It’s that time of year again – Apple’s “Worldwide Developers conference” (WWDC) kicks off this week in San Francisco and EFTM is on the ground in the USA to find out what Apple has planned for it’s users in 2016.
Across the year, Apple has several key – somewhat predictable – events. iPhone launch and announcement in September/October and WWDC in June. Anything else is a touch random, but there is also likely a time when we’ll hear from Tim Cook on other new products like iPad or Mac.
So, what is WWDC?
It’s a huge event, developers from around the world pay for a ticket to the event and stay the week in San Francisco to hear from Apple on new announcements on Software for mobile devices, Mac, Watch and TV. They then attend sessions throughout the week with Apple Engineers where they can learn some of the ins and outs of their software, ask questions and generally learn as much as they can to make their apps even better.
Traditionally the entire event takes place at the Moscone Centre in the heart of San Francisco, however this year, with the auditorium area of Moscone demolished to make way for a new more modern building, the WWDC events will be in Moscone West, while the Keynote will take place at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
Apple has already taken over the area in preparation for Monday’s kick-off – with the Auditorium being prepared for the keynote, and a little more than half the Civic Center Plaza park across the road from the Auditorium being setup for what looks like work-space for the media and developers in attendance.
The use of the Civic Center Plaza is a huge extension on even the large event last September when the iPhone 6s and iPad Pro were announced.
What gets announced?
Tim Cook, Apple CEO will make a Keynote address on Monday Morning at 10am in San Francisco. Joined by his senior executives, in particular Craig Federighi who manages the software teams, Cook will announce the 2016 versions of the core software that runs on Apple devices.
There’s no advance notice of what will be announced, other than to say it’s a guarantee that the event is dominated by software. This is critical though because with many millions of users holding an iPhone in their hand every minute of the day – the software that runs on it has a real impact on users!
Unless they break from convention, iOS 10 will be announced this week. There will be tweaks and improvements to the operating system, and new options for app developers to integrate.
There is some talk of Siri going open source. This could be huge, but will likely have heavy restrictions, but the idea of using Siri to do more with your phone than just core Apple functions is appealing to many.
Likewise there are rumours of a “dark” themed iOS – allowing you to choose a dark base for everything – imagine a black screen for iMessage or Email. Not enough to float my boat, but whatever.
The next generation of Mac operating system will likely be renamed macOS – to follow the naming convention of all the other operating systems at Apple.
This is big news for Apple nerds, but means basically nothing to average users.
As for what changes inside the OS – aside from possibly bringing Siri to Mac (which would be good), anything you read before the event is simply wishful thinking from speculators.
Less than a year old, tvOS runs on the new Apple TV and allows the Siri search usage and app developer access. Again, some hope of wider Siri use, along App developers to use Siri a bit, but otherwise, some tweaks and enhancements, and on-stage you can guarantee they’ll showcase some awesome developers and apps.
A new version of software is certain, again with new tweaks and enhancements – but what radical changes we can expect I don’t know. Perahaps finally allowing third-party watch faces? The range is oh-so-limited right now.
Ok, so the above isn’t enough to really get the media in a huff as Apple are so often able to do. So there has to be more than that.
Here’s a couple of ideas, but in the end – I think this could be Apples most secretive event in a very long time.
iMessage for Android
Apple Music came to Android – but that makes money for Apple. Launching iMessage on Android would mean families that have a range of devices – not just Apple – to use the Instant Messaging service.
Why is this important? Well, in my own example, when I’m not using an iPhone – I can’t message my kids on their iPods, and I really enjoy having that communication with them, especially when travelling.
But the big negative here is that it means it’s not a reason to use an iPhone – doesn’t that take away iPhone sales? Exactly the issue that Apple would be discussing.
The current iMac is now a few years old in design terms – but I would argue it’s still leaps and bounds ahead of any other all-in-one desktop PC.
Should it get a design refresh? Perhaps.
Does it need a specifications refresh.. For sure, the 5K screen is the biggest advance it’s had – perhaps time for something more?
While the MacBook will stay as is, MacBook Air could do with a design refresh – it’s still a great selling product that hasn’t changed a bit in the years.
Likewise, MacBook Pro – the workhorse of Apple’s portable computer range was made thinner in recent years, but perhaps that could go further?
There’s also some solid speculation of a “screen” above the keyboard to replace the “function keys” – the top row of the keyboard.
Lenovo did this with the X1 a few years back. It was a disaster, and disappeared the year later. If Apple do it, it has to add value, not just replace a set of keys with a screen.
Wait and see
WWDC 2016 is Apple’s first chance in a long time to blow us away because the “leaks” seem few or non-existent. Could it be Apple has sorted out it’s supply chain leaks, or is it just that we’re not going to get a big “blow me away” announcement.
We’ll know on Tuesday morning Sydney time.
Trevor Long travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Apple – Click here for Full details of commercial interests and disclosures