The biggest week of the year for many Apple fans is almost here. The company’s Worldwide Developer Conference officially kicks off on Monday at 10AM PT, and throughout the week we’ve been breaking down everything that’s on the docket.
Now, we’ve compiled all of that information into one big roundup, outlining everything that we expect to see when Tim Cook and other Apple execs grace the stage of the McEnery Convention Center on Monday morning…
Ecobee HomeKit Thermostat
WWDC has always been a software-focused event, with Apple taking the time to outline the future of its operating systems to developers, thus allowing time to get apps ready before the new software is made available to the public. We don’t expect that to change this year, so get ready for iOS 11, macOS 10.13, watchOS 4, and tvOS 11…
One thing to note is that Apple is usually pretty successful when it comes to keeping software updates under wraps. Whereas hardware often leaks ahead of time, we’re usually left to wait and see what the company has planned for software.
Headlining the software portion of WWDC will undoubtedly be iOS 11. This year’s update will bring interface tweaks, new features, and much more.
Headlining iOS 11 will likely be improvements to Siri. As Apple also plans to unveil the Siri Speaker hardware device (more on that later), improvements to the software side of Siri are seemingly inevitable. Siri all around has fallen behind Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, so Apple desperately needs put its Siri efforts into high gear.
While not a whole lot is known about what Siri improvements could come with iOS 11, one report claimed that Apple will update Siri with iMessage integration, iCloud syncing, and the ability to learn from user behaviors. This doesn’t seem all that unlikely given the upcoming Siri Speaker, but nevertheless should be taken with a grain of salt given its origin.
In addition to Siri improvements, iOS 11 will likely have a large focus on video content as well. This will likely come in the form of an updated Music app that “better showcases video,” if one report is to be believed. Apple will debut its first original content show, Carpool Karaoke, in August and could release as many as 10 original shows before the end of this year.
There are also a handful of features that have been on iOS wish lists and could finally make their debut with iOS 11. For instance, one oft-requested feature is dark mode, as well as multi-user support, group FaceTime, expanded 3D Touch support in Control Center, and more.
Lastly, it’s likely that iOS 11 will include a handful of iPad improvements, as well. Our own Jeff Benjamin highlighted changes such as multi-user support, enhanced multitasking, Magic Mouse support, and more Pro apps like Final Cut Pro X.
A separate concept also demonstrated the idea of system-wide drag and drop, an improved split-screen app picker, Finder for iOS, and much more. With the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro on the docket as well, WWDC seems like the perfect chance to unveil a host of new accompanying iOS features.
Read more on iOS 11:
- WWDC roundup: Concepts imagine what iOS 11 could bring to iPhone & iPad [Videos]
- WWDC Wishlist: How iPhone and iPad could improve with iOS 11
watchOS will also get an update this year to version 4, bringing new features to Apple’s wearable device. There are a host of possibilities for watchOS 4 and the sky is really the limit, but there are a few things worth highlighting.
For instance, there is always room for more applications, such as Podcasts and Notes. More applications would allow Apple Watch to function more independently of the iPhone. Existing applications can also be improved, such as the Calendar app. The Calendar app on Apple Watch is currently limited to showing just current month view, which seems a bit unreasonable in this day and age.
Both the Workouts and Activity applications could also be enhanced with more detailed information, such as the ability to view workout data after you’ve saved it. Currently, you must use the iPhone to do that.
Sleep tracking also seems like a logical feature addition, through Apple will still have the problem of battery life/charging if it wants users to wear their Apple Watch to bed. Apple just acquired popular Apple Watch and iOS sleep tracking platform Beddit, so it’s clear that sleep tracking is a focus, but whether or not it comes with watchOS 4 remains to be seen.
There are also various areas around watchOS that could use some TLC. For instance, Now Playing could be made more easily accessible, while volume control would also be nice given the popularity of AirPods. Lastly, it wouldn’t be a new version of watchOS without additional customization options and new watch faces. One customization option I would like to see is support for custom tones for app notifications.
Much like it did with watchOS 3, I see Apple using watchOS 4 as a way to continue making the Apple Watch independent of the iPhone. Gaining as much power as possible, while maintaining and easy-to-use interface, would continue the Apple Watch’s success.
Read more on watchOS 4:
- WWDC Wishlist: How Apple Watch could improve with watchOS 4
- Here’s what watchOS 4 could learn from the original Apple Watch OS
- Ahead of WWDC, what are you most excited to see in watchOS 4? [Poll]
tvOS might not get a whole lot of stage time on Monday, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a host of new features coming with version 11 as Apple continues to perfect its living room efforts.
Headlining tvOS 10.1 last year as a new TV app that aims to offer shows you watch in one interface instead of digging around for something to watch in multiple apps. The top request for the TV app this year is introducing it to more countries. A crucial hole in the TV app currently is Netflix support. At the moment, TV supports services such as Hulu, but missing out is Netflix, the biggest one of them all. Adding Netflix support to the TV app would be reason alone for everyone to upgrade to tvOS 11.
