Apple's Worldwide Developers' Conference, themed "The epicenter of change," will kick off June 8 this year and run a full week, closing on June 12. Here's what iMore's staff is looking forward to seeing from the company's keynote and state of the union when CEO Tim Cook takes the stage Monday morning.
Rene: iOS is a continuum. Every year Apple figures out what they can ship and what they can't, and the tentpoles get set for WWDC and the first developer beta. After the radical redesign of iOS 7 and the radical functionality changes of iOS 8, Apple will no doubt focus on stability and overall experience. They'll also continue to roll out those new features they think most important. I've been working on a wish-list for a while now, including Guest Mode, Continuity for iTunes, and much more. The only question is how much of that will ship, and how much will be saved for another year?
Ren: I've been loving Rene's wish-list posts, many of which I feel pretty similarly about. Continuity for iTunes would be huge, as would continued refinements to Handoff. With the Apple Watch, I'm also hoping we see a new way of handling notifications come into play: Notification Center was a good start, but we now get so many buzzes, pings, and alerts that it'd be nice to have some more granular controls.
Also, it's gotten a lot better in recent years, but I'd still like to see some Maps improvements. Google and Waze have the minute-by-minute traffic estimations and on-the-fly route changes down pat; I'd like to see Maps invest in this before I feel like I can truly switch back to using it.
Ally: We already know iOS 9 is a given. I'm really hoping it's a lot of refinements of iOS 8, because that's what we really need. More than anything, I'm really looking forward to a new Apple TV. I'm more excited for potential deals Apple has brewing up that will allow tons of people to give the finger to evil cable companies. You hear that Comcast? I'm looking at you.
Peter: I hope Apple continues making strides to figure out ways to help the millions of customers with limited storage on their devices. There are a lot of 16 GB iPhones and iPads out in the world.
OS X 10.11
Rene: OS X 10.10 Yosemite provided both a redesign and some of the same new functionality as iOS 8. So what's left for OS X 10.11? The same stability and performance fixes would be great, of course, and the matching side to Continuity for iTunes. Photo extensions would be terrific. So would Touch ID or skin-contact authenticated Bluetooth trusted device unlock. OS X is so mature, however, it's harder to see what's really needed next.
Ally: I'd really like to see Apple focus on functionality in 10.11. Continuity and Handoff are amazing and Apple has done a lot of work in point releases to make them function as advertised. I'd really like to see Apple do more in 10.11 to entice developers to take more advantage of those features. I'm not seeing the Mac get a lot of love in terms of apps that support Handoff, etc.. so I'd really like to see Apple push for that to change.
Peter: 10.10 was a big visual transformation for OS X. A lot happened under the hood too, but don't expect radical user interface changes. This will be the year Apple tightens a lot of stuff under the hood.
Take a look at Yosemite's continuity features like Handoff and Call Relay. The theory is effortless workflow between iOS and OS X. A hallmark feature of Yosemite, but it's been frustratingly inconsistent.
Photos appears late in the development cycle for Yosemite, bowing with April's 10.10.3 release. I'm hoping for even more fluid, dynamic and seamless photography workflow throughout OS X.
As far as names are concerned, I'm hoping for City of Compton.
Ren: C'mon, Peter: It's going to OS X Eureka, clearly. But like my colleagues, I'd like some work put into under-the-hood refinements across the board. Mail still needs some tweaking, though it's much better than it used to be. I'd also love, love, love to see some way to use Continuity for Touch ID unlocks ó there are already third-party apps that attempt to do this, why not have Apple take it under its wing?
Rene: Apple has already promised apps for the Apple Watch. WatchOS 2.0 with a full-on Watch SDK (not just WatchKit) makes sense. That would allow for proper UIKit apps, with transitions, the ability to update sans iPhone pairing, and all the other bells and whistles. Beyond that, I'm not sure what I want from the next generation Apple Watch software because I haven't spent enough time with the current generation yet. NFC API? Trusted Bluetooth device? There's a lot of potential; it's all about where they choose to focus.
Ally: I can't wait to see what developers can do with apps that are built just for Apple Watch. I wasn't particularly excited about Apple Watch until my try-on appointment last week. I'm also with Rene on the NFC API idea. How awesome would it be for other merchants and businesses to take advantage of that. Go go gadget watch!
Ren: I'm still not quite sure we'll see WatchOS 2 roll out at WWDC, but if it does, expect Apple to really differentiate between what Handoff-based WatchKit apps should do versus what native WatchKit apps should do. Especially given that Apple is potentially releasing the second generation of WatchKit for first-generation hardware, I expect we'll see a lot of "if your app doesn't need to live locally on Watch, don't build a full app" to avoid battery life drains and overall Watch sluggishness.
I am really looking forward to seeing what Watch developers are building, however. And by WWDC, we'll have had the watch hardware for a month and a half! Lots of time to experiment.
Peter: WatchOS is about to get very interesting. Apple's promise of full-on apps for the Watch will push the device forward in ways we can't see yet. It's exciting to see Apple lay the ground floor of a foundational technology; it's even more exciting to see where it goes from here.
Rene: Apple has Cyclone processors. It has Metal. It knows how to provide developer kits and the App Store for third-party software. HomeKit is on the way, and that needs a Siri-controlled hub. And, who knows, maybe the company even has a better idea for a remote control up its sleeve. Plus, U.S.-only content deals ó hi, neighbors to the north! Put it all together, and you get next-generation Apple TV. That's really exciting.
