Home Technology Deciphering the Secrets in Apple’s Event Invitations

Deciphering the Secrets in Apple’s Event Invitations

Deciphering the Secrets in Apple’s Event Invitations

Apple’s next event is just around the corner, and die-hard fans have scoured the latest invite for clues as to what new products and features are in the cards. It’s a long-held belief that Apple hides things in its event invites, but we wondered if this quest for secrets had ever yielded any results (sorry) — and if so, what kind of hints are there.

To find out, we scoured every invite over the past 21 years and compared it to the different products that were subsequently announced at each event. And it turns out, time and time again, Apple buries clues in plain sight. But distinguishing their meaning is not so easy. Apple seems to use several, often divergent approaches to leave hints that are often difficult to decipher in advance. To get anything out of the invitations, we must first learn how to follow the trail of breadcrumbs.

Two different periods

A close-up on the coin pocket of a pair of blue jeans, which reads '1000 songs in your pocket changed everything.  Here we go again.

Apple’s invitation to the September 2005 event, where it introduced the iPod Nano.

Early on, until about 2013, Apple took an approach best described as, well, blunt. Take the October 2001 event, when Apple sent out a paper invitation promising the launch of a “breakthrough” new product. “Hint: it is not a Mac‘ was the invitation. No subtlety. And soon after, the first-generation iPod followed. Or even clearer was the March 2008 event invitation, with an expanded map above the text: “Join us to learn more about the iPhone software roadmap, including the iPhone SDK and some exciting new business features.” Any suspicions about this announcement?

But that’s not to say there weren’t Apple antics during this broad period. Take a look at the invitation to Apple’s September 2005 event, which showed a close-up of the coin pocket on a pair of jeans below some text: ‘1000 songs in your pocket changed everything. Here we go again.” Sure, the tagline is obvious in reference to a music announcement, but the image? The first-generation iPod Nano was just the right size to fit in the jeans coin pocket and exactly where Steve Jobs got it from during the keynote. Clues hidden in plain sight.

And while other invites during this time were playful—think the solid blue background of the “There’s been a confusion…” invitation and the ongoing move to Intel Macs—most were straight forward. “The spotlight is on notebook computers” combined with a real spotlight shining on a MacBook. hmm. “Come see what 2011 will be the yearaccompanied by the image of an iPad. Gosh, I wonder.

But then a new era dawned. Beginning in 2013, Apple stopped giving clear indications of upcoming announcements and started sending more erratic invitations, fraught with winks and nods. These hints were often abstract, more difficult to decode, and often impossible to understand in advance. But going through them, we discovered five distinct approaches Apple is taking when it comes to nodding to what’s to come.


Colorful dots scattered behind the Apple logo.

Apple’s artwork for the September 2013 event introducing the iPhone 5C and 5S.

An Apple logo in grey, gold and rose gold, which reads 'let us walk you in'.

The March 2016 invitation to Apple’s iPhone SE launch.

One of the more obvious clues is the persistent drips of color over invitations. These began prominently in the invitation to the “This Should Brighten Everyone’s Day” event in September 2013, featuring colorful polka-dot-like circles in the background of the invitation. Those circles eventually morphed into different shades of the iPhone 5C lineup announced at the event. A few years later, Apple was back at it with the March 2016 “Let us loop you in” invitation, which filled the Apple logo with gold and rose gold hues that eventually mirrored the colors of the new iPhone SE. Right in front of us all the time.

Colorful hints to enjoy: “Gather round” (iPhone XS); “Only through innovation” (iPhone 11); “Time Flies” (iPad Air); “Hello, speed” (iPhone 12).

Hidden images

There is

The invitation to the September 2016 event featured an Apple logo with multicolored bokeh.

An Apple logo with a colorful wave shape rising from the top edge of the Apple.  Text below reads:

Siri’s new waveform appeared right in the invitation to the September 2015 event.

Early invitations often included images of products or the date of events. But later years became more naughty. Take, for example, “See you on the 7th” for the September 2016 event. Colorful, blurry circles in the faint shape of the Apple logo hinted at the upcoming release of Portrait Mode. And the September 2015 invite to the “Hey Siri, Hint Us” event featured Siri’s new brightly colored hill-and-valley nodding at the upcoming Siri remote for the Apple TV. In general, we found that when hidden images were included in the invitations, they were almost always directly translated into images that were present during the keynotes.

