Expectations for Apple’s WWDC 2017

UPDATE #1 (31st May 2017): Added section regarding updated WWDC app.

Apple has announced yesterday that they will be doing a live stream of their opening keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) like they do every year, but this year it is held from June 5-9 at San Jose McEnery Convention Centre, which they haven’t held a WWDC conference at since 2002.

Now you may be asking, why San Jose instead of San Francisco?

Apple’s SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller said that the venue is about the same size as Moscone Center in San Francisco, but have no other reason as to why the change, but it is a lot closer to Apple’s campuses which will make it easier for the 1000 Apple engineers to get to and from the conference.

What got me thinking about this is that when they do a change in venues from their regular routine, their is likely a reason for doing so, more so than just convenience of to host more people, or ease of travel etc.

Apple’s September 2014 keynote was held at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts where the iPhone 6/Plus, Apple Pay and Apple Watch were all unveiled, which was the same theatre the original Macintosh and iMac were unveiled at.

For WWDC in 2002 in San Jose, they killed off Mac OS 9 and unveiled OS X Jaguar, which was the first version of OS X right up until it got rebranded as macOS last year. macOS Sierra however was version 10.12 which was just a continuation from OS X El Capitan 10.11.

To me it seems pretty evident that just the location change to San Jose alone, likely means that we will be seeing macOS 11 with the name of a place in California, continuing on from Sierra. This might mean we’ll get macOS 11 Rancho Cucamonga, and while we are on topic of it, let’s talk about what I expect from macOS 11.

macOS 11:

macbookproretina

Anyone who read my macOS 10.13 wishlist post will notice that I am now saying macOS 11 in this post onwards, and I only thought this through more ever since I read this article who believes it will be macOS 11 since June last year.

The articles stated in short, that they expect the Apple File System (APFS) first introduced during the ‘State of the Platform’ presentation at WWDC 2016 to be the foundation for this year’s release. Because changing the file system is a large architectural change to the backend of the operating system, this will likely be enough to jump to macOS 11 instead of 10.13 and line it up with iOS 11 and tvOS 11. Whether they go to 11.1 or 12 in 2018, that’s a whole other debate.

There is not as much I want to see changed to macOS then I do from iOS, but I am hoping to see the following major changes:

  • Adoption of APFS.
  • Re-energize the Mac App Store by getting iOS apps to be ported to macOS easily.
  • Debut of Apple News app on macOS.
  • Debut of Home app on macOS to control HomeKit products.
  • Split iTunes into multiple apps, even if Apple Music just gets it own dedicated app separate from iTunes.
  • Improved Siri, along with support for Siri experience working in Spotlight. E.g. type into Spotlight “Text sister saying ABC” and it will do that without needing to open the Messages app.
  • Updated Messages app to support all features introduced in Messages app in iOS 10.

To view my entire wishlist, click here.

watchOS 4:

applewatch2

I have been using an Apple Watch Series 2 since Christmas and I really like using it, but it’s not perfect.

Like macOS, I do not have as big of a wishlist as I do for iOS, but I do want to see the following improvements in short to the watch:

  • watchOS App Store with apps that do not need any logic installed on the iPhone, regardless of syncing issues.
  • Adaptable Watch Faces, which have complications preference list depending on time of day, location or activities that are running. E.g. show timer on screen instead of activity metrics when a timer is in use.
  • Watch Face Store, which is separate from the watchOS App Store, but just make watch faces for the watch, and developers can release either for free, upfront cost or annual subscription.
  • Xcode update to allow creating watchOS apps without any code needing to be written for iOS app on iPhone.
  • Improvements to Siri, including offline support.
  • Improvements to Home/App Selection screen, including maybe being slightly zoomed in more.

To view my entire wishlist, click here.

tvOS 11:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 8.37.38 PM

Now I do not own an Apple TV so I can’t really comment a whole lot on what I want in tvOS 11, which is why I have not done a dedicated wishlist for it.

To list a few ideas as to what I want to see, they include:

  • Account Switching: Keep game data and user account details separate for each user. E.g. one profile has one Netflix account and another profile has a separate Netflix account so recommendations for it does not get mixed up etc.
  • Expand TV app to more countries around the world, even starting with the U.K. and Australia being outside of the U.S. but English speaking countries.
  • Continuity support with Apple TV. E.g. talk to Siri on iPhone or Apple Watch saying “Play The Avengers via Netflix on my Apple TV” and it does that.
  • Night Shift support, to reduce blue light on screens at night which are harmful to your eyes.
  • Debut of Home app on Apple TV to control HomeKit products.
  • Debut of Apple News app on Apple TV to read news or while watching video.
  • Support for free-to-air TV channel support in local countries, even if it’s via Internet connection.
  • Support for Picture in Picture while navigating the Apple TV menus.

iOS 11:

ios_11_wish_list_thumb800

Now iOS 11 will obviously be the last thing talked about during the keynote and I am hoping that this year it will get a major update.

It does seem surprising that we are barely hearing any rumours/leaks unlike previous years, but maybe Tim Cook got all of that under control, by getting people to worry about Touch ID on the OLED iPhone.

