Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference opens in San Francisco next week, and as always, Apple is kicking off its developer extravaganza with a big keynote presentation on Monday. It’s the company’s first major public event since the launch of the iPad Air last year, and it promises to hold some interesting developments for users of the company’s products.
As with all things Apple, the announcements are shrouded in a cloak of secrecy, but a combination of pattern recognition and rumors can give a bit of a glimpse into what Apple has planned. Here’s what to expect:
New Mac OS X
If patterns hold, Apple will give the public a first look at the next version of Mac OS X (codenamed “Syrah”) next week, and it’s going to be a big one. Many expect that this is going to be an update that brings a tweaked version of the iOS 7 aesthetic to the Mac, and continue Apple’s “iOS-ification” of its computer products.
Beyond that, there’s not much we know about the upcoming changes to Apple’s desktop OS. The company announced a number of new apps for the Mac last year as well as some major changes to its existing software products, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s release was a bit lighter on new features in exchange for a new design aesthetic.
WWDC is also the traditional coming out party for Apple’s next revision of its mobile operating system. People who are just getting used to iOS 7 can also rest easy: iOS 8 isn’t expected to feature a radical re-imagining of how apps on Apple’s mobile platform should look and feel.
I’ve already written at length about what I’d like to see from Apple’s new mobile operating system, but here are a few key features we might see:
- A Healthbook app that tracks users’ fitness and wellness data, like number of steps, blood sugar and pulse.
- Transit directions for Apple Maps, so users can ask Siri when the next bus is coming.
- Mobile payment technology that would allow users to pay for their retail goods just by using an iPhone.
Apple has traditionally announced an update to one or more of its computer product lines at WWDC, and there are a few interesting options for this year. Rumors have been swirling about a MacBook Air with Retina display, which would bring Apple’s high-resolution display tech to its lightest-weight laptops for the first time ever.
It has also been 2 years since the Mac Mini was updated, and Apple’s entry-level desktop could use some love. Eagle-eyed users also spotted references to new iMac models in the latest beta for OS X that Apple released to developers earlier this month, but Apple has recently taken to refreshing that line in the fall.
All of this could be impeded by Intel’s processor roadmap for 2014. The chipmaker announced earlier this year that its new Broadwell processors will be delayed until this fall. That, in turn, would delay any Macs that are designed to use Intel’s new chips.
A glimpse at a home automation system…maybe
Rumors surfaced earlier this week saying that Apple could announce a new smart home system at WWDC. The system would allow users to control lights, security systems, appliances and other electronics in their home from their iPhone.
I’m still skeptical about the chances of that happening, but it’s possible that Apple will pull a rabbit out of its hat. It’s clear that home automation is becoming more popular, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple wanted a piece of that particular pie.
What you won’t see
As much as I’d like to see Apple announce an iWatch or other wearable device on Monday, it’s not going to happen. Similarly, Apple probably isn’t going to unveil a refreshed version of its Apple TV set-top box that has been making the rounds in the rumor mill.
In all likelihood, we also won’t see new iOS hardware, since Apple has clearly shifted their release schedule to the fall. People who are waiting for a new iPhone or iPad will have to wait until at least September for their new gizmos, assuming Apple keeps up its past patterns.
GeekWire will be covering all of the announcements that come out of Apple’s big event, so stay tuned Monday for all the information out of San Francisco.