The 2012 Apple world wide developer conference kicks off tomorrow, with Apple’s usual keynote presentation. WWDC is one of the biggest weeks of the year for Apple and developers, WWDC is where Apple showcase new software and technologies for developers.
This year, the rumour mill has been in complete overdrive, there are so many rumours floating around that Apple would need a week long keynote to announce it all. It’s fair to say that most of the rumours are unlikely to come to fruition tomorrow.
Hit the jump to read my WWDC 2012 predictions.
First let’s take a look at some key phrases for Apple’s press release for WWDC 2012:
At this year’s five-day conference, developers will learn about the future of iOS and OS X®, allowing them to build incredible new apps. WWDC will also feature more than 100 technical sessions presented by Apple engineers as well as the popular Apple Design Awards, a showcase of the most outstanding apps from the past year.
That first line tells a lot about what we can expect: The future of iOS – More than likely iOS 6, and OS X – more information on the upcoming Mountain Lion release.
So with that in mind I’ll delve into some of the rumours that I think make sense for iOS 6 and OS X.
UI and App changes
Since the launch of the original iPhone the UI and stock apps have undergone very few design changes, this is something that has certainly helped (at least in my view) in keeping the user experience consistent and easy for all user groups, but it is also beginning to look dated. I don’t believe that full scale redesign is on the cards. Take a look at OS X and the visual updates that it has gone through:
Nothing too radical, no re-imagaining – Apple thinks evolutionary with their UI design updates, and revolutionary in how we use their products. And so far we’ve seen this applied to iOS:
So will we see a complete overhaul? No. Will Apple continue to evolve iOS’ UI? Probably. At the moment rumours are pointing to an update to the current blue colour scheme seen in the majority of the iOS stock apps, and replacing them with a slick silver, this change has been in place on the iPad for some time and it makes sense for Apple to apply this lick of paint across iOS.
In regards to homescreen widgets, I don’t think Apple are quite ready yet. However I do think that it’s a possibility we’ll see an Notification Centre widget api which could cross over to the Homescreen on an iPhone with a larger display.
This seems like a pretty done deal as it’s the rumour that’s leaked the most, and if Google are worried about it, then who am I to argue that it’s not coming? These maps have been on the cards for sometime, Apple have snapped up a number of mapping companies, including C3 Technologies just last year. C3 Technologies could be the game changer for these maps, as they focus on photorealisitc 3D mapping, which is a feature that has been leaked and will “Blow your head off”.
I do think there will be some caveats with Apple’s maps. The first being international roll out, If we look at Siri’s introduction last September, it was labelled as in Beta and released in a limited number of countries (and some features were limited in the release countries). I think that Apple will follow suit with the maps app, it will have a staggered release, with some features (turn by turn?) limited to some countries.
Secondly, Maps are one of those apps that people rely on to give them accurate and safe information, For Apple to succeed in the maps market it will need to be at least as accurate, if not more, than Google Maps. As Rene Ritchie points out (I recommend that article if you want to know more about Apple and maps), Apple needs to licence maps from someone. They’ve toyed with using Open Street Maps (OSM) in iPhoto for iOS, but OSM is far from being as accurate as Google maps. Again, this is something that might be helped by a staggered roll out.
Finally, I want businesses to be able to add their information to these maps. This is more of a feature for the future of Siri, the the more control Apple has over the mapping system, the more accurate information Siri can give.
There has been much speculation that Apple will introduce Siri to the iPad with iOS 6 and release a Siri API for developers, with the high amount of WWDC sessions still to be announced it seems likely that Apple will fill at least some of them with Siri.
I’ve already mentioned the limited availability of Siri, both location wise and function wise. The biggest thing I want Apple to announced tomorrow is the release of location functions outside the US. Yes, I want an API for devs to include Siri in Apps, Yes, I’d like to see it on the iPad, Mac, and Apple Tv but most of all I don’t want it to be feature limited.
Bits and bobs
- System wide Facebook integration a là twitter.
Tim Cook recently ended a conversation about Apple and Facebook’s relationship with “stay tuned”.
- Do not Disturb mode for notifications
This was recently released in the Developer Preview for Mountain Lion and is rumoured to be coming across to iOS.
