WWDC 2015 Review

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Users and Analysts have finally got what they wanted this year, as both iOS and OS X are receiving a “Snow Leopard” like update. This will allow developers (including Apple’s) to iron out the rough edges in their apps but still add a sprinkling of new features.

My original reaction to the Keynote was that I found it somewhat underwhelming, but in hindsight after watching the sessions, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are a lot of small and useful improvements that I can’t wait to make use of in my own apps.

I personally didn’t attend WWDC or any of the alternative conferences in San Francisco this year, but found the live streaming of sessions great for keeping up to date. It also increased the level of discussion and sense of community between fellow developers.

From watching the sessions and the keynote, its safe to say the following 3 points are going to be important things to think about going forward:

Swift

Swift is the language that you should now be using to develop apps for Apple’s platforms going forward. Personally I am not planning to rewrite any of my apps using Swift, but will be using it for any new apps that I create going forward. Swift 2 is a great update to an already great language (although there is still a long way for the tools to go). I also noticed that when Apple pointed out problems during the sessions they were often written in Objective-C, while the solutions were in Swift. I don’t think that these subtle hints were by accident. Developers may take time to adjust to Swift’s “Protocol Oriented” approach, but I feel it will be worth it it.

Adaptivity

Apple have introduced numerous APIs over the last few years such as AutoLayout and Size Classes to support designing your UI for multiple window sizes. I say window sizes, as screen sizes don’t matter anymore and you shouldn’t — can’t — make any assumptions based upon screen sizes, device model or orientation. This unfortunately may mean we see a reduction of bespoke iPad UIs, but maybe this is the price we have to pay for adaptability.

Search and Deep Linking

Apple made a big deal about search in the Keynote and iOS 9 will allow developers to index their data so it appears in search. Apple has also introduced universal links, which allows apps to intercept and handle HTTP(s) URLs for their website with their app. Both of these changes mean that apps will also need to support “Deep Linking”. This will probably end up being one of the more complex features for developers to implement this year, as apps must be able to present linked content regardless of the apps current view hierarchy.

Privacy

Apple’s common theme at the moment is privacy and this is reflected in iOS 9s API changes. NSURLSession now requires a secure connection by default and apps can no longer use URL Schemes to see what apps are installed on a device. We as developers should take note of this, and continue to keep user’s information secure e.g making sure user data is encrypted, storing passwords using Apple’s Keychain APIs etc.

 

Those were my major takeaways from the conference and with iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 scheduled to be released in just a few months time, I better start coding …

“The epicentre of change.” – Keynote Thoughts and Predictions

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Details regarding what Apple might announce at WWDC have been few and far between this year, but here is my thoughts and predictions:

Apple Tunes

Apple are set to launch a “new” music streaming service alongside iOS 8.4 this month, based on the technology that they acquired from Beats last year. The service will cost $10 per month and will also likely spell the end of iTunes Radio, as curated Playlists will be part of Apple’s service and would form the core of any free plan.

iOS 9

iOS 9 is set to be a “Snow Leopard” release, focusing on cleaning up the ruff edges that have been there for a couple of years now. A variant of the San Francisco font is expected to be adopted as the System Font (as seen on the Apple Watch and on the MacBook Keyboard) but this is set to be the most significant, albeit minor UI change.

Since the introduction of the Apple Watch it has become even more apparent that Apple needs to improve its notification handling and filtering, possibly based on the notification categories that are already supplied by apps. The Push Notification API could also be updated alongside OS X 10.11 to allow synchronisation (predominantly read status) across all Apple Devices e.g. allowing a developer to supply a globally unique id with a notification, which uniquely identifies it across all apps from developer.

Transit Directions are also set to make an appearance in the Maps app for capital cities, but I doubt Google or City Mapper have anything to worry about.

iOS 9 also provides the opportunity for Apple to open up more extension points and hopefully default apps. I would also expect Apple to hint at live resizable apps allowing for split screen on the iPad. Force Touch APIs (if they are coming) are likely to be held back until their is hardware to support it.

OS X 10.11

Like iOS 9, OS X 10.11 is going to be an opportunity for Apple to fix any outstanding issues, rather than focus on any major new features. Furthermore, after last years UI overhaul I wouldn’t expect any UI changes other than also adopting the San Francisco font.

An iOS Style Control Center (that was pulled from Yosemite) is set to be introduced, although this could simple be an improvement to Notification Center.

OS X is also set to take a security feature known as “Rootless” from iOS, preventing even Root users from modifying certain system files, in an attempt to prevent viruses an malware.