Ren: Ha ha, Rene, Apple already does have a new remote "up its sleeve": the Apple Watch. But yes. The Apple TV is the bet I'm most confident to make for WWDC: Apple's started building momentum with HBO Now and dropping the current box price; now it's time to deliver with next-generation hardware and software.
I have really high hopes for what Apple might allow developers to do with Apple TV: Like the Watch, Apple TV doesn't necessarily have a huge hard drive, but I could easily see developers being allowed to build Handoff-capable apps for the device. That works even better, because then your remote (or second controller) is your iOS device ó no need to use a four-button wand.
It does mean that you'll need an iOS device to use the Apple TV, but given the Watch, that might be the future of Apple's iOS-related accessories.
Ally: This is the one thing I'm actually most excited about. Mainly to see what kind of deals Apple is able to pull off. Apple TV is huge in our house and we're almost to the point of cutting the cable cord for good. I can't wait to see how Apple can make the Apple TV experience even better, because if we're being honest, the current box is starting to show its age in more ways than one.
Peter: One way Apple could get a lot more people using Apple TV is if it had gaming capabilities. Even limited, casual fare would give more people a reason to try the Apple TV out. I hope this is the year for that, even if it's something that requires a new box.
Rene: While iCloud got off to a slow start, last year's CloudKit, upon which iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library are based, has proven really, really solid. I'm not sure Apple's ready for it yet, but I'd love to see iTunes in the Cloud the way we have iWork in the Cloud. iMessage as well. Basically, I'd love anything and everything that's really important to me, just like Photos, be available to me from any browser if I really need to get to it. Apple's cracked the nearline code, they just need to roll it across everything.
Peter: Just like with Yosemite and 10.11, Apple's first and foremost effort must be on improving iCloud service reliability and communicating about what iCloud is. Too many people don't trust iCloud; too many people don't understand it; and too many people get frustrated when it doesn't work right.
Honestly, it infuriates me that Apple doesn't get cloud services in ways that Microsoft and Google just do.
Ally: I'd really like to see more improvements to iCloud Photo Library. It's very much so an all or nothing type service and I'd really like that to change. Streaming photos and videos has gotten better but still needs some work. But as usual, I expect Apple to scale, just as they have with every other aspect of iCloud over the years.
I don't necessarily agree with Peter that Google and Microsoft get cloud services better than Apple. There are huge differences there. If anything, I think Apple makes the cloud more convenient. They're just not as good at communicating how it's more convenient than other options.
Ren: iCloud reliability has soared leaps and bounds up from its early days of scattershot iMessage sync and mixed up contacts, but there's always value in Apple continuing to improve iCloud's backend. Like Ally, I'd like to see iCloud Photo Library improvements, though I don't know if Apple will be ready to tweak it so soon after Photos for OS X's April launch.
Also, to Rene's point, accessing features like iMessage online via iCloud.com would be a great way to extend iCloud's functionality, and I know I'd love it. That kind of access does come with a bit of a security question, however: Provide iMessage sync to iCloud.com, and any attacker who got your iCloud password would potentially have access to your two-step authentication system. (On that note: I'm glad that iCloud now features two-step authentication, but it could definitely be better.)
Rene: I kinda spoiled this already: Continuity for iTunes, so I can walk away from my Mac or Apple TV and my music (or video) walks away with me. iTunes for iCloud: so I can access that music (or video) from any browser. A streaming music service ó equal parts iTunes Radio and Beats Music ó that's available beyond the American borders.
Ally: iTunes as a desktop client needs to die a fiery death. We need standalone apps on the Mac like we have on iOS. The desktop version of iTunes is bloated and confusing for many consumers. The way iOS handles iTunes content makes much more sense. I'd like to see that come to the Mac. I also want to see the curation awesomeness of Beats make its way into iTunes, finally.
Ren: Yes, yes, yes, Ally. Death to iTunes in its current iteration. For one, iOS devices no longer really sync via wires, thanks to iCloud; is there really a reason for device management to keep living in the app?
As a Beats fan, I'll be sad to see its eventual death, but I'm hoping Apple takes all its best parts for its reimagining of iTunes Radio. Curated playlists, expert staff, excellent content deals, at (I'm hoping) a competitive price.
Peter: Apple talks about how music is in their DNA, but that DNA is as fragmented as the dinosaur DNA extracted from the amber insects in Jurassic Park. iTunes, Beats Music, iTunes Match. I'd like to see Apple unify its music offerings into a structure that makes sense and that feels less like Apple nickle and diming me for every little thing.
What we're not expecting
Rene: Last year's unveiling of Swift shows that Apple still knows how to drop the surprise and delight bombs, and with aplomb. Will they do it every year, though? Will they do it to the venerable OS X file system, HFS+? The way Apple's working these days, the modularization the company's embraced, they can keep updating components in software the way they do hardware. Apple can still introduce the shiny and the new, but they can also make the existing shiny and new.
Ren: No iPhone, no iPad, no Watch hardware 2.0. Apple has a system for product releases, and very few of them have ever appeared at WWDC. Apple TV may be the exception to this, but I'm still a little cagey on whether the hardware will actually ship at WWDC or come later this year. As for a "one more thing"? Apple's got a lot of spinning plates in the air at present, so we'll have to wait and see if they have anything else up their sleeves.
Peter: Ponies. Definitely not expecting ponies. Not expecting Phil Schiller to do any stage diving. Otherwise, it's all up in the air. Apple loves to surprise and delight us. So, Apple, surprise and delight us.
Ally: I disagree with Peter. I fully expect ponies. I don't expect any new hardware other than Apple TV. As much as I'd like to see some of the MacBook sparkle come to the rest of the Mac line, I am pretty sure it won't be happening at WWDC.