By this time in 2012, Apple had taken the stage and dominated the news cycle multiple times to announce products like a new iPad, Apple TV, new Mac operating system, and various other software for both iOS and OS X. However, the first half of 2013 has been low on Apple product introductions as the company, coming off of a big fall, has focused on minor tweaks to existing products.
Even though Apple has been out of the limelight, the Cupertino company has been hard at work on a slew of new hardware, software, and services products, and the company plans to introduce new versions of iOS, OS X, and the MacBook Air at its WWDC conference next week. Apple will be holding a keynote on 10 AM on Monday to talk about these new products.
Below, you can find our much-anticipated WWDC 2013 roundup along with many new tidbits about what Apple is preparing:
iPad Air 2
Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook initiated major changes to Apple’s executive leadership team, pushing out iOS Senior VP Scott Forstall and splitting up the duties between OS X chief Craig Federighi, Services head Eddy Cue, Technologies SVP Bob Mansfield, and perhaps most excitingly, design head Jony Ive. While Forstall has believed in design based on metaphors of real-life objects, Ive believes in simplicity. With that in mind, many industry watchers and iOS users have been excited about how Ive will change iOS.
Even though Ive was only recently put in charge of software design, we have heard from sources that his imprint is found all over iOS 7 (codenamed Innsbruck). Tim Cook confirmed as much during his interview at the D11 conference. Users can expect iOS 7 to lose some of the “skeumorphic” textures found in previous releases.
For example, the yellow notepad-inspired Notes app and Leather-bound Calendar interfaces on the iPhone and iPad will no longer be present. Instead, Jony Ive has designed iOS 7 to include many flat white, grey/silver, and black textures. For instance, the Compass app loses its mahogany-wood texture in favor of a flat black background and a simple white compass face.
Additionally, Ive has tweaked many of iOS 7’s apps to appear more unified. We have heard that iOS 7 apps will mainly be based in a flat white/gray texture, but differentiated by different colored buttons and navigation bars. For example, the Calendar app may be mostly white, but it could include red buttons (concept above).
Other apps have seen more transformative changes. For example, Weather has been re-designed to be more animated (concept above). Unsurprisingly, the casino-inspired textures in Game Center will be nowhere to be found in iOS 7.
Above is a mockup of what Notification Center could look like with a black background instead of linen (Mockup by Michael Steeber).
Earlier this week, Apple released its official WWDC 2013 application for developers. Notably, the application introduces a new aesthetic that focuses on flat white, black, and grey textures. Additionally, the app experiments with new fonts (such as Avenir) and includes shadow-less buttons and navigation bars. Many of the new design changes in the WWDC 2013 app line up with our expectations for iOS 7.
Going social: Vimeo, Flickr, AirDrop
We previously reported that iOS 7 builds in testing include functionality for easily uploading photos to Flickr and videos to Vimeo. Users will need to sign-in once via Apple’s included Settings app. Then, Flickr and Vimeo share buttons become available alongside Twitter and Facebook in iOS’s system-wide share menu.
We also reported that Apple is again experimenting with AirDrop functionality in iOS. Currently, AirDrop is available via WiFi on OS X. The function allows one Mac user to quickly transfer a file to another Mac user nearby. On iOS, this will be even more convenient because of the inherit mobility of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. Sources say, much like with iPhoto for iOS’s “Beam” functionality, Apple is experimenting with ways to support AirDrop on iOS without a WiFi connection.
Like with any single function, either of these features could be removed before Apple introduces iOS 7 next week.
Expanding on the Siri Eyes-Free technology, sources say that Apple is working on new forms of in-car integration for both Siri and Maps. With this new functionality, which could be introduced as soon as next week, a user could more easily connect Siri functions to their in-car systems. This new feature will also allow users to mirror/video-out Apple Maps onto the display included in many modern car center-consoles. We’re also told that Apple is working on some “under-the-hood” changes for Siri and Maps to improve reliability.
We understand that, as of a few months ago, Apple has been testing a few variants of a redesigned camera app that includes image-filter functionality. This feature would mirror what the Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter camera apps currently offer. We understand that while many iOS engineers are excited about the potential of filters being built-in to the iPhone’s camera app, some Apple executives are not as fond of the feature. With that in mind, we are not sure if filters will make this year’s release.
