After months of suspense, we’re finally just a few days away from the biggest week of the year for many Apple fans. The annual Worldwide Developer Conference officially kicks off on Monday at 10AM PT with Apple’s annual keynote address.
During that keynote address, we can expect Tim Cook and other Apple executives to unveil the future of the company’s software efforts and more. Read on for a full roundup of everything we expect to see when Apple graces the stage at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose on Monday morning…
WWDC has almost always been a software-focused event, save for a few exceptions in recent years. The overwhelming purpose of WWDC is to give developers a look at the future of Apple software, thus giving them the time they need to prepare their applications and services for what’s to come.
We shouldn’t expect this year’s WWDC to deviate too much from the event’s history, with the majority of stage time being dedicated to iOS 12 and the rest of Apple’s new operating systems…
Apple has been releasing new software at a surprisingly brisk pace recently, pushing iOS 11.3 to users in March and iOS 11.4 to users just this week. While both of those updates brought their notable new features, iOS 12 is expected to be the headlining release of 2018.
iOS 12 might not be a huge release in terms of new features, however. Both Bloomberg and Axios have reported that Apple has taken a step back from feature development in an effort to focus on stability and bug fixes. Those reports claimed that Apple has delayed major changes such as a new home screen design until next year.
However, a focus on stability and performance improvements is nothing to scoff at, especially considering the ongoing narrative that Apple has lost its touch when it comes to attention to detail.
One feature that could be there, however, is support for cross-platform applications between iOS and macOS. While there have been conflicting reports as to the extent and release timetable of this feature, it is expected to make it so developers could maintain one application across iOS and macOS.
Also expected to be included in iOS 12 are new parental control features. In response to growing concerns about digital health and wellness, Apple said earlier this year that it is planning “more robust” parental controls, and it seems logical to assume those features will be a tentpole of iOS 12.
Another likely feature in iOS 12 is a renewed focus on iBooks. Reports have suggested that Apple is testing a redesigned iBooks app focused on curation, similar to the wildly successful App Store redesign that was included in iOS 11. This interface is said to feature a “Reading Now” tab as well as a heavier focus on audiobooks.
The Information reported last week that iOS 12 will expand access to the NFC chip in iPhones, including for unlocking doors and for transit systems. While the extent of this initiative is unclear, it’s notable that Apple is finally planning to make the NFC chip more accessible for developers.
Elsewhere, iOS 12 could include new Health features, an area where Apple has been putting an increasingly strong focus. Again, let’s not write off how beneficial those bug fixes, stability, and performance improvements could be, either.
Expect WWDC to bring the developer beta of iOS 12, with a release commencing this September.
More on iOS 12:
While several reports have offered details about iOS 12, much about the future of Apple’s other operating systems has been left up to speculation.
As for watchOS 5, we can certainly expect a focus on Health and Activity features. Apple has continually marketed the Apple Watch as the perfect accessory to help kickstart a lifestyle change, and thus we should expect new features, workout options, and more to help track progress.
Furthermore, one commonly requested feature for watchOS is sleep tracking. Apple last year acquired the sleep tracking platform Beddit, so it only seems fitting Apple add the feature to Apple Watch.
Apple Watch also still lacks an official Podcasts app from Apple, which seems more and more like a glaring omission every year. While third-party applications have filled the void to a certain extent, here’s to hoping watchOS 5 adds native Podcasts.
Finally, third-party watch faces are another common request. While Apple offers a host of its own watch face designs, opening up the platform to third-party developers would likely help kickstart interest in watchOS development as a whole.
Ultimately, it’s hard to speculate what changes could be coming with watchOS 5, but these are some common requests from Apple Watch users, and we hope Apple is listening.
More on watchOS 5:
Should this be the year for the feature to launch, headlining macOS 10.14 will likely be the aforementioned cross-platform apps feature. This project would allow developers to more easily create cross-platform apps between iOS and macOS, and hopefully help revitalize the ailing Mac App Store.
As for the Mac App Store, John Gruber suggested earlier this month that Apple is planning a major overhaul of the platform. Gruber coyly suggested that Apple could give the Mac App Store an entirely new design, similar to the treatment the iOS App Store received as part of iOS 11.
Just this week, leaked screenshots offered a look at macOS 10.14 with a dark mode and a dedicated Apple News app – something that has been missing since the service’s initial introduction.
Building on the redesigns, Apple will likely give the iBooks application on macOS an overhaul. In conjunction with iOS 12, this would create a unified iBooks experience across both platforms.
Other notable missing features on macOS include Hey Siri support and support for HomeKit control of any kind, whether it’s through a Home app or Siri.
Last but not least, WebKit code recently suggested a more significant dark mode coming to macOS. While macOS has supported a very generic dark theme for a few years now, this seemingly suggests a “true” dark mode that could even theme system applications.
More on macOS:
Perhaps most unclear of them all is tvOS 12.
One pain point for Apple TV 4K users at this point in time is the lack of support for Dolby Atmos. While touted as a feature of the device last fall, Apple has only said it will add support at a later date. Hopefully that comes with tvOS 12.
As it expands its original content efforts, we should also expect Apple to make updates to tvOS to best showcase that content. It’s still unclear how Apple will package and sell that content, but the most likely solution seems via the existing TV app on iOS and tvOS.
While we at least know generally what software updates to expect, Apple’s hardware plans for WWDC are unclear. Just this week, Bloomberg reported that Apple’s new iPad models with Face ID, as well as refreshed Macs, are not ready for a WWDC unveil and will come later this year instead.
However, there are still some hardware possibilities for WWDC.
Apple originally announced its AirPower charging mat in September alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. The company only teased the accessory, saying it would be released sometime in 2018.
It’s unclear when exactly AirPower will come in 2018. Apple’s March event came and passed without a mention, as did its press release event that saw the unveiling of the (RED) iPhone 8. Could we see it at WWDC? It’s anyone’s guess at this point.
More on AirPower:
Apple is said to be working on a refreshed version of AirPods with support for Hey Siri, as well as a wireless charging case for compatibility with AirPower. Again, it’s unclear when we might see a release, but if we see AirPower at WWDC, we have to assume we’ll at least see the availability of the AirPods wireless charging case.
More on AirPods:
Apple is rumored to be working on an iPhone SE refresh, though various reports suggest different possibilities for the refresh. Some reports say that the refresh will be an extensive overhaul with an iPhone X-like design and Face ID. Others say the device will only receive a minor spec bump to add support for iOS 12.
Read more about the iPhone SE 2 in our full rumor roundup.
Over recent weeks, it has been rumored that Apple is planning a new ‘HomePod’ variant at a lower price point. This device, according to the reports, would actually fall under the ‘Beats’ brand, not the HomePod brand. One analyst thinks, however, that we’ll see the device announced at WWDC.
In addition to new hardware, WWDC will also hopefully bring new software features to HomePod. Just this week, the smart speaker added AirPlay 2 and Calendar support, but there’s still much more that HomePod users want.
More on HomePod:
Perhaps this year more than any previous year, there’s a lot we don’t know going into WWDC 2018. This, of course, lends itself to more excitement surrounding the event, which some Apple fans will certainly appreciate.
Whatever Apple has up its sleeve, 9to5Mac will have full coverage straight from San Jose. Be sure to keep it locked right here for all of the news from WWDC next week.