We’re now less than 24 hours away from Apple’s highly anticipated WWDC 2014 keynote. Beginning at 10 AM PST tomorrow, Tim Cook and other executives will take the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to give us all a glimpse of the company’s future.
We don’t know exactly what’s going to be talked about, outside of new versions of OS X and iOS, but the rumor mill has provided us with a bevy of possibilities. So, as we do every year, we’ve put together a roundup of all the things we’re expecting Apple to announce…
The following information is based on a large collection of rumors, reports and screenshot leaks we’ve collected over the past several months. Most of it comes from reliable sources, like 9to5Mac’s oft-accurate Mark Gurman, but other stuff comes from analyst predictions, developer tool evidence, and general speculation. So keep this in mind as you read through the roundup.
OS X 10.10
Given that last year’s OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) only introduced minor changes, OS X 10.10 is expected be a significant update. Possibly named ‘Yosemite,’ after the famous California national park, 10.10 is believed to bring about an iOS 7-type redesign and a number of new features. The task is reportedly so big, that iOS engineers have been called upon to help.
iOS 7-inspired OS X concept by Andrew Ambrosino
Reports indicate that OS X 10.10 will bring Apple’s desktop OS more in line with its mobile platform. Just like the iOS 7 update, this year’s OS X release is said to feature an extremely flat design, with larger empty spaces, sharper corners and more defined icons. Some folks might even be shocked initially with the new look, but as with iOS 7, they’ll get used to it.
We actually haven’t seen much in the way of new 10.10 features, but it’s not very hard to speculate. Apple has long been rumored to be working on a full version of Siri for the Mac, and hopes are high that we will finally see an iOS-compatible version of AirDrop. Additionally, apps like Maps and Mail could use some improvements, and Safari always seems to get some love. In fact, with OS X getting such a big makeover, it’s likely that all stock apps will see various changes.
If Apple follows its previous strategy—and we have no reason to believe it won’t—we should see a developer preview of OS X 10.10 released tomorrow. Typically, these releases are only available to registered Mac developers, but Apple launched a program earlier this year allowing all Mac users to download OS X betas, so it’s possible everyone will be able to check it out. The public version should be ready for release by September or October.
Unlike OS X, iOS received a major visual makeover last year with iOS 7, so iOS 8 is not expected to feature many design changes. Instead, it’s likely that Apple has simply polished existing UI elements, and spent a majority of its time working on new apps and features.
Maps improvements – the Maps app is expected to receive several enhancements in iOS 8, including improved mapping data and better labeling of airports, train stations and other points of interest. A new public transit feature is also said to be in the cards—a major missing feature in the Maps app up to this point—with transit direction data for several major cities around the globe.
Inter-app communication - Apple has reportedly built a new developer API that would allow apps to share data. For example, a photo editing app would be able to push an edited photo to Instagram or Facebook. This feature has been often requested by both devs and users, so here’s hoping Apple finally answers the calls.
Split-screen multitasking - a notable [potential] iOS 8 feature that surfaced in the run-up to WWDC this year is split-screen multitasking. Designed specifically for the larger iPad, the feature allows two apps to run side-by-side while in landscape mode, as well as share links and other data between them. It’s believed that this and some other major features rumored for iOS 8 may not be ready by the fall, and thus may or may not get stage time tomorrow.
Split-screen multitasking concept by Sam Beckett
VoLTE support – currently, phone calls made on LTE-enabled iPhones are still made over old 3G technology, but that could change in iOS 8 with the addition of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) support. The tech allows users to place high quality phone calls, and several major carriers have pledged to support it.
Song ID - rumor has it that Apple has been working on a song identification feature in conjunction with audio ID veteran Shazam for iOS 8. The feature will be integrated into Siri, and respond to ‘what song is this’ queries with metadata on the currently playing track track, and a link to purchase it in iTunes.
iTunes - Apple has long-been rumored to be working on high definition audio, and some folks think it’s finally ready to introduce hi-res music into iTunes. Additionally, it’s believed that the company is heavily considering breaking out iTunes Radio into its own standalone app, as a way to improve its visibility and increase usage.
Healthbook - according to an extensive report from 9to5Mac, iOS 8 will bring about a new app called Healthbook. Designed largely after Apple’s Passbook, the app will serve as a bank for various points of health and fitness data. It’ll be capable of pulling information from various third-party apps and hardware accessories, and assumably Apple’s long-rumored iWatch.
Healthbook app concept by 9to5Mac
Preview and Text Edit - additionally, Apple is said to be developing new Preview and Text Edit apps for iOS 8. They’d act as mobile counterparts for the two Mac apps of the same name, and serve as a way to view documents saved from them in iCloud.
Similar to OS X 10.10, past behaviors suggest we will see an iOS 8 beta released tomorrow. Again it’s typically for registered developers only, and we’ve seen no evidence that this has changed for iOS. A public version should be ready to launch alongside the iPhone 6, which is expected to be announced sometime in September.
Hardware and more
Steve Jobs’ iPhone 4 introduction was the last major product unveiling to happen at WWDC (or I guess you could count the Retina MacBook Pro in 2012), but Apple typically has refreshed hardware on hand. Last year the company took the wraps off of new MacBook Airs, AirPort Extremes and Time Capsules, and offered a sneak preview at the redesigned Mac Pro. There’s no telling what it has in store for this year’s keynote, but here are a few things that could be in the cards.
iWatch - Apple’s long rumored smartwatch project is believed to be nearing completion, which means it could see an introduction at WWDC. We’ve heard various conflicting reports about the iWatch and what it will look like, but the consensus is that it will be capable of tracking various types of health and fitness data, and play nice with the iPhone for things like notifications and alerts.
iWatch concept by Todd Hamilton
Apple TV - it’s been over two years since Apple last updated its popular set top box, and it now feels noticeably outdated compared to the competition. Rumored features for the refreshed ATV include Siri integration, a TV tuner and support for apps and games, so the developer conference would serve as a great jumping off point.
12-inch Retina MacBook - according to multiple reports, Apple is working on a hybrid laptop of sorts, combining the portability of the MacBook Air and productivity of the MacBook Pro in one sleek 12-inch Retina-covered package. This particular product seems more likely for a fall unveiling, but it’s certainly worth mentioning here in case it makes it on stage tomorrow.
Mac mini - like the Apple TV, the current Mac mini is getting a bit long in the tooth. It’s last refresh was in October of 2012, and Apple introducing an updated version tomorrow would fit in with typical WWDC affair.
Other stuff - With Apple being such a secretive resource-rich company, the ‘and more’ category could literally include anything. But based on reports, there are a few possibilities more likely than others. For starters, Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre are expected to be in the audience at the keynote, and it’s very possible that they could get called up on stage to talk about their recent acquisition. Also, Apple is said to be working on a ‘smart home’ platform, which would unify connected accessories like the Nest thermostat and Philips Hue lighting system much like Apple’s MFI (or made for iPhone) program, and WWDC seems like the perfect place to introduce it.
And that should just about do it for our 2014 WWDC roundup, thanks for reading! We hope you’ll join us tomorrow at 10AM PST to see what Apple does and doesn’t announce, and you’re more than welcome to stick around throughout the day as we add additional details and commentary.