The most exciting feature (if it comes to fruition) is UXKit. UXKit is UI Compatibility Framework used by Apple in the Photos app, giving them a common API for both iOS and OS X UIs. If UXKit gets publicly released, I would expect a lot of apps to get ported back to the Mac, and a greater uniformity across iOS and OS X apps.

Apple Watch

Although we might finally get some sales numbers for the Apple Watch during the Keynote, you are not going to see any Apple Watch related hardware announcements during, but we will see introduction of the Native Apple Watch SDK. The Native Watch SDK will allow apps to run directly on the watch (so hopefully no more spinners) giving developers access to the sensors. With the limited storage, screen space and clock speed it will be interesting to see how much of change there will be when comparing these to the third party apps we have today.

Apple TV

The Apple TV is set to get a substantial upgrade, both in terms of specs and its role in the home. With the introduction of HomeKit peripherals last week, the Apple TV has become the Hub for HomeKit devices, allowing you to control them while you are away. It is also set to get a developer SDK which is set to turn it into a media center and capable games console, in addition to premium subscriptions services to complement HBO NOW. While the introduction of an Apple TV SDK is logical at WWDC, I think the hardware update and subscription services will not be available until later in the year.

Swift & Xcode

Currently the Swift runtime is embedded in all apps that use it, which increases their binary size by around 8mb each. If Swift’s binary interface is now considered stable, the Swift Runtime could now be included with the OS, allowing apps linking against it rather than embedding.

The majority of my Swift issues are more with the tooling than the language, mainly:

– Lack of Refactoring Support
– Long Compilation Times
– Autocomplete

In addition to this I would like to have a language feature akin to Ruby’s mixins (or something that would allow me to supply default implementations for protocols) which will encourage code reuse while maintaining Swifts strict type checking.

Native WatchKit apps may also see the reintroduction of Wireless Debugging directly for Xcode.

“Spring Forward” – Keynote Thoughts and Predictions

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Apple are bucking the trend of the last 2 years, and are holding a Keynote before WWDC (which usually takes place in June) but watch what should we expect to see?

Watch

The Apple Watch was announced over 6 months ago and although Apple have released a unprecedented amount of information for a prerelease product, there is still lots we don’t know. Most significantly a release date and the price for anything but the base model.

Price and Availability

Tim Cook has already stated that the Apple Watch will be released sometime in April, but that would be nearly an entire month after this Keynote. The smart money would be on a US release on Friday the 20th of March, with the usual staggered rollout across the globe. One reason for the long wait between the Apple Watch’s announcement an shipping date could be down to Apple having to relayout the Apple Stores, with dedicated areas to try on the Apple Watch (maybe even by appointment).

The assumption is that the 38mm Sport is the Base Model, meaning it will be available for the previous stated starting price of $349. I would expect the 42mm model to cost a little more at around $379. The Sport Collection won’t be sold with anything other than the sports band, with a replacement sport band costing around $30.

The other 2 collections is were it gets interesting. The Apple Watch Collection (Stainless Steel) will cost anything between $499-$999 depending on the band you choose.

Then there is the Apple Watch Edition. Make no mistake, this thing is not going to be cheap. I’m guessing that this Collection will start at $4999, but Apple might not even mention it at his event to avoid “Apple’s new $5K Smart Watch” headlines and delay its release or at least its announcement.

Features

The Keynote will recap the features we saw is September’s Keynote, along with some new ones such as the companion app, notification centre ,transferring music etc. Naturally the Keynote will also feature demos from developers, showing off there WatchKit apps, most likely focusing on social network notifications and health apps.

There has been rumours of the watch only showing notifications when it is being worn, but it would be just as useful if it suppressed notifications on the rest of your Apple devices.

Battery Life

The Apple Watch will last all day for all but the heaviest of users … which will be probably be everyone on day one (prepare for the trolls and batterygate), but it will be another device that we will have to introduce to our daily charging ritual.

App Submissions

WatchKit has been stable throughout its beta so I wouldn’t expect any changes at this stage. Expect the GM of iOS 8.2 to be released after the Keynote alongside the ability to submit WatchKit apps

iPad Pro

The iPad Pro with its 12.9″ display is coming, but expect it to be introduced in the fall alongside the rest of the iPads.

