Expectations for Apple’s WWDC 2016

Apple just the other day announced that their annual WWDC conference will be held from June 13-17 in San Francisco, California.

Updates:

Before I start, this blog post will be forever getting updates added to it before the event itself with new details, major rumours and leaks before the event and updates on the build up to the event.

I’ll list the changes here and what sections they are in.

UPDATE #1: Added details about recent rumours of new Thunderbolt Display, MacBook Pro Retina, Siri SDK and new feature for tvOS 10.

UPDATE #2: Changed featured image above to one from this year, update to MacOS name change, Swift 3 announced, App Store subscription model and more.

Announced Details:

The following details that have been announced so far about the event include:

  • Tickets are US$1,599 and developers have to express interest by entering a ballot.
  • Expressing interest is between April 18 and Friday 22nd April at 10:00am PDT.
  • Developers who win a ticket to attend WWDC will be notified by Monday, April 25 at 5:00pm PDT.
  • Developers have to of been registered before WWDC 2016 was announced to be eligible for the ballot.
  • Up to 350 scholarships will be offered to students and members of participating STEM organizations around the world.
  • Apple also offering 125 scholarships to aspiring developers with financial limitation, of which is new this year.
  • Apple will for the first time will hold the Monday kick-off keynote at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (where the iPad Pro 12.9inch, iPhone 6s/Plus and Apple TV 4G were announced in September 2015), which is about 1 mile away from Moscone West where the other sessions and labs for the conference are held.
  • The Apple Design Awards will also be held at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on that Monday afternoon.
  • Developers will learn about OS X, iOS, watchOS and tvOS.
  • There will be over 100 sessions, hand on labs and over 1000 Apple engineers.

Hints in the Invite:

The next logical thing that people look for when each Apple event is announced is hints in the invite itself.

What seems to be different with this one is that there is no proper invite looking thing to analyze, but rather what look like aspirations for developers.

You can see all of these at the Apple Developers website.

The hints that I can get from this page (if I were to very strictly analyse it) include:

  • Dark Mode coming to iOS, since there is a dark background on the website.
  • Even more of a push for Swift as a programming language as lots of stuff on the website is written in Swift. E.g. print(“Hello, WWDC!”)
  • “Hello love at first swipe.” = Tinder
  • “Hello other side of the road.” = Crossy Road
  • “Hello workout in my living room.” = Workouts on Apple TV or expanded workouts on Apple Watch.
  • “Hello double tap heart.” = Faster way to check heart beat on Apple Watch.
  • “Hello rain in five minutes.” = Possibly more detailed weather information.

What I Expect to See:

wwdc

WWDC stands for “WorldWide Developer’s Conference” which primarily has a focus on the work that developers do for the Apple ecosystem, of which is primarily software.

If you look at WWDC 2015 for example, we got a preview and beta 1 release for developers for all of iOS 9, OS X 10.11, watchOS 2 and Apple Music.

I am now going to talk about each thing that has a possibility of being announced at WWDC, what I want to see from each of them and the likelihood of each happening.

iOS 10 / iOS X:

ios-10-concept
iOS 10 Concept image.

iOS 10 is likely the main reason that a lot of developers will be attending the event as it is the operating system that runs on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

I recently saw a comment on MacRumors of which I will put a screen shot below of it.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 11.57.40 AM.png
Comment on MacRumors.

What “twocents” is saying is incredibly true.

iOS 10 is now expect to be the next major release for the operating system that will feel more like an iOS 1, 4 or 7 release in terms of new features and updates that they make. iOS 1, 4 and 7 felt like the most substantial updates to the operating system, and the next number in that sequence is 10.

So what do I want to see in iOS 10?

I made a post, listing every possible thing I want to see in iOS 10 (or soon there after) and you can read that by clicking here, but in short I want to see lots of changes, including:

  • A vastly improved home screen.
  • Brand New Features including Dark Mode, and better split-screen multitasking.
  • Redesigned and more feature rich Music App including additions to the Apple Music service.
  • More options in Settings.
  • Improved compatibility.
  • Have a lot of updates for developers.
  • Improved usability across the operating system.
  • Expanded 3D Touch capabilities.
  • Improvements to Siri.
  • Updated Camera app.

