company wants to create a new subscription service for games and is talking to developers about becoming a publisher for iOS games too. The subscription service would be like a Netflix-for-games. Users would pay a monthly fee in exchange for access to some of the best games for iPhone and iPad.

Per usual, Cult of Mac will be live-blogging the entire keynote with our reactions and analysis of the new goodies. The keynote starts at 10 a.m. Pacific on Monday, March 25.