MacBook Air Retina

The MacBook Air, Apple’s most popular laptop and therefore computer, finds itself in the awkward position of not having a Retina Display, even though it’s bigger sibling has had the option for nearly 3 years. With that in mind the MacBook Air lineup is set to receive its first update in nearly a year, including a premium 12 inch version that has a Retina Display. I currently use a MacBook Air so hopefully the rumours about this model only having one port are false, and if so I might be making a couple of purchases come Monday…

“It’s been way too long.” – Keynote Thoughts and Predictions

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Apple appear to be sticking to their now regular format of having 2 pre Holiday Keynotes, but what should we expect to see announced this time?

iPad Air

This event will see the unveiling of the iPad Air 2, which will see it catch up with the iPhone 6 by including Touch ID and NFC for Apple Pay. I can’t personally imagine paying for goods by touching my iPad on a payment terminal, but maybe it can also be used as a payment terminal itself?

The iPad Air will also see its RAM doubled to 2GB, in addition to using a slightly faster version of the A8 processor that is currently found in the iPhone 6.

In terms of aesthetics the iPad Air will have minimal external changes, it will be slightly slimmer compared to its predecessor and be available in gold for the first time.

Expect prices to remain the same, with storage matching the iPhone 6’s 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB capacities.

iPad mini

The the iPad mini (Retina) will be also be updated to get Touch ID and NFC across the line, but even then it might not see its RAM doubled due to the iPad mini’s smaller margins.

iPad Pro

Rumours about a 12.9" iPad have been going on for sometime now. The introduction of compact and regular size class APIs in iOS 8, seems to indicate there will be a large … spacious … well something bigger, size class in the future.

The iPad Pro will need to do more than just offer a bigger display. Obviously it will have a greater resolution, but maybe it needs a pressure sensitive display too? Something that makes it a serious device for content creation … dare I say a laptop replacement?

This could be the one more thing of this keynote, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

iOS 8.1

iOS 8.1 with numerous bug fixes and support for Apple Pay will get a mention in the keynote, and will be made available before the iPad launch.

iMac

The Keynote invite alludes to Mac related product announcements, showing the top half of the Apple logo featured on Apple’s 30th Anniversary of the Mac marketing campaign. Moreover I think we would all agree its been way too long since the last major Mac hardware announcement.

The iMac (27 inch) is rumoured to be getting the Retina treatment by having its display resolution doubled from 2560 x 1440 to 5120 x 2880. A Retina screen at that size will come at quite a premium and will require a graphics card upgrade to boot. This will mean that the Retina Display will only be available as an option on the 27 inch model, and will probably be eye wateringly close to $3000.

I wouldn’t expect any significant external changes to the iMac, unless Apple have found a way to reduce the bump on the back.

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is certainly going to gain a Retina Display in the next few months, but I don’t think Apple would make the mistake of pre announcing it and putting off potential holiday buyers if it isn’t immediately available. I personally think that we will have to hold on for a Retina MacBook just a little longer.

Mac mini

The Mac mini hasn’t been updated in 2 years (October 2012), so it is certainly due an update even if it’s simply to keep the internals up to date. Due to its (lack of) popularity I wouldn’t expect the Mac mini to feature in the Keynote, regardless of wether it gets a spec bump or not.

OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite was unveiled alongside iOS 8 at WWDC in June, and it will get one last demo before it is made available for free to consumers within next week.

I am expecting the demo to focus on handover inpoticular, thus linking it back to the iPad and iOS 8. The 3rd GM of Yosemite has already been made available to developers, so I wouldn’t expect any significant changes at this point.

“Wish we could say more.” – Keynote Thoughts and Predictions

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Apple’s second keynote of the year is quickly coming upon us, and they have made the unusual step of pre-announcing well ahead of time that it will be live streamed, but what should we expect to see?

iPhone

There has been enough leaks that we already have a good idea about what the next iPhone will be like. The iPhone 6 will come in 2 sizes, 4.7 and 5.5 inch screens. The specs seem to indicate that RAM will remain at a rather slender 1GB, but the maximum storage capacity will be upped to 128GB. It will be interesting to see if Apple will take this oppurtunity to intergrate Beats into there product line up, e.g. by ditching the Earpods for some Beats branding headphones.

The rumours seem to indicate that the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 will be available on the 19th of September with the 5.5 iPhone (iPhone 6 Air?) being made available around 1 month after that.

iPad

I don’t think Apple will miss the extra PR and Marketing Buzz of updating the iPads separately to the iPhone, so I expect the iPad lineup to get updated with the usual speed bumps and Touch ID next month, in time for the holidays.

Mac

Although I would love to see a significant update to the MacBook Air, I suspect that there will be no Mac Hardware announcements at this Keynote.

iWatch

So it looks like the iWatch was the new product category that Tim Cook has been alluding to for all of this time, and not a TV.

