Monday can’t come fast enough for fans of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant is expected to announce a plethora of software and hardware goodies at the keynote for its 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, which takes place June 10-14.
Apple has been playfully decorating the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco this past week, and by the looks of the various colorful banners, Apple will indeed be introducing the next-generation software for Mac computers — OS X, likely 10.9 but possibly 11.0 — and the iOS family, which includes iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. But Apple is also said to have several surprises waiting in the wings at the event, including new Mac desktops and laptops, a redesigned 9.7-inch iPad (“iPad 5”), its long-awaited music streaming Pandora-killer iRadio, and even its highly rumored futuristic wristwatch called the “iWatch.”
Until Apple raises the curtains at WWDC 2013 on Monday, here’s what we’re putting our money on regarding Apple’s various hardware and software announcements.
1. iOS 7
Apple has released a new iOS each year since the first iPhone in 2007, and WWDC 2013 will be no different. But unlike past years, where iOS 5 and iOS 6 made minimal additions to the iPhone and iPad experience, iOS 7 is expected to introduce major visual and functional changes to the ecosystem for the very first time since 2007.
Since longtime iOS chief Scott Forstall got the boot from Apple in October, lead designerSir Jony Ive has taken over “human interface” duties at the company, and has reportedly spent a great deal of time redesigning iOS for iOS 7, removing the operating system’s manyskeuomorphic elements — those ornamental elements that only serve as decorating metaphors instead of functional features, like the lines on the yellow Notepad app and the green felt texture on the Game Center app — and replacing them with “flat,” simple features and textures. For more on iOS 7, check out some alleged screenshots of the new operating system in action, the 11 features we’re hoping to see in iOS 7, as well as the improvements to Siri we’re hoping to see when Apple unveils iOS 7 at WWDC 2013.
2. New Mac OS X, Either 10.9 Or 11.0
We don’t know which big cat Apple plans to name this new Mac OS X build after at WWDC 2013, but we do know that Apple’s been working on OS X 10.9 for some time now: According to 9to5Mac, Apple began developing Mac OS X 10.9 simultaneously with last year’s OS X “Mountain Lion,” which similarly sought to integrate more iOS features into the Mac experience, such as the Notification Center, Notes, Reminders, Dictation, and document syncing in iCloud. As Apple continues to tie iOS and OS X closer together, we are largely expecting Apple to release Siri and Apple Maps — its two most-used applications on iOS — in Mac OS X 10.9, as well as introduce iBooks and Newsstand to the Mac, and ensure the new Mac design mirrors the new simplified experience in iOS 7. We’re also expecting Apple to gift some of its “power users” with some added functionality to the Finder, as well as the ability to port full-screen applications to multiple displays.
In 2012, iRadio rumors heated up and suddenly dissipated as deals with the major record companies reportedly stagnated; then in January, BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield said the iRadio was back on, and that Apple was close to finishing its Spotify-like music streaming service, which is said to communicate with a user’s iTunes Store account and Genius software to suggest music for listening or purchasing. While it’s unclear if the iRadio service will be free or require a subscription, Apple is said to have incorporated its iAd advertising platform to then share part of the ad revenue with the record labels. With the last of the major record companies reportedly signing on earlier this week — Sony, which was not-so-coincidentally the last remaining holdout when Steve Jobs originally tried to seal the deal with the iTunes Store — it looks like Apple is finally clear to introduce the iRadio on Monday at the WWDC 2013 keynote.
4. New Macs
At last year’s WWDC, Apple upgraded its Mac lineup, refreshing its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops with newer processors and also introduced the first MacBook Pro with Retina display. Considering how Apple fans were upset at how the Mac Pro wascompletely neglected at WWDC 2012 (and Cook’s response to a concerned fan) consumers can expect Apple to introduce a new Mac Pro tower desktop, likely with a complete redesign, at WWDC 2013.
“Our pro customers are really important to us,” Cook said . “Don’t worry, as we’re working on something really great for later next year.”
We’re fully expecting a completely redesigned Mac Pro to release at WWDC 2013 – we’re even surprised Apple hasn’t released the computer even sooner, considering how Apple can no longer sell the computer in Europe, given a new regulatory guideline that went into effect on March 1. But besides the Mac Pro, it’s likely Apple will releaseupgraded versions of its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air at WWDC 2013, and possibly remove the non-Retina MacBook Pro model from its inventory, citing low sales of the computer. China-based DigiTimes said in April that Apple would release “its new MacBook products at the end of the second quarter,” while reliable analyst from KGI Securities Ming-Chi Kuo predicted in January that Apple would “do away with the non-Retina MacBook Pro line in 2013, moving to an all-Retina lineup at cheaper price points than the current Retina models,” and even make a few tweaks to the design of the Retina MacBook Pros. Recent reports have said Apple will endow its newest MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro with Intel’s new fourth-generation Haswell processors, and will make the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro a bit thinner too.
5. iPad 5
Considering all of the other announcements set to take place at WWDC 2013, nobody really thinks Apple will also announce its fifth-generation full-sized iPad at Monday’s event. That said, rumors of the tablet have been floating around for months, and one case maker — citing “inside sources” — has gone all in on iPad 5 rumors by launching new iPad 5 cases based on rumored specs long before the tablet is even announced. The iPad 5 is said to be a bit shorter and narrower than the iPad 4, and to be similarly built like the iPad mini with a dark aluminum finish, tapered edges and extremely thin side bezels, which reduce the overall size of the tablet without affecting the 9.7-inch Retina display. We’ve been hearing about this iPad for months, so it’s possible Apple will simply release this redesigned tablet to accompany the release of iOS 7. But if we don’t see an iPad at WWDC 2013, there’s a great chance we will finally see the unveiling of…
Apple’s take on the super spy wristwatch has been rumored for some time now, but even if we don’t see the iWatch released this summer, there’s a great chance we will see it unveiled for the very first time at WWDC 2013, which would give Apple plenty of time to build hype for the iWatch before its alleged release date in late 2013 — just in time for the holidays.
With rival companies like Samsung and Google working on their own smart watches, Apple has reportedly already begun producing 1.5-inch OLED touch-sensitive displays to build roughly 1,000 units of the iWatch, which isn’t enough for mass production but is enough for a small-scale trial, or possibly even an unveiling.
Like the Pebble E-Paper Watch, which debuted on Kickstarter and raised more than $10 million last April, Apple’s iWatch would work with your iPhone or Android smartphone to track one’s general exercise, but also control one’s music and notifications from their calendar, or even Facebook and Twitter, directly on the watch’s tiny display. But with the ability to store data in the cloud with iCloud, an iWatch wouldn’t need massive amounts of storage to use Siri, Apple Maps, or Bluetooth to send information back and forth to one’s smartphone. With its release date expected later this year, Apple could drop many jaws by unveiling this enticing wearable device at WWDC 2013 before a full announcement just before its release date later this year.