A Foggy Crystal Ball: What to Expect at Monday’s 2018 Apple WWDC Keynote

On June 4 at 10 AM PT/1 PM ET, Apple executives take to the stage at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California to give Apple developers an idea of the directions the company is taking in the next year. WWDC keynotes are exciting, usually highlighted with some demonstrations of technologies that Apple wants developers to pay attention to. Although my crystal ball is a bit foggy, here are some educated guesses on what we might see and hear at the WWDC 2018 keynote next week.

Operating System Updates, Of Course…
Without a doubt, we’ll hear about the upcoming versions of Apple’s operating systems: iOS 12, macOS 10.14, tvOS 12 and watchOS 5. Apple updates the operating systems annually, and there’s no overwhelming reason to depart from that historical precedent.

Your author, as a cat. Animoji are fun and popular.

(Your author, as a cat. Animoji are fun and popular.)

iOS 12 may be the first version of Apple’s mobile operating system to offer cross-platform functionality with macOS 10.14; some pundits are saying this will be announced at WWDC 2018 but not be available until iOS 13 and macOS 10.15 next year. The idea is that developers can write one app that can run on iPhones, iPads and Macs, making it much easier for those developers to expand to a new market if they’re not currently offering cross-platform apps.

Love ’em or hate ’em, Animoji are sure to get more attention in iOS 12 as well. The iPhone X — currently the only device that offers the animated emoji — will get additional characters up from the existing 16. It’s also expected that FaceTime will get integration with Animoji so you can make FaceTime calls with friends showing your cat or skull face…

What else will make it to iOS 12? Possibly a redesigned Stocks app, an improved Siri (there have been hints coming from Apple’s AI that it has “been going to school”) with deeper integration, improved parental controls, better augmented reality features, and an enhanced version of Do Not Disturb.

Many rumors have been pointing to fewer major changes to iOS 12 in order to cut down on bugs and improve performance, which means that such things as a new Photos app, better multitasking features, and an all-new Home screen could wait until iOS 13 in 2019.

macOS 10.14 is a bit of an enigma; rumor sites have been very silent on what the new desktop operating system could offer other than cross-platform compatibility with iOS 12. There are some nice benefits of cross-platform compatibility — the Mac App Store is currently much smaller than the App Store for iOS, and there could be a lot more apps for Mac overnight. Apple might even take some of its in-house apps like Home and Health and move them to the Mac. As mentioned in the notes on iOS 12, though, it’s very possible this may not happen until next year.

What will macOS 10.14 be named? Recent trademark filings overseas indicate that the next iteration of macOS could be named Sequoia, Mojave, Sonoma or Ventura, with Rincon, Grizzly, Farallon and Monterey also lurking in the wings.

watchOS 5 and tvOS 12 probably won’t have much of interest to the general public, but watchOS 5 could add support for third-party custom watch faces.

Statistics
Apple always touts statistics during the WWDC keynote in order to give developers the confidence to move forward in the Apple ecosystem. We’re sure to hear remarkable numbers about the growth in the Mac market that’s countered the general PC market slowdown, how Apple Watch has taken over the smartwatch and luxury watch markets, and how far along adoption of iOS 11 is (76% as of April, 2018).

Apple CEO Tim Cook pointing out the fragmentation of the Android operating system at WWDC 2017

(Apple CEO Tim Cook pointing out the fragmentation of the Android operating system at WWDC 2017.)

If an Apple product doesn’t receive star billing during the roll call of statistics, it’s because it isn’t meeting the incredible expectations of the other products. For example, while we may hear that Apple CarPlay is now available on over half of the new cars in America, we’re not likely to see how many installed units are on the road today. Likewise, we might see some information on the number of HomeKit-compatible accessories available today, but very little on the market penetration of Apple’s entry in the home automation space.