Notable image-packed invites: “Back to the Mac” (Mac OS X Lion); “Hello again” (Mac wallpaper); “Let’s meet up with us” (iPhone X wallpaper); “Let’s take a field trip” (Apple Pencil support).

To shape

Text that reads

The invitation to the Apple October 2020 event introducing the HomePod Mini.

Certainly not as common as the other categories, but my personal favorite is that a great example can be seen in the aforementioned iPhone 5C invite. The colorful dots not only refer to the colors of the new phones, but they also refer to the punched cases released next to them. And those thick gray borders around the white dots were striking hints about the debut of Touch ID on the new iPhones. In retrospect, it was more likely that the “Hi, speed” invitation featured an Apple logo in the center of a circle, which turned out to be a replica of the bottom of the HomePod Mini. And one of my favorites, the September 2014 “Wish We Could Say More” event invite, featured a subtle shadow cast off the leaf of the Apple logo, evoking a sundial and hinting at the eventual Apple Watch release. announcement. If it works, it works.

Fun shapes to ponder: “Spring forward” (Apple Watch digital crown); “Let Us Loop You” (Apple Watch Bands); “Gathering Round” (new Apple campus).


An Apple logo drawn with a stylus in digital ink.  Below it says

The invite to Apple’s March 2018 event, where an iPad with stylus support was announced.

An Apple logo made of green, blue, beige, and red squiggles, saying

The October 2018 invite featured a series of different digital art variations on the Apple logo.

Second to the main images is the text of the invitation in which Apple frequently references new features and products or just enjoys a little pun. Both the March 2018 “Let’s take a field trip” event and the October 2018 “There’s more in the making” event had the only two invitations with a handwritten font, and each led to announcements using Apple Pencils. This category also includes Apple’s only repeated slogans: 2006’s “It’s show time‘ and ‘It’s show time’ from 2019, referring to the release of the original Apple TV and the announcement of Apple TV Plus. Then there’s the not-so-subtle “Hey Siri, give us a hint,” which Siri was always involved in, and “Hello, speed,” which led to the highly anticipated 5G iPhones.

Taglines to ponder: “This should brighten everyone’s day” (iPhone 5C); “Jump Forward” (Apple Watch); “Let Us Loop You” (Apple Watch Bands); “Hello Again” (MacBook with Touch Bar); “Time Flies” (Apple Watch Series 6); “Peak Performance” (M1 Ultra).


And that brings us to the newest category of invitations: augmented reality. The first of these appeared for the September 2020 “Time Flies” event invite, featuring a multicolored blue Apple logo that unravels to form the date of the event before being reshaped again. The hues of the image refer to the soon-to-be-released iPad Air in sky blue. However, the best use of this new invitation layer was the invitation to the November 2020 “One more thing” event. The AR invite depicted the Apple logo opening like a laptop and color streaming from a real screen, nodding to the many rumors. new M1 lineup. Then there’s the subtle (and admittedly, maybe a little long-winded) April 2021 “Spring Loaded” invite. The AR invite started with a flat circle on the ground, then sent colorful lines across the screen, mimicking the search for a lost device. And lo and behold, AirTags were announced.

This year

Apple's logo outlined with glowing lights on a black background, detailing the upcoming Apple event.

Apple’s invitation to the September 2022 event.
Image: Jay Peters / The Verge

So it seems that the scavenger hunt Apple is inviting is indeed worth the speculation and hype. How hyped we should be is the only real question. Some invite bigger features like 5G connectivity, while others just hint at new backgrounds. And some are nearly impossible to guess in advance, even in light of the rampant rumor mill that heats up in the weeks leading up to a keynote.

So what does that mean for this year’s “Far out” invite? There appear to be clear, albeit distorted images of stars and galaxies – cheeky text that could mean something physically distant from us as well as a new feature that’s ’70s-esque far away man. And the AR layer centers us in a huge space in space. Given all the breadcrumbs, it’s no surprise that many are speculating about astrophotography. As for me, I think it hints at satellite connectivity for the iPhone 14 or the Apple Watch Series 8. Anyway, it’s fun to keep guessing.