12+ reasons you’ll want to be at WWDC 2017

Only some of these will turn out right -- which ones?

Apple, iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, WWDC, WWDC 2017
Jonny Evans

Here are 12 reasons why we’ll all want to know what happens at this year’s Apple developer’s event. Caution: Apple-guessing is inexact. Not everything will happen -- there isn’t even time for it all in one keynote.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Apple opened its lottery for WWDC 2017 tickets this week. We know the event is moving back to its original home in San Jose this year, just up the road from Apple’s new “spaceship” HQ.  Apple uses the event to teach developers how to build the software for its future platform and product iterations, so every Apple watcher is going to want a ticket to the keynote. Not only this, but they’ll want to take a look at Apple’s new HQ, which opens in summer. Apple ran developer events between 1989 to 2003 in San Jose.

Super powers

The true 64-bit operating system, iOS 11 marks the end of days for 32-bit apps on iOS. The OS will also be built natively atop Apple’s new APFS filing system and designed to run seamlessly on Apple’s A11-series processors. This means you can expect significant performance gains in the OS, opening Apple’s mobile platforms up to a much wider range of professional apps and features. There had been claims Apple intended putting a social networking app for video inside iOS 11. Such claims seem weak now Apple has announced Clips, a video app that makes clips for social networks and ships in April. However, I think we’ll see the potential of these powerful chips unleashed in far more interesting ways:

Siri gets machine intelligent

The first voice assistant to appear in a mass market product, Siri gets a lot of criticism. Apple’s been working hard to address this, and is making no secret of its plan to put even more machine intelligence inside of its platforms. We should see Siri integration in iCloud, Messages, and (more interesting) a move to apply machine learning and contextual intelligence (such as nested queries) in the AI as the company seeks to combat Samsung’s Bixby. And we’ll also see a more natural-sounding Siri as the company applies technologies acquired with VocalIQ.

Workflow

Apple’s decision to purchase Workflow and to keep the app available as a product on the App Store speaks volumes: It suggests the company already has development of the software on the fast track, and WWDC 2017 should be a first chance to see what the team behind the app can achieve now they will be equipped with the deepest possible access to iOS technologies, particularly when it comes to automating and activating complex actions using Siri.

Health

Apple’s digital health teams are not wasting time. Expect new tools for shareable health records, more application of sensor-gathered intelligence in existing and future apps, more capacity to figure out your health and fitness levels and improved ways to share such data with medical professionals.

Message

It’s nice to use emoji in Messages, but it’s still a bit “meh” when people we send them to can’t see them. Will Apple introduce versions for other platforms, opening up a whole new set of retail opportunities for Messages developers if it does? If that is the plan, then a WWDC 2017 announcement makes sense.

AR

If Apple plans to build an AR platform, then it’s going to need to empower developers with tools they need to build for it. It wants them to deliver powerful and effective solutions, sold through the App Stores, and with the company grabbing its slice of the pie. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has noted these plans frequently in the last few months, making it more likely the firm is accelerating introduction of the tech. A new technology, new processors, and a new AR platform? That $1,000 iPhone Pro looks like it’s going to be a pretty good business after all.

Apple Watch

watchOS 4 will be upon us. What can we predict? Not a great deal, really, other than noting that if Apple pops an integrated LTE SIM inside the device, then this will become the world’s first truly smart smartwatch. There has been speculation of a sleep tracker and watchface stores. And just how does Apple intend making AirPods even more effective Siri clients?

tvOS11

Will Apple at last introduce 4K support? Will it use the keynote speech as a chance to screen the first episode of Planet of the Apps? If it does, will it take a chance to introduce new Apple Music enhancements, including a potential Apple Video service designed to mitigate an anticipated decline in iTunes video sales? What about some form of limited iCloud file browser, so you can read your documents on the TV if you so choose? Will Apple Music introduce a smarter AI for recommendations? Will Apple introduce its own range of HomeKit accessories, potentially including an Amazon Echo competitor? I think it’s unlikely we’ll learn answers to all those questions at the event, but developers will need some insight into how these changes will impact their work in the year ahead.

macOS 11?

One thing we can predict is that the new macOS will also migrate the platform to Apple’s new APFS file system. Otherwise, it all seems to be about 11: iOS 11, macOS 11, tvOS 11, and A11… Will Apple make anything of this?

Hardware

WWDC is seldom a hardware show. However, it is interesting to note Apple’s move to regain control of the PowerBook patent scant weeks after this other patent was spotted.

In other news

Enterprise, health, Apple retail store, and high profile news concerning digital health accessories for iPhones. Plus yet another set of industry-defining customer satisfaction statistics.

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