WWDC 2013: Realistic Expectations – Updated

wwdc13-about-mainApple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is just around the corner (June 10th!), and everyone’s expectations are high. What’s everyone looking forward to, and are these expectations realistic? Read our thoughts after the break.

iOS 7

The most hotly anticipated announcement at WWDC 2013 has got to be a totally revamped version of iOS. The good news is this is pretty much a sure thing. Tim Cook stopped short of flat-out confirming a brand new iOS will debut at the conference, asking if we “Remember what it was like on Christmas Eve?” I do, and it was awesome.

Rumors abound of what we will actually see in the new version of iOS. A newer, flatter, design is widely accepted as the updated style. Maybe the official WWDC 2013 app is a hint at what’s to come? It’s unique in that it looks nothing like anything Apple has released before. It’s flatter, lacks skeuomorphism, goes easy on colors. It lacks the reported “black and white” look that’s floated around, though. I’d still peg this as a sign of things to come.

We’ll probably get our hands on iOS 7 with the fall release of a new iPhone model.

The Apple TV

The golden egg. What better way to surprise the audience and captivate the press? Apple could announce their long-awaited answer to the television problem. Very little information exists on what Apple is working on in TV Land, though we know it’s huge. Steve Jobs famously told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he had “cracked” the code for building great TV. But that’s all we know.

Tim Cook dodged any questions on the Apple TV, despite eagerly teasing us about the future of iOS and OS X.

A TV-related announcement would definitely be expected at a developer conference, since it’s expected that the Apple TV will support apps in some way. Developers would obviously need to start learning how to design for this new format, and a conference for developers seems like a great place for a debut.

I’d have a hard time placing a bet on this. A TV debut would greatly overshadow any of the news related to iOS 7 and OS X, which has me leaning toward betting that we won’t hear or see anything about it.

OS X

Along with the confirmation of an updated iOS, Cook also confirmed that we’ll see the future of OS X at the conference. Details are sparse on what this update will include, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a brand new Big Cat release with an updated interface that resembles what we’ll see in iOS 7.

There’s no word on any new big features, but it would be surprising if another Big Cat release didn’t bring something major.

iRadio

Apple just signed an agreement with Warner Music to its digital music service. Are these last minute deals heralding a WWDC announcement of iRadio? Maybe. Apple still hasn’t signed with Sony, and it would be hard to think that they would launch without all of the big record labels. It’s possible that Apple might announce it at WWDC with a later release date, aggressively seeking an agreement with Sony prior to launch.

It’s expected that we’ll be introduced to iRadio at the conference. The actual release date could be reasonable assumed to go along with iOS 7 in the fall.

New Mac Pro

Likely. Apple hasn’t done a big announcement for the Mac Pro recently – the last announcement came nearly two weeks after WWDC 2010. Apple may choose to bring it out at this year’s WWDC, but I’m not so sure. It doesn’t really fit the theme of the conference in recent years, and sales of the clunky desktop tower likely pales in comparison to other models, which may reduce the amount of fanfare received at a new unveiling.

Supplies are dwindling, though, so something is afoot. I bet we’ll hear something after WWDC.

iPhone

Maybe. If I were betting, I would bet against seeing new iPhone hardware at WWDC 2013. Though many iPhones have made their debut here (iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4), we haven’t seen an iPhone announcement there since WWDC 2010. With the iPhone 4S, Apple started hosting more intimate, dedicated, events with the press. There’s no reason that this would change with an incremental “S” upgrade that’s expected to come next.

Low-cost iPhone

I’m torn. I don’t really believe that Apple plans to release a cheaper iPhone by way of reducing the quality or design of the product. This just isn’t Apple. This would be blindly chasing market share – which Phil Schiller has said is not a goal of Apple. It seems incredibly unlikely. The iPhone is selling incredibly well. Why reduce margins and cheapen the product when they are making more money on iPhones than any manufacturer is on any Android device?

With that said, we’ve seen some hints at what might be coming. Plastic backings have leaked online, and appear to suggest that Apple is at least testing a cheaper design. They could be tests, or they could be manufacturers creating them on their own.

I wouldn’t count on seeing this. Not yet, at least.

iPad

There are plenty of rumors about the latest iPad iteration making its debut soon. It’s been just under seven months since the last update, which included the debut of the iPad Mini. We haven’t seen an iPad announcement at WWDC before, so there’s no reason to expect this to change. The line is nearly due for an update (iPad Mini with Retina, anyone?), but now is not the time. Developer-related changes would not be needed by adding a Retina display to the Mini, so my guess is Apple will skip an announcement here. Last year, Apple announced the iPad 5 and Mini four months after WWDC, and I expect to see something similar this year.

Other Mac Hardware

Beyond the potential for a new Mac Pro, it’s not widely expected that there will be any major hardware announcements at WWDC. There’s always the possibility that a little more Apple Magic will be sprinkled on attendees, but there’s a substantial lack of information on anything coming but an updated Mac Pro. The current line-up is strong.

A MacBook Air with a Retina display would be nice, but battery life would be challenging. [Update: 5:30pm] Recent evidence suggest we’ll see something else, though. We just saw a new MacBook Pro in February. The Mac Mini was refreshed in October last year, so an update to this line would not be WWDC-worthy. The iMac was substantially updated in October, and it wouldn’t make sense to do anything with it that requires a major announcement.

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