Apple WWDC 2017 – what we want to see (and what we expect to get)

Operating systems! Developers whooping over new APIs! And possibly some new shiny things

04 June 2017
by Stuff Staff

WWDC 2017 is upon us.

From 5–9 June, Apple will offer in-depth sessions, labs, and speakers, to “bring together thousands of brilliant minds representing many diverse perspectives, passions, and talents to help us change the world”.

Which is lovely, but us norms are there for the keynote, where Apple reveals new kit, services and software. This year, Apple’s been tight-lipped, and few leaks have emerged. Our list is therefore a mix of rumour mill, best guesses, and wishes.

Be here for our coverage on Monday from 6pm BST to find out which guesses have been rewarded by a tap from Tim Cook’s ‘make it so’ reality stick.

IOS WILL TURN IT UP TO 11

The iOS release schedule is like clockwork. New iPhones show up in September, and they get the new iOS. We won’t see new iPhones at WWDC, but will get a preview of some iOS 11 features; close attention may help us figure out what Apple’s upcoming smartphone revision might bring.

As for iOS itself, rumours point to a dark mode for night time, a smarter and more natural-sounding Siri, and interface updates (chunkier text; more texture; and, with luck, getting rid of the intrusive volume change icon).

We’re hoping Apple tackles low-hanging fruit on iPad, akin to what’s shown in Federico Viticci and Sam Beckett’s concept video. An iOS Finder and a Split View app launcher that wasn’t cobbled together as a quick-fix especially appeal.

Given that WWDC is for developers, Apple will also remind them the days of 32-bit apps are numbered and suggest updates are sorted well before September.

HELLO, MACOS – AGAIN

OS X became macOS last year, but the update was business as usual, bar welding Siri and Touch ID to the Mac. Apple could this year use iOS 11’s arrival as an excuse to match version numbers, also giving us macOS 11. Which is exciting if you’re a neat freak.

For everyone else, rumours point to FaceTime group calls and, well, not much else. So we’re into wish-list territory again, with many hoping iTunes will be split into separate apps. (They’re likely to be disappointed.)

We’d most like to see Time Machine wrench itself into the present day – it’s very much about hard drives, when it should embrace the internet, Backblaze-style. And if Apple allows you to back-up your entire Mac to iCloud (rather than just sync specific folders and documents), that’d be good for its services bottom-line, too.

TVOS AND WATCHOS COMEBACK SPECIAL

Apple has an apps problem on Apple TV and Apple Watch. The former should have been a gaming powerhouse, but Apple seems uninterested. Apple Watch recently saw big names drop support for native apps, including eBay and Google. How Apple plans to reinvigorate developer support for the platforms is unclear, but WWDC may reveal all.

On watchOS, one rumour surrounds glucose monitoring, further cementing the device’s position in healthcare. On Apple TV, there are rumblings about multi-user set-ups, which makes sense. After all, Apple might argue people should have their own iOS device, but normal families/groups only have one Apple TV per telly.

Expect to hear Apple talk about its new TV shows, Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke (and in the latter case pine for another run of Robert Llewellyn’s rather lovely show of broadly the same name and concept – minus the karaoke).

MACBACK

2016 gave us a new MacBook Pro, and a minor MacBook bump. 2017 needs to give us far more to show Apple’s still serious about the Mac. The mini’s not been updated since 2014. The MacBook Air and iMac were last touched in 2015. The Mac Pro got a spec bump in April, after languishing since December 2013.

New iMacs are rumoured, which will likely mirror the current design, but have USB-C and upgraded innards. But with dirt-cheap and high-quality tiny PCs doing the rounds, it’d pay for Apple to do something radical, brilliant and affordable with the Mac mini.

There are also murmurs about a new Magic Keyboard with Touch Bar. Probably best not to hold your breath on that; and if one does arrive, expect it to mug your wallet.

IPAD EVEN-MORE-PRO

Apple released a new iPad earlier this year, but it was effectively a mash-up of the iPad Air and Air 2. We’re more interested in what’s in store for the Pro.

At the very least, iOS 11 should showcase what it’ll be able to do from a productivity standpoint, but Apple might choose WWDC to reveal the long-rumoured 10.5-inch model (with similar dimensions to existing iPads but a much smaller bezel), to get some serious column inches.

SIRI SPEAK(ER)S

The Apple TV’s more or less a headless iPhone, without the phone bit. Whack a speaker on top and it’s a headless iPhone doing an impression of the depicted Amazon Echo. Whether we need such a device remains to be seen, but it’s a rumour that just won’t die.

It’s worth noting, though, that Apple’s done speakers in the past (notably with the colossal iPod Hi-Fi) and now owns Beats. Alternatively, Apple could get Apple TV responding to “Hey, Siri!”, although how it’d stop all your iOS devices also responding, we’ve no idea. (And developers will surely be thrilled at another Apple platform to deal with, where people won’t want to pay for app support.)

LOADS OF STUFF FOR DEVELOPERS

We say this every year, but it warrants repeating: WWDC is Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. So although we might get some new toys, the main focus is to help the people making apps for the devices you use.

Pundits will blather on about the keynote being boring and how Apple is DOOMED because it didn’t release a dozen new products. What they’ll miss is that even the smallest new features added to Apple’s operating systems can be the ones that make a real difference to millions of people – far more than an early peak at the iPhone 8.

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