Apple is rumored to be holding an event on October 23 where they are expected to introduce a smaller, 8”-or-so iPad and a 13” MacBook Pro with Retina display. Also, perhaps a redesigned, slimmed-down iMac (possibly, though unlikely, also retinized?) As you see, with every Apple event of this sort the focus of the rumor coverage is always heavily on the hardware products, so I like to spend a few minutes idly theorizing on the possible software Apple might also show.

We already know that iTunes 11 will ship “in October”, and most likely right around this event. What I’m wondering is if there’s anything in this new iTunes (other than device support) that would make its release simultaneous with the new hardware. If the focus of this event is education—as has been hinted—is there finally some sort of iBookstore support in iTunes? (UPDATE: I had no clue iTunes already supported this.) Perhaps even a standalone iBooks app for Mac? I’ll be the first to say that I’m not excited to sit and read a whole book on my MacBook, but textbooks and reference materials are a different story. I bet that in 2012 (and 2013) it’s still a lot easier to put together a well-researched paper on a keyboarded, multiwindowed computer. 

iBooks Author. Remember that? What better time to hand over a badly needed 2.0 version of this promising but frustrating app. I still hope we can get to a point where Author becomes a general-purpose self-publishing app, not just a textbook-specific tool. You can sort of kind of glue together a novel in it today, but boy is it rough sailing. It’s reasonable that Apple launched the app with a specialized use case in mind, but true success comes from eventual mass-marketability. Chop chop on that!

The Mac version of iPhoto has been getting quite stale, and now that Apple has reimagined it for iOS, it’s possible that they’ll move some of those new features and concepts over to the Mac version. I have no love for the iOS version, so I’m not looking forward to that kind of “upgrade”, but the app is badly in need of some attention either way.

The rest of iLife seems to be just fine where it is right now; GarageBand and iMovie could do with minor updates, but no one’s picketing in Cupertino for them. And the whole concept of iLife as a suite of related apps is losing relevance. The App Store doesn’t support “bundles” at all, and the apps themselves are growing apart. iTunes is no longer part of the pack, iDVD rests in eternal peace. 

Of course, iLife has a sibling, and it fits the education theme well: iWork. iWork has always been a somewhat strange product: in many ways better than MS Office, but never quite as successful in the market. (I am basing this on the highly scientific fact that my non-nerd friends and family have no clue what an iWork or a Pages is.) The Mac version has received no love lately, and I guess this is one opportunity for Apple to show if they’re seriously interested in growing these apps, or if it’s enough to just have any kind of replacement for Office.

And finally, there’s always the possibility that Apple will introduce an all-new app at this event. Are we ever getting a painting/drawing/graphics app from Apple? Haha, ever the joker, I am!