To summarise what I want to see in iOS 11, it includes:

  • Improved Home Screen with complications like on watchOS and not strict app icon layout.
  • Customizable Control Centre.
  • Customizable 3D Touch menu in settings for app icons.
  • Dark Mode across the whole OS, include API for developers to know when the user has dark mode enabled to reflect the darker theme in their apps.
  • Improved Siri that can compete with Google Assistant and Alexa along with offline support.
  • Apple showing their interest in Augmented Reality in any form possible, but they may hold this for OLED iPhone exclusively.
  • Swift 4.
  • Support for Picture in Picture Mode and Split View on iPhone, even if it’s just for Plus models and OLED iPhone.
  • Apple Pay support with major banks in Australia (not just ANZ).
  • Dramatically improved slide over menu and multitasking capabilities on iPad.
  • Seeing what Apple is adding in regards to Artificial Intelligence to the platform.

To view my entire wishlist, click here.

Miscellaneous/Hardware:

Besides the obvious software updates we get every year, there is a lot of room for error in guessing what else will be announced at WWDC this year.

The only keynote I remember from recent years that was over 2 hours, was 2015 when they announced Apple Music.

We are hearing rumours that there will be an updated MacBook lineup, including the following mainly with new CPUs and minor changes under the hood:

  • MacBook (Retina)
  • MacBook Pro
  • MacBook Air

I reckon depending on how much there is to announce for new software releases, these MacBook updates may get silently announced after the keynote itself via press release.

amazonecho-620x447

Another major product we are expecting to learn about is Apple’s Siri Speaker competitor to Google Home and Amazon Echo. If we do not see it at WWDC, it’s likely that they are going to announce it in September and take the time to refine it and announce it close to release like they do with iPhones.

The bezel-less 10.5inch iPad is also rumoured to be announced at WWDC 2017 and launch very shortly afterwards with a small quantity available. I am on the fence as to whether or not this would get announced but if it does, it’s likely because of major changes to iOS 11 for iPad support.

If any of the 3 above things do get announced at WWDC, I see the keynote going at least 2.5hrs in length.

I also expect Apple to briefly go over stats at the start of the keynote including the usual how many are at the conference, percentage of first timers etc. and other statistics will likely come out as they unveil new software features and hardware announcements etc.

WWDC 2017 App:

The WWDC app has been updated for 2017 and like I do every year, I take note as to how many sessions and labs they have that are labeled as ‘to be announced’ or have some weird name associated with them.

This year that number is 271, which is certainly high but I could not find anywhere how many of these there were in previous years. Generally the more of these that there are, the more announcements we should expect to see for developers, such as new APIs etc.

From memory, last year was around 200 and WWDC 2014 with the developer SDK that was so big to be included in the main keynote had around 400 sessions, so this is certainly a decent number.

Looking at some of the temporary names and going based off the text and not the Emoji before each of them, they say:

  • We’re a bot to reveal the real name: Could mean Apple is announcing a chatbot or typing based version of Siri. The fact that Apple is acknowledging bots is interesting.
  • Sorry to be shady about this: Could mean dark mode support is coming to iOS and possibly other software updates and this frameworks session could be about how to integrate it into apps.
  • We’re still flirting with what to call this: Is Apple working on a Tinder app??
  • You just aren’t koalafied to know yet: Is there an Aussie slang API coming?
  • We’ve picked a name, but it’s secret: WHY NOT JUST SAY IT!!!
  • We’ve got to make up names for now: Yeah you must be desperate for names, despite duplicating.
  • If we told you, we’d get in treble: Is this a new API for Apple Music or something? Session is media so could have something to do with Apple Music.
  • Can’t give you all the fax yet: Isn’t Apple trying to remove the need for paper for everything? Maybe this is making printing works better when printing documents from iPads, cause iPad Pro!
  • We’re a little foggy on this one: Is this some API for adding authentic cloud effects to games?

All of these session are labeled as System Frameworks, App Frameworks, Media, Developer Tools (probably Xcode), or Graphics and Games. There is one labeled Distribution which seems to be the odd one out.

Conclusion:

I feel going into this keynote just like I did before WWDC 2013, except with next to no rumours/leaks at all.

2013’s keynote was a major jump for the iOS platform and I feel that Apple is now overdue to doing this to iOS again. iPhone OS 1 was obviously a major jump for being a new form of user interface at the time of release, iOS 4 was a major jump including folders, multitasking and home screen wallpapers, iOS 7 with the new flat user interface and to speak the truth, we haven’t had anything that major since then which was 2013.

To be honest, no matter how many times I watched the 2016 WWDC keynote, it seemed boring and if anything annoying when Emoji’s got the biggest cheer from the crowd.

So I am trying to keep a low level of expectations going into WWDC 2017 but I really do hope that they step everything up and not justify that they can slack off because they can financially do so, being the richest company in the world.

So that leaves me to ask you:

“What do you want to see most at WWDC 2017?”

For me, it’s major changes to iOS and macOS and iterative updates to watchOS and tvOS.

You can let me know by either leaving a comment below or tweet me.

Advertisements