One commonly requested feature is a Home app. While tvOS supports HomeKit and can act as a hub, there’s currently no Home app that allows users to manually interact with accessories, adjust scenes, or offer guests control.
Expanded Siri support would also be appreciated and any iOS Siri improvements would likely come to tvOS, as well.
Last but certainly not least, it’d be interesting to see Apple put an expanded focus on Apple News with the Apple TV. While the idea of reading articles on Apple TV doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, Apple News could integrate video content and live streams from news outlets for an all-in-one news experience.
tvOS has progressed leaps and bounds since its debut, with features like single-sign on and the TV app. There is still room for improvement, however.
Read more about tvOS 11:
- WWDC Wishlist: How Apple TV could improve with tvOS 11
- What feature tops your wish list for the next-gen Apple TV? [Poll]
Rounding out the WWDC software updates is macOS 10.13. As with the rest, not much is known about what features will come with the next iteration of macOS, though it does seem that we will stick with macOS 10 for another year, rather than make the jump to macOS 11.
In our poll last month asking what feature you are most excited to see with macOS 10.13, Apple File System topped the list, while updates to existing apps came in second. Apple File System would bring macOS in line with iOS.
An obvious existing app that needs some attention is iTunes. While Apple has done a lot to improve it recently, there’s still a long way to go. Housing Apple Music, iTunes, the App Store, Beats 1, Podcasts, and soon original video content, iTunes is cluttered and bloated. Many have suggested that macOS should follow the same route as iOS, separating Apple Music, TV, and the App Store into separate apps and macOS 10.13 seems like the perfect opportunity to do so.
Furthermore, with the focus Apple is placing on original video content, it seems likely for macOS to gain a new interface for an improved video experience.
Yet again, improved Siri support seems likely in macOS. One noticeable hole in Siri on macOS is “Hey Siri.” This is a feature that stands out on iOS. Furthermore, macOS currently lacks HomeKit support.
There’s also room for new macOS apps, such as Apple News and Podcasts, as well as updates to Safari, Photos, and other system applications.
In addition to a host of new software announcements, Apple also has some new hardware up its sleeve for WWDC. While the event has been almost exclusively dedicated to software in past, this year it seems that we will see a trio of new hardware products: a new iPad Pro, refreshed MacBooks, and the oft-rumored Siri Speaker.
A new 10.5-inch iPad Pro
As we outlined in great detail yesterday, Apple is expected to unveil its new 10.5-inch iPad Pro next week at WWDC. Earlier this month, a few seemingly legitimate cases leaked offering a look at the overall size of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.
The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is expected to be just a tad bigger than the 9.7-inch iPad line thanks to slimmer bezels. It will offer more screen real estate with a marginally taller and slightly wider body size. The device will also feature repositioned microphones that match up with the design of the new $329 iPad introduced earlier this year.
In terms of internal features, the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro has been rumored to feature an updated A10X processor, as well as stereo speakers. Price remains unclear at this point, but expect it to be somewhere around the $599 price tag of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, if not slightly more.
In addition to the new iPad Pro model, a refreshed 12.9-inch iPad Pro is also in the cards. It’s likely that this update will be minor and include an under-the-hood spec bump, bringing it in line with the rumored 10.5-inch iPad Pro.
We’ve also heard whispers of a new version of the Apple Pencil, though not much is known about it. But again, WWDC seems like the perfect place to unveil it, perhaps alongside a refreshed Smart Keyboard.
Read more on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro:
- Hands on with a 10.5-inch iPad Pro case and dimension details
- Leaked 10.5-inch iPad Pro case compared to current 9.7-inch iPad Pro [Gallery]
- Another report claims 10.5-inch iPad Pro production ramping ahead of WWDC
- Urban Armor Gear prepping case for 10.5-inch iPad Pro, with June availability
- Report: New micro-bezel 10.9-inch iPad to have same footprint as current 9.7-inchers, but thicker
- Photos show cases for new 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with rear mic holes like $329 iPad
- Release of new 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models reportedly pushed to May or June
- KGI: Apple to introduce three new iPads in 2017 including a 10.5 inch iPad Pro, new ‘flexible OLED’ iPad for 2018
- Eurasian filings indicate new MacBooks, iPads and Apple Magic Keyboard coming at WWDC
- Opinion: A budget-focused 12.9-inch iPad would be a compelling entertainment device
Apple also seems to be planning a host of Mac updates for this year’s WWDC, despite just refreshing the MacBook Pro lineup at the end of last year. Updates are reportedly coming to the MacBook Pro, 12-inch MacBook, and perhaps even the MacBook Air.
For the MacBook Pro, Apple is expected to announce more capable machines that are powered by Intel’s Kaby Lake processors. The current MacBook Pro lineup is powered by Intel’s Skylake processors, which were originally unveiled all the way back in 2015. Launched last September, the Kaby Lake series is more powerful and battery efficient across the board, while also offering improved graphics performance.
