We’re rapidly approaching the 2013 edition of the Worldwide Developers’ Conference. It’s the one time of the year when Apple throws a big party for developers and shows them what is coming down the tubes in the next few months. Past WWDCs have been eventful, with launches of everything from new hardware to brand new versions of iOS.
This year has brought some serious buzz for Apple. There are rumors flying thick and fast about some changes imminent to iOS and their other products. Surprisingly, we don’t know much about what is coming. Aside from the usual tip-offs, it’s anyone’s guess what happens on June 10. Here’s what we do know.
Flattening the playing field
There have been a great deal of rumors that we’ll see a redesign of iOS. The venerable operating system is entering into its seventh iteration and operates more or less in the same fashion as it always has.
However, with the recent departure of Scott Forstall, head of iOS, we might see some changes. Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s hardware designer, took control of the department.
Considering that he is known to dislike skeuomorphism, or designing virtual interfaces to look like real-world analogs. Think the stitched leather in the Calendar app, or the wooden shelves in iBooks.
There are many rumors that we’ll see a redesigned iOS that features a more “flat” UI. Things won’t be taken to the extreme (like Windows Phone), but we may see removal of some of the more kitschy parts of the iPhone’s software.
This would be the first major change for iOS in a while. Sure, we’ve gotten multitasking, better notifications, and neat apps like iMessage, but nothing serious has changed in six years.
As a longtime iOS user, there’s this sense of sameness. Using an Apple product doesn’t feel stale or unfriendly. Quite the opposite. It simply feels like more of the same.
Changing up the operating system could be exactly what Apple needs to stay relevant and competitive in the software race. Android has come forward by light years with Jelly Bean parts one and two. Even Windows Phone has its merits.
Conversely, Apple prides itself on making products that everyone understands how to use. Making a bunch of unnecessary UI changes to satiate ingrateful tech pundits is something they might choose to avoid.
Likelihood: Moderately High
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. While Apple won’t radically change anything, we’re bound to see some improvements and simplifications.
A new breed of cat
There have also been positive signs pointing to a new and improved edition of OS X. MacRumors spotted devices running 10.9 in their server logs.
While these could be fake, they have been increasing in frequency leading up to WWDC. The IP addresses for these devices were also from the California Bay Area, a.k.a. Apple central.
9to5mac cites “reliable sources” that say Siri and Apple Maps will come to OS X in 10.9. Considering that Lion wasn’t shy about adding features from iOS (Launchpad comes to mind), this is plausible.
Considering that Siri has proved popular, we could see Apple moving her to the desktop. There could be an issue of complexity, though.
Desktops are exponentially more complicated than phones. While Siri may only need to do a certain number of things on mobile, that may not be enough for OS X.
Then again, maybe Apple will make an API and let third parties build their own Siri commands. Who are we kidding, that’ll never happen.
Apple tends to introduce new versions of OS X like clockwork, and there’s no reason to think they’ll break the trend this year. Especially with the rumors of…
New Mac models
2013 is the year Intel is launching its shiny new Haswell processor. The new chip is designed specifically for Ultrabooks and thin-and-lights.
Intel claims Haswell will decrease battery consumption while doubling graphical performance. Assuming those claims are correct, Apple will want to get Haswell into its Macs ASAP.
Macbooks are acclaimed as some of the best notebooks on the market, and it makes sense for Cupertino to protect that lead. They want to keep their products on the high end of the market.
In addition, the timing seems to make sense. It has been almost a full year (since WWDC 2012) since Apple has released a new version of its Macbook Air and Pro (non-Retina).
We’ll almost definitely see a refreshed line of Macbooks this year. Between the new processor and long time since the last period, the time is ripe for new Macs.
There have been a rumblings that, like Google, Apple is looking at some kind of subscription-based radio service. After Spotify’s success, it seems everyone wants a piece of the monthly fee pie.
This theoretical iRadio would be a blend of Pandora-esque streaming and specific track plays according to a report from The Verge.
However, this same report said that negotiations with media groups have turned into a slog. Since iRadio would be unlike any other music service, it requires its own special set of terms and conditions, which requires more negotiating.
Likelihood: Moderately Low
Is there an Apple music service coming? Yes, absolutely. Will it be finished in time for WWDC? No, probably not. We’ll likely see it later in the future.
Ultimately, this is all speculation. We don’t know what Apple will produce. We’ve got our fingers crossed for an iOS redesign, though. Here’s looking at you, Jony Ive.