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.
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.
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).
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.
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…
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.