WWDC 2017 Preview: What to expect from Apple's first keynote of the year!

WWDC is mostly software only. Mostly. This year, though, there's a lot more to expect...

Updated May 25, 2017: Apple has updated its Events app for Apple TV with a WWDC 2017 teaser. Since I still can't link to Apple TV apps — the loudest of sighs! — simply launch the app if you have it already or search for "Events" on the Apple TV App Store.

Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicks off with its traditional keynote on June 5, 2017. It's returning to San Jose, just a short distance from Apple's Cupertino home and, unlike the last two years, when Apple held spring events filled with watches, iPhones, Macs, and more, the WWDC keynote will be Apple's first of the year.

Typically, WWDC is a software-and-services-only type of affair, with nothing in the way of new hardware. Typically, but not always.

New MacBooks have debuted at WWDC in year's past and the 2013 Mac Pro was previewed first at WWDC. Flash back a few years, and WWDC was also where iPhones 3G through 4 were introduced.

So, all that being said, just how exactly should we set our expectations of WWDC 2017?

All the new operating systems

Major new OS updates are as close to sure things as we're going to get at WWDC. There'll be a new version of iOS. A new version of macOS. And new versions of tvOS and watchOS as well.

If past is predicate, Craig Federighi will do the honors for iOS 11 and macOS 10.13. Kevin Lynch will walk us through watchOS 4, and Eddie Cue will handle tvOS 11.

Big things to look for:

  • Dark theme on iOS 11. If rumors of OLED iPhone 8 are true, developers will need time to get black, power-efficient apps ready to accommodate it.
  • Smarter Siri. The AI wars are upon us. No, not Skynet. At least not yet. But everyone is fielding virtual assistants and Apple's going to have to work hard to match and exceed expectations.
  • Putting the Pro into Pro. It's been two years since the last big iPad enhancement and, while Apple won't make iOS into macOS, the company can and will continue to push iOS forward on the big screen.
  • More Messages. Communications is becoming a primary interface layer and while iMessage in iOS 10 was a big step forward, Apple needs to keep pushing the pace.
  • Photos. But better. Google Photos is seriously great but comes with huge privacy compromises. Apple nails the privacy but needs to ramp up the features, and fast, to stay competitive.
  • Apple Television. No, not the set. The service. Apple couldn't get the deal before. Now others have the service Apple always wanted. It's time for Apple to get it too.
  • Even better together. Apple's real strength is how well all the operating systems and devices work together. Rounding that out, including filling gaps like handoff for media, will make everything even more compelling.

There's lots more, of course. Full ten-fold tent-poles for everything. For the rest of the rumors, see:

Read our iOS 11 rumor roundup

Read our macOS 12.13 rumor roundup

Read our watchOS 4 rumor roundup

Read our tvOS 11 rumor roundup

The hardware potentials

Apple doesn't showcase new hardware at WWDC. Except when it does. Absent a March event and with rumors hot and heavy, this could be one of the years it does.

Phil Schiller is the best in the business when it comes to introducing new atoms for all the new bits to run on, at least when it comes to iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Jeff Williams has been handling Apple Watch when it makes an appearance, and Eddy Cue — Apple TV.

So, what could we get?

  • New MacBook updates. MacBook didn't get updated in March and MacBook Air… in a lot longer. MacBook Pro was just updated, but new chips might be available for it too. In other words, Kaby Lake everything.
  • Apple Home Hub. Siri's already in the living room thanks to Apple TV but it'll take more to put it through the whole house. A Siri speaker — or Siri AirPort — could fit that bill.
  • Apple TV 4K. It would need iTunes 4K to go with it, and HDR to be truly updated, but Apple's new TV box needs an update to stay new.
  • Edge-to-edge iPad. Would Apple spoil an edge-to-edge iPhone unveiling by showing off the next-generation iPad first? If it's ready to ship, it'll ship.

Apple Watch Series 3 is probably a while away still and, while an updated iPhone SE could ship at any time, there's only so much one show can hold. For all the rumors, see:

Read our MacBook and MacBook Pro rumor roundup

Read our Apple Home Hub rumor roundup

Read our Apple TV 4K rumor roundup

Read our iPad Pro 2 rumor roundup

Any more things?

Always more things! Despite the hardware, software will still be key at WWDC. Apple's shown the company can make bold new designs and cutting edge new features, but also work to revolutionize medical research and patient care, accessibility and privacy.

The devices will get the lion's share of media attention next month, but it's all the new Kits that'll be defining how we use those devices for the next year.

Wait, back up, when is WWDC 2017?

WWDC 2017 starts Monday, June 5 and runs through Friday, June 9.

And it'll be in San Jose this year, right?

Right. It'll be held at the McEnery Convention Center, 150 West San Carlos, San Jose, CA.

That's in the same area as Apple's current Infinite Loop campus and only a few minutes away from the new Apple Campus 2.

Can San Jose support a modern, much-expanded WWDC?

McEnery Convention Center has everything from hotels to restaurants within walking distance. Apple is also working with the city and local businesses to make sure developers have an amazing week during the show.

Why did Apple move WWDC 2017 back to San Jose?

I get the feeling that, given the logistics, especially with how many engineers are involved and for how long, that it was simply easier for everyone to bring WWDC back to South Bay.

If you can't get to San Jose, will WWDC 2017 still be streamed?

More than ever. And not just the keynote. I think that's an area Apple really wants to keep up on, especially considering the convention center can only hold a tiny fraction of Apple's developer base.

In other words, keep your Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad WWDC apps ready.

Where can you find more information on WWDC 2017?