A lot of this will be hard to understand, but I strongly encourage you reading my iOS 10 Wishlist, of which the changes/additions I want to see is currently at 352 at time of writing this expectations blog initially.

I also expect all devices running the A5 and A5X chips to lose support with iOS 10 as there are even features like Night Shift that do not work on A5/X and A6/X chipped devices. These devices that would lose support are the iPhone 4s and iPad 2 (both of which still use the 30-pin connector), iPod Touch 5G and the iPad 3 (first one with Retina display).

UPDATE #1: Recent rumours suggest that one of the primary features of iOS 10 and other software announced at WWDC, is a Siri SDK that allows developers to integrate Siri into their apps, which is at the very least is exactly what Siri needs right now.

UPDATE #2: Phil Schiller who is the Senior Vice President of Marketing has announced a new model for the App Store when it comes to subscriptions, meaning that developers will instead of getting 70% of all sales they make, will now instead get 85% if that subscriber stays for more than a year.

Likelihood of iOS 10 being announced: 99% (as nothing is certain until Apple announces it).

MacOS / OS X 10.12:

Wallpaper-OS-X-El-Capitan-Mac-2

OS X is the operating system that runs on Apple’s MacBooks, iMacs, Mac Pros and Mac Minis.

To start with, OS X sounds very similar to iOS 10 which is expected to be announced at the event.

Because of this, there have been recent rumours and even leaks that the next version of the Mac operating system will be called either “macOS” or “MacOS”.

The name change makes sense because this is what the operating system was called prior to OS X. The syntax being “macOS” makes more sense to better belong with iOS, watchOS and tvOS of whom have a lower case word or letter before the capitalised letters OS.

I therefore am expecting it be called macOS (potentially 11) with an 80% chance of this change happening.

The issue Apple will always have is that they will want to have a different version number between macOS and iOS. E.g. macOS 10 and iOS 10 sound just as similar as OS X and iOS 10, but macOS 11 and iOS 10 sound very different, if you get what I mean.

As for what macOS will have is another question in itself.

I also made a blog post called OS X 10.12 Wishlist (prior to the rumour of the name change to macOS) where I list all of the changes/additions I want to see to the Mac operating system in this release or soon thereafter.

In short I want to see the following:

  • Improved iTunes app (potentially separated into separate apps) with improved Apple Music UI/UX Design.
  • Siri support.
  • Heavy developer focused release with iOS apps being compatible on Mac hardware (if possible. Only major change MacOS would need is ability to scroll on table’s of data or for apps such as FaceBook and Twitter).
  • Improved compatibility, including a smaller OS upgrade download size.
  • New features including option to unlock Mac automatically from sleep, if wearing a watch.
  • Apple Maps improvements.
  • Improved settings.
  • Improved Usability.
  • Introduction of defaults apps from iOS such as Clock, Stocks, Weather etc. that are not already in the Mac OS (that are optional obviously).
  • Improved, more feature rich and more reliable Handoff/Continuity that can work without Bluetooth.

There is also a recent rumour going around that Apple will likely introduce at the very least, its own Web API for Apple Maps, but also possibly have a separate website to use Apple Maps on to compete with Google Maps.

On Apple’s website currently, they are using this Web API that is still in development to show where the buildings for the event are in San Francisco, which can be viewed at https://developer.apple.com/wwdc/attending/.

UPDATE #2: A lot of recent documentation that has leaked by Apple has OS X now being referred to as MacOS with a capital M, meaning this is likely what it’ll be called. This only makes sense in regards to it being a fully-featured desktop operating system and Apple’s other OS’s are like mobile or lighter version of the Mac Operating System.

UPDATE #2: Siri has also leaked out hints that Siri functionality might be coming to Finder on the Mac, which would likely result in finding documents etc. on your computer.

Likelihood of major update for Mac Operating System announced: 99%

watchOS 3:

watchOS home screen

watchOS is the operating system that runs on the Apple Watch.

Expect there to be a new major update to the operating system to be announced.

