On Monday, June 13, thousands of developers will join Apple executives and employees for the annual event that kicks off the next year of Apple software products — the Worldwide Developer Conference keynote address. This year’s event will be like most Apple keynotes, providing checklists of amazing statistics on app and device sales, announcements of updates to the stable of Apple operating systems, and — we hope — previews of coming attractions.
In this preview, I’ll list some items that we think are definitely going to be announced, things that would be great if they are announced, and some rumored items that probably won’t show up.
Most Likely To Be Announced
Like clockwork, WWDC attendees are treated to previews of the next generation operating systems. This now means four different operating systems: iOS (which should be bumped to version 10.0 this year), tvOS (ditto, since it follows the iOS numbering system), watchOS (version 3.0), and OS X.
The latter OS is due for a big change; if I were to venture a guess, it would be that the OS X name would change to macOS to duplicate the naming convention for the other operating systems. That also makes it much easier to continue using a numeric system for sequential versions of the OS — instead of being something like “Mac OS X 10.12.2 Big Sur”, it’s much easier to just call it macOS 12.2.
The next macOS will most likely include Siri for the first time, as part of a big push for the next-generation of Siri in all Apple products. Members of Apple’s original Siri team, plus staff from AI acquisitions like Emotient and Vocal IQ, have been working hard on making Siri more reliable and intelligent, as well as having it actually read emotions by looking at your face.
I’d bet that Apple will also release a Siri SDK for the first time, giving developers access to the intelligent assistant. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to ask Siri a question and have the best app for the job provide an answer for you?
We’ll definitely see demonstrations of iOS 10, tvOS 10, watchOS 10 and of course macOS 12. It’s what’s in those demonstrations that is the big question.
I think Apple’s HomeKit will get a boost this year, both with an in-house Home app analogous to the Health app that ties HealthKit apps together. Based on recent rumors of a new, improved AirPort Wi-Fi router coming out, my guess is that the new AirPort will be more than just a router — it will also showcase the new, improved Siri as a competitor to Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home. Let’s use the device as an intelligent controller for your home, with setup made easy through the Home app and making monitoring and control of household devices as easy as having a conversation with Siri.
Less Likely To Be Announced
To be honest with you, I’m not expecting many device announcements. If there was one device that I would hope Apple would finally upgrade, it would be the Mac Pro. They’ve really ignored the device, and it’s about time for a major update.
I don’t think we’ll see an update to the MacBook, unless Apple decides to add a 13-inch (or possibly 14-inch) Retina MacBook, then eliminate the MacBook Air line. Ditto with the iMac, which usually receives a speed bump every fall. I’d love to see an announcement about an upgraded and really low-cost Mac mini. Why? It’s been a useful machine for a lot of people — especially those coming over from PCs, who have monitors, keyboards, and other goodies they can use with the mini.
Apple could create a really excellent non-upgradable mini with a good amount of RAM and storage built in, then reduce cost and complexity by just adding one or two USB C ports. The profits they don’t make on margins for a rather expensive Mac mini, they’ll make up in accessories like adapters. Heck, make it really small and really inexpensive, and it could be competition to those little Raspberry Pi machines.
I don’t expect an Apple Watch upgrade announcement; that will probably come before the holiday buying season, possibly in October. Likewise, Apple won’t tease any details of the next-generation iPhones until September or so. One possibility would be an announcement — finally — of an Apple TV bundled streaming package, but there just hasn’t been much buzz about this lately so it’s unlikely.
One final thing that will probably be touted at WWDC will be further partnerships with other tech leaders. Apple and IBM have been doing quite well with their partnership, and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear of another mutually-advantageous deal with some other tech giant. How about Salesforce? SAP?
Although there’s been a lot of buzz about the Apple Car, I seriously doubt that Apple’s going to say anything about it until the company is good and ready to. So don’t expect Phil Schiller to come rolling onto the stage in some sleek car this year.
Apple alway says that “Music is in our DNA”, yet the company has stumbled lately with iTunes issues and confusion about how iTunes works with Apple Music, iTunes in the Cloud, iTunes Match and the rest of the services. I’d love to see Apple say it will have one app for Apple Music, one for podcasts, one for movies and TV, and so on. This one app for one service model works pretty well for iOS, while the one app for everything model on OS X is a nightmare.
How about a melding of iOS and macOS? Make an operating system that would work well both on tablet/smartphone devices and desktop machines? Although it would make life easier for developers who want to develop for both markets, it’s just not likely.
The chances of Apple really surprising us with something completely out of the ballpark at WWDC, like a drone, a VR platform, or an initiative to push 3D printing are also pretty slim. I would love for Tim Cook or another exec to really shock us all with “one more thing”, but the chances this year seem nonexistent. Then again, perhaps the secrecy of Apple is better than what pundits have been saying and we’ll all be surprised with something completely out in left field.
What do you think we’ll hear about at WWDC 2016? Let us know in the comments.