Apple's next online-only launch will be Sept. 15 with Apple Watch, iPad on tap

Time flies: Apple event will be Sept. 15. New Watch, iPad and iPhone?

Apple has sent out press invitations to a virtual event next week. But, breaking with tradition, the company's mid-September event this year will likely focus on the Watch and iPad rather than the iPhone.

During a conference call for Apple's quarterly earnings in July, its finance chief Luca Maestri said 2020's new iPhone models would arrive a few weeks later than usual, potentially meaning an October release rather than late September.

But apart from the iPhone, Apple had a range of products ready to go that were "incredibly relevant, especially given the current circumstances", he said.

So, what might we see at next week's event?

Apple Watch Series 6

The invite for a September 16 (AEST) event features the tagline "Time Flies", indicating a focus on the Apple Watch.

Though the iPhone remains Apple's flagship product, its watch has come to dominate the health-focused wearables sector and even the traditional watch market. According to Strategy Analytics, Apple Watch outsold every Swiss watchmaker combined last year by some 10 million units.

The Series 6 is rumoured to include blood oxygen level monitoring, which is something already offered by many rivals including Fitbit. Supposed new software features, which could come to older models as well as the Series 6, include mental health monitoring such as panic attack detection, a larger battery and a kids mode that lets parents control a child's watch from their own Apple account.

The watch has become one of Apple's most important products.

The watch has become one of Apple's most important products.

New iPad Air

Maestri's comments about "incredibly relevant" products could be interpreted in a number of ways but, given the current demand for tablets and laptops for working and learning from home, new iPads seem like a safe bet.

New Pro models have already been introduced this year, and the basic iPad had a refresh around a year ago, leaving the mid-range iPads Air and Mini as the most likely to see new models.

A new iPad Air could be brought closer in design to the current Pros, with rounded edges, small bezels and no Home button. It might also borrow Apple Pencil functionality, the USB-C port or smart connector for keyboards, though it would seem unlikely to approach the Pro in processing power or cameras.

Other hardware

There are a number of Apple devices in the pipeline — officially confirmed or otherwise — that could appear at next week's event. The company has previously announced it is designing its own chips to power new Macs, ditching the standard Intel silicon, and rumours suggest the first laptop to use such a chip will be out before the end of the year.

Elsewhere there are also persistent rumours of Apple-branded over-ear headphones that would seem to compete with its own Beats brand, a new HomePod smart speaker (which hasn't been updated since its original release more than two years ago), and Tile-like Bluetooth tracking beacons supposedly called AirTags.