The introduction of HealthKit in iOS 8 and the M7 Motion Coprocessor in the iPhone 5s have clearly been leading up to this. The iWatch will have a huge focus on Health, tracking your steps, monitoring your movements and integrating with other third party fitness apps.

In addition to the health focus, the iWatch will obviously display the time and show a variety of notifications, but the biggest talking point will be the battery life, or the lack there of. I wouldn’t expect it to last more than a day, so I am hoping that it features inductive charging like the Palm Pre’s Touchstone.

The SDK should get announced (e.g. iOS 8.1) and I am expecting iWatch apps to be extensions that are installed from the iPhone that is paired with it.

Unlike the iPhone, the iWatch won’t be available for the holiday and with an expected release date early in the new year … knowing Apple this probably means March 31st 2015, with an expected starting price in the $300-$400 range.

Mobile Payments (NFC)

Mobile Payments is the feature, NFC is the enabler. Here in the UK we already pay for our travel (in London at least) using an Oyster Card and then there is also Visa PayWave (generally referred to as Contactless Payment) that allows you to pay for small purchases by simply touching your card on the card reader.

Apple is planning to take this one step further by allowing you to ditch the card altogether and pay with your iPhone 6 or iWatch, using the added security of Touch ID to authorise payments.

iOS 8

The iOS 8 Beta has felt strange (dare I say underwhelming?) compared to previous betas, the out of box experience feels almost identical to iOS 7. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a completely different feeling compared to last year’s major visual overhaul.

On the flip side, from a developer’s perspective this has been a huge release and wrapping your head around all the new APIs (and new language) has been quite overwhelming at times. Extensions, Handoff, HealthKit, HomeKit, iCloudKit and Touch ID will allow developers to create apps and experiences that were not previously possible, so I’m excited to see what is released on launch day and in the months to come.

The only changes I would expect to see in the GM version of iOS 8, will be to support any new hardware features that are announced during the Keynote. One of these features will be clearing up the useful of iOS Size Classes, with the introduction of larger screen iPhones, the lines between an iPhone and iPhone UI will become blurred (e.g. iPad UI when using the 5.5 inch iPhone in Landscape). The GM of iOS 8 should be available to Developers on Tuesday, with a public release on Wednesday the 17th of September.

OS X Yosemite

When OS X Yosemite was unveiled at WWDC the changes were not as drastic as first feared and the overall aesthetics (besides the toolbar buttons!!!) have grown on me over the course of the beta.

I wouldn’t expect to see any major changes to Yosemite now, but there is a slight chance that it along with Handoff (like iCloud Keychain in iOS 7) could get pushed back until the iPad Keynote, albeit slightly unlikely because of iCloud Drive been incompatible with Mavericks.

Conclusion

In short, I have a feeling this one is going to big…

WWDC 2014 Keynote Predictions

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Following the same pattern as 12 months ago, Apple has let over half a year go by without a Keynote or major product announcement, leaving the rumour mill to predict all manor of things. Here is my Predictions for the Keynote:

OS X 10.10

The rumors point to a major UI Overhaul of OS X being the focal point of the Keynote, bringing iOS’s skeuomorphic free design “Back to the Mac”. This is a logical step as it means users can easily transition between the 2 platforms, which in turn increases iOS’s halo effect. The biggest question for developers is wether this major update of OS X includes UIKit, which would allow developers to share UI code between OS X and iOS apps. Although I remain hopeful that this will happen (and now is as good a time as any) I think this may be a wish too far.

iOS 8

iOS 7 was the biggest user facing update since iOS’s inception, so logically (and hopefully) iOS 8 will be more of tying up loose ends release rather than another substantial user facing update.

Split Screen iPad

In my opinion the iPad (espcially the iPad mini) is too small for apps to be useful if they only take up half the screen. Moreover there are numerous other issues (that Apple could obviously solve or choose to ignore) such as the keyboard behaviour, how do split screen mode work in portrait etc, but the biggest issue for me is complexity. The beauty of the iPad (and iOS in general) is that you are only using one app at a time, and hitting the single button on the front of the device takes you back to the safe place of the springboard. This might sound limiting, but for non techies this type of safety net is why they like using iOS and why I don’t think we will be getting Split Screen apps with the current iPad lineup.

Inter App Communication

This has been on iOS Developers’ wish lists for a while now, so much so that developers have developed numerous solutions mostly involving URL schemes or embedding of third party SDKs in their apps. These solutions are often cumbersome and require developers to explicity support/discover third party apps individually, rather than asking the OS for apps that handle a feature e.g. Photos Sharing.

