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WWDC Expectations: iOS 7, MacBooks, iRadio, OS X and More

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference kicks off next week on June 10 when CEO Tim Cook will take the stage for the opening keynote. We already discussed what to expect during the event, but a lot has changed in the few weeks since that article was published. New rumors crop up seemingly every single day and, as history tells us, the closer to an event we get the more we start to learn about what’s going to take place. Here’s what we think will be covered.

iOS 7

iPhone 5 - iOS 7 - WWDC 2013

iOS 7 is supposed to be “flatter in design.” What’s that mean? Well, from a design standpoint it should mean less shading and fewer areas inside the operating system that seem to “pop” out. It means simplistic instead of skeuomorphic. Here’s a quick example of what we mean, thanks to Twitter user @yuize:

wwdc-2013-app

Apple’s WWDC application for this year, as several pundits have noticed, is flatter in design from previous years. It may be too soon to say that’s exactly what iOS 7 is going to look like, but it’s just one of those small hints that we see leading up to a big show that could be more revealing than it seems on the surface.

Note that Apple used a lot more white and that it doesn’t have any gradient shading on the menu bars above and below the content. It’s simple, and I think that’s the general idea behind Jony Ive’s refresh of the operating system: change things enough to make them look cleaner but keep them the same as not to confuse the end user.

The extent of the refreshed design will likely be far reaching. Scott Forstall’s original “skeuomorphic” design is present inside the calendar, contacts, reminders and Game Center applications, to name a few, so Ive certainly had his work cut out for him in advance. Expect all of those apps to be refreshed, in addition to the menus and other areas of the mobile OS.

We’re still stumped on what sort of new features iOS 7 will offer. Some rumors suggest that Apple will integrate Flickr and Vimeo into iOS 7, similar to how it integrated Facebook and Twitter into iOS 6. One might be able to automatically upload photos and videos to both services, for example, and the integration could certainly hope boost Yahoo’s photo service as Apple turns its focus away from Google.

Here’s a longshot: why doesn’t Apple launch its own online photo service, similar to Google+ Photos? You could automatically publish photos from your Photo Stream backup in iCloud, for example. We’re just tossing ideas around here, but it seems to be more progressive than going with Flickr.

Or, perhaps, Apple will integrate FaceTime and Messages for a more seamless experience between chatting across iOS and OS X devices, whether it’s through text or via a video chat.

OS X

WWDC - 2012 - iMac - 006

We know that, like iOS, OS X will definitely be a topic of discussion during WWDC. Why? Because it’s a show for developers and Tim Cook has already said that the event will, in turn, largely focus on the company’s software businesses. We know that beta testing for OS X 10.8.4 recently closed, which suggests it might be pushed to the public soon, but we also think we’re going to learn about the company’s next big OS X release.

Mountain Lion was launched last July shortly after WWDC and it’s possible, though not yet confirmed, that we’ll see a new iteration. Apple could continue its efforts to combine the likeness between iOS 7 and OS X by delivering more features to both. For example, we saw the introduction of iMessages last year, in addition to Game Center, Notification Center and more. It’s likely we’ll see new developments around iCloud as part of the iOS / OS X sync, though we’re not sure how that will come into play. Maybe Time Machine for iOS?

We also don’t think that Apple will simply change the design language for iOS 7 and leave it the same in OS X. That said, we expect the flatter design to hit Mail, Safari, Game Center and other apps that exist on OS X and are being revamped on the mobile side.

New MacBooks

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Several analysts close to Apple’s supply chain partners have repeatedly said that Apple will introduce new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air products during WWDC. It fits with Apple’s historic release schedule; the two were updated during last year’s show.

Apple likely won’t make drastic changes to the notebooks, however, and will simply update some of the internal hardware. The 13-inch MacBook Pro will allegedly launch with a “slimmer form factor” according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and a new full HD front-facing camera.The MacBook Air is expected to pack an improved microphone.

The biggest changes will likely be on the processor front. Apple may introduce both notebooks with new Intel Haswell processors, which are expected to drastically improve the battery life.

iRadio

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Apple’s streaming music service has been rumored for as long as we can remember, but it might finally be coming to fruition. Just a few days ago we covered a report that suggested Apple is working around the clock right now to finish up streaming music deals in time for WWDC 2013. Apparently an option to skip songs was causing a bit of a snag, but over the weekend Apple apparently worked out kinks with Warner Music Group. A contract is also allegedly already in place with Universal Music Group, though Sony/ATV is has reportedly not yet entered an agreement.

Apple needs to differentiate in the space that is already overrun with competitors, including Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music, Rdio and others. Simply providing a radio station might not be good enough, and we’re excited to see what the company has on the software side that will make it a worthy competitor.

Education

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Google discussed its education initiatives during I/O when it said it’s going to make it easier than ever for school systems to purchase applications in bulk for classrooms. We really wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple follow in some fashion, especially because iPads are used in education departments across the globe. Apple might discuss how it will be easier for teachers to deploy applications, create “school only” modes or more. These are purely speculative ideas, but we don’t think Apple will be a sitting duck when it comes to increasing its already dominating presence in the classroom. The iPad mini, the cheapest of the bunch, could play a huge role in this, too.

Lots of Developer Talk

iOS apps

It’s called the Worldwide Developer Conference for a reason, and OS X and iOS developers will learn about new tools that will hopefully make their jobs easier. Apple will be holding classes, breakout sessions and more all week and the keynote is just the public-facing part of the show. As we saw with Google I/O, it’s likely that there will be a lot happening behind the scenes, likely on the API level, that will help developers implement new tools.

So, for example, if Apple says that iOS 7 will support widgets, it can teach developers how to take advantage of the widgets and implement them with their applications. The same goes for any changes to GameCenter, notifications and more.

Surprises

Apple iPad Mini Lightning Port

We really don’t think we’re going to see the new iPad Mini 2, the fifth generation iPad or any talk of the iPhone 5S during WWDC 2013. While it may have once been a show where those products were discussed, they’re such an important part of the company now that it can hold entire hour-long press conferences to discuss new models.

We do think we might hear about some surprises though. It’s possible that the company will hint at future endeavors in the living room or in wearable technology, and Tim Cook might provide a time frame as to when we’ll hear about new mobile devices. Perhaps it will be as subtle as “soon” or, as he said during a recent earnings call “this fall.” The only reason an iTV or iWatch discussion could make a little sense is that the developers who will work on those platforms can have early access to building apps for them, if there are key differences from iOS/OS X that need to be addressed.

Apple does need to start ramping up product discussions, however. A recent chart published by Business Insider shows how Apple’s stock price has reacted each time it announces new products:

stock-price-apple

The chart shows that, as of April 24, there has been more than 230 days since Apple announced a major new product. That’s the biggest gap in recent memory, and you can see the stock price started to decline as product announcements slowed. Apple probably has some game changing technology up its sleeves, and it’s possible that’s why we’ve heard nary a whisper, but we don’t think WWDC will be the stage where this happens.

TechnoBuffalo will be reporting live from WWDC starting at 1:00pm EST, 10am PST, on Monday, June 10.  Follow along with us on our liveblog.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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