WWDC is coming up in a few weeks (June 11) and I figured I’d get out of my garden for a post or two, and back into the world of Apple. As with all Apple events, the keynote is expected to hold wondrous surprises and new toys. But what will we see? A new phone, TV, computers, software? Primarily WWDC is for the programmers and developers out there, so it typically leans heavily on the software side of things. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see hardware.
There are some just “gimmies” when it comes to WWDC, almost all of which are on the software side. The conference is for those that make the software (both mac and iOS) and as such hardware often gets a back seat. But there are some features that might require new hardware to support it. As such most of the hardware announcements get pushed to right before. So they can talk about it without making huge deal about it. I’m guessing this will happen the tue before WWDC (June 5th).
- MacBook Airs – The rumored $800 laptop. If they keep the “old” model of Air, I can see it, but I don’t see it with the new specs. But it would help Apple just crush the ultra-portable market. It is the least needing a refresh at the moment though, so I think they’ll hold off too much with this in favor of the other hardware. It’s still one of the bestselling hardware out there… doesn’t need too much tweaks at the moment.
- MacBook Pros – It’s possible they will be dropping the 13″ with favor of having a beefier Air to take its place. As I’ll discuss down below, besides more RAM, more CPU, larger hard drives… the big announcement for most of the hardware will be the high-resolution screens. This will be put in place for the announcement of independent resolution. This will increase the price probably by $100. There’s also some debate as to the continued existence of the 17″, although I’m fairly sure much like it’s larger desktop brethren the Mac Pro, both will be around for a while longer.
- Mini – Probably just going to get spec bump. Most likely better graphic card to handle the new display spec.
- iMacs – With the new higher res screens, this means we’re looking at 3840×2160 for the 24″, and the 27-inch around 5120×2880. beyond that just the standard bump in hardware specs.
- Cinema Displays – These will see similar upgrades to the iMacs in terms of screen resolution.
- Mac Pros – This is the biggie. The one everyone has been waiting on in the high-end market of Apple developers. The “big upgrade” with these macs will be including Thunderbolt ports, along with the new Xeon E5 (sandy bridge) chips. With these new machines they’ll probably be able to go another year and a half before making any upgrades. Which considering fewer people are buying them will be useful to avoid putting excess R&D into these workhorses.
- iPhone/iPad – no… not happening. They’re not going to waste a “huge” announcement like that around WWDC. Wait till late summer/early fall for that.
- AppleTV – again… don’t think they are going to wast WWDC on this (if they ever even have it…) I also don’t think they have the deals yet in place for this to be time to release a new tv system. Besides I believe they’re waiting on the FCC to rule on this Sky Angel vs Discovery thing before announcing anything.
Now for the real meat and potatoes of WWDC. The operating systems: 10.8 and iOS 6. After all, as Balmer said… “Developers, Developers, Developers…”
10.8 Mountain Lion
Mountain Lion is nearing completion, with previews circulating for quite a while now. We’re well aware of Gatekeeper security, iCloud integration, the new Message app, the new Notification and Game centers, AirPlay mirroring… lots of new features bringing some of the best features of iOS over to it’s older mac counterpart. Many are even showcased right on apple’s site for all to read. But it’s also pretty standard for Apple to also hold a few pieces close to the vest.
- Release Date: So far it’s been “Late Summer 2012”. Expect an actual release date at WWDC. My guess is around early July (my first instinct was August 21st, but that seems awfully far from WWDC).
- Localized languages: For most of us this isn’t a big thing, but expect apple to showcase about their Chinese focus in the new OS.
- Siri: This will most likely be in a “beta” dictate function, similar to the current Siri in the iPad. It probably won’t be installed by default, but something that can be put in place. Start expecting to be able to talk to your computer, and have it actually understand you.
- Resolution Independence: This is one of the most rumored features of the new OS. With retina screens you’ll need a way to keep things at a manageable size for people to use. Expect Resolution Independence
- Safari upgrades – toolbar searching, better integration with iCloud for sharing your sites across devices (like reading pane, but for live sites) will most likely be coming to Safari. Most of it will be to keep up with other browsers.
- Backend core: most of this stuff will fly right over my (and mostly likely your) heads… but will be golden for developers. Better APIs to handle everything, more plug and play function for the software…. it is a developer conference after all.
We’ll also likely get a preview of next big software update – iOS 6. Whether this comes out next year, or when the iPhone 5 comes out… that’s up in the air.
- Apple Maps – This has been all but confirmed at this point. Apple will be moving away from Google maps for it;s native map system and implementing their own. The only thing really left to figure out is if it will have a 3D option or other augmented realty features built-in. With apple controlling the map and GPS software along with the camera interface it’d be fairly simple to implement an overlay of the real world on your phone.
- Siri – New? Well iOS6 is most likely going to bring Siri out of the beta phase and into the prime time. And that’d be on all devices. At the moment the iPad only has dictation and lacks a lot of the features its iPhone brethren has. expect iOS 6 to bring these to the iPad as well.
- New Notification functions– Notification drop down area will have more functionality beyond stocks & weather. Expect to see limited programs to be added onto the Notification window. Also hopefully some new controls over the notifications themselves (like the ability to clear all with a button press).
- Facebook – Apple’s been said to have wanted this for a while, and it appears that they may have finally worked out the details with FaceBook. Integration the same way Twitter has will most likely be coming to iOS6.
- AirDrop – Speaking of integration, Mac OS already has a feature to allow macs to transfer files seamlessly between them with AirDrop. Why not extend that functionality to iOS devices? They already allow backups and updates via iTunes, why not extend that to transfer other sort of files as well, like a local drop box. Would be a good replacement for the iDisk that is going away.
- Better resolution handling – this may not be announced at WWDC, but probably something we’ll see in the next OS. It makes sense if the mac goes resolution independent, that iOS would fallow suit, but it might tip their hat to the upcoming iPhone (5), and perhaps mini iPad, specs. This would allow text, images, and other frameworks to scale up or down natively, without having to work about the exact pixels, but instead concentrate on the goal size and height/width ratio. Very useful in dealing with apps running on multiple screen sizes. Expect this to be included, but probably not mentioned.
- Multiple Signatures – I know I’ve been complaining about this one for a while… but hopefully we’ll see this in the upcoming iOS. A signature you can attach/assign to different email accounts.
- Multitasking – There’s a couple of jail break options out there (like Quasar) but the more I see them the more clunky and un-apple they seem to be. Don’t expect anything this drastic in the new OS. At best we’ll see a new way to handle moving the apps around the screen.
One More Thing?
Apple has somewhat moved away from the “one more thing” but it still happens. The surprise announcements. The dark horse of the rumor mill (usually). So what could this event’s be? In the past Apple’s introduced FaceTime in 2010, and iTunes Match in 2011.
Apparently the betting money is on Apple talking about the new AppleTV. I still think an AppleTV functionality like everyone is expecting is unlikely at this point. But iOS on the current AppleTV in some function is likely, and would serve as a good stepping stone whenever they eventually do come out with the current “unicorn” Apple device.
Those are my guesses. What are your’s? Leave them in the comments.