While Apple may not end up doing so for iOS 7, we understand that Apple has been experimenting with new ways to handle multitasking on the iPhone. We’re told that ideas include a webOS/iOS Safari Tabs like interface. Apple’s current implementation seems to resonate with users, so we are not sure if Apple will end up moving away from that (this year).
We have heard whispers that Apple is testing new technologies could move on-screen objects based on the iOS device hardware being moved in-air. For example, app icons could slightly shift depending on the angle that the iPhone is being in held. The technology is similar to what allows the iOS 6 volume controls to rotate based on the iPhone being moved. We are not sure if this feature will make the cut for iOS 7, but the development of this technology is nonetheless intriguing.
While iOS 7 is a major release for consumers, the new operating system could include a plethora of new Gaming-focused APIs and enhancements for developers regarding Maps integration. A Siri API is something that Apple has been working on for a couple of years, but it is unclear when said API will go public. We do understand, however, that if Siri is eventually opened up to developers, access will likely be limited to certain categories of apps.
While Apple shipped the first four major releases of iOS during early-summer, Apple, since 2011, has moved its iOS releases to the fall. In 2011, iOS 5 was released in October, and in 2012, iOS 6 was released in September. Even though delays have been rumored, iOS 7 will likely ship around September. Bloomberg reported as much and AllThingsD has said that the new software “will ship on time.”
Interestingly, a few months ago we heard that Apple was giving the iPhone’s version of iOS 7 the priority in development, much like the iPhone version of iOS 4 was given priority over the iPad variant. Perhaps backing up these whispers is the iOS 7 usage statistics from our Google Analytics results (above).
OS X 10.9:
At WWDC, Apple plans to announce the tenth major release of the Mac OS X operating system since its inception in 2001. OS X 10.9, which is internally codenamed “Cabernet,” will likely take more functionality from iOS and include fresh new features that are exclusive to OS X.
As we reported in April, Apple plans to provide minor user-interface tweaks to OS X with 10.9. At that time, we heard that 10.9 will not include the Jony Ive-inspired flat design aesthetic found in the upcoming iOS 7.
As of our initial report, we understand that internal OS X 10.9 builds retain the infamous leather-bordered, skeuomorphic Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, and Notes apps. However, we understand that Apple is planning to eventually remove those metaphors of real-life objects from the Mac operating system.
With 10.9, Apple is introducing some critical features for power-users.
With 10.9, Finder will gain critical enhancements such as new tabbed and tagged browsing modes. For example, users will be able to pin multiple Finder browsing sessions into a single window much like a Mac user can keep multiple Safari pages open in a tabbed view. The tagged browsing mode will allow users to more easily sort files by kind or label.
Another notable feature is the ability to have different full-screen workspaces on multiple desktops. For example, a MacBook Pro user with dual-external monitors can have a full-screen Safari window open on their laptop, a full-screen video playing on their first external display, and perhaps a full-screen Keynote presentation open on their second external monitor. Currently, in OS X Mountain Lion, the additional monitors will present a full-screen view of grey linen if a full-screen app is being used on the laptop.
Taking from iOS:
Much like with Launchpad and full-screen apps in OS X Lion and Notification Center and AirPlay Mirroring in OS X Mountain Lion, Apple has been experimenting with bringing yet another core-feature (non-app) from iOS over to OS X. iOS users can currently jump between applications using the quick-app-switching bar when double clicking the Home button.
This functionality not only lets users move between apps quickly, but the feature actually conserves battery life and performance by pausing the processes of the background app. Apple has been experimenting with bringing similar quick-app-switching to OS X. This could allow for improved battery and processor performance (especially with laptops).
Last year, we reported that Apple has been testing versions of 10.9 with support for Siri, but it is unclear if Siri for OS X has moved past the testing stages. Sources said in April that any projects in development prior to Apple’s leadership changes in the Software Engineering divisions could have been postponed. Siri development requires a significant testing, and perhaps because of the engineerings shifts from 10.9 to iOS 7, Siri on OS X will need to be saved for later.