I personally do not use an Apple Watch so I cannot really critic the watch itself and say what needs to be included, but in general I want to see:

  • An option for a better home screen in a grid format that is easier for people with fat fingers or shaky hands.
  • Expanded health related features/activities.
  • Improved performance and app load times. (Apple is working on this as only allowing watchOS 2 SDK apps onto App Store from June 1st 2016).
  • Be able to communicate and share information more easily with iOS and macOS.
  • Include a notes app that syncs with iCloud.
  • Include a reminders app that syncs with iCloud.
  • Be able to be used for features that require close proximity, such as no need for Touch ID or Passcode on iPhone if wearing your watch.
  • Android support (even if limited to phone calls, notifications and SMS).
  • Be able to pair and sync apps to the Apple Watch from macOS for Apple users that use an Android device to help increase potential market of people that can buy into it.
  • UPDATE #2: 3rd Party Watch Faces Store to make the device infinitely more customizable.
  • UPDATE #2: Be able to change the digital touch physical button on the device to open a pre-determined app, which can be useful for people that want to start a work-out quicker etc.

Likelihood of watchOS 3 being announced: 85%

tvOS 10:

tvOS.jpg
tvOS 9 on 4th Generation Apple TV.

tvOS is the new operating system that runs on the Apple TV 4th Generation announced at the September 2015 event.

I personally do not own an Apple TV 4G so I cannot criticise the operating system too much, but from what I have seen of tvOS, some of the things I am hoping to see in tvOS 10 include:

  • Apple News for Apple TV (for people wanting to read articles while watching movies or TV Shows).
  • Improved on-screen keyboard to be more like a QWERTY keyboard on any device today.
  • More categories added to the tvOS App Store.
  • Improved AirPlay reliability and functionality.
  • Weather App for tvOS, so you do not need Siri to open it up.
  • iTunes U App for tvOS, so students can buy into the solution for watching lectures on their TV etc.
  • Split-View mode for tvOS.
  • Safari for tvOS that relies heavily on synced favourites via iCloud and gestures for navigation.
  • A way for developers to more quickly port their apps to tvOS where the only real thing to change is the controls.
  • Get Amazon to create an app for their Amazon Instant Video service on the tvOS platform.
  • Get YouTube to update their app to be more like the iPad app for tvOS.
  • Dual screened AirPlay mode from iOS devices. E.g. split-view on an iPad with one of the apps being displayed on the TV.
  • UPDATE #1: Add support for Lightning connector Earphones for private listening in Siri Remote instead of using a Bluetooth headset to pair etc.

Likelihood of tvOS 10 being announced: 80%

MacBook Pro Updates:

macbookproretina
MacBook Pro Retina 15inch (Mid 2012 Redesign)

Apple has recently updated their newly released 12inch MacBook, but recent rumours are pointing to a major updated to the MacBook Pro lineup.

I personally use a MacBook Pro Retina 15inch on a daily basis for just over 2 years now and I love it.

These rumours are saying that the MacBook Pro Retina 15inch will get:

  • Next Generation Intel Skylake Processors with more CPU power.
  • Updated AMD or NVIDIA GPUs that are more powerful and can output a higher frame rate.
  • Use a new metal injection mold-made hinge that connects the laptop’s display to the computer.
  • Thinner Design, mainly from using the new hinge.
  • Possibly at least 1 USB-C Port.

To me this sounds like it was when the MacBook Air was first redesigned to be even thinner then the last one but also have updated specs.

The only reason I believe you should wait for the MacBook Pro update is because you want the latest processors and that’s it.

What hasn’t been rumoured for this MacBook Pro update, that I would think would be included, is the new keyboard first introduced on the 12inch MacBook.

You would also think that MacBooks would want to start to integrate a Touch ID fingerprint sensor (possibly incorporated into the power button) so developers can create apps that use it and for logging into web services via iCloud KeyChains that works with a Touch ID fingerprint.

That all being said, I think Mac hardware updates are more likely the thing that is not going to be announced at this event.

UPDATE #1: Recent rumours suggest the new MacBook Pro Retina will get major changes including a slimmer design, new keyboard from 12inch MacBook, 4 USB-C Ports with 1 Headphone Jack for I/O and an OLED Touch-Bar that will replace the functions keys on the keyboard and change depending on the applications you are using.

That all being said rumours also suggest that this WWDC will likely be only software focused, meaning this won’t be happening until September or October this year.