Don’t expect to hear any sales figures for the HomePod, either. Apple’s “smart speaker” looks dumb in comparison to competing products from Amazon and Google, and the better sound quality and higher price of the unit isn’t exactly making HomePods fly off the shelves of Apple retail outlets.

Hardware Announcements
What can we expect to hear in terms of hardware announcements at WWDC 2018? Apple loves to spice up the keynote with the occasional announcement of new devices, and it might be time to see some new Macs and iOS devices.

Last year, Apple surprised the crowd of developers with news about the iMac Pro, new iMacs with improved processors and displays, and faster storage, and upgraded MacBooks. Looking at my crystal ball, I think we may once again hear about MacBooks: I think the MacBook Air will be retired, with the USB-C based MacBook taking over the low end of the laptop line and the MacBook Pro getting top billing. While the MacBook Air is the least pricey of Apple’s laptops, the MacBook is more compatible with Apple’s future directions.

There will probably be an update on the status of the Mac Pro, which is still expected to arrive in 2019. In fact, if I was a wagering man I would bet that the Mac Pro will make its debut during WWDC 2019…

Further Reading: Three Paths Apple Could Take the 2019 Modular Mac Pro

Call me an eternal optimist, but I also think it’s time for Apple to announce a new Mac mini… or announce the retirement of the small form factor device. I still maintain that Apple could sell a boatload of inexpensive and tiny Mac minis to hobbyists who are otherwise using Intel NUC or Raspberry Pi devices. With Apple’s push on making coding a part of the lives of students, why not make a next-generation Mac mini that a kid can afford to buy and code on?

A few months ago, industrial designer Louis Berger created a concept of what he called the “Taptop Computer,” essentially a Mac mini wrapped in a casing topped with a Touch Bar (see image below). Take off the Touch Bar to reduce costs and cut the length of this concept in half, and you’d have a true Mac mini…

Louis Berger's "Taptop Computer" concept is a great idea for a 2018 Mac mini

(Louis Berger’s “Taptop Computer” concept is a great idea for a 2018 Mac mini)

In terms of iOS devices, I think we could see updates to the iPad Pro line and the announcement of the iPhone SE 2.

Even though the HomePod isn’t selling all that well, there have been persistent rumors that Apple could announce a smaller and considerably less expensive HomePod to counter the millions of Amazon Echo Dots that have been sold over the past year. WWDC would be a good place to make an announcement, although any new “HomePod mini” probably wouldn’t ship until near the holidays.


That’s about it in terms of expected announcements, but I think there is plenty of room for Apple to surprise us all. Be sure to watch the livestream from San Jose, CA on June 4, 2018, and if you think there are other developments that could be announced, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


LEAVE A COMMENT


  • Apple did fine with this WWDC, and has been inventovating just fine. While I disagree with them dropping their networking gear, and I wish the would of kept the Mac requirements the same. I think dropping the older Mac gear allows them to drop old code, which wasn’t built using Swift. By dropping old code, you reduce security holes, problems, and size of the OS.

    To me, the amount of stuff I can do is fine. I don’t want electronic keys, etc. all those electronic stuff requires electricity, and updates to remain secure. The manufacturers have been horrible at making secure devices, and usually will not keep making updates for very long. I’m burnt out at the LoT stuff.

    I will keep my 8.1 iMac on the latest and greatest as long as I can just because of cost. My iMac is currently on High Sierra patched.




  • Don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade the morning of the World Wide Developer’s Conference, but Apple hasn’t had much in terms of innovation to announce for years. This WWDC will not likely even tickle the the most intravenous purple drinkin’ Kool-Aid ones among us. :-\

    Timo’s march to eliminate the Mac and have us all dancing to the tune of the very UNintuitive iOS will likely take another step or two. Mac Mini lovers (self included) will be left wondering if the line will be discontinued as the company bows to the chant of stockholders for more profit. And there will be a lot of self congratulatory talk about market share and the one trillion dollar capitalization mark that AAPL may be the first to ever hit.

