WWDC 2017: What to expect from Apple’s next big event

the annual developers conference kicks off this week in San Jose

Every year at this time the tech world’s focus once again shifts to Cupertino as Apple holds its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), this year – it’s being held closer to Apple HQ than it has in many years – in San Jose.  I’ve arrived in town, and it’s time to think about just what might be ahead.

While it’s not the first time WWDC has been held in San Jose, it is the first time in over a decade.  This could be because the company felt fresh for a change, or more likely a chance to bring the focus back “home” nearer to Cupertino where the giant glass doors of the new Apple Park headquarters are about to slide open to staff.

Whatever the case, the location isn’t entirely relevant to be frank.  What matters is what’s next for the world’s most noticeable tech brand.

The Keynote

A week of activities for app developers from around the world will kick off on Monday morning in San Jose (around 3am Sydney time Tuesday) with a Keynote address from Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Cook will likely follow a well worn template through the event, highlighting Apple’s growth and the rise and rise of the developer community and the money being made around the world through app development.

He will touch on the strength of the iOS and Mac operating systems, take up rates for the most up to date versions and frankly anything to highlight the company’s dominance over Google when it comes to devices running the most current version of their software.

Swift Programming

When you create a programming language from scratch, you push it hard.  Swift was created by Apple to make coding easier to do but most importantly easy to learn.

Expect many highlights of the growth of Swift as a language, the success of Apple’s in-store Coding education programs and the new generation of coders that are being created around the world.

WatchOS

What Apple has planned for operating systems is almost completely unknown.  Watch sales are still going well – just take a look around the streets to see them on more and more wrists.

Expect Apple to continue to highlight the health and fitness aspects of the Watch OS, and announce new improvements to the operating system to continue that focus.

MacOS

Sadly for Mac users, the Updates over recent years have been incremental, and while individual features have been quite good, there hasn’t been a compelling reason to upgrade.

That’s unlikely to change, with the most interesting aspect normally being after which Californian natural iconic location the next version will be named.

As always though there will be performance enhancements, power efficiency news and workplace/workflow improvements.

Apple TV

Judging by recent years announcements, Apple will continue to push new content partnerships with broadcasters and creators.

Expect a highlight to be the move into video content for Apple Music, making Carpool Karaoke a highlight of the platform.

A welcome addition would be a new version of Apple TV with 4K video support. So many TVs now have Netflix or Stan 4K built in, why would Apple not be getting in on this game?

iOS

Like the other operating systems, it’s hard to imagine what Apple has planned for your iPhone update – iOS 11 will be announced at WWDC.

I’d expect further refinements to the Music App for usability and user experience.

I also think the control centre needs an overhaul to make it more customisable and useful for all users.

And Apple’s HomeKit will no doubt be a focus – ensuring that the large number of smart home control devices which are HomeKit enabled can be easily accessible and made more useful through software intelligence.

Hardware

The big question – Will there be new devices announced?

I’ve already suggested an update to Apple TV would be welcome and help keep it competitive.

It’s unlikely the MacBook Pro will be touched again having only recently been relaunched.  But there are three devices worthy, and perhaps long overdue for an update.

The MacBook Air is aging. While its form factor is still class leading, the 11 inch model has been dropped and there’s a need for an entry level below the standard MacBook.  A similar yet slimmer MacBook Air would be an instant hit – throw in a much larger screen with a smaller border to keep it on par with the competition.

A touchscreen is surely inevitable, but perhaps still another year or two away.

For the highest end users the Mac Pro is yet to get an update since the cylindrical machine was launched.   Quite likely a standalone device won’t eventuate, but a higher end iMac could be the solution – iMac Pro anyone?

Leaving us with an updated iMac – whilst there has been a 5K resolution iMac for a couple of years, the form factor of this device is now quite old.  Amazingly, and to Apple’s credit, it still looks stunning.

However Microsoft are out of the blocks with the Surface Studio – which is something very new, and very special. Apple almost must hit back.

A new iMac would reinvigorate iMac sales, there would be a huge raft of people (like me) with pre-5K iMacs ready to upgrade in a heartbeat.

Siri Home

With so much speculation in recent weeks it seems hard to imagine it’s not certain that Apple will announce a new product – a Siri for your home.

A device which goes head to head with Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Home.

This will enable a wider use of Siri, but also provide a phone free link to any HomeKit enabled devices like lights, cameras and sensors.

iPhone

Finally, the biggest question – will we see a new iPhone.

Here’s the best guess I have.   No, we won’t see new phones announced this week.  That formal announcement will come in September.

However, if Apple is – as expected, going to follow the trend towards a new taller screen aspect ratio (like the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8) then a radical change is coming.  Removing the home button from the iPhone?  As controversial as removing the headphone Jack and the slide to unlock feature.

While we won’t see a new phone – could we see a faded out, shaded version of the lower 3rd of “a screen”, showing the bottom line of the phone and the screen as a reference to it.

The reason this is important is the thousands of developers in the room.  They rely on the fingerprint sensor, the screen size – those things need to radically change before the next phone is announced.

It’s possible we’ll get an “insight” into the next iPhone, but not see the phone itself.

When to Watch

EFTM is in San Jose, you can wake up Tuesday morning to all the news from WWDC here at EFTM, on our Twitter account and that of Trevor Long, and hear Trevor on Radio across Australia and on The Today Show on Channel 9.

To watch live yourself, you’ll need an early alarm – the event starts at 3am on Tuesday the 6th June – stream it online or on Apple TV.

 

Trevor Long traveled to San Jose as a guest of Apple.  Click here for details of our commercial interests and disclosures

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Trevor produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He has a weekly radio show on 2UE, as well as appearances across the country and regularly provides Technology Commentary to Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
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