Likelihood of new MacBook Pro Retina introduced at WWDC: 50%

Mac Pro, Mac Mini & ThunderBolt Display Updates:

There are a lot of people on the internet saying they want to see updates to the Mac Pro, Mac Mini and ThunderBolt Displays of which I’ll address each briefly.

Mac Pro:

macpro

It makes most sense for this of the 3 to have an update now, because a) the recently redesigned Mac Pro was announced/previewed at WWDC 2013 and b) it’s very much a professional/developer type of computer with a lot of processing power.

So it could very well have some stage time, even if it is brief during the Mac update section of the opening keynote.

Likelihood of seeing Mac Pro Hardware Updates: 50%

Mac Mini:

macmini

Mac Mini I believe is the least likely to get an update because it’s designed to be a budget friendly option for desktop computing and people that spend US$1500 easily on a ticket to go to the event, would not be interested in a Mac Mini. However, I’d like to be proven wrong, but I just don’t see it happening.

Likelihood of seeing Mac Mini Hardware Updates: 20%

ThunderBolt Display:

thunderboltdisplay

This is a very interesting product, because the current model does not even have a 4K Display in it.

If they were to bring out an update I would expect to have:

  • Thinner Design
  • Same display technology and resolution as the iMac with 5K Display.
  • At least 1 USB-C Port.
  • Retain the majority of the same ports, especially the Ethernet port.

The only real chance of this being announced is if the Mac Pro hardware updates are announced to sell the idea that this a good option to go along with the Mac Pro.

UPDATE #1: New rumours suggest a 5K Thunderbolt Display is in the works including the screen from the Retina 5K iMacs and likely included a built-in GPU to handle graphics so this display could work with just about any Mac out there as an extra display.

That being said, this event is rumoured to be software-only meaning we won’t see an announcement on stage, but that doesn’t rule out a silent announcement just after the opening keynote.

Likelihood of seeing at WWDC overall: 20%

Likelihood of seeing at WWDC if Mac Pro gets updated: 65%

Apple Watch 2:

space-black-milanese

The first Apple Watch was announced in September 2014 and then again in March 2015 before being released in April 2015.

Some people believe that the Apple Watch 2 will be announced as early as WWDC in June 2016.

It is not yet clear as to how often Apple is going to update the Apple Watch, because it would very likely be yearly if it were announced in March 2016 at the last Apple event.

If a 2nd generation Apple Watch was to be announced this year it would likely be at either WWDC in June or during the iPhone event in September 2016.

One of the advantages of announcing it at WWDC is to revive confidence in the product for developers to produce apps for it and support new hardware that might be included in it.

Apple could leave it till the September event, to give it more exposure when the iPhone is being announced and being just before the Christmas shopping season, but it might detract from people that might want to upgrade their iPhone and get an Apple Watch at the same time, of which is a costly exercise.

But enough about when it’s coming out, what would it do?

It is believed based on rumours that the Apple Watch 2 will:

  • Be 20-40% thinner than the original.
  • S2 Chip which will be more powerful and made on a smaller 14nm process to help battery life compared to the 28nm process from the S1.
  • Minor form factor tweaks.
  • FaceTime HD Camera (I’d imagine the crappy 1.2MP camera because of component size). If it gets a better camera or on par with the 480p camera in the 12inch MacBook, then that MacBook is a joke.

What I also want to see in addition to this, includes:

  • Less screen bezel by either implementing a larger screen size in the same body or smaller body. Larger screen with new resolutions to maintain Retina displays shouldn’t affect apps much as they would be developed with user interface constraints. E.g. always put a button in a corner of the screen regardless of screen size.
  • New watch bands and possibly new materials, like titanium or metal.
  • Improved Wi-Fi capabilities to make it less reliant on the iPhone for functionality and loading content.
  • Maintain the same pricing (or be slightly cheaper) of the current models since lowering the prices in March 2016 to start at US$299 for the sport 38mm version.

Also I do not see Apple announcing new watch bands at a developer focused event and it only really makes sense if they actually announce a new Apple Watch model.

Likelihood of Apple Watch 2 at WWDC: 40%

Likelihood of Apple Watch 2 in September: 60%

iCloud:

icloud

iCloud is also heavily rumoured to be getting some form of a major back-end upgrade.

What I mean by back-end for the non-technical users reading, is the stuff that makes the service works that you cannot see or interact with.

