Adrian Weckler: Six things to look out for at Apple's WWDC conference
Published 12/06/2016 | 14:02
FOR IT and app developers, Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is one of the biggest events on the annual calendar. It's when Apple unveils its plans for new services and features that it intends to bring to its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, as well as newer gadgets such as the Apple Watch and the Apple TV.
We'll be covering the event live from San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium at 6pm Irish time on Monday, June 13th.
Until then, here's a look at what we're expecting, from the sure things to the no-hopers.
1. WHAT WE KNOW IS COMING
(i) Updated operating systems for Apple Watch and Apple TV
Apple has has already flagged that some new features will be announced for these systems, although it hasn't said what. The company does want to make both systems more powerful, though. In particular, it sees Apple TV as a long term replacement option for existing cable TV boxes.
(ii) App Store and better work apps
Apple's mobile boss, Phil Schiller, has already announced that the App Store is opening up to subscription-based apps in more categories and increasing the amount of revenue (to 85pc) that developers get if they get subscribers to stay with the app for over a year. This means that we'll probably start to see better, more sophisticated apps being built, especially for work and productivity purposes.
2. NOT GUARANTEED, BUT LIKELY
(i) Siri voice control for Macs
Apple is continuing to invest heavily in voice control across its hardware divisions and the Mac is expected to be the latest device to benefit.
(ii) Improvements to Photos
Apple knows that when it comes to photo-editing, it has a head start on most other phone and computer operating systems through its Photos app. It's likely we'll see further upgrades here.
(iii) Apple Music refresh
Apple Music has had a decent, if not overwhelming, competitive start against Spotify. A simpler, more streamlined system may be unveiled.
3. WHAT WE MIGHT SEE
(i) Stronger security
Apple is still smarting from its clash with various governments and security agencies that want it to provide more 'back doors' into services like iMessage. So it is expected to announce more measures that strengthen things like encryption.
(ii) iMessage for Android devices
This would be a big move and, arguably, a very successful one. We all talk about Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger as the major texting apps in our lives, but iMessage is right up there. If you could also use it on Android, Apple really would expand its reach deep into non-iPhone territory. Apple was once very reluctant to afford other companies' hardware the privilege of using Apple software (with the obvious exception of iTunes). But as it now increasingly sees itself as much of a services company as a hardware and software company, it may continue to branch out further, as it is trying to do with its Music streaming service.
4. WHAT WE'RE UNLIKELY TO SEE
Updated MacBook laptops
There is a slim chance that Apple might announce power or specification updates to its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptop models, both of which are due upgrades.
5. WHAT WE DEFINITELY WON'T SEE
(i) A new iPhone or iPad
There will almost certainly be a new iPhone in September, the time when Apple traditionally updates its biggest product. So the company is not going to be discussing new handsets this month. Besides, it only recently unveiled its new iPhone SE (see our review: http://www.independent.ie/business/technology/tech-review-adrian-weckler-on-the-latest-gadgets-including-iphone-se-34651171.html) and the 10-inch iPad Pro (our review: http://www.independent.ie/business/technology/reviews/tech-review-weckler-on-the-latest-gadgets-34669302.html). So it would be very odd to have another iPhone or iPad to announce now.
(ii) Other rumoured projects such as an Apple Car
This is a long term project for Apple and, as such, it won't be giving any details on what it is or isn't up to in this space.
6. WHAT WE'D LOVE TO SEE
(ii) Apple Pay: Will Apple Pay be rolled out to Ireland this year? The service lets people pay for things by swiping their iPhone or Apple Watch in shops, in the same way we already do with contactless payment cards. It's available in the US and the UK (including the North) but not Ireland. Apple will eventually get around to this, but Irish iPhone users would certainly welcome an announcement sooner rather than later.
(ii) More integration between iPads and productivity apps: Ever try to work in Google Docs on an iPad Pro? There are a quite a few shortcomings, including productivity shortcuts. It would be great if the two companies sorted this out.
(iii) A new Watch: The Watch is less than two years old and, while Apple probably doesn't want to be devalue existing ones (and, hence, sales cycles) by bringing out new ones every year, an updated version or an extra model would be something to welcome. Apple hasn't said how many of the devices it has actually sold and there has been mixed opinions among analysts as to whether the Watch has been a success or not. In this writer's view, the Watch is a useful and elegant accessory (review here: http://www.independent.ie/business/technology/tech-review-weckler-on-the-latest-gadgets-34709868.html), especially for those not used to wearing a watch.