Since iOS 12 and macOS Mojave both got their final release dates at Apple’s special Gather Round event today, you might be wondering why the long-rumored new iPad Pros and Macs didn’t get any stage time in Cupertino. There’s a single, undeniably correct one-word answer to that question:


Every year since Apple became a multi-product-family company, it has had to decide whether to hold separate or combined media events for Macs, iPods, iPhones, Apple TVs, iPads, and Apple Watches. To most observers, what does and doesn’t show up at a given event is mysterious, but Apple actually uses pretty simple logic.

The purpose of an Apple event is to build global awareness and excitement for a new product launch. Any flagship product that has a new form factor or major internal changes could justify and headline an Apple event, and anything smaller — say, a speed-bumped Mac — could be announced alongside something bigger at the same time.

But there’s a soft limit on the number of announcements Apple will make at one event. If too many big products launch at the same time, some will inevitably get lost in the shuffle. For that reason, it treats major product, speedbump, and accessory announcements differently.

Today’s event featured three new iPhones — two new designs and one speedbump — plus the first substantial redesign to the Apple Watch. There were also final release dates announced for four new operating systems, plus a brief new feature and wider availability announcement for the HomePod speaker. By Apple standards, that’s enough major announcements to keep both…