- iOS to iOS/OS X airplay
With all the hooha surrounding Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil speakers touch, it seems that Apple maybe looking to update the Airplay API to include iOS to iOS/OS X streaming. This is a move to compete with Android Beam, and as the iPhone 4S, the new iPad, and the 1080p all include Bluetooth 4.0, this is the perfect way to share between devices whilst saving on battery life.
Somethings I’d like but are unlikely
- Redesign the multitasking tray
It’s useful enough as it is, but there’s not denying it can make better use of the screen real estate and offer more functionality
- File picker
Mountain Lion was announced back in February, with a number of new features and updates, including Notification Center, Messages, Reminders, Game Center, and Airplay. At WWDC I expect a release date and potentially a release candidate available to developers. There are very few trickles of information regarding Mountain Lion which makes me thing we’re close to release. I expect a deeper integration of iCloud to be unveiled, include Safari Tabs in the cloud and offline read lists.
Apple have put a lot of effort into migrating Mobile Me users to iCloud (in some instances even offering a free upgrade to Snow leopard) and it’s safe to say iCloud is set to see a small update. There have been a few leaks leading up to WWDC, including introducing new features such as notes and reminders to iCloud.com.
There have also been rumblings of a new photo sharing service (some have even gone as far as calling it an instagram competitor!) that will allow users to share photo’s through iCloud. We’ve already seen similar functionality in iPhoto, with Journals (click here to see an iPhoto journal in iCloud.) Some evidence points to Safari tabs in the cloud that will allow users to access open tabs on any of their devices.
Mac Hardware refresh
Thanks in part to a leaked product inventory list, we know that a most of Apple’s Mac product line will be updated. Some of the most anticipated rumours point to a redesigned Macbook Pro, which removes the optical drive and takes the construction towards the look of the Macbook air, As Apple has built in support for hiDPI or “Retina” displays into OS X and will include “Retina” displays across the board. I have a hunch Apple will keep the current 13″ Macbook as the new “White Macbook” i.e. Low price point, perfect for those in education.
Alternatively, Apple might be inclined to keeping the Macbook Pro line around, touting the extra computing & graphics power, and the optical drive as Pro features; then introduce new 15″ Air models.
The other big refresh will be the Mac Pro, a product line that Apple has been accused of overlooking – it was last updated over 680 days ago. The Mac Pro is set to finally see Thunderbolt integration and an update to the chipset.
The Apple TV
Now the next biggest rumour mill for this event is the Apple TV, Apple’s “hobby” device. Apple recently updated the Apple TV and OS to include a top menu system that looked suspiciously like the iOS home screen. This has lead many to believe that Apple are finally ready to unveil an Apple TV SDK to open up the device to third party developers and eventually an integrated Apple TV – not just a set top box.
Personally I don’t think an SDK is incoming. I think Apple will look to push Airplay mirroring support to developers. I’ve discussed Airplay apps before and how they’re lacking support from devs, this is the right time for Apple to push airplay and open up the Apple TV in a different way to developers. Granted it will isolate those without an iOS device, however I’m willing to bet the majority of users who have an Apple TV already own an iOS device.
EDIT: After some thought, I decided I should probably try and justify my opinion on this.
My biggest concern with Apple releasing an Apple TV SDK is that the majority of Apps I have on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad are not something I’d want to see on 32″+ Screen. TV is generally a shared experience, I don’t want to share my twitter feed, my Facebook feed, or my RSS feeds with everyone in the room (gaming possibly being the exception). I want to use my TV to watch interesting characters, plotlines, and information.
I’m not saying we 100% will not see an Apple TV SDK, I’m saying that I believe that Apple have a lot to offer with Airplay enabled apps, Similar to what Microsoft have done with their recently announced Smart glass. Then again, Steve Jobs once said “people don’t know what they want, until you show it to them”, a statement which Apple has consistently applied to their products.
Let me also say that I do not expect to see a new iPhone or an iPad mini tomorrow. Although Apple have a track record of releasing new iPhone models at WWDC (3G, 3GS, and 4) this track was broken last year when the iPhone 4S was announced in September. With the iPhone 4S being less than 12 months old I struggle to believe now is a good time to announce or introduce a new model.
Having said that, number of leaked parts are somewhat overwhelming, It looks as though we have a good idea how the next iPhone will look, something which usually only happens before a release.