Apple’s WWDC is less than a month away, and we are super excited. I was lucky enough to get a ticket in the lottery, and I can’t wait to see the new innovations Apple’s been working on. So what do I expect will be announced at WWDC 2017? Of course, there will be new software updates including Swift 4, iOS 11, macOS 10.13, tvOS 11 and watchOS 4. Though WWDC is a developer event and primarily focused on software, Apple has occasionally previewed or released new hardware at the event as well. Especially when that hardware requires developers to create or update existing software to take advantage of new hardware features. But as WWDC 2017 is quickly approaching, here are a few things I hope they show off or release at next month’s event.
Home assistants are one of those things from science fiction that we have all clearly wanted for a long time, and now we are finally getting it. With the Amazon Echo, Google Home and the Invoke, it’s clear that this new market is defining a new way to interact with technology. I believe that an Apple device that sits in your home and has a microphone that is always listening to activate Siri would also have to have a touchscreen of some kind. I still don’t see Apple fully opening up Siri in the same way Amazon allows for on Alexa, but I expect more and more categories of functionality to be added over time. I also expect Apple to differentiate itself from its competitors in this area by focusing on privacy. These machine learning based systems require massive amounts of user data to continuously improve, but with differential privacy, Apple can still gather data without compromising individual privacy.
The question is: what kind of operating system will this thing run on? I’m thinking iOS, a third UIDevice idiom, in addition to the iPhone and iPad instead of a different platform based on the same underlying technology like tvOS. This new platform would require developers to update their existing applications to be voice-controlled, which would be a great win for accessibility. I would also expect this device to have a front-facing camera and to come with apps like FaceTime.
The new Siri Speaker would also be a great dedicated HomeKit hub. Just as Apple realized they needed their own HomeKit app with iOS 10, I believe Apple will want to stop relying on third-party HomeKit hubs and release a first-party option. While the Apple TV and iPad both currently function in this role, having a dedicated device brings a lot of attention and focus to the HomeKit platform.
New iPad Pro
It is just about time for these, but I could also see it not happening until the Fall when iOS 11 is released. I really love my 12.9 inch iPad Pro, but I also believe Apple wants to simplify its product line. I suspect going forward, the 9.7 and 12.9 inch iPad Pros will be replaced by a single 10.5-inch model. This new model will have the same resolution and aspect ratio as the current 12.9 inch but will feature an edge-to-edge design consistent with the design language of the yet to be announced iPhone 8. The reason I can see this being announced at WWDC is to give developers time to incorporate features for the new edge-to-edge display, which would then be used for the iPhone 8, though I believe Apple definitely would not want to announce this before its release.
Of the three MacBook lines, the MacBook, MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, I believe the regular MacBook is most likely to receive an update at this year’s Keynote. On the other hand, I doubt the MacBook Air will ever be updated at WWDC or ever again. Following the theme of Apple simplifying its product line, I believe the MacBook Air line will be retired and replaced by the 13-inch MacBook Pro without the TouchBar, although hopefully with a better name. The machine I’m hoping will be updated though, is the fairly recently updated MacBook Pro. An update to Kaby Lake and a 32 GB ram option would make a new 15-inch MacBook Pro a ‘no brainer’ for me personally.
All this to say, I’m really excited to be representing stable|kernel at WWDC this year!
To read Alex’s WWDC 2017 recap, read iOS Developer Takeaways from WWDC 2017.