Apple have been using a technology called XPC for its own apps since iOS 6 and have made these APIs available to developers on OS X since 10.7. Although this an obvious solution to allow apps to present “remote view controllers” from other apps, they could go with a simpiler solution:

1. List the Supported Features in your Info.plist
2. Handle a Delegate Callback in your App Delegate

Files

iOS currently has a central store for Contacts, Events, Reminders and Photos which all apps are able to access (with permission of course) so why is it any different for files?

Although “Open With” and Inter App Communication will help alleviate this problem somewhat, apps should be able to read and write files to a central location. Permissions could easily be managed using a “File Picker” in the sameway that the Powerbox works on OS X for Sandboxed apps.

Healthbook

More and more people are tracking health related stats (Heart Rate, Blood Sugar Level, Kcals Burned etc) with gadgets such as the Jawbone Up, Fitbit and Nike Fuel Band everyday, so making a single app to cumulate all this data in one place makes sense. Like its sister app Passbook, I expect that Healthbook will require third party apps to be much use, but I’m sure companies such as Nike will make their apps compatible from day 1 and will probably make an apperence during the Keynote.

AirDrop

AirDrop being incompatible between OS X and iOS must of purely been down to time constraints, so I expect AirDrop to be compatible between OS X 10.10 and iOS 8.

iPhone

The iPhone is always released in tandem with the latest version iOS, so it will not be recieveing an update at WWDC and will be updated in September/October in time for the holidays. If the iPhone 6 has a larger screen as expected, the WWDC talks are likely to push AutoLayout rather heavily.

iPad

The existing iPad lineup (air and mini) like the iPhone also not due an update till September/October.

Mac

The only Mac in desperate need of an update is the Mac mini (which hasn’t been updated in nearly 2 years!!!) but I can’t see a Mac mini refresh would make the keynote. An ARM MacBook Air or a Retina iMac would be a nice suprise but I think we are a year to early for them.

iWatch

The iWatch is coming but is it ready yet? The iWatch will support third party apps so unveiling it at WWDC makes a lot of sense, but I have a feeling that we will have to wait a little while longer to see it being unveiled at its own dedicated Keynote later in the year.

iHome

Smart homes would be an interesting area for Apple to move into, with the added benefit of it having near limitless scope. If this does happen at WWDC (which I think it will) it is more likely to be in the vain of Healthbook, whereby third parties (heating, lighting, locking etc) can get certified to be used with Apple’s unified platform.

Beats

Apple only agreed to by Beats last week so although it may get a mention, or more likely just a pun, Beats won’t feature heavily in this Keynote.

“We still have a lot to cover.” – Keynote Thoughts and Predictions

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It has been a little over a month since Apple’s last Keynote, which was heavily focused on the iPhone. This Keynote promises to be a bit more of a mix, with updates to both the iPad and Mac lineups, but will there be any surprises?

Mavericks

Mavericks reached Gold Master (GM) a couple of weeks ago, so we should find out its release date at the Keynote. Logic suggests that it will be released on the Mac AppStore on either Wednesday the 23rd or 30th of October. I expect it will stay at the current price of $20 and will have no additional features other than what was already mentioned at WWDC.

iOS

iOS 7 (including 7.0.1 and 7.0.2) is a little bit buggy, both in terms of user experience and the APIs (UITextView I am looking at you!). I expect that iOS 7.1 (or maybe 7.0.3) will be released alongside Mavericks with iCloud Keychain reinstated, but other than that I wouldn’t expect any major changes just bug fixes.

iLife and iWork

The iLife and the iWork apps are looking increasingly out of place on iOS 7, so I am expecting the iLife and iWork suites will get updated with the new look and feel on both the iPhone and the iPad. It will be interesting to see what Garageband will look like on iOS 7, as it is an app where skeuomorphism still makes sense.

Game Controllers

Game Controller support was announced at WWDC, but even though iOS 7 was released a month ago none of them have yet to materialise. I expect to see a demo of a Game Controller (probably from Logitech) alongside a supported game (probably from Gameloft or EA … anything so long as it isn’t another Infinity Blade).