There are two things that Apple is looking into potentially doing:

  1. Bringing iCloud service to be hosted on Apple servers and not use cloud services but companies such as Amazon (who provide Amazon Web Services).
  2. Stepping up encryption for all iCloud Backups in response to the FBI case that happened recently.

Encryption is basically converting plain text into non-readable text by a specific formula. E.g. every A is actually a Z and every B is Y and so on (but that particular example would be weak).

Likelihood of Apple discussing iCloud at WWDC: 80%

Xcode:

xcode

Xcode is the IDE (integrated development environment) that is used to program and produce apps for the Apple ecosystem.

For non-technical users, it’s the program on Macs that developers use to create iOS, Mac Operating System, watchOS and tvOS apps.

Xcode is the IDE that I use almost all the time whenever I am creating smartphone applications.

We should expect to see either Xcode 7.4 or Xcode 8.0 be released with the new SDK’s (software development kits) for iOS 10, MacOS 11, watchOS 3 and tvOS 10, so developers can create apps for the new operating systems that are coming out towards the end of 2016.

This will give developers a few months prep to get ready for the day 1 launch of all the new operating system updates.

One particular feature I want to see is with iOS Simulator the compatibility to scroll through table view controllers with your mouse’s scroll functions and not a click and drag like you would on finger, because we as developers know that this is what you would do on a device, so it makes it more user friendly for basic testing.

Likelihood of updates to Xcode: 99%

Swift 3:

swift

Swift is a fairly new programming language create by Apple, to make developing mobile applications, fast and modern, while create safe and secure code.

Swift was initially introduced for developers to create apps in this alternative programming language in 2014.

Swift 2 was announced in June 2015 of which it was then announced it was going to be an open-source project.

Open-source means that anyone can contribute to the product or service to keep it going.

Google is even considering providing Swift as an alternative language for Android app development in Android Studio, which is Google’s IDE. You can read more on my thoughts about this by clicking here.

Swift will now be entering it’s 3rd year of existence, meaning Swift 3 is likely going to be announced along with the changes to the language to make it more perfect.

In a non-technical term, Swift is like creating a new language. E.g. Australian English or British English or American English, but it is still being perfected so it is in its best possible form for many years to come.

I love Swift 2.2 as it is currently, but I can understand that there will be some minor changes to the language in the future and really curious to see what they do with it.

UPDATE #2: Swift 3 has been announced as of recently with a few changes likely meaning that Apple is giving developers time to get use to the changes before WWDC where they can learn about all of the new APIs etc. in the updated language.

Likelihood of Swift 3 being announced: 99%

Apple Music:

applemusic

Apple Music is Apple’s so-called Spotify competitor that provide another alternative online streaming music service.

It is easily by far the most quickly adopted new music streaming platform out of any available on the market.

I personally use Apple Music on a daily basis and started paying for the service about a month ago (signed up for 3 month trial after Christmas).

I really enjoy using the service and it has got better over time, but there are definitely some issues that need to be addressed either with the Apple Music service or in the Music app itself that is expected to get an update with iOS 10 or even an iOS 9.4 release.

I listed quite a few of the things I want to see in iOS 10 from Apple Music which you can read the full list by clicking here, but to list a few, I want to see:

