WWDC 2014: What to expect

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) begins on June 2nd with a keynote speech from Tim Cook and other Apple executives showing off what Apple has been working on. The rumor mill has spun into action over the past months with various leaks pointing at a wide range of new products - both hardware and software - from Apple. While it is unlikely we'll see a new iPhone or iPad on Monday, other products are likely to be unveiled. Here is the run down. 

OS X

OS X 10.9 Mavericks introduced a range of refinements from OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, and previous 10.7 Lion, but mainly focused on under the hood tweaks as opposed to visual changes seen by the everyday user. According to various reports, Apple is going to change this with OS X 10.10 (which could be codenamed Yosemite), introducing sweeping visual changes that are similar to those in iOS 7. 

Just like iOS 7, OS X 10.10 will gain a "flatter" design with sharper window edges and a generally cleaner look. Despite these visual tweaks, iOS and OS X will remain distinct operating systems as merging the two is a "non-goal" for Apple according to Phil Schiller. It is not immediately obvious which features will be introduced in OS X 10.10 but iOS 7 seems like a good place to start when speculating. 

9to5Mac are speculating that Apple could introduce a Control Centre-style panel for OS X allowing users to control options such as WiFi or Bluetooth without having to go into settings. Apple has made big pushes towards trackpad gestures - even introducing a trackpad for desktops - so it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume the Control Centre panel could be accessed via a gesture, just as it is on iOS.  

Apple could also bring Siri to OS X. Apple's desktops and laptops currently have voice dictation, similar to iOS, but nothing comparable to Siri which has been rumored to be making the jump between iOS and OS X for some time. AirDrop, a feature originally found on Macs, was introduced to iOS last year but the two versions are not compatible meaning that files cannot be shared between a Mac and an iPad. Apple has long believed in synergy between their products - one of the original reasons to buy a Mac was to use an iPod - and AirDrop seems like a good place to start. 

Updates to the iLife and iWork suites are likely in the works, especially if OS X debuts with an updated "flat" design. It is unclear if Apple will have them ready for WWDC, though. Developers will likely be rushing to update their apps to conform to the OS X redesign and it will be interesting to see how OS X deals with apps made for 10.9 and earlier. 

iOS 

9to5Mac has prolifically leaked details of what to expect in iOS 8 (codenamed "Okemo"). In terms of visual design, very little is expected to change; iOS 7 was a huge departure from the design ideas in iOS 6 and Apple will likely stick to those in iOS 8. That being said, iOS 8 will tweak various design elements of iOS 7 to make them more user friendly. Apps such as Voice Memos have received negative reviews from users who claim the redesign made the app too confusing to use, something Apple will change. 

According to various reports, one of the center pieces of iOS 8 will be Healthbook, a fitness app designed by Apple, which tracks weight loss, medications and other health-related metrics. 9to5Mac has a good rundown of the features within Healthbook including screenshots from the app. Apple's move into fitness could potentially tie in with their much-rumored smart watch, delivering statistics from your wrist to your iPhone.  

Apple Maps will also receive under-the-hood improvements. Apple received a lot of negative PR when it removed Google Maps from the iPhone (it later came back as a third party app) and has been working tirelessly since to make Apple Maps as good as Google Maps. Apple hired various engineers over the past year which could point to transit directions being introduced within Apple Maps, filling yet another hole. 

iTunes Radio, Apple's answer to Pandora, will also become a standalone app, according to reports. Previously the app has been 'hidden' within other apps and moving it to a more prominent position will increase usage and engagement. Apple recently acquired Beats Music, the streaming service associated with Beats headphones, and the engineering know how and technology from this service could be put to use in iTunes Radio. The functionality of iTunes Radio will remain the same, offering users the ability to purchase tracks, locate Featured Radios and so on. 

Apple is also rumored to be developing versions of TextEdit and Preview for iOS. Both apps have previously been OS X-only and the iOS counterparts will be able to view, but not edit, documents made in the OS X versions. Documents stored in iCloud will be available to these applications and increase the synergy between the two operating systems. 