    The iMac will continue to get so thin it will become translucent and have trouble standing up. It will be 100% disposable (recyclable, of course) because any attempt to take it apart and replace bad RAM or a broken part will destroy it. This is how you sell a brand new computer to devotees every 3 years instead of every 8. This is how you keep raking in 40% margins while the rest of market is content with single digits.

    [yawn]

    My parade has raincoats and umbrellas for every participant and we’re still sopping wet…

    Apple needs a true visionary, another dreamer to make it interesting again and not just another massive IBM or Microsoft. Somewhere, someone is actually skating to where the puck is while Apple drives the gold and diamond encrusted Zamboni around pretending it still plays the game it now owns.

    Fix the awful Apple TV. It’s absolutely ODIOUS and a masochistic displeasure to use! The remote is STILL a joke and our whole family sighs when the only device we can watch something on is the AppleTV.

    Fix the AppleWatch and make it actually DO something. Most of the Apps don’t work well without the phone and I want it to unlock my car, my garage door, and easily phone Uber when I have a flat while riding my bike on what passes for a “road” in my town’s crumbling infrastructure. It should know by now if I’m taking a walk or using an elliptical.

    Fix the iTools, dot Mac, me.com, iCloud email services and allow us to block the very same spammers who send us garbage every day, 3 times a day. You talked us into these private email addresses, so let us defend them. Emptying the same exact spammers’ emails 3 times a day from “Junk” is not intuitive email management no matter how many times we submit these to Abuse@icloud.com.

    Fix Siri. She pronounces the street names in my Spanish American town like the worst kind of willfully ignorant white person. As a professional voice over person, trained on stage and off who has been praised by humans for his excellent diction, Siri can’t do anything for me without requiring endless corrections that require me to spend nearly as much time as it would take to type it by hand. And yet the Apple Home Pod intrudes every time I yell “Hey Sweetie” to my wife across the room…

    Where are the smart homes you promised years ago? I don’t need a flying car but Apple seems to have fallen way behind on HomeKit. Apple, you’ve abandoned your own line of wireless routers, networks and backup devices for what? How can you have a smart home without the hardware and network to run it?

    The smart phone market is reaching a saturation point. We all have buyer’s fatigue especially when you keep raising the prices of the iPhone. Eventually half the world will have one and then what? You can’t keep wowing without some innovation and I’m just not seeing it. My iPhone X is the most problematic iPhone I’ve ever had and pairing it with the AppleWatch is still a nightmare that neither you or ATT are willing to take responsibility for.

    Listen to your fans and consumers, Apple.

    You’re starting to look like an elderly great athlete who should have retired last season. Stop beating your chest like you’re still at the top of your game. It’s tacky. You’ve become the aging behemoth we all railed at Microsoft for becoming and you’re not doing ANYTHING interesting anymore. Everything is on autopilot since Timo took over. He’s a nice man, but put him back on supply line economics and find us another visionary who can see the future.

    I want some magic again.

    Find us leadership that bring magic and technology together again. Apple technology used to be fun and exciting and I miss the reality distortion field.

    If you can’t do that, get WestWorld to build a host for Steve Jobs’ brain.

    ~




  • Given Apple’s penchant to be a phone company, they should offer motherboard kits (Good. Better. Best?). I know what I want in a desktop computer, and none of Apple’s offerings are even close.




  • I think Apple should make the Apple TV switchable between TV and Mac Mini mode. Then for under $200 you have something schools or familys can use to do a little bit of coding, spreadsheets, web or other work. People say the Mac could go to ARM, I say it is already here.




  • Dolby Atmos passthrough for 4K Apple TV’s via tvOS 12..




  • Had a spare 2014 mac mini,the base unit. Decided to install Linux Mint Cinammon (Sylvia) on it. Did a clean install and it runs flawlessly. Repurposed a White Macbook 4;1 the same way. Run Linux Mint on that one. Other world out there for Mac products. Love the blog and Rocket Yard