Apple is sending out invitations for a launch event in San Francisco on Sept. 12, seemingly confirming months of speculation that it's gearing up to unveil its fifth-generation iPhone.
The invite embodies Apple's usual air of secrecy, excluding any concrete details related to the new gadget itself except that "It's almost here." It does, however, include the number 12, representative of the event date, which casts a shadow in the shape of the number five, a clue possibly suggesting the new smartphone will launch as the "iPhone 5."
Reports suggesting the latest iPhone would launch in September have been surfacing for months, with many also placing bets on its anticipated specs and design. In May, the Wall Street Journal cited "people familiar with the matter" that said Apple's upcoming iPhone would be bigger than its predecessors, measuring "at least four inches diagonally" compared to the 3.5-inch displays seen with the iPhone 4S and earlier versions.
The iPhone 5 is also expected to run iOS 6, Apple's newest mobile OS, meaning it would deliver a slew of new features such as Apple Maps, a new navigation app to replace Google Apps, and Passbook, a tool that organizes and stores all travel-related documents, along with movie tickets, coupons and gift cards.
Apple has also confirmed that iOS 6 will include
tighter integration with Facebook, allowing users to post pictures to the popular social media site directly from the iPhone Camera app, along with a revamped version of Siri, the voice-activated personal "assistant" that launched with the iPhone 4S.
Apple's newest gadget will go head-to-head against Samsung's Galaxy S III, an Android-based smartphone launched by the South Korean handset maker in May. Last month, the Galaxy S III stole the crown from the iPhone 4S to become the top-selling smartphone on the U.S. market, according to recent data from Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley, which tallied up sales from AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.
Walkley said it was the first time since the iPhone 4S' launch last October that it failed to claim the top-seller spot. The slip was attributed to consumers' anticipation of the upcoming iPhone 5.
"We believe this is the first month since the iPhone 4S launched in October 2011 that it was not the top selling smartphone in the U.S. market," Walkley wrote. "However, our checks indicated strong consumer interest and likely demand for the iPhone 5, and we believe Apple will return to strong number one smartphone share in the U.S. post the iPhone 5 launch."
A number of other smartphone and tablet makers are expected to take the wraps off new devices over the coming weeks. Nokia is widely expected to unveil a new version of its Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8 on Sept. 5, while Amazon is reportedly readying a new Kindle Fire for Sept. 6.
PUBLISHED SEPT. 4, 2012