With Apple event invites going out yesterday, the world is abuzz with wild ideas and rampant kremlinology. Whenever an Apple event graphic hits the web, it gets torn apart as people try and decode whatever hint they have told themselves is hidden within. I’m here to tell you that there’s usually only ever one thing that these graphics are hiding, the default wallpaper of whatever new device is being introduced at the event.
Over the past four years, Apple event graphics have sort of adopted a pattern. There are a few event invitations that didn’t actually have anything at all hidden within them. We’ll talk about those. But the vast majority of them did in fact hide the default wallpaper of the flagship product for the event. All three of Apple’s Fall events last year hid wallpapers within their graphics. Let’s take a look at those first.
Sometimes, the wallpaper design is hidden in plain sight and sometimes it’s more subtle. With the Time Flies September event, the logo included in all of the graphics lines up perfectly with the loopy wallpapers included in the iPad Air. It even used the same shades of blue.
Moving into October, the Hi, Speed iPhone event invitation showed off a blue and yellow set of bubbles. Some people figured that the invitation was hiding AirTags. But of course, it wasn’t. It was the iPhone 12 default wallpapers mixed together and turned on their side. When the November One more thing event was announced, we knew it had something to do with the Mac. It was their last chance to show off Apple Silicon machines before the end of the year. This made it a tad easier to surmise that the colors flying out from behind the Apple logo were the ones from the Big Sur default wallpaper. Sure enough, they align perfectly.
This has happened before
Using the default wallpapers for event graphics wasn’t new in 2020. In fact, Apple has done this a bunch of times. The 2019 iPhone event invitation was widely believed to be a nod toward new colors for iPhone 11. What it really depicted was the style of the default wallpapers.
For Apple’s 2017 iPhone X event, they did the same thing. The gorgeous multicolor gradient was masked inside the Apple logo on the event’s invitation. It used the same colors and had the same subtle glow effect. I’ve always liked to think that the inner shadow effect on the logo was a hint at the display taking up the entire surface of the phone, but that’s more grasping at straws than stone cold information.
Sometimes the wallpapers aren’t hidden in the event invitation, but rather in the decorations at the physical location of the event. Apple’s Brooklyn event invites in 2018 were all different, showing off all kinds of unique variations of the Apple logo. It was obviously a hint toward the event being focused on creatives, but it didn’t actually reveal anything about the products.
Apple covered the Brooklyn Academy of Music with some stunning artwork. It was applied to the front of the building above the doors, to the side and to the logo on the Apple Store across the street. It looked like splattered paint but with a harmonious color palette. Those designs turned out to be one of the default wallpapers on the 2018 iPad Pros introduced at that event.
Sometimes there’s just not really a hint at all
Apple occasionally doesn’t leave a single hint in their invitations. Two from the past few years stick out in particular. The iPhone event invite in 2018 didn’t reveal anything. Sure it was kind of gold, but that had been long rumored and was likely more of a stylistic choice. Heck, all you can see in the invite is a vector style Apple Park ring. It’s the same design Apple offers on shirts in the visitor’s center.
The early 2018 event in Chicago was very understated. The invitation for the event simply showed an Apple logo that looked like it’d been drawn with digital ink. Sure, you can say it had something to do with Apple Pencil support coming to the regular iPad, but more likely it just aligned with the cursive text that Apple used for an education-focused event.
Apple’s event in March of 2019 was widely expected to be all about services and more specifically, a tv service. The even graphics were very simple but the press invite included one detail. It counted down to the Apple logo much like an old-school film. WWDC graphics almost never include hints. So it’s never worth reading into them.
What about this April event?
We really don’t know what Apple’s going to show off next week. We have a good idea and there have been leaks abound. But the event invitation doesn’t seem to reveal anything. It’s likely we will finally get true next generation iPad Pros, but everything else is up in the air.
Long story short, I certainly won’t be surprised if the event graphic ends up being very similar to that of the default wallpapers on at least one of the devices being announced next week.
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