Oh look, there’s Dr. Dre, holding an iPhone phablet that can do multi-tasking! Now there’s a YouTube clip of Jony Ive sporting a skin-tight tee and using Siri to voice-control all the appliances in his home!
Too much? Maybe not. All the buzz surrounding Cupertino points to Apple’s biggest WWDC since the iPhone’s release. Everyone in the tech world is eager to learn more about the wearable-tech rumors, the recent Beats acquisition and why they decided to expand their Capital Returns Program with a 7:1 stock split. Luckily for the blogosphere, the answer to those questions are only a weekend away.
From June 2nd to the 6th, “1,000 Apple engineers and 5,000 developers” will flock to San Francisco to find out how the house that Steve Jobs built plans to reclaim the title of The World’s Most Popular Brand from Google. Last year, the company predictably unveiled iOS 7, OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) and iTunes Radio, along with the new Mac Pro and refreshed MacBook Airs. This year? It’s much harder to tell, but we can certainly make well-founded guesses.
The Push has been tracking the mobile industry—Apple’s post-Jobs era, in particular—very closely over the past year. We’ve analyzed all the rumors, we’ve tinkered with all the products, we’re running on Mavericks and we’ve come up with some predictions for this year’s event.
Apple SVP Eddy Cue recently stated that “Apple has the best product pipeline in 25 years coming later this year.” What could Mr. Cue be referring to? We’ve consulted our Magic 8 Ball, and here’s what it had to say about any new Apple hardware debuting before New Years.
- iPhone “phablet” — Although a 5.5-inch display has long been rumored, we’re placing our bets on something a little smaller, like a 4.7-inch display.
- iPhone 6 — We’d be shocked if the next generation of iPhone didn’t get a shout out. However, we’re not anticipating any revolutionary product designs. Expect some minor enhancements to the iPhone camera and imaging technologies.
- MacBook Air w/ Retina Display — Because, why not? It worked well in the MacBook Pros. Why not share the wealth?
- TouchID for the iPad — Again, it’s been going well for the 5s, so why not spread it around the rest of their product line?
“Outlook not so good”
- iPhone 6 w/ full HD display — The rumor mill has spoken, and no one seems to believe this will happen.
- Lower-priced 8GB iPhone 5s — They already have a phone for emerging markets. It’s called the 5c.
- Mac Mini/Apple TV hybrid — They have bigger fish to fry at the moment.
- iWatch or any Apple wearable device – After Samsung’s lukewarm reception in the smartwatch market, Apple will tread lightly on this territory. At least until 2015.
- An Apple television — Keep dreaming. You have been for the last 5+ years.
iOS is Apple’s golden child. It’s on our phones, tablets, Apple TVs and soon, it will even be in our cars. There’s little doubt you’ll see something about the next iteration at WWDC. The question is, what?
“As I see it, yes”
- Healthbook service — similar in concept to Passbook, but that tracks, archives and shares health and wellness data, all within a single app repository. This is almost certainly a precursor to an iWatch and likely a range of Apple wearables. That said, we are not expecting any Healthbook-optimized devices at WWDC.
- Maps Improvements — Prepare to see Maps go the way of Waze, but with an even greater emphasis on public transit. We also expect Apple to offer navigation data and APIs for developers to build services that rely (possibly exclusively) on Apple Maps data.
- Improved inter-app communications and APIs — Sharing data between apps will continue to get easier, even if limited relative to Android. Imagine your Yelp app integrating seamlessly with your PayPal app for quicker transactions, for example.
- iOS-to-OS X AirDrop — Users can finally send each other files from iPhone to Mac without whipping out their power chord.
- Siri and Shazam integration — Apple will help ambient listening apps like Shazam finally reach their full potential. Spoiler alert: it’ll go WAY beyond music.
“Better not tell you now”
- Siri 3.0 — We anticipate some Siri updates (like the aforementioned Shazam connection), but Apple will remain tightfisted with the APIs.
- TouchID API — Apple could finally open up their finger scanners to developers in the payment sector.
- iPad Multitasking — This is part of a planned Apple assault on the enterprise. It could also lead to entirely new forms of gaming on the iPad.
- New Beats App — Apple’s Beats acquisition is guaranteed to result in some pretty cool software. The question is, will it be ready by June 2nd?
“Don’t count on it”
- More free iCloud storage
- File management changes
- Google Now-like service — Siri will still hear you out, but it won’t help you get around quite as well as Google.
- No payments service or NFC — Despite Apple having over 800 million iTunes users with credit cards on file, a payments service is unlikely at this time.
- Changes to the iOS keyboards
- Deletable embedded Apple apps — Sorry, Charlie. You’ll have to continue burying unwanted factory apps in their own folder.
- Apple TV App Store — But wouldn’t that be AWESOME?
OS X 10.10
Apple remains committed to Mac, but it will almost certainly take a backseat to iOS at this year’s WWDC. That being said, there’s still some cool stuff we expect to see from their desktop operating system.
“It is decidedly so”
- Flatter design — Similar to last year’s iOS 7 design.
- Find My Friends on Mac — Just like the iOS app, but on your PC.
- Improved notification — Because I want to punch my screen everytime I see that Software Update bubble appear.
- Enterprise-specific features — The WWDC schedule includes several enterprise-focused sessions, such as the obviously-titled “Building Apps for Enterprise and Education.” This, plus sessions on managing devices, a core requirement in the enterprise, reveal Apple’s intention to kick Windows while they’re down.
“Without a doubt”
We only have one prediction for Apple’s entry into home automation; It’s all happening. Google acquired Nest. Samsung makes smart appliances. Now, it’s Apple’s turn. The typically reliable Financial Times suggests Apple will make a “big play” for the connected home and “turn the iPhone into a remote control for lights, security systems and other household appliances.”
The expectation for WWDC is that Apple will offer a “Made for iPhone” set of technologies so that makers of lights, locks, webcams, security alarms and other devices can be managed and monitored via iPhone. This should open up an entirely new market for app developers.
How’d we do?
Now that we’ve put our predictions out in the ether, it’s time for you to either pat us on the back or hold our feet to the fire. Apple will stream the WWDC keynote at 10 am PST this Monday, June 2. Tune in and see where we hit the mark, where we fell short and what we failed to mention. You should also download the WWDC app, where you can watch all the session videos from this year and the past. But whatever you do, don’t forget to check back in with The Push. We’ll be reporting on the aftermath of WWDC 2014 all month long.
Keep up with our WWDC updates by following us @thepushnews on Twitter.