Windows 8-style multitasking could also be brought to the iPad in iOS 8, meaning that apps can run side-by-side increasing productivity. Previously, iOS has only showed one app at a time meaning the experience is very simple. A departure from this could be seen as Apple conceding that iOS is currently not able to perform as well as Windows 8 tablets when it comes to content creation. A caveat does apply, though, with Brain X Chen, a New York Times tech reporter, claiming that split-screen multitasking is a "work in progress" and likely will not be shown at WWDC. 

Other updates in iOS 8 could include Shazam integration into Siri enabling users to identify songs just by holding the home button (as opposed to navigating to the Shazam app), a new feature for iPad that allows it to be used as a second display for OS X computers (similar to AirDisplay), simplification of the Notification Centre and an expansion of iOS in the home, allowing users to control certain aspects of their home (such as heating or lights) via their iPhone. 

Hardware

WWDC is predominantly an event for software and developers, but Apple does occasionally announce new hardware during the keynote. Various rumors have been flying around regarding Mac hardware with possible upgrades to the MacBook Air, including a Retina display (shrunk down to 12-inches), no fan, slimmer design and an "enhanced" trackpad. Apple could split the iMac line into Retina and non-Retina - just as they've done for the MacBook Pro line - introducing a lower-cost iMac alongside a Retina version. The Mac Minis could also be updated with a faster processor, possibly Intel's new Haswell chips, with the MacBook Pro range getting similar treatment. 

In terms of iOS devices, the iWatch could potentially be shown at WWDC along with a larger iPad with a 12-inch display with a Surface-like keyboard, and a new ARM-based MacBook. It is unclear if any of these devices will be shown at WWDC, but all will be revealed on Monday.  

Wrap up 

Updates to both iOS and OS X seem the most likely candidates for WWDC with possible introduction of new hardware alongside. Neowin will be providing coverage of the event which starts on Monday, June 2nd at 10AM Pacific, 1PM Eastern, 6PM BST.  

Images via The Verge9to5Mac, ReadWrite

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29 Comments

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Apple and their god damn OSX or iOS requirement to view their keynote. Good thing I have a macbook ... but i wanted to watch it on my 70 inch :(

What we can expect is hyperbole, lot of hyperbole! I wonder is 10.10 will be a touchscreen version of Mavericks?

shockz said,
I thought we were supposed to expect "profound disappointment".

That's over the home automation...

Eric said,

That's over the home automation...


I'm already getting iAds vibes for that one... Apple tend to do things they're in charge of best, not those things they let others be in charge of. An interesting phenomenon really, since they are so influental.

I hope OS X 10.10 is more than a theme change. I wonder what Avie Tevanian and Bertrand Serlet think of OS X releases released after they left (perhaps the same as me: just more eye candy).

OS X has the potential to be better than Windows in usability. Apple just have to put their main focus on UI design instead of themes. I find I don't work as fast on Macs as when on Windows and Linux/LXDE PCs.

All the above my own opinion.

I find, for all the differences supposedly between the two, that with a little bit of configuration Windows 8.1 and OS X 10.9 have very similar workflows.

The Start screen on the desktop is like a slightly more advanced Launchpad for me whilst I use the Search box (with Bing turned off) much like OS X Spotlight. The biggest difference is the key combinations.

I honestly couldn't say which I personally find faster though I do find File Explorer better than Finder whilst my MacBook's trackpad has the edge over my mouse on my desktop a lot of the time. (though that's not really OS X . . .)

68k said,
I hope OS X 10.10 is more than a theme change. I wonder what Avie Tevanian and Bertrand Serlet think of OS X releases released after they left (perhaps the same as me: just more eye candy).

OS X has the potential to be better than Windows in usability. Apple just have to put their main focus on UI design instead of themes. I find I don't work as fast on Macs as when on Windows and Linux/LXDE PCs.

All the above my own opinion.

