Apple WWDC 2017: iOS takes center stage


Apple CEO Tim Cook at WWDC 2014.
Image: john G. Mabanglo/ Epa/ REX/ Shutterstock

A decade ago, the late Steve Jobs stood and sat at a desk on stage at Apples 2007 Worldwide Developers Conference for an hour and a half, master of ceremonies for the unveiling of OS X Leopard and, most importantly, the first glimpse of iPhone OS 1.

No one could have envisaged what would happen with the iPhone as a development platform. Even Jobs didnt seem to know what he was about to unleash. All he offered third-party developers was the ability to build web-based have applied for the still-untested smartphone that would launch a few weeks later.

[ You can] write great apps, but yet keep the iPhone reliable and secure, all based on the fact that the iPhone has the full Safari engine in iPhone, he told developers. The demonstration that followed from Scott Forstall was underwhelming. It would be another time before Apple launched the App Store and permanently shifted the focus of the world from the desktop to mobile.

A decade later, the iPhone and its platform , now called iOS, is pretty much all everyone can believe or talk about when it comes to WWDC, which will be held June 5-9 in San Jose, California. What Apple unveils on Monday will likely define the eagerly anticipated 10 th Anniversary iPhone( or iPhones ). That momentous occasion, though, is also defining, to some extent WWDC itself.

This year, it will be different.

Im not telling Apple CEO Tim Cook, who will deliver the keynote, wont focus heavily on the demands and interests of developers. There is likely to be iOS, macOS, TVOS, watchOS, and CarOS updates. There is likely to be developer tools updates( Swift, Objective-C) and even code. But I don’t expect Cook to ignored the elephant in the room: He’ll differentiates the auspicious occasion of the iPhones birth. But, sources tell me, Apple will likewise try to surprise.

The hard truth

WWDC is not a hardware event and any time I suggest there might be hardware, person screams me down. Hear me out, though. Obviously, its happened before: the cylindrical Mac Pro is the most obvious example.

This year, Apple may go further, unveiling updates across multiple hardware categories and platforms. Most experts I spoke to agree.

Usually its more about the software announcement, but its[ possible Apple could] refresh some of the product lines. Potentially MacBook and, perhaps, iPad, as well, said Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst at the market research firm Forrester.

No one expects product redesigns. Creative Strategy President and Analyst Tim Bajarin told me to anticipate, at most, processor updates. There is a distinct possibility we could see some new MacBooks that use updated Kaby Lake processors from Intel, said Bajarin.

Earlier this year, Apples Phil Schiller promised significant updates to both the design and the parts of the iMac, an all-in-one desktop system which, Schiller noted, has been largely adopted by professionals, even though it doesn’t feature traditional pro-level components.

Even so , no one expects Cook to disclose a fully-redesigned iMac until later this year. Forrester Analyst Frank Gillett told me its hard to suppose more than processor lumps for the iMac. He does think its possible Apple could razz the 2018 Mac Pro overhaul, just to fulfill the developer audience, which is the core market for that machine.

The iPad Pro, which Apple likes to position, at least for professionals, as a comrade power tool for MacBook Pros and iMacs, may be the one part of hardware that sees more than just a component update.

Gillett likes the idea of an all new iPad Pro and the rumored 10. 5-inch modeling, which would sit between the 12. 9-inch original and 9. 7-inch modeling.

Bajarin concurs, telling me, The iPad Pros do need to be updated and this venue would be a good one to present their hand on new iPad hardware.

The mobile brain

While there have been a steady, virtually inescapable flowing of iPhone rumors, theres been precious little to chew on for the OS that runs it.

That Cook will get on stage and declare, I give you, iOS 11, is a committed. After that?

Do not expect a major iOS redesign. There is gonna be a continued scrubbing of skeuomorphism, more smooth animations, more taptic-engine, 3D touch integratings, productivity updates for the iPad Pro, and, Im guessing, a lot of enhancements to the control panel and widgets. Apple will likewise continue to open the mobile OS for better third-party consolidation on core applications like iMessage, Maps, and Safari.

Some rumors suggest an all new Apple Music App and Group FaceTime, as well.

Siri needs to catch up

The key area of focus, and where Cook and others will invest the most day, though, is Siri.

Siri, Apples AI-powered assistant, will bleed out into virtually every part of iOS 11. Increasingly, it will be like the neural links in our brains that softly and constantly stimulate instant linkages so, on the surface, we can act as sentient beings.

Siri is one of these areas where they need to innovate the most and fastest, given the rival in the space, said Forresters Husson.

He ascertains Apple integrating Siri on a much wider array of services, apps, devices, and even third-party offerings.

If Apple goes further with Siri, Gillett believes now would be a good time for Apple to stimulate Siri a more open platform. He hopes they add options for making more access to your personal data and for discovering what your profile is with Siri, like Microsoft Cortana’s notebook. Siri needs to become more transparent and configurable.

