Hello Apple fanboys and fangirls. Gather round once again, and join us as we take a speculative spelunk into the dark chasm of Cupertino’s software recesses to see what the future holds for Apple.
New music streaming service! A new and improved Siri! An Apple Watch that sucks significantly less! And hopefully a few other things on our wish list. These could all be some of Tim Cook and Phil Schiller’s talking points at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday.
But why wait! Speculate! Let’s do some tech soothsaying.
As the iPhone has grown to become the single most dominant smartphone in the world, it’s mobile operating system’s importance at WWDC trended upward in kind. iOS 8 saw a continuation of iOS 7 in the looks department but added a whole bunch of stuff, like Handoff, Apple’s desktop-smartphone workflow solution, and third-party keyboards.
Apple seems primarily focused on fixing what went wrong with iOS 8 and making the release stable (even for older devices). But rumors are circling that more exciting stuff is coming.
A new, more powerful Siri
One of the major themes in iOS (and even OS X) is unifying design across the smartphone, desktop, and now the Apple Watch. With the debut of Apple’s wearable, we saw a new font (San Francisco) and an all-new look for Siri—both of which will be making their way to the iPhone.
But it’s more than cosmetics; Siri may also be getting a much-needed API overhaul, called “breadcrumbs,” that would allow third-party developers limited access to Apple’s voice assistant.
Apple may also be revamping Spotlight in iOS to be, you know, actually useful. Spotlight could return left of the home screen, much like in iOS 6, and be more like what Google Now is for Android along with its typical “search the phone” functions.
Augmented reality for Apple Maps
Remember back in November, when Apple made a call for an AR and VR specialist? Well the first fruit of that search may be coming to Apple Maps.
Rumors say Apple is planning a “Browse Around Me” feature that overlays mapping information as you scan a certain area with your phone. The motion you make is like taking a panorama but your surroundings instead show you store hours, menus, ratings, and what have you.
It’s uncertain if the implementation of this augmented reality will be from a street-level view or a more traditional birds-eye-view that draws on previous searches to populate important information.
About that mega-sized iPad…
Though news of Apple’s next Godzilla-sized foray into tablets has been rumored for a while, the Wall Street Journal seems to think the big tab will make a fall showing rather than at WWDC. But that doesn’t mean Apple won’t be getting iOS 9 ready to handle the big-screen device.
To do that, Apple may introduce a few Android tricks into iOS 9—like split screen support. Split screen apps will supposedly come in a one-third, one-half, or two-thirds orientation, according to 9to5Mac. It’s believed to be demoed during WWDC on the two current Mini and Air iPad models.
iOS 9 may also include multi-user support, a similar feature that Android baked into Lollipop last year, that would let several users use the same device. This would be an important feature if Apple wants to get the iPad Pro in the hands of students and professionals.
OS X 10.11
Much like iOS 9, OS X 10.11 will be a quiet year focused on enhancements, security features, and slimming down the operating system, similar to the Snow Leopard release back in 2009. The biggest UI rumor is that OS X 10.11 will get an iOS-like Control Center, moving many of the options out of the Mac menu to a slide out display on the left side of the screen. This will also feature music controls and other things found in the iOS Control Center according to Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac.
As for more technical mumbo-jumbo going on behind the new OS, OS X 10.11 may also have a “kernel-level” feature named “Rootless,” that will basically be malware’s worst enemy by increasing extension security and preserving sensitive data. A little bit of extra security is always nice.
All that’s really left to talk about is a name, and with the last two releases citing iconic California landmarks (Mavericks and Yosemite), OS X 10.11 will most likely follow suit. I’m going to just go with Mojave and call it a day.
Apple’s latest wearable got its own overwrought hootenanny a couple months back, so we won’t be hearing anything huge about the Apple Watch. BUT! Apple will probably detail the first major Watch OS update that will bring with it some much needed features.
For one, Apple might release a native SDK, meaning apps can actually run ON the watch (like all the first-party apps) instead of being piped in from your smartphone. This means less lag and just better performance. Period.
We’ll hopefully also see things like Find My Watch, which should help make the Apple Watch less appealing to steal, Smart Leashing so you never leave your smartphone behind (BECAUSE IT IS THE FUTURE AND YOU ALWAYS NEED YOUR SMARTPHONE ALWAYS AND FOREVER), and also third-party access to the Apple Watch’s “complications,” the widgets that populate the wearable’s watch face. So not a lot—and honestly a bunch of stuff that should have shipped with the watch to begin with.
The big software addition for WWDC 2015 is the long, long awaited revamp of Apple’s Music app—a revamp that began with Apple’s acquisition of Beats Music around this time last year. The biggest addition of course is a new streaming service, much like Spotify, Rdio, and sure, I guess Tidal, that will charge a $10/month subscription fee for access to millions upon millions of songs.
There are few distinctions for Apple’s new streaming service and all the other ones out there. For one, there will probably be no free, ad-supported option. It’s either you pay the $10, or you don’t. That’s it. However, there may be an iTunes Radio DJ option, cultivated from the musical minds of artists like Drake, Pharrell Williams, and of course Dr. Dre (one does not simply forget about Dre). This will essentially serve as a Pandora-like free option within the music app.
Also, rumors say Kanye will release his new album, Swish, for free as an iTunes exclusive. Yes, it’s just as last year’s very strange U2’s Songs of Innocence debacle, hopefully with a few lessons learned.
Maybe, Probs Not, and Hell No
Apple TV (maybe)
The Apple TV was supposed to be the hardware darling of WWDC, and supposedly up until mid-May it was. But Apple had a last minute change of plans, first saying that the new Apple television service was facing some delays, and a New York Times piece also says the Apple TV set-top box is also hitting a slight snag, meaning we may not hear about the future of Apple in your television until the fall.
Aside from some improved guts, the Apple TV will reportedly be getting its own apps with Apple’s new TVKit for developers, Siri voice-assistant integration, and the remote control is even getting a makeover with a new touchpad. Strangely enough, there’s a not-so-great rumor that the Apple TV will still not support 4K content, which seems like a serious oversight considering Apple’s slow-as-shit refresh rate for this little device.
Apple Car (probs not)
This rumor is a well-known one, originating from a Wall Street Journal report this past February, that Apple’s getting into the car business. Of course, they’ve been in the software side of things with CarPlay for a year now, but this is building an actual electric car. Will we see Tim Cook drive out onstage in some autonomous Apple-designed smart car of the future? Yeah... no. But it sure would be cool!
iPhone 6s (hell no)
Wrong event. Please check back in September. (Or maybe even August!)