While OS X 10.9 will likely please consumers looking to improve their Mac computing experiences, OS X 10.9 likely also not disappoint Mac developers. Apple has been working on an update to Xcode, we’re told, that could be introduced as soon as next week. Apple’s press release for WWDC seems to infer this (bolded emphasis ours):
Our developers have had the most prolific and profitable year ever, and we’re excited to show them the latest advances in software technologies and developer tools to help them create innovative new apps. We can’t wait to get new versions of iOS and OS X into their hands at WWDC.
We understand that the new developer tools will be optimized for the new full-screen monitor mode in OS X 10.9. Additionally, the software will include a new user-interface that is lighter in texture.
Sources say, as others have previously reported, that OS X 10.9’s development has been delayed in order to ship the more significantly changed iOS 7 on-time. We understand that Apple had originally planned to release the first Developer Preview of OS X 10.9 at the end of January. On that previous schedule, developers were supposed to receive the Golden Master copy of OS X 10.9 during the last week of June, with a public release to follow in July (roughly a year following OS X Mountain Lion’s public launch). It is unclear if development of 10.9 was accelerated back to its old pace or when the software will hit Golden Master and public release status. Apple shipped OS X Lion approximately one year before Mountain Lion, and prior to Lion, Apple’s major Mac OS updates were not on an annual schedule.
Like it did last year, it seems that Apple is planning to talk notebooks at this year’s WWDC.
Based on leaked SKU and pricing information, Apple appears set to release new versions of the MacBook Air next week. Our sources suggest that Apple will retain both MacBook Air screen-sizes and ship two models of each that differ by storage and processor options. We’re told that a couple of the new models could ship before others, but all four SKUs should be able to be ordered as soon as next week.
With Intel’s announcement of its faster, more battery-efficient Haswell chipsets, we believe it is likely that these new Airs will sport the new processors. Based on previous reports and our own findings of 802.11ac compatibility strings in the just-released OS X 10.8.4, we also believe it is likely that the new MacBook Airs could support 802.11ac-compatible routers.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities previously reported that the next MacBook Air revision will include dual microphones.
With the MacBook Airs apparently set to obsolete the MacBook Pros in terms of chip technologies, it is likely that Apple also has an update up its sleeves for its flagship, priciest notebooks.
While we are not expecting new MacBook Pros (neither the Retina nor “Classic” models) to ship next week, we cannot rule out discussion of such an update next week or a refresh within the next couple of months. In 2011, Apple saved Mac hardware updates to debut alongside OS X Lion, so perhaps Apple is saving a faster Retina MacBook Pro for launch alongside OS X 10.9. We previously reported that the MacBook Pro with Retina display models are facing supply constraints, so an update sooner, rather than later, is probable.
The aforementioned Ming-Chi Kuo also previously reported that the next MacBook Pro refresh will bring a slightly skinnier design to the 13-inch Retina display-model. Because the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display was only introduced last October, we find it unlikely that Apple is already scheduled to redesign the machine.
Taking Kuo’s report at face-value, however, it might be likely for the 13-inch Retina model to become slightly thinner. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is currently ever-so-slightly thinner than its 13-inch counterpart, so it would not be too surprising to see Apple match up the vertical dimensions of the computer chassis.
Earlier this year, Apple tweaked the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display lines with slightly faster processors and lower prices (for the smaller screen-size). The 2008 unibody-MacBook Pro design was updated with Ivy Bridge chips during 2012’s WWDC, and those machines are said to not be facing supply constraints. With that knowledge, we believe that the current “Classic” MacBook Pro models will be retained and perhaps not updated alongside the next Retina MacBook Pro update.
Alongside the new MacBook Air SKUs, we received SKUs and pricing for three unidentified Apple products (SKUs: ME177LL/A, ME182LL/A, ME918LL/A). The prices for these products resemble those of (but not exactly) the current Time Capsules and AirPort Extreme. With 802.11ac WiFi chips expected to be a part of the new MacBook Air announcement and with the 802.11ac-compatible 10.8.4 having been released this week, it would not be too surprising for Apple to release accompanying Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme updates to support the new Mac hardware and software. Additionally, those wireless products are low in supply. Based on a lack of shortages, the AirPort Express (which was redesigned for last year’s WWDC), is not seeing an imminent update.