Apple TV

The Apple TV is due an update but as it isn’t going to support 4K displays anytime soon, the only significant feature that could be added is support for apps (games) and the aforementioned Game Controllers. If the Apple TV doesn’t get updated to support apps, I wouldn’t expect it to make the Keynote.

iPad

The iPad will see a similar update to the iPhone 5s and will include the new A7 (possibly A7x) 64 Bit processor and Touch ID. On the outside it will look more like last years iPad Mini, but with the iPhone 5s Space Grey and Silver colour schemes. My wish is that the 3 storage capacities become 32GB, 64GB and 128GB as 16GB is really becoming too small for the base model.

iPad mini

The iPad mini is the hardest device in the iOS line up to second guess, as the price gap between the iPad mini and its competitors has been increasing steadily since its unveiling this time last year. Moreover the iPad mini is the only device in the iOS lineup that uses the outdated non retina display, so the question is will Apple come down on price? add the retina display? or maybe even both?

I would guess that the iPad Lineup will become:

iPad $499
iPad mini Retina $399
iPad mini $299

If the Non Retina iPad mini is simply last years model, it might even be priced as low as $249.

Mac Pro

The Mac Pro was previewed at this year’s WWDC Keynote but without a definitive release date or a price. At this event we should find out the the release date (alongside or shortly after Mavericks) and the price … which I can’t imagine will be any less than $3,000 for the base model.

MacBook Pro Retina

The MacBook Pro Retina was updated in February this year, but I still expect the lineup to get updated to the Haswell processors that are currently found in the MacBook Air, which in conjunction with Mavericks will mean a significant boost in battery life.

“This should brighten everyone’s day.” – Keynote Thoughts and Predictions

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It feels a bit odd that Apple’s September Keynote is only their second of the year, but here is what I expect to see:

iPhone 5S

Like the 3GS and 4S that came before it, don’t expect the 5S to be a substantial change when compared to its predecessor. Faster? Definitely. More Memory? Maybe. Bigger Screen? I don’t think so.

I think Apple will wait until Auto Layout is a skill that all iOS developers possess before introducing another screen size to the lineup. If we are all being honest, Auto Layout hasn’t been ready for prime until the introduction of Xcode 5.

The 5S’s new feature will be the finger scanning home key, allowing you to secure your device using your finger print rather than a pin code or face recognition. This is an interesting time to introduce the finger print scanner, as some features in iOS 7 such as iCloud Keychain require you to use a passcode. This will give users the added security without the hassle of having to enter a pin code every 5 minutes. I wonder if Apple have the analytics to know that most people don’t have a pin code, and that was the reason for this feature beind added?

The iPhone will be released on Friday the 20th September in the usual markets.

iPhone 5C

I’m sure the marketing team at Apple will say that the C stands for Color, but in reality it stands for Cheap. Since the introduction of the iPhone 4S two years ago consumers have been able to purchase the last 3 models (currently the 4,4S and 5), which has allowed Apple to have a “Free” phone with a 24 month contract.

There are a few problems with this:

  • Consumers don’t want to buy a 2 year old device when you can get (one of) this year’s Android phones for the same price. Moreover if you bought the oldest device in the lineup, by the end of a 24 month contract it would have been released 4 years ago … good luck running the latest games on that.
  • Without the iPhone 5C Apple would be selling the 5S, 5 and 4S. The 4S not only has the smaller 4 inch screen but more importantly still uses the old 30 pin dock connector. Making the iOS lineup lighting port only, makes it easier for Apple and their accessory partners.
  • Although the internal components of an iPhone (CPU, Memory, Storage etc) become cheaper over time, the external components do not to the same degree. Making the iPhone out of plastic would reduce its cost and might have the added bonus of making it more durable.

With all of this in mind I would expect the iPhone 5C to only be $100-$200 cheaper than the iPhone 5S. This isn’t the iPod mini of the iPhone lineup just yet, especially when you consider that buying a subsidised phone isn’t the norm in a lot of countries.

iPad

The iPad lineup is unlikely to see a refresh at this event, and instead will be one of the products unveiled in an event next month, with the larger iPads getting the same case designs as the mini. Like this years iPhone refresh, I wouldn’t expect the updates to be significant when they do come about, in fact the only major question is wether the iPad mini goes retina, become cheaper, or maybe even both?

iOS 7

iOS 7 is the biggest overhaul of iOS since its inception, which has given developers a bit of a headache trying to get their apps ready in time for its release. Since the first beta at WWDC the OS has lots of subtle refinements, the last couple of betas have felt like they are only a few bug fixes away from completeion.

iOS 7 will be released on Wednesday the 18th of September

OS X

OS 10.9 Mavericks was unveiled alongside iOS 7 at WWDC, but once again it was more about refinements rather than a complete overhaul of the OS (which is a good thing). I expect to learn about the release date of Mavericks at this event, more than likely the end of October.

Mac

The majority of Mac updates (including the new Mac Pro) are probably waiting on the release of OS 10.9 Mavericks now.

