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 (WWDC), which takes place June 10-14.
Apple has been playfully decorating the Moscone Center West 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 Macintosh computers -- OS X, likely 10.9, but possibly 11.0 -- and the iOS-enabled family of mobile devices, 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, the so-called 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 mobile operating system 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.
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Since longtime iOS chief Scott Forstall got the boot from Apple in October, lead designer Jonathan "Jony" Ive has taken over “human interface” duties at the company. Ive has reportedly spent a great deal of time redesigning iOS for iOS 7, removing many of its skeuomorphic aspects -- those ornamental elements that serve only as decorating metaphors instead of functional features, like the lines on the yellow Notes 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 mobile OS in action, the 11 features we’re hoping to see in iOS 7, as well as the 9 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 and Dictation as well as document synching 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 to introduce iBooks and Newsstand to the Mac, while ensuring 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 in the Finder as well as with 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 whether the iRadio service will be free or require a subscription, Apple is said to have incorporated its iAd advertising platform to share part of the ad revenue with the record labels. With the last of the major record companies signing on a few days ago, it looks like Apple is finally clear to introduce the iRadio at the WWDC 2013 keynote on Monday, according to AllThingsD. Not so coincidentally, the Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) was the final holdout when Steve Jobs originally tried to seal the deal with the iTunes Store.
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 introducing the first MacBook Pro with Retina display. Considering how Apple fans were upset with how the Mac Pro was completely neglected at WWDC 2012 (and CEO Timothy D. 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 told a concerned MacRumors reader after WWDC 2012. “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, as described by MacRumors. We’re even surprised Apple hasn’t released the new Mac Pro 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. Besides the Mac Pro, it’s likely Apple will release upgraded 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 that computer. China-based DigiTimes said in April that Apple would release “its new MacBook products at the end of the second quarter,” while the 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, MacRumors reported. Recent reports have said Apple will endow its newest MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro with the new fourth-generation Haswell processors from the Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTC), while making the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro a bit thinner, too.
5. iPad 5
Considering all the other announcements set to take place at WWDC 2013, nobody really thinks Apple will also announce its fifth-generation full-size 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 specifications long before the tablet is even announced. The iPad 5 is said to be a bit shorter and narrower than the iPad 4, and is said to be built similar to 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 that 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 superspy 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 such as Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (KRX:005935) working on their own smartwatches, Apple has reportedly already begun producing 1.5-inch organic light-emitting diode 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 made its debut on Kickstarter and raised more than $10 million last April, Apple’s iWatch would presumably work with one’s iPhone or Android smartphone to track one’s general exercise, while also controlling one’s music and notifications from the phone's various apps, such as its calendar, Facebook or 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 launch date expected this year, Apple could drop many jaws by unveiling this enticing wearable device at WWDC 2013 in advance of a full iWatch announcement just before its alleged November release date.
What are you hoping Apple will unveil at WWDC 2013? Do you care more about new hardware, or new software? Sound off in the comments section below.