While we are prepping for Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, I wanted to make a few predictions and also notes on the upcoming conference.
No New iOS hardware
As WWDC is a developers conference first and foremost there will be no new iOS hardware. Even though the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4 were released at previous WWDCs, the iPhone and iPad are too important now and demand their own event. Most consumers and many news outlets get this wrong. Also, based on the lack of leaked accessories I bet Apple just doesn’t have any iOS hardware ready to ship. We typically start to see a steady trickle of horrible photos of cases a couple of months before new hardware arrives.
On the other hand, I do expect new Mac hardware to be announced to coincide with Intel’s new Haswell chipset which replaces the Ivy Bridge architecture currently in use. The graphics performance on the first generation Retina Macbook Pros is barely sufficient for the amount of pixels its pushing. I do not expect a form factor change for the Macbook Pro or Air as the change to the current no-SuperDrive form factor just happened. I will be wishing for an affordable Retina Cinema Display but I do not believe panel prices and yields are where Apple needs them to be.
iOS 7 Is Coming, But No Dramatic Redesign In Sight.
As confirmed by Tim Cook at D11 we will see iOS 7 and the next version of OS X. I do not think there will be a major UI overhaul but I do expect subtle improvements with a general move away from skeuomorphism to a flatter design. Below is a piece of the D11 interview where Tim alluded vaguely to some of the UI changes:
Kara: Are you thinking about having a more dramatic redesign of what you’re doing, to liven it up. Because it still looks the same… a lot of people are starting to complain…
Walt: When is the next big change… are you going to change the game
Kara: I don’t love it as much… and if I don’t love it as much
Tim: Do I worry about the demographics. No…. we try to appeal to everyone. What’s new. what’s coming. what’s next. when is it coming. as you know I’m not going to answer those. What I can say is that we have our developer conference in less than two weeks. We’re going to be rolling out the future of iOS and OS X and we’re all super excited to do that.
Big Changes in iOS Developer Tools.
The more exciting parts of WWDC will be the potential changes in what developers can access in iOS 7. I expect improved iCloud syncing, third party integration with Siri, and better inter app communication. URL schemes, currently the only way to send information between apps, is a very geeky way to achieve powerful workflows but average users do not have the knowledge or patience to make use of them.
A Few Wild Predictions
A stretch prediction would be improved OS support for wearable technology such as the Pebble smartwatch. Apple will enter the wearable technology sector soon enough. I foresee them making improvements at the OS level in anticipation to a future Apple product. Hopefully these improvements will positively impact the current generation of smart watches and health devices (Fitbit, Jawbone Up) and not be limited by a proprietary Apple protocol, a la Airplay. Tim Cook did not confirm a future device but came close:
There’s nothing that’s going to convince a kid who has never worn glasses or a band or a watch or whatever to wear one. Or at least I haven’t seen it. So I think there’s lots of things to solve in this space, but it’s an area where it’s ripe for exploration, it’s ripe for us all getting excited about. I think there will be tons of companies playing in this.
I see it as another very key branch of the tree.
I think from a mainstream point of view [glasses] are difficult to see. I think the wrist is interesting. I’m wearing this (Nike Fuelband) on my wrist, it’s somewhat natural. But as I said before, I think for something to work here, you first have to convince people it’s so incredible that they want to wear it.
In summary, no new iOS hardware, some new Mac hardware, subtle UI changes, and most importantly, more APIs for developers to create great things. Hopefully we’ll see something more exciting, but like I said WWDC is primarily a developer conference.
Matthew Morey is a Senior iOS Developer at ChaiOne.