It's weird - I'm not sure if my way of working has changed, or whether Apple have just improved the usability of the OS but things do seem a lot better since around 10.4/10.5.

I ran an iMac for about a year around then, and dumped it in favour of a Windows 7 PC as I just didn't get on with it or Leopard.

However I came back to Mac ownership about this time last year with a Macbook Air and I honestly haven't regretted it one bit.

On the face of things, OSX hasn't changed a great deal - yet somehow I enjoy the experience immensely now and don't long to go back to Windows any more. As I say though, I don't know if that's improvements to OSX, backwards steps in Windows, or just an overall change in how I feel / use the system.

I think there'll be a design change (although the main design will be similar, nothing Windows 8:ish), but of course there will also be more than this. OS X has never been released in a version with only a design change, even when they've happened. I think the other features will be things like AirDrop with iOS, and maybe other integrations.

Perhaps a new direction for iTunes too? I don't think Apple is quite satisfied with where they are with iTunes yet. It's still (despite iTunes 11) an unusually complex conglomerate of features for being Apple; everything from syncing to listening to podcasts, to buying music and apps.

The Preview and TextEdit features for iOS are interesting, especially Preview. What are you going to preview? On OS X, it's an application commonly used from Finder for all sorts of formats. Does this imply that Preview for iOS is the first tool to peer into an iOS file system? In that case, the file system, not Preview, would be the big news here. TextEdit could then be an app for generic text editing. That's basically the only purpose I can see for it, since iOS already has the notes app.

Personally thought new UI would lead to major version change, so it would be MacOS 11, rather than 10.10.

coth said,
Personally thought new UI would lead to major version change, so it would be MacOS 11, rather than 10.10.

One does have to wonder at what point they'll move to OS11!

i don't they'll ever, it's a brand name now, a bit like 'Windows' If anything Apple is moving away from numbering, it used to be 10.4 or 10.5 front and center but in recent released it's simply OSX Mountain Lion, Mavericks etc.. The numbering will always be there but like the kernel version in Windows it'll not really mean as much, only to IT folk/dev's

Chicane-UK said,
One does have to wonder at what point they'll move to OS11!

One wonders more why people actually give a damn about version numbering.

.Neo said,

One wonders more why people actually give a damn about version numbering.

One wonders why you have to make your point in such a condescending manner.. but whatever.

Anibal P said,
I expect the usual hype, no real advancements and a lot of childish jabs at Google/Samsung

That's because unless Apple invents a real time machine and FTL flight nothing will ever be good enough. Come to think of it, even if the company invents a time machine and FTL drive it probably still won't be innovating enough.

People bitch about Apple, but what are we comparing them to? Samsung who craps out a dozen "different" phones a year? I don't understand...

Anibal P said,
I expect the usual hype, no real advancements and a lot of childish jabs at Google/Samsung

Don't forget all the bandwagon over hate that comes with anything that gains any kind of hype, popularity or appreciation.

VHMP01 said,
They have lost their Magical copying innovation!

It's kind of funny that all this arguing over who copied who all started decades ago by copying a company that makes copier machines (Xerox).

.Neo said,

That's because unless Apple invents a real time machine and FTL flight nothing will ever be good enough. Come to think of it, even if the company invents a time machine and FTL drive it probably still won't be innovating enough.

Yup! It's that magical time of the year when the Apple haters get butthurt over a simple software/product presentation. I'm pretty excited to see what misconceptions they imagine up this time. I have my popcorn on stand-by.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Yup! It's that magical time of the year when the Apple haters get butthurt over a simple software/product presentation. I'm pretty excited to see what misconceptions they imagine up this time. I have my popcorn on stand-by.

lol, I hear ya. I don't even use Apple products, but it's amazing how dramatic people can be. Reminds me of the Wicked Witch of the West melting...

Before anyone complains about one of the pictures showing person using a phone while driving in San Francisco (you know who you are), it is legal to do so if you are using a map application and not having a conversation.

As for what to expect: the unexpected.