For several years, Apple has been rumored to be working on enhancements to its digital music business. Apple’s single-download iTunes Store service has served the company well for over a decade, but as competitors like Spotify and Pandora are becoming more popular, Apple needs a way to bolster its industry domination. According to several reports and our own sources, Apple is seeking to debut a new streaming music service as soon as next week at WWDC.
According to what we have heard, Apple’s Radio service will be akin to Pandora in that it will stream a selection of music based on what a user has previously listened to. Similar to Pandora, the songs will be based on user-interests. However, Apple’s advantage is that it could potentially pull user-data from songs purchased from the iTunes Store and/or downloaded on the user’s iOS devices.
According to record label sources who have been briefed on Apple’s streaming music plans, the technology is very similar to the software used to create the iTunes Genius feature already found on iOS and OS X. According to one person who was briefed on the service, it “works very well.” Apple’s own iTunes Store blog recently summarized the long-existing iTunes Genius functionality:
Genius searches your library for songs that go great together, then organizes them into genre-based mixes you’ll love, like Hip-Hop/Rap Mix, Singer/Songwriter Mix, R&B/Soul Mix, and more, depending on what you have in your iTunes library on your computer.
According to sources, Apple had planned to debut the feature in iOS 6 last year, but postponed the launch (as others have previously reported) because proper deals with the labels were not finalized. We also understand that Apple has tested multiple approaches to how it will release the app. We’ve heard whispers of testing for: an App Store app, an app pre-installed in iOS 7, and integration into the already-existing Music app. If the app comes pre-installed as a standalone program in iOS 7, it will reportedly not replace the standard Music app.
Earlier this year, we discovered buttons in iOS 6 that seem to imply that users will be able to purchase the songs that they listen to via Apple’s upcoming radio service.
It is unclear, if like Pandora, Apple’s radio service will allow users to skip between songs. CNET previously reported that Apple and Sony Music have not come to terms because of this feature. So far, Apple has reportedly struck deals with major labels Universal Music and Warner Music.
Ads/Cost: Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that Apple’s Radio service will be free of charge and supported by ads. Apple is taking the advertising for the service so seriously, Bloomberg says, that it is pivoting its iAd team to have a focus on monetizing this service.
Apple’s sales team is now directing its attention to getting big brands to support the radio service, with revenue to be shared with music companies. Some members of the iAd group, which has more than 200 employees, have long sought tighter integration with iTunes so the group could sell ads to entertainment companies that would link directly back to iTunes, said one former iAd member.
Going a step further, AdAge corroborated the Bloomberg report and adds that iAd will also be expanded to allow for audio ads. For example, after a certain amount of songs are streamed from the Apple Radio service, an audio iAd will be played.
The audio ads will be sold via iAd, Apple’s mobile ad network, according to a former Apple executive with knowledge of the situation. In addition to audio ads, the streaming music service will also contain the mobile ads iAd currently sells.
It is unclear if Apple will offer a paid option for the radio service to avoid ads. The New York Times previously reported that Apple is negotiating directly with music groups in order to allow for more extensive functionality.
Mac/Apple TV: We have also heard that Apple has expressed interest to record labels about expanding the streaming music service beyond iOS devices. Without sharing specifics, Apple mentioned that it would like to integrate the service into a tweaked version of iTunes and the Apple TV’s software.
Apple won’t be the first to the streaming music service arena. Products like Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, and Last.fm have existed for years. In comparison, Apple’s upcoming service seems to be similar to Pandora (and Pandora’s shareholders are already feeling the hit). Spotify and Rdio offer a large library of music to be streamed on-demand, but Pandora and likely Apple’s service do not offer the ability to stream a single song from an online library. Last.fm is also similar to Pandora and likely Apple’s service in that it provides personalized music recommendations to its users.
Release: If Apple chooses to launch its streaming music service as an app installed on iOS 7 devices, the service will likely launch this fall alongside iOS 7. Bloomberg previously reported that the service would go public “later this year”. The New York Times hinted a launch after summer.
Apple’s keynote address begins at 10 AM Pacific/1 PM Eastern on June 10th, and Apple says that the keynote will run approximately two hours. We will be live in San Francisco providing full coverage during, before, and after the keynote presentation. Apple typically does not offer a live stream of its WWDC announcements. If you are at WWDC this year, feel free to hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to meet up.