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What We Can Expect From Apple At WWDC 2014?

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What We Can Expect From Apple At WWDC 2014?

Features Michael Grothaus 14:43, 15 Apr 2014

Michael examines what Apple could reveal at 2014's WWDC event

Apple’s WWDC kicks off on June 2 this year--just a mere six weeks away. WWDC has become the holy grail of developer conferences, with demand so high this year Apple decided that in order to be fair to everyone they would hold a raffle for tickets. But WWDC isn’t only of interest to developers, Apple and general technology fans look forward to the conference every year because it sets the stage for what we can expect from Apple--and the technology industry as a whole--for the remainder of the year.

So what could we see at WWDC this year? I’ve looked at all the possibilities and given the chances of each happening.

Product: iOS 8
Chance: A virtual certainty

Let’s put it this way, if Apple didn’t preview the next iOS at this year’s WWDC the company’s stock would plummet, Samsung and Google would declare complete victory over the mobile industry, and pigs would fly.

At every WWDC for the last seven years the next version of iOS has been the key announcement. So what can we expect this year? I think Apple will stick to the same look of iOS 7 with light design tweaks.

The rumored Healthbook features, which allow users to track their biometric and health data are also almost a certainty. It’s entirely likely we’ll also see Apple finally open up Siri to third-party developers. Maps should also be a highlight, with Apple’s Maps finally catching up to Google’s with public transport directions and better search and POIs.

Beyond that, I wouldn’t expect to see too much more in iOS 8. However, a killer “One More Thing” feature could be a mobile payments system using Touch ID.

Product: OS X 10.10
Chance: Highly likely

OS X 10.9 took a backseat to iOS 7 last year, but this year there is a great chance the next version of OS X, to be designated OS X 10.10, will feature a major cosmetic facelift. Though its changes won’t be anything as drastic as the design changes from iOS 6 to iOS 7, I expect OS X 10.10 to see a *slight* flattening of its elements along with new icons and completely new UI’s for some of its apps (Reminders, Messages, even Calculator). If the rumors of a revamped iTunes and iTunes Store are true, both are also likely to make their debut in OS X 10.10.

Under the hood improvements are also likely, but not as big a feature as OS X’s aesthetic redesign. Expect to see AirDrop integration with iOS 7 devices and a more seamless experience between the two OS’s. But note that the OS’s will not start merging to become one unified OS.

Product: An all- new 12-inch Retina MacBook Air
Chance: I’d be surprised if it didn’t happen

While WWDC is mostly a software-centric event, Apple likes to throw a few bones to those hungry to buy the latest and greatest gadget. There are strong rumors that Apple has been working on a MacBook Air with an all-new form factor.

Rumors point to a 12-inch screen (the current MBAs come in 11-inch and 13-inch sizes). But besides the 12-inch screen size the major difference will be a much thinner MacBook Air, which is hard to even conceive of since the laptops are so damn thin already. The new MacBook Air would also likely feature a Retina display and could very well sport an A7 or even the yet-unannounced A8 processor.

Why? Well, the A7 is a true desktop class quad core chip that is majorly underutilized in the current crop of iOS devices. Many experts say it would be perfect to power next generation laptops. Like the new MacBook Air perhaps?

Product: A new Apple TV
Chance: 50-50

Let me start by saying all of you wanting a true Apple television set shouldn’t hold your breath. I still believe any such telly is still years away. Set top boxes are where it’s at and Apple knows this. I strongly believe 2014 will see a new Apple TV. What can we expect from it? A next generation A-series chip, an App Store, and full gaming support. We might also see extended content deals--perhaps even the announcement of an iTunes streaming service along the lines of Netflix.

Now, unlike the new MacBook Air, I don't think the new Apple TV will go on sale until the fall. The reason I think it will be unveiled at WWDC however, is because Apple is going to open it up to third-party development--meaning apps and games. In order for a successful Apple TV launch later in the year Apple will need to give devs plenty of time to get apps and titles out for it.

Product: The iWatch
Chance: Not great, but...

The iWatch is real and it will be out in 2014. But the question is when will Apple announce it? Though I think June may be too early to announce a totally new product that likely won’t ship until October or November, let me play devil’s advocate to state why WWDC would be the most effective place to launch it.

First, if the rumors are true and the iWatch has heavy medical/health features built into it, Apple is going to need to get the FDA’s blessing for it. That means there will be plenty of regulatory paperwork that will be increasingly hard to hide from Freedom of Information requests. And Apple will be damned before it lets another agency announce its plans.

The iWatch would also need to get several certifications from the FCC, which means more paperwork, more FOI requests, and a greater chance it will be leaked. Part of the reason Apple unveiled the original iPhone six months before it went on sale in 2007 was because, as a new device, it needed so much attention from the FCC. The iWatch falls into this category.

But another good reason why we may see the iWatch unveiling at WWDC is because, just like Apple TV, Apple will likely open it up to third-party developers so apps can be ready for it when it goes on sale. That means the company needs to give devs enough time with the SDK--and WWDC is the perfect time to release such an SDK to devs.

What do you hope to see from WWDC? Let us know in the comments!

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