Apple's annual World Wide Developer Conference starts on June 10 and analysts, developers and Apple fans are expecting a lot from the keynote presentation that kicks off the event. The company will no doubt have some exciting announcements to share, but there's a good chance if you're expecting back-to-back blockbuster announcements from start to finish, you'll be in for something of a disappointment.
What we do know is that Apple will show off iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 and, at least for iOS, it sounds like we're in for some big changes. With Scott Forstall out and Jonathan Ive in charge of both hardware and software-based interface design, it's looking like the iPhone and iPad interface is about to get a serious facelift.
iPhone and Mac
Sir Jonathan isn't a fan of skeuomorphic interface designs -- meaning elements such as the leather stitching found in apps like Calendar and Notes. Interface elements that look like remnants from your dad's desk are on their way out at Apple, and we've already seen that begin with an update to the Podcasts app that the company isn't afraid to make major design changes.
Apple plans to show off OS X 10.9 during the keynote event, too, although the changes we see there probably won't be as radical as iOS 7. What seems likely are more under the hood changes like Mountain Lion brought. We'll probably see more iPad-like interface elements, too, and please please show us a more robust and flexible iCloud, Apple. iCloud as a data conduit between our devices is great, but it sure would be nice to be able to choose which apps open documents.
On the hardware front, Mac Pro fans have been impatiently waiting years for a significant update, and rumors are claiming that MacBook Air inventories are dropping, which may mean a Retina Display model is on the way. Apple has used WWDC in the past to introduce new hardware, and the same could happen this year, too... or maybe not.
CEO Tim Cook said not to expect any big product announcements until this fall and into 2014, and while he didn't elaborate, that could mean new Mac models won't get shown off on June 10. The Mac Pro is certainly overdue for a big update, so seeing that finally happen at WWDC would be great. Considering Mr. Cook's warning, however, there may not be much news on the Mac front during the keynote.
iPad and iPhone announcements may not come on June 10th, either. Apple looks to be moving to a fall release cycle, and without an updated version of iOS ready to go, new models right now just don't seem plausible.
What does seem likely is a September iOS 7 launch with new iPhones following a few days later. New iPad and iPad mini models will probably hit at about the same time, too. That means big iPhone and iPad announcements in a couple months instead of now.
The New Stuff
How about the launch of the long rumored Apple television and the iWatch? How about no and no. Despite some analyst and consumer interest in an HD TV from Apple, lage and bulky items with a seven-year upgrade cycle doesn't sound like a good fit for the company unless it can do something that completely disrupts the home entertainment market.
The rumored iWatch, which is said to be a smartwatch accessory for the iPhone, isn't coming either. Aside from products like mice and displays, Apple isn't in the accessory market, and a watch that's little more than a remote display for your iPhone doesn't sound like an Apple move, either. It's a pretty safe bet Apple is working on wearable technology ideas, but don't expect to see those at WWDC.
A streaming music service, or iRadio for the rumor crowd, is apparently on the way, but it won't make its debut at WWDC unless Apple can strike a last minute deal with Sony over licensing rights. Rumors claim Apple has deals in place with the other big record labels, but Apple hasn't been able to come to an agreements with Sony yet. If that does come together, we may get a WWDC announcement. If not, then look for an announcement in a couple months when new iPhone and iPad models are unveiled.
With services like Spotify, Rdio, and Rhapsody already available, consumers are already well served. Still, it makes sense for Apple to get into the game, too, since it already has the iTunes Store as an easy way to sell the music subscribers are hearing, and as long as Apple stays out of the market, that money is going to other companies.
The short version: Big changes for iOS 7 previewed, more plumbing changes for OS X, no Apple television or iWatch, and wait until fall for new iPhones and iPads. That makes the WWDC keynote sound like a setup for a boring presentation, but I don't think that'll happen. My money is on exciting announcements for iOS and OS X, but it may take a while for analysts and some Apple fans to realize just how important those are.