While in between two jobs, reporter Mark Gurman appeared on the latest episode of The Jay & Farhad Show podcast, where he shared more details about what we might see at WWDC this year, including new iOS features and design tweaks. Gurman also revealed more information about this year and next year’s iPhone models.
While most of Gurman details were already known or rumored for a while, he did also offer information about features we hadn’t heard of until now.
Gurman noted that he typically would write roundups of rumors and speculations about these events, but because he is not 100% sure about any of this information, he refrained from doing so. So nothing’s sure, but Gurman did feel confident enough to share what he has learned so far from his sources.
No hardware for you at WWDC
Not too surprisingly, Gurman said there will be no hardware announcement at WWDC, but the event will rather be about software only, more specifically focusing on OS X, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. This is something we had actually heard earlier in the week when Rene Ritchie confirmed we will not see a Thunderbolt display refresh, contrarily to what 9to5Mac had announced the day before.
Slight design improvements to iOS
Once again, Mark Gurman reiterated that he is not 100% sure about any of these, but he believes the iOS user interface will see some minor refresh, with more colors added to notifications, and a few icons tweaks. Nothing groundbreaking, but noticeable changes nonetheless.
New markup feature in Photos
The Photos app will apparently see some big enhancements with the addition of Sketch-like features, similar to what the Markup feature currently offers in the stock Mail application. This feature lets you annotate photos by adding text captions, arrows, and more.
Apparently, Markup, or whatever Apple may rebrand the feature, will be available at a deeper level, something I have actually wanted for a while.
Apple Music design refresh
The refreshed Apple Music will likely make more use of darker colors, similar to what the Spotify apps looks like, with a big emphasis on albums artwork. As he had already written last month, Gurman mentioned again that the Connect tab will be demoted, although not completely dropped from Apple Music altogether.
Finally, Gurman believes one of the big changes made to the Apple Music app is the rebranding of the New tab, which will apparently now become the Browse tab, making an emphasis on the difference between what can be streamed, and what is in the music library of the user.
Those who were hoping to see Apple split Apple Music into separate applications will be sad to learn this is not happening, at least not this year.
Siri: new SDK and support for Mac
Once again, nothing we haven’t heard about before, but Gurman confirmed that Siri will be coming to the Mac, letting you use the smart assistant in the same capability as current iOS devices.
There will be a Siri icon in the Menu Bar which will let you summon the assistant. There will also be support for Hey Siri to invoke the feature hands-free, similar to what you can do on iPhone 6s now.
There will indeed be a Siri SDK announced at WWDC. Gurman says that the reason it took so long for Apple to move forward with opening up Siri to developers is privacy concerns, something we know is dear to Apple. Gurman is actually wondering if every developer will be able to tap into Siri, or if apps will have to be approved first in order to take advantage of the Siri SDK. All this in the name of privacy, of course.
Send money via iMessage?
Something that we have long suspected would happen but never had any tangible information about is the apparent upcoming ability to send money using Apple pay via iMessage.
Gurman didn’t go into details here, leaving plenty of room for more speculation, but Apple could really make a big move into micro payments, taking Apple Pay a few steps further, and directly competing with existing services such as PayPal or Square.
Gurman believes this is going to be a big part of the WWDC keynote.
Additional software tidbits
As far as software announcements go, Gurman threw in a few additional tidbits, as he believes Apple will make announcements about improved encryption in iOS, not surprisingly so.
The reporter noted that Apple may bring a few new features to the iOS Lock screen, allowing this otherwise useless part of iOS to offer more information, somewhat similar to Glances or Complications on Apple Watch.
Finally, Gurman believes iTunes will not see a significant redesign this year, staying mostly on par with what it currently offers.
MacBook Pro refresh
Once again, in line with previous rumors, Gurman said that a new MacBook Pro will not be coming until the end of the year.
The machine will feature two screens: one being the main display, and one serving as a touchpad, allowing you to access the Fn keys of they keyboard, and very likely allowing you to customize these keys.
The new MacBook pro will also come with Touch ID integration, most likely offering an easy and safe way to unlock your Mac.
Gurman noted that the MacBook Air is on its way out, as it’s been replaced by the new MacBook. Although the MacBook Air will still be available for a few more years, it will not see any significant enhancements.
The 2017 iPhone
Interestingly, Gurman said that 2017 might be one of Apple’s biggest years in terms of new products.
He believes that the three-year refresh cycle we’ve recently heard of has been misinterpreted, as he says Apple is more likely to move to a one-year cycle instead, with modest yet noticeable design changes year over year.
With the launch of the iPhone Upgrade Program last year, and with the constant claims that Apple isn’t innovating fast enough, such a move would actually make sense. With the iPhone Upgrade Program, people have more incentives to upgrade their device every year because it’s part of the payment plan.
Gurman said that in 2017, Apple will hit the reset button when it comes to iPhone. Again, in line with rumors we’ve heard before, the device may lose extra space at the top, bottom, and on the sides. Removing the bezels will effectively make the device just a screen.
Listen to the full podcast episode to get the complete conversation.