Special: Last-Minute WWDC 2012 Predictions

by on June 10, 2012

Editor’s Note: This was posted originally on A Modern Day Drifter, and Matt intended for it to be also posted here. Since a lot of his guesses are in line with Eric’s own, we decided to run this as our “official” piece this year.

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is being held June 11-15, with the highly anticipated keynote address starting tomorrow at 10:00AM PST. For those of you not in attendance, you can follow along at SchwarzTech Live where Eric will be live-blogging the presentation. Here is what you can expect, what you shouldn’t expect, and perhaps “one more thing” that might surprise you.

iOS 6

The banners are up and it’s no surprise that Apple will be announcing iOS 6. iOS has matured quite a bit since 2007 and most of the “low hanging fruit” in iOS has been picked. The notable exception is Maps. If there was any doubt that Apple was finally moving to their own OS mapping backend, Google’s announcement of their new 3D maps, coincidentally announced last week, should put your mind at ease. Apple purchased C3 Technologies last year, a company that specialized in 3D mapping, and is like to showcase what they’ve been up to for the last year. Apple has already started replacing Google in applications such as iPhoto for iOS.

After maps, details about iOS 6 are less uncertain. Tim Cook at the D: All Things Digital Conference suggested that iOS 6 will have tighter integration with social media giant, Facebook, and could open up Siri for third-party developer use. I’d file both of these features under “likely”.

After Maps, Siri APIs, and Facebook integration, it’s really anybody’s guess. Some speculation in the last week has been around Siri coming to the iPad, inter-app communication, and custom notification center widgets. These seem far less likely. I’m still unsure that Apple is committed to bringing Siri to the iPad and, while we all would love our apps to talk to one-another, the lockdown Apple has on the OS has benefited users in terms of security and peace of mind. While possible, these seem less likely.

OS X Mountain Lion

Uncharacteristically, Apple announced the forthcoming OS (10.8) quietly on its website and is likely going to give a far more, in-depth overview tomorrow morning with its release later this summer. Apple has already announced features of Mountain Lion familiar to iOS users such as Messages, the next iteration of iChat, Reminders, Notes, Game Center, Share Sheets, AirPlay, and Notification Center. In addition, Apple is renaming both iCal and Address Book (Calendar and Contacts, respectively) to bring more symmetry to the Apple eco-system. You can expect Apple to show each of these off tomorrow morning.

However, Apple has likely been holding a little bit back, which has led to some speculation about additional Mountain Lion features. Possibly, Apple is looking to add automatic app updating, offline reading to saved articles, and password generation in Safari. I’d say each of these are fairly likely. Far less likely is the integration of Siri in OS X. It’s the time of year where everyone on the internet light their hair on fire and expected Siri to be baked into everything – including my mother’s cookies. We might see some new dictation features in Mountain Lion, but likely not a fully-baked Siri.

iCloud

When announced last year, Tim Cook stated that iCloud was a decade long strategy for Apple. Some “leaks” of the new iCloud.com beta showed icons for Reminders and Notes, suggesting that Apple is ready to sync these across iCloud as well. In addition, some speculation is that Apple may also be trying to find a way to extend the features of Photo Stream and allow users to share photos through iCloud. There is an awful lot of smoke and likely a bit of fire.

After updates to iCloud.com and photo sharing, who knows where Apple might be taking iCloud next. Last month, Apple started storing recently purchased movies on iTunes, much like with music, and it’s possible they could be taking this further. We’ll see tomorrow.

Mac Hardware Refreshes

Just about every Mac computer is due for a refresh, none more in desperate need than the Mac Pro. Intel’s newest Ivy Bridge processors were late, which likely resulted in hardware refresh delays. In fact, the fairly reputable Mac Buyer’s Guide warns against purchasing any Mac computers. It’s not out of the question to expect that all Mac hardware will see a refresh – at the very least with new processors.

In addition, there has been speculation about Apple releasing Macs with “Retina” displays. This could just been collective, wishful thinking. I don’t know much about engineering or manufacturing, but producing Retina displays in 13 or 15 inches, heaven forbid 17, 21 or 27 inches, seems like a tall order. It’s possible that the MacBook Airs might see Retina displays, but beyond that, the odds become far less likely.

One More Thing

If you are going to WWDC, you’ve probably noticed that about 40 percent of the presentations are TBA. As such, many have speculated what this might mean. Likely, this is a combination of new iOS features, unannounced Mountain Lion features, Siri APIs, and Apple engineers not getting their presentation abstracts in on-time (my work colleagues will sympathize). However, it’s more fun to speculate on much grander reasons for the lack of disclosure.

Apple TV

For what seems like forever now, Apple has apparently been working on a TV. As much as I want to believe this, it just doesn’t seem likely. The market is saturated enough and working with cable providers must be hellish. I wouldn’t hang your hopes on this. However, hoping that we might see an AppleTV SDK, and therefore and AppleTV App Store in the future, isn’t out of the realm of possibilities – even Steve Jobs said it might be a possibility down the line. I’d be pleasantly surprised, but not shocked.

iPhone 5

This one just doesn’t make sense. Likely, we’ll hear about this in September. However, if Apple is doing a complete revision to the iPhone hardware and is changing the screen size, there probably was some discussion about announcing the iPhone 5 at WWDC if, and only if, they were ready to ship this summer. This seems like a zero probability.

A New Development Language

Not being a developer, I’m not sure how to judge the likelihood of this. In fact, it only occurred to me that this might be a possibility after John Saracusa mentioned it on Hypercritical last week. However, Objective C is getting long in the tooth and a new language would require a number of high-profile sessions. My gut is telling me this is less likely.

This post has been filed in Articles and Special Coverage