What Customers and Developers Can Expect From Apple’s WWDC
The time has come again for Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
At 1 p.m. on Monday, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook is expected to take the stage at his company’s annual developers conference in San Francisco to talk about, well, Apple. If history is our guide, he’ll likely kick off his talk with how well Apple has done at getting its customers to run the latest versions of iOS and OS X, how many apps are available in the company’s App Store, uptick in Apple TV usage, and perhaps most importantly to developers, how much the iPhone maker has doled out to the software makers as part of their revenue-sharing agreement.
Indeed, much of WWDC, an annual week-long conference where developers also sit through workshops and tutorials, so they can build better apps for Apple’s operating systems, is predictable. Historically, the show has been extremely software-heavy and home to where Apple has unveiled new versions of its mobile operating system iOS and its desktop operating system OS X. Apple also uses WWDC to talk about new apps.
Last year, for instance, Apple announced Apple Music, a streaming-music service designed to compete with Apple Music. The company also showcased improvements to its Notes app, among others.
This time around, Apple likely won’t change its tack. The company will undoubtedly unveil iOS 10, which according to the latest rumors, could come with design enhancements, improvements to the built-in Apple Music app, and perhaps even the long-awaited option to remove the built-in Apple apps that the company has always forced users to keep on their devices. Siri will also likely get smarter and Apple will spend considerable time talking about the many enhancements it’s made to the operating system’s performance.
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On the desktop side, Apple is eyeing a new version of OS X, believed to be known as Fuji. While details are somewhat slim on what the operating system might deliver, a nagging rumor says Apple will finally bring Siri to the software. There’s also a good chance that Apple Music’s iOS improvements will come to OS X, and that we’ll see some performance and design improvements.
That said, there’s a possibility that OS X won’t be known as OS X any longer. Recent rumors have suggested that Apple is considering changing the name on its desktop operating system to macOS. While it’s unknown whether that will happen—the notoriously secretive Apple isn’t saying—a developers page on Apple’s website listed the operating system as “macOS,” lending far more credibility to the earlier rumors.
Whatever it’ll be called, expect the new version of Apple’s desktop operating system to launch later this year as a free upgrade. Its launch will likely come alongside the launch of Apple’s latest iOS iteration, which typically launches about a week before its new iPhone in the fall.
Beyond that, speculation abounds that Apple will announce improvements to the operating system built into its Apple Watch, called watchOS. Apple might also upgrade tvOS, the operating system it offers in its Apple TV.
Apple’s executive staff will be there in full force. Tim Cook usually passes the baton to his lieutenants, including senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi and Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller, to talk about new software. Cook may, however, be on stage to talk about encryption and Apple’s reported plans to deliver end-to-end encryption through its iCloud platform.
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There had been some hope that hardware would make an appearance at the show, but that’s looking increasingly unlikely.
Previously, there were reports that Apple was depleting stock on its $999 Thunderbolt Display in time for an unveiling of a new and improved version at WWDC. Since then, several sites have reported, citing sources, that the display won’t make an appearance at the show. Instead, Apple will unveil a new version of its display at a later time.
Those hoping for a new MacBook Pro with an OLED touchbar or even a new version of an Apple Watch are also probably out of luck.
Indeed, by all measure, WWDC is shaping up to be a software-heavy affair that will focus on relatively minor updates to Apple’s software. It’ll also be home to a slew of developer demos. If previous years are any indication, it’ll be a long show that could turn boring at points.
But remember: WWDC is ultimately about developers and software. As nice as it might be to get new hardware, Apple keeps its own cadence, regardless of what its legion of fans might want. But then again, Apple could surprise us all with new hardware and other announcements. Apple isn’t talking about its WWDC plans, and it’s possible some of the expectations won’t pan out. Any Apple prediction, in other words, should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.
If you’re interested in watching Apple’s keynote live, click here to learn how. Be sure to check back here on Monday, when Fortune will deliver all the latest news from Apple’s latest show.