In addition to the processor bump, Apple is also reportedly planning a new tier of the 15-inch MacBook Pro that offers users 32GB of RAM. Phil Schiller had originally explained that Apple’s decision to cap the MacBook Pro at 16GB of RAM was an effort to preserve battery life. The new 15-inch machine, however, will reportedly make the jump to desktop-class RAM.
As for the 12-inch MacBook, it’s been over a year since Apple updated the machine and it’s reportedly due for a processor bump this year. While it’s not explicitly clear what processor the 12-inch model will adopt, it would make sense for it to also upgrade to the Kaby Lake standard in the form of the Core M series, the ultra-efficient processors that the 12-inch MacBook has used since the beginning.
Like the MacBook Pro, the 12-inch MacBook is also expected to gain a new 16GB RAM tier this year. Currently, the machine maxes out at 8GB, so the introduction of a 16GB tier would offer users the choice of having a bit more power internally, while still maintaining the slim form factor
Last but certainly not least is the MacBook Air. While seemingly outdated, the machine remains a strong seller for Apple thanks to its low price point. A report from Bloomberg last month claimed that the MacBook Air could see a small processor upgrade this year, though it’s unclear if any additional updates could come to other elements like the display or if USB-C will be adopted.
Read more about Mac updates below:
- KGI: Apple planning Kaby Lake processor updates for MacBook & MacBook Pros this year, 32GB RAM option for 15-inch
- Apple says new MacBook Pro’s 16GB RAM limitation is to maintain battery life efficiency
- Bloomberg: MacBook Pro upgrade coming at WWDC alongside 12-inch MacBook refresh & possible MacBook Air updates
Rounding out Apple’s hardware announcements is the oft-rumored Siri Speaker. This device has been in the news for over a year, with details gradually rolling in from various sources. It seems almost certain that we will see the official unveiling of Siri Speaker next week at WWDC.
The Siri Speaker is said be a high-end alternative to the Google Home and Amazon Echo. It’s expected to be a standalone device that features some sort of “touch panel” for input, as opposed to the all-voice competition.
Apple exec Phil Schiller himself came out against the idea of voice-only virtual assistants, so it really doesn’t come as too big of a surprise that Apple’s offering will incorporate some sort of display. Referring to the Amazon Echo and Google Home, Schiller said:
Well, I won’t talk to either one specifically, [I] don’t want to. My mother used to have a saying that if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.
Furthermore, it has been said that one of the selling points of the Siri Speaker will be its sound quality, perhaps integrating some sort of Beats technology, though it’s not clear if the speaker will carry user-facing Beats Branding. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities noted in an investor report that Siri Speaker will be positioned as a “high-end Amazon Echo competitor,” offering seven tweeters and a subwoofer.
In terms of design, the Siri Speaker has been said to feature a design similar to that of the Mac Pro in style, while also taking elements from the UE Boom’s mesh styling.
A recent report from Bloomberg claimed that the Siri Speaker has only recently entered manufacturing, with Apple on track to announce the device at WWDC and release it later this year. This strategy would seemingly give the company time to further perfect the software side of Siri, which will undoubtedly be a crucial point of the device’s success.
Ultimately, going into WWDC this year, the Siri Speaker is what we know least about. The device’s design has stayed under close guard and we’ve not seen any leaked images. When Tim Cook takes the stage on Monday, though, we’ll finally know all of the details.
Read more about Siri Speaker:
- Roundup: Everything we currently know about Apple’s upcoming ‘Siri Speaker’
- KGI: Apple likely to launch 10.5-inch iPad Pro and Siri Speaker at WWDC alongside new software
- Bloomberg: Unclear if Siri Speaker will feature display, Amazon open to Apple Music on Echo
- Phil Schiller says voice-only assistants are sometimes convenient
- Rumor: ‘Siri Speaker’ Amazon Echo competitor could see WWDC debut with Mac Pro style
- KGI: Apple likely to announce ‘home AI’ Siri Speaker at WWDC, positioned as high-end Amazon Echo competitor
- Opinion: I hope Siri Speaker is more Amazon Echo and less Echo Show
- What’s next for Siri: Apple’s advantage for its Echo/Google Home competitor
- Opinion: A Siri Speaker can learn a lot from Amazon’s Echo, but its success really depends on improvements to Siri
- Opinion: Does Apple need to make an Amazon Echo/Google Home speaker, or just make Siri better?
Apple seemingly has a packed event in store for Monday morning, with new software and hardware on the table. Seeing that Apple has already made a pair of App Store and Swift announcements, the company had to make cuts in order to fit everything into its two-hour event.
Headlining the software portion of the event will undoubtedly be iOS 11 with new Siri features, iPad enhancements, and much more. There’s also macOS 10.13, watchOS 4, and tvOS 11, all of which will bring their own fair share of improvements.
There’s also new hardware in store in the form of refreshed and more powerful MacBooks, a new 10.5-inch iPad, and the Siri Speaker.
What are you most excited to see at WWDC next week? Let us know down in the comments.
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