Apple’s WWDC keynote is less than one week away, and there’s been no shortage of speculation about Apple’s platforms and products, but what should we really expect from Apple’s big event? We’ve donned our hip waders and trudged through the swamp of rumors to help get a better idea of what might unfold on stage at Moscone Center.
This will be Apple’s first WWDC keynote since Steve Jobs passed away. There will likely be at least a brief moment of reflection on Steve Jobs and his legacy at the event. But who should we expect to run the show? If Apple’s iPhone 4S event is any indication, we’ll likely see Tim Cook hosting the keynote, and calling up Phil Schiller, Scott Forstall, and Craig Federighi to discuss various elements of iOS, iCloud, and OS X.
So, what about the rest of the event? We’ve sorted the main rumors into three main categories based on how likely we think they are.
iOS 5 is a year old now, and it’s time for Apple to move on to bigger and better things. We fully expect Apple to spend a significant amount of time discussing iOS 6. Rumors have been pretty far-ranging about what we might see in the new mobile OS, but these are a few pretty safe bets:
- Maps – A number of typically credible sources all seem to agree that Apple will launch their own completely redesigned (mind-blowing) Maps app, and ditch Google Maps as the main navigation framework in iOS.
- Facebook – iOS 5 market the beginning of deep Twitter integration in iOS, and now it’s Facebook’s turn. MG Siegler of TechCrunch (who has an excellent record for reliability) recently claimed Facebook integration would come to iOS 6, with 9to5Mac later backing the story with info from their own sources.
- Siri – It’s likely that we can expect some sort of announcement about Siri. This could be as little as adding new languages, or it could see Apple announce a Siri API to allow third-party apps to integrate with the service. Siri for iPad may also make an appearance.
- Developer preview – It’s also pretty safe to bet that Apple will release the first developer betas of iOS 6 at WWDC or shortly afterward in order to give developers time to prepare for the public release, which will likely happen this fall.
OS X Mountain Lion
A lot has already been learned about Mountain Lion from the three developer previews that Apple has already released. Apple’s preview event earlier this year and their Mountain Lion website have already given us a pretty good taste of what to expect. Here are a few things Apple may discuss about Mountain Lion at the event:
- Release candidate – Apple has announced a release timeframe of “late summer” for Mountain Lion. As such, I would not be surprised of they began issuing release candidates of the update to developers.
- New features – It’s likely that Apple will reveal new features of Mountain Lion that they didn’t discuss earlier this year – they may even add some new features to their developer preview.
- Release date – It’s also possible that Apple may announce the release date of Mountain Lion – and considering that the update is fairly stable at this point, they may even release it at the event, although I suspect it may a bit to optimistic to expect that.
Apple has putting a lot of attention and effort into iCloud, and into getting users to migrate from MobileMe – they’ve even offered free copies of Snow Leopard to encourage people to make the switch! It seems reasonable to expect Apple to announce new features for iCloud at the event, or at the very least, offer a progress report on how iCloud is doing so far.
Previous rumors suggest that Apple may introduce a new photo sharing service through iCloud, as well as the ability to sync videos in a similar way to how Photo Stream handles photos. iCloud.com has also been rumored to get a makeover. Both of these rumors seem very plausible.
I also expect Apple to continue integrating iCloud even deeper into both iOS and OS X – in fact, it’s practically a guarantee. It’s been a year since iCloud showed its face. It’s time for a boost.
Apple doesn’t typically focus on new hardware at WWDC – it is a developer’s conference, after all, and not focused directly at consumers. However, there’s been plenty of speculation that new Macs are on the way, and could be released at WWDC.
A number of sources, including Bloomberg, have stepped forward to suggest that new MacBook Pros with Retina displays could be launched around WWDC (in fact, many suggested it might even be a controlled leak).
More recently, leaked part lists and spec sheets have suggested that Apple may be planning to update almost their entire line of Macs at the event – including the Mac Pro. All of Apple’s Macs are due for a refresh, and with Mountain Lion due this summer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see new Mac hardware announced as well, even if it isn’t actually released at the event.
Apple hasn’t released a new version of iWork for several years. Combine that with recent hints discovered in the latest Mountain Lion preview suggesting that a new version is coming soon, and the fact that Apple seems to be adding iCloud document functionality to Mountain Lion, and the release of a new version of iWork seems extremely likely.
If nothing else, I would at least expect a maintenance update to iWork ’09 to add full iCloud functionality. It’s also possible that this may not be announced or released until OS X Mountain Lion ships this summer.
Apple TV Operating System
The Apple TV system software is a bit of a mess, and recent reports have suggested that Apple is planning to show off an all-new “much more feature-complete” version of the Apple TV system software – in fact, the same version that will run on their fabled television!
The possibilities could include the addition of an Apple TV App Store (as John Gruber suggests), or even the ability to work with DVRs and other third-party hardware. It might also showcase features that nobody’s really conceived of yet.
I’m not convinced that Apple will showcase this at WWDC. However, I also wouldn’t be so bold as to rule it out.
Apple released a new iPhone just 8 months ago, they released a new iPad in March, and there so far isn’t a shred of solid evidence that an Apple TV even exists at this point. In my book, it’s a safe call to rule all of these out as possible mentions during the WWDC keynote – in fact, aside from a new iPhone, these may not ever exist at all!
What about you? What do you think we’ll see at Apple’s big event? Sound off in the comments!