Apple [AAPL] seems on course to open the doors to its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) on June 10-14 at San Francisco's Moscone Center, so what might be in the menu for this year's annual developer jamboree?
[ABOVE: WWDC 2009 had a focus on iOS, which was then described as "light-years ahead". Image c/o Christian Rasmussen and Flickr.]
Will Jony Ive welcome the troops?
The company customarily begins WWDC with a keynote address, typically delivered by the company CEO, though given Apple's move to put chief designer, Jony Ive, in charge of both product design and user interfaces, it may be a good moment for the company to field its rock star designer to galvanize the company's troops.
WWDC will be a big test for the first few months in which Ive has taken responsibility for the UI in Apple products. This means it's likely we'll see the company discuss some of the new features within iOS 7, and it seems highly probable the company will also introduce the next version of OS X by the time WWDC opens its doors.
There's some expectation that iOS 7 will be introduced in or around June this year. That's possible, but given WWDC 2013 seems set to be the first public point at which developers can truly get to grips with the new OS, this seems unlikely. Though that's not to say we won't see iOS 7 developer builds circulate in advance of the event.
Apple TV SDK?
What else might we expect? One thing might be news from Apple of its plans for an Apple television. The reason I suspect this might form part of the agenda for WWDC is simple: If Apple is going to allow developers to create apps for the television set, it makes sense for it to introduce an SDK developers can use to build software.
If this happens the company may avoid going completely public on its TV plans (or the lack of them), preferring instead to enable current models of Apple TV to run apps and releasing an SDK for development on that platform. That's a reasonable approach as in theory, at least, apps made for the Apple TV should also work on an Apple television. That's assuming the firm ever ships an Apple TV, of course.
Siri also seems a likely contender for some stagetime at WWDC. Apple's voice assistant has been in beta for the longest time and it seems appropriate that it be upgraded with even better accuracy, new data sources, better support for regional and international languages and accents and a series of new features the company may in future use to drive future home electronic devices.
It is also inevitable Maps will continue to be improved, and it seems very likely developers will be given tools they can use to include Maps within their apps, even while Mac users are offered a free application they can use to access Maps on their iMac, MacBook or other system. This will be just one of the iOS-created features that may make the cut to the Mac, as Apple continues its work to create a logical coherence between both operating systems.
Perhaps one of the biggest deals might be improvement made within iCloud. Apple's recent acquisition of 18 patents from Maya-Systems (illustration above) suggests a more navigable file system enabling iCloud users to have much better control over what is stored and where.
There's a possibility Apple will also introduce iTunes streaming music services (so-called 'iRadio'). If it chooses to do so it makes a small degree of sense to introduce SDKs developers might choose to use in order to include support for the streaming music service within their apps.
However, I don't really consider this too likely and instead favour a July or September introduction of any such service, in conjunction with an iPad and/or iPhone launch event.
Hotels raise prices
A note to developers intending to attend WWDC -- while I can't with any certainty say if the claimed June dates will turn out true, it is interesting to read this report which points out how hotel prices have climbed during the week in question, suggesting hoteliers have a hunch some big event's due to take place at that time -- particularly as prices decline again the following week.
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