Augmented Reality

The other buzz word will surely be Augmented Reality. Cook is an avowed fan( not so much Virtual Reality ). Most rumors integrate AR sensors into the next iPhone. Apple will look silly if it does unveil an AR-enabled iPhone and had not yet been third-party apps to supporting it.

On this point, however, my sources disagree.

Bajarin believes the close pairing of the iPhone 8( or 10 or X) and AR intends Cook and company will wait for the full disclose until the phone launch later this year. They could give us a suggestion of their interest in AR, but merely a suggestion, awarded Bajarin.

Hasson ascertains things differently. He believes the phone integration implore for this early disclose, especially if Apple integrates AR support into iOS 11.

If they integrate this approach, there is a requirement to developers and brands to build experiences on top of that. So WWDC is the right moment to promote such functionality for them to be ready to work with next version of iPhone, he told me.

What about bots?

Theres likewise a chance Apple will get serious about bots. Those little intelligent agents were all the rage at last years Facebook and Microsoft Developers meetings. Apple hasnt said much about them, but some believe they could be the key to a much more responsive mobile OS.

If Apple uses WWDC as a platform to launch a new Siri-powered bot initiative, it could help the entire bot market ripen and, Hasson contends, streamline the[ iOS] experience and make it easier to move from one app to the other.

We should also expect Apple to stimulate Dark Mode an official, system-wide thing in iOS 11( and may tie it to a broader battery management deliberation ), enhance iMessage, and update Health so its most visible and useful. Home should get a much-needed interface update.

The entertainment mess

Theres likewise the possibility that well see an Apple Music modernise. Tim Cook might even use WWDC to disclose Apples content strategy, especially as it impacts how we view the iTunes storage on the iPhone.

Right now, we have the Apple TV app, which is a boiled down Apple TV device interface with TV proves, movies, streaming collaborators, and Tv apps, iTunes Store( which includes Music, Tv, and Movies ), and then Apple Music( which is all music ). WWDC 2017 would be a good time to both consolidate this mess and plow a new street with fresh, Apple originals.

The heart of your desktop and laptop

If the details of what Apple will do with iOS 11 are slim, theyre virtually non-existent with the follow-up to macOS Sierra.

Most people believe Apple is done with the animal and locating names. This may simply be called macOS 11( or macOS 10.13 ).

I dont expect any fundamental intend changes. iTunes should get an update that aligns it with whatever content programs Apple has for iOS 11.

I also think that the relationship between the mobile and desktop will deepen. Siris awareness of activities on the desktop, laptop, smartphone, iPad, Apple TV, and Apple Watch will be on display in the desktop, the place where, perhaps, you ultimately get do to some management of your Siri profile.

I likewise expect an iCloud update to make it most competitive with Microsofts OneDrive. I likewise hope Apple farther lowers the price of iCloud storage to make it more attractive for businesses and individuals.

Kits and wearables

Apple will likewise walk through all its dozen or so kits( Health, Home, Watch, Research, Game, Cloud ), I expect Cook to dwell a bit on Research and Health. He may even show off the Apple Watch glucose tracker hes been wearing, but there wont be a health product announcement. I seriously uncertainty they would announce something like the rumored blood glucose monitoring system yet. I think that project is really in its very early stages, said Bajarin.

The surprise

When Jobs turned his attention to the iPhone at 2007 s WWDC, it was, literally, his one more thing, moment. I amply expect Apples current CEO to acknowledge that event. It could be a brief celebration of the original iPhone or, thumbs traversed, it was possible to: Astound, an actual product!

There are rumors of a Siri-based speaker, an in-home companion that could help Apple compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home. Siri is one of the most highly engineered and profoundly integrated software products in Apples corral. Unveiling a consumer product connected to this platform could make sense for WWDC. However, Ive long wondered if a Siri Home machine could be based on Apple TV. Siri is already part of the system, retrieved via the mic-enabled remote. A new Apple TV with an integrated microphone array and a speaker( so you aren’t forced to use your TV’s talkers) is possible.

Or not.

I’d be disillusioned if the Siri Device is Apple TV based. It should be a speaker for the kitchen, office or bedside , not just a living room machine, said Forresters Frank Gillett.

Bajarin told me that hes heard too many conflicting tales to reach any conclusion on a Siri Apple TV device.

When I asked Hasson about astounds, he reminded me that theres ever some irrational expectancies on how Apple could disrupt the game again and launch something new and unexpected.

However, he agrees that there is a possibility that Apple could use Apple TV as a Trojan horse for digital home.

Whatever Cook announces Monday, it wont be vaporware. This event is about Apples future and, sources promise me, everything Apple talks about is likely to be real and will ship.

Bonus: When your iPhone is about to die

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