Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC, for the sake of my typing fingers) begins Monday, June 11, with Apple's keynote speech starting at 1PM EST. If recent WWDC keynotes are any guide, Apple will use its time to announce a suite of changes and new features for several of its products, to inspire the developers in the audience to write for Apple's operating systems.
Here's what we expect Apple to unveil:
- iOS 5 was unveiled at 2011's WWDC keynote; iOS 4 was unveiled at 2010's WWDC keynote; and everyone predicts that Apple will unveil iOS 6 at this year's WWDC keynote, in time for a September/October release along with the new iPhone. So what will we see in iOS 6?
- New Maps, for one thing. Apple is likely to ditch Google's maps for its own in-house solution, which should include a new 3D view similar to what Google showed off at its own event on June 6. Apple's 3D mapping will come from C3 Technologies, which Apple acquired in 2011. Here's video of the unique map views that C3 provides, and what the Maps app on the iPhone and iPad could look like very soon:
There are also whispers that Apple will finally include spoken turn-by-turn directions in Maps, a feature that arch rival Android has boasted since 2010.
- Speaking of Android features soon arriving on iOS: Facebook integration. Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at system-wide Facebook integration in a recent interview, and Apple should make that a reality at WWDC 2012. Twitter integration was introduced for iOS 5 at WWDC 2011, and just as you can now tweet out any photo from your camera or website from your browser on your iPhone or iPad, so too will you soon be able to do share that content on Facebook. 9to5Mac has a reasonable mock-up of what this "Post to Facebook" button might look like on the iPhone.
- Unspecified improvements to Siri are also on their way. Tim Cook confirmed as much a couple weeks ago, without going into detail about Siri's future:
You'll be really pleased with the things you'll see [with Siri] over the coming months. The breadth that you're talking about -- we've got some cool ideas about what Siri can do. We have a lot going on on this.
A few things that Siri could be able to do in the near future: launch apps, post updates to Twitter and Facebook, fetch current sports scores via ESPN. There has been some talk that Apple will open up Siri to third-party developers, allowing for all kinds of voice-commanded madness. That's not likely.
- A few other less probable iOS 6 whispers: the addition of Android-like widgets or Windows Phone-like Live Tiles to the homescreen; automatic updates to apps, like in Android; redesigns for many of the native apps, including the Newsstand and Weather apps.
The Apple TV set-top box -- you know, the little web-connected hockey puck that Apple sells? -- could also be getting a redesigned interface. According to a report from BGR, this will also be the interface for Apple's long-awaited, unicorn-esque high-def television. BGR also claims that Apple will allow third-party programmers to develop apps for its set-top box (and, eventually, for its television). Some have predicted that Apple's big surprise will be a first look at that TV set -- also unlikely, though crazier things have happened.
There have been dozens of MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook, and Mac Pro rumors, piling up like like emails from your mother as we've gotten closer to WWDC. Here are the most plausible, and the most persistent:
- 9to5Mac says that every single computer Apple makes will be refreshed, marking (wait for it) "the biggest simultaneous launch of new Macs in Apple’s history." That means refreshes of the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, and iMac. That's a lot of Mac updates, if true.
- Retina display-quality screens have been heavily rumored for the MacBook Pro, specifically the 15-inch model (though the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Pro could also get the high-def display). We might also see thinner MacBook Pros across the board, per noted Apple analyst and supply chain-whisperer Ming-Chi Kuo.
- Intel's new Ivy Bridge chips figure to be included in the new MacBook Pros. That would mean better battery life, faster processing, and quicker startup times, among other improvements. USB 3.0, which would allow for faster data transfers, are also in the mix. Here's a sketchy spec sheet for the refreshed MacBook Pro units.
- The Mac Pro, which hasn't been refreshed since 2010, might also see a refresh, though details are scant.
- If Apple updates its MacBook Airs, expect those to get the Ivy Bridge chips, and perhaps Retina displays as well.
- Finally, Apple might shock the world and unveil a new laptop with the MacBook moniker, joining the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. This new MacBook would be sized between the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air and come with Retina display, according to (again) Ming-Chi Kuo.
Phew! If all these rumors hold up, then Apple's WWDC is going to be WWD-seriously busy, am I right?!
Anyway, that about covers what the Internet thinks Apple is going to unveil at its WWDC keynote on Monday. Make sure you check back with HuffPost Tech on June 11, as we'll have up-to-the-minute coverage of Apple's big day.
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