This is particularly true for the MacBooks, as Mavericks will Apple to advertise that they have extra battery life just because of the optimisations in the OS.

I expect any susbstantial Mac updates to happen later in the year.

AppleTV

Im still convinced that Apple will open up the AppleTV for apps or at least games, and with the introduction of Game Controllers and Sprite Kit in iOS 7 it is just a matter of time. Unless this is the surprise of the Keynote I think we will have to wait a bit longer for the SDK but heres hoping … unless you are Nintendo that is.

iWatch

If this exists it would be one heck of a secret, so I don’t think it will be unveiled at this Keynote.

WWDC 2013 Keynote Predictions

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With a record gap between Apple keynotes (the last one was 230 days ago), it has made this year’s WWDC keynote one of the most eagerly anticipated in recent memory. Here are my thoughts and predictions for this year’s keynote.


Hardware

iOS

I don’t think any of the iOS product lines (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch etc) will see a refresh at WWDC this year. The iPad line got refreshed twice within 6 months last year, I believe this was to make sure they are refreshed yearly before the holiday (and not awkwardly in the spring) and I don’t think this will change anytime soon.

Mac

The MacBook Air is likely to get a refresh based on the Haswell processors that Intel launched last week. The major question is wether the new integrated GPU will be able to handle a Retina Display and maintain the high level of battery life that the MacBook Air is famous for… a SIM card slot would also be nice, but this is even less likely.

The Retina MacBook Pro should also see a refresh to Haswell CPUs but nothing else of note.

Mac Pro? This is an interesting one, we know that Tim Cook said that he would have something to satisfy Mac Pro users this year, but I feel that it won’t be shown at WWDC and when it does come it won’t simply be a new case and updated spec. The Mac Pro is likely to become a Mac Mini Pro with expandability coming through the Thunderbolt interface.

iWatch

At the moment the iWatch sounds like it is just in the prototype stage, with not much information known about it. If it is unveiled at WWDC it will certainly be Apple’s best kept secret since the original iPhone, but I think it is more likely to be unveiled in 2014.

iTV/Apple TV

The biggest question at this point is what is the iTV, is it:

  • An “actual” TV
  • A Set Top Box replacement that allows you to subscribe to premium channels using your Apple ID and watch live terrestrial TV
  • A pass through box (much like the Xbox One and Google TV) that presents your TV providers content in an Apple styled UI
  • AppleTV with an SDK

The latter for me would be an easy and obvious choice and would open up the AppleTV to a variety of apps. The only issue would be input, as the current remote won’t cut it.

Airport/Time Capsule

There are rumors going around that Apple will update the Airport Lineup to the 802.11ac wireless standard which is backwards compatible with 802.11n, but provides speeds of upto 1 Gigabit per second compared to the 300 Megabits per second of 802.11n. As Apple are usually early addopters of wireless standards, I think that this will happen but it might not even make the keynote.


Software

Look and Feel

Now that Jony Ive has taken charge of the UI design of both iOS and OS X, there is going to be an overhaul of the look and feel of both.

iOS’s UI on the whole has remained pretty much unchanged since its original release in 2007. iOS will have the level of garish colors and gradients replaced throughout the UI with a flatter, less skeuomorphic look with (strong) colours being used more sparingly. Other than that, I think iOS 7 will keep the current springboard design, as it is one of the major elements that makes it so easy to get up and running with iOS. Moreover I don’t think that we will see widgets make their way to the springboard, but “live icons” for apps such as the weather is a possibility. Notification Center will remain in its current “swipe from the status bar” position, minus the linen, and might give us quick access to features such as turning on and off Bluetooth and WiFi.

OS X’s “Aqua” interface has already had a number of subtle UI changes over the years from pin stripes, to brushed metal, to the more simplistic flatter look found in OS X 10.8. I don’t expect the UI changes in 10.9 to be too drastic, but it will be updated to reflect the look an feel of iOS 7.

iOS

OS Level Third Party Service Intergration

OS X already supports Vimeo and Flickr in addition to the services that iOS supports, these will make the logically step across to iOS. I don’t however think that Apple will allow apps to arbitrarily register services for use in the rest of the OS.

Interprocess Communication

In OS X 10.7 Apple introduced XPC which is designed for lightweight interprocess communication using Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) and launchd. Moreover in iOS 6 Apple started internally using “Remote View Controllers” e.g. MFMailComposeViewController, which allowed a View Controller from an (Apple) process to be presented in another process. I think allowing XPC in iOS 7 might be a step too far, too soon. XPC will mean that “an app” will have multiple processes for one, but allowing an app to present another apps view controller seems like a nice compromise.