  • Customizable/rearrangeable tabs at the bottom.
  • Option for playlists, albums, songs etc. as separate tabs.
  • Remove Recently Added at top of My Music and Playlists sections.
  • Improved download times for Apple Music songs to download for offline listening as inconsistent.
  • Be able to download music offline from Now Playing screen on Apple Music.
  • Option to load a music application when you plug in a headphone jack (on compatible iOS devices).
  • Toggle to use Apple Music with the music you listen to not being considered for further recommendations or remove songs from history that you do not listen too.
  • Option for producers to allow users to stream podcasts only on Apple Music if it helps create funding (competitor to Patreon).
  • Support for Digital Booklets from iTunes purchases in the iOS Music app.
  • Digital Booklets from music albums added to Apple Music with dedicated section to view them all in.
  • Improved streaming loading times for Apple Music.
  • Improved loading times for the Apple Music For You and New pages.
  • Option to download music from Apple Music at 128kbps on any device with any form of Internet connection.
  • Lyric support in the iOS Music app and support via Apple Music streaming service.
  • Improved way of understanding what playlists are synced between devices and which are not and option to make certain playlists device exclusive.
  • Option to not delete music that was downloaded offline from Apple Music when you have signed out (for at least 24 hours) which forces you to re-download and organizes all playlists etc. But making it not playable until you sign back in is understandable. (Major issue for developers running testing accounts for apps in regards to in-app purchases).
  • Fix a bug where merging Apple Music playlists always resulted in the playlists with fewer songs in it being the new copy.
  • Option to not sync playlists between devices that are subscribed on Apple Music. Few extra playlists on iTunes that you do not need on your iPhone or iPad.
  • When a song is queued by you to play next, have the option to play all songs after it that are on that album or playlist.
  • Significantly improved searching reliability for Apple Music on iOS. It took 30mins to try and search for a song on Wi-Fi, 3G and LTE and got nowhere with it when the search feature was down.
  • Fix a bug where playlists in ‘For You’ section of Apple Music app are repeated multiple times.
  • Allow artwork for playlists in the iPad Music app to change the background colour and not have it as just white regardless of thumbnail image.
  • Picture in Picture mode for videos in Apple Music app.
  • Allow the ability to do live streaming in Apple Music Connect for interviews, concerts and shows.
  • Better Integration with Beats 1 Shows in Apple Music in regards to getting people to ask questions etc.
  • Apple getting artists to post exclusive content to Apple Music Connect.
  • Notification/Following system on Apple Music so you get notifications if artists have a live show on Beats 1 or a new song or album out.
  • Option to have a built-in Shazam button via 3D Touch on app icon and detected song would automatically be shown on Apple Music (if subscribed).
  • Fix the bug where it would show a random artwork cover from a song in your Apple Music library or from the Apple Music service that you have not added to your device, on the lock screen.
  • Add a forward and back 15 second skipping buttons, as easier than fiddling with a progress bar to just go back a few seconds.
  • Addition of collaborative streaming radio stations and playlists.
  • Give a clear indication as to what is a music video when searching through the Apple Music catalogue.
  • Make videos published on artist’s connect pages be visible in the Apple Music catalogue search results.

Likelihood of seeing Apple Music updates: 90%

UPDATE #1: There are recent reports saying that the Apple Music app will be getting lyrics support and a black & white design focus with larger album artwork, which sounds promising that they know a lot of work is needed.

Apple Video Streaming Service:

Apple has been rumoured recently to be creating their own TV streaming service to be a competitor to paid TV subscription services, such as Foxtel in Australia.

It is now sounding like it will be an entirely online service that you can access on any Apple device (and probably Android).

There have been only a few rumours on the in-house content that Apple wants to create and the fact that they were tempted to put in a bid to get the former TopGear UK hosts to put their new show on their service. (It’s now on Amazon Instant Video).

Obviously rumours are not strong at the moment and being how light of an announcement the Apple Music service was at WWDC 2015, I’m incline to say that if Apple were to announce it this year, it’d more likely be in September.

Likelihood of announcement at WWDC: 30%

Likelihood of announcement at iPhone event: 50%

Conclusion:

So yeah, I’m trying not to set my expectations too high for this WWDC, but they are pretty bloody high.

Apple has a lot to deliver, especially with the fact that we are getting the 10th iteration of the operating system that runs the devices that make up the vast majority of Apple’s sales.

So enough of me talking, I now want to hear from you with your answer to the question for this post:

“What is the one announcement or product you are most wanting to hear about at WWDC 2016? And why?”

For me, it’s most definitely iOS 10, because I develop iOS apps and am a daily iPhone 5s and iPad Air user and really curious to see what it entails to warrant if I upgrade my phone to the iPhone 7. That’s not to say that I’m not really curious to hear about the future of OS X (including it’s name change), but iOS is the one I’d pick above everything else.

Please leave a comment down below I’d love to hear your opinion.

And that it for this excruciatingly long blog post, thank you very much if you read any of it.

If you want to see more posts like in the future, be sure to like this post and follow me for more posts like this in the future, including my review of the WWDC conference, which will include all of the announcements from the opening keynote.

UPDATE #2: You can also follow me on Twitter @neilh_apps.

 

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