WWDC 2012 - What to ExpectApple events can’t be ignored. They’re hyped, anticipated, endlessly talked about and absolutely demand our attention. They are stages of theatre that have introduced some of the most widely used products in the world today. But lately, they’ve felt a bit unsatisfactory. They’ve lacked that One More Thing-level of excitement. First there was the iPhone 4S, which was essentially an iPhone 4 with Siri, and then the Cupertino company introduced the “new iPad,” which, come on, the new iPad?

What’s in a name, anyway?

Next week’s WWDC is a great chance for Apple to really show us what it’s made of. That means showing off innovative, beautiful, “magical” products. There’s been no shortage of rumors over the past few months, which means we’re likely in line to see some pretty amazing stuff. Or the rumors could fall flat and destroy our reality distorted image of the Cupertino company.

Last year’s event gave us OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud. What will this year bring?

What We Expect:

OS X Mountain Lion on MacBook AirOS X Mountain Lion

Duh. This one we already knew was coming. With OS X Lion, Apple introduced a platform that brought some of the iPad’s best features right to the desktop. The Cupertino company is looking to take those fundamental principles even one step further with Mountain Lion. Mac owners can expect over 100 new features in Apple’s upcoming release, many of which have been inspired by their mobile counterparts. Stuff like Messages, Notes, Reminders, deep Twitter integration and Notification Center, just to name a few. But it’s the rumored features Apple hasn’t announced that have us excited. The past month has dug up speculation about automatic downloads for applications, and even voice dictation, which would be great for longer emails and word documents. It’ll be interesting to see just how far Apple is willing to take the marriage between its mobile and desktop software when the final build is released.

MacBook Pro Air conceptMacBook Pro Refresh

I’d be shocked if Apple didn’t unveil a refresh for its MacBook Pro line. We’ve been hearing about it for months and months and, since Apple hasn’t hit us with an updated design since the Pro went unibody back in 2008, the timing seems right. Or at least I want it to be. Not that we don’t like the current look; it’s just that the company’s MacBook Air has left us with a desire that can’t be satiated by the robust frame of the Pro — unless Apple does reveal a MacBook Pro Air, or Air Pro, or whatever the company calls it. Maybe just “the new MacBook Pro,” as the above concept says.

Here’s what (we think) we know about the upcoming machine: It’ll have a Retina display, or something extremely close to it. This rumor actually stems all the way back to late 2011, with DigiTimes claiming that Apple is looking to bump up screen resolution to 2880 x 1800. With Apple’s two most popular devices — iPhone and iPad — currently sporting Retina status, it’s not too crazy to think the company is preparing to bring the sharper displays to its third most popular product line.

With the introduction of Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processor, we’re 99 percent certain Apple will include the new chip in its updated Pro. Not only does Intel’s new tech support better graphics and multimedia processing — perfect for that Retina display — but Lion, which will surely ship with Apple’s new tech, has reportedly been updated to support HiDPI display modes, and even up to 3200 x 2000-pixel resolution wallpapers.

In addition, we’ve heard the behemoth will come with both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports and NVIDIA graphics. Sound too good to be true? There’ve been rumors suggesting the refresh might come at a higher cost. So, you know, at least you can play with Apple’s new toy at one of its retail stores.

iOS 6 logoiOS 6 Preview

Apple’s introduction of iOS 6 is coming to WWDC. The company said so itself, in no uncertain terms: “We have a great WWDC planned this year and can’t wait to share the latest news about iOS.” At the moment, there’s a lot kicking around about the possibilities of iOS 6. So far, we’ve heard a rumor suggesting Apple is preparing to ditch Google Maps in favor of its own solution (with free navigation!), which is based on technology from C3 Technologies and Poly9. There’s also been word that Apple will unleash a Siri API, meaning a whole new realm of possibilities would open up to app developers. Tim Cook also coyly hinted that Facebook integration might be coming — a report corroborated by TechCrunch — saying in a recent interview with AllThingD’s Walt Mossberg to “stay tuned.”

Perhaps the biggest news we’ve heard is that Apple is preparing to bring “really big” changes to its stock apps (Weather, Calculator, Camera, Photos, etc.), that promise to make the “update worth it.” However, don’t get your hopes up of a redesigned homescreen with widgets, as sources suggest no core OS features will be tweaked.

In addition, Apple is supposedly preparing to redesign its iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore in iOS 6 with a goal of bringing more interactivity and social features to its online fronts. The OS might also have a “Do Not Disturb” feature in notifications, iCloud Tabs, and Mail VIPs, which should make sifting through email easier.

What Not to Expect:

New iPhone

This can actually be filed under the ‘Maybe’ category. There have been multiple rumors about the device’s existence and how it might differ from the iPhone 4S, but isn’t that how it is every year? Apple releases a new device, which is promptly followed by rumors about its successor. What’s been notable about the past few weeks, however, is that there have been multiple part leaks — rear case, sim tray, home button, headphone jack, earpiece — perhaps indicating that 1) A design has been finalized and 2) Production might be ramping up soon. If so, a reveal would most certainly be in the cards for WWDC, with what we’d expect to be a fall release.

Or, Apple could do what it did last year, and introduce the new iPhone in or around October, which is the more likely scenario.

If WWDC is the stage Apple chooses for its new smartphone, (we think) we have a pretty good idea of what to expect, which TechnoBuffalo covered extensively here. For one, the iPhone will get bigger by a half an inch. For years, the iPhone’s display has remained at 3.5-inches, but competing devices are getting bigger — in some cases as big as the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note. If Apple wants to diversify and keep its products looking fresh, it’ll have to break away from that 3.5-inch standard sooner or later. What better time than now?

Second, the glass back is (hopefully) gone. Thank goodness. The iPhone 4/4S is beautiful, still one of the nicest looking devices on the market. But it’s fragile, tragically so. The new iPhone will reportedly have an aluminum rear casing built from Liquidmetal technology. If so, accidental drops may no longer lead to you have a life flashback.

Apple OLED TV - FrontApple Television

Ever since learning that Steve Jobs “cracked” the home TV, rumors have spread like wild fire. “It’ll be the biggest thing since the smartphone,” one analyst said. “It would boost revenue by $17 billion,” another chimed in. We thought we were on to something when we reported such a device was coming in April/May, but that didn’t quite pan out.

The thing is, nobody knows when, or even if, an actual Apple HDTV is coming, even if Jonathan Ive has one in his office. In the same AllThingsD interview, Tim Cook said that the Cupertino company’s set top box is “an area of intense interest for [Apple],” perhaps indicating that the company is content with just offering its current Apple TV.

Apple’s Most Important and Best Work Yet

Apple has a lot on its plate. The company sold 3 million new iPad units in just a weekend. There’s no reason to believe the company can’t achieve similar success with it’s upcoming product lineup: New iPhone, MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion, iOS 6 and maybe, just maybe, a full-blown television. The Cupertino empire is growing. “One more thing,” a phrase that was absent from the company’s most recent events? That feeling of excitement is back.