Default Apps

iOS will allow you to set a third party app for your default web browser, email client, address book and calendar as long as they implement the specified protocol which will include providing the appropriate remote view controllers for other apps.

OS X

Full Screen Apps and Multiple Screens

Full Screen Apps and Multiple Screens really don’t play well together on OS X. If you have never had the pleasure, the “second screen” becomes a screen of linen and therefore redundant. This looks particularly stupid when the second display is a 27″ Cinema Display.

Map Kit

Map Kit has now been avaliable on iOS for a year now and as Apple no longer has any licensing issues (as they own the Map Data) porting Map Kit across to OS X should be a no brainer.

iCloud

Core Data Sync

iCloud (well what developers think of as iCloud) has one major … make that a huge problem. That is Core Data Sync. Core Data Sync is simply to generic of a solution to the grand daddy of all problems, syncing. I feel like Apple’s current approach simply can’t be fixed and they will have to attempt a different solution. The most obvious solution will be to have “the truth in the (i)Cloud”, meaning that all clients sync with the server (the truth) rather than with each other. I still think it will (unfortunately) be some what of black box. Unlike services such as Parse and Microsoft Azure, I don’t expect them to allow you to write server side code to handle requests.

Unified Notifications

A large number of apps make use of Push Notifications for a variety of things, but they are not without their problems (and irritations). One of the major issues with Push Notifications is that people often have more than one Apple device, meaning that you get a Push Notification for the same event on all of your devices (which is expected), but annoyingly you have to dismiss notifications on all of the devices. I expect Push Notifications to be unified and synced using iCloud.


Conclusions

Despite the anticipation for this years keynote being as high as ever, the amount of information that has been leaked out has been next to nothing … maybe Apple weren’t lying about doubling down on security. Although this makes writing a prediction blog post hard, it does lead to an exciting keynote and hopefully an exciting few months ahead for developers as they update their apps to take advantage of all the new APIs that Apple have to offer.

“We’ve got a little more to show you” – Keynote Thoughts and Predictions

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Hot on the heels of last month’s iPhone 5 Keynote, we are now faced with what one will assume is Apple’s last Keynote of the year. If the rumors are to be believed, the “little” thing that Apple have to show us is the iPad mini.

iPad mini

Display

The iPad mini will feature a 7.85 inch display at the exact same 1024 x 768 resolution as the iPad 1 and 2’s display. This means that the iPad mini’s display is only 163 ppi, compared to the iPad 3’s display which is 264 ppi and the iPad 2’s display which ppi 132. It is no coincidence that 163 ppi is the exact same screen density as non Retina iPhones/iPod Touches, meaning that touch areas in apps (assuming developers followed Apple guidlines) will be of a sufficent size without any modification, which in conjunction with the exact same resolution of the Non Retina iPads will mean that all exisiting apps will just work. This is obviously just Great News for users and developers alike.

I don’t think even Apple would try and claim that an extra 31 ppi over the iPad 2 will make the iPad mini’s display “Retina”, but why would they when it makes an obvious feature they can add to the iPad mini 2.

It is important to remember that a Retina Display requires a faster GPU and therefore a bigger battery to power it, which in conjunction with the higher price will make it unsuitable for the lighter, cheaper iPad mini.

Wireless

The iPad mini will certainly feature WiFi and Bluetooth but will it include an LTE/3G Antenna? I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t, but I expect it to be an optional extra like on the iPad. Like the iPad, the iPad mini won’t allow you to make calls or send sms messages, and the cellular connection will be used solely for data.

Ports

Like the iPhone 5 last month the iPad mini will use the new Lightning Cable to charge and sync the device (if you still sync with a cable), other than that I think the only other port on the device will be a headphone jack.

Storage

16 GB, 32 GB and 64GB seem like the obvious capacities but I also think we will see the baseline model feature a mere 8GB of storage. Personally I don’t think 8GB is enough, especially with a lot of applications weighing in at 50-150MB and a few games going well over 1GB (the current limit for app sizes is 2GB). This is in addition to the eBooks and iTunes course that you are expected to put on it (if you are in their student target market), so you will want at least the 16GB version.

One thing Apple could do is strip out all of the @2x images out of app bundles for non retina devices which would save approximately 4/5th of the total asset size … but as this has been a problem since the first retina device (the iPhone 4) was introduced I am not holding my breath.

Price

Unlike Google and Amazon, Apple are not going to start selling their devices at cost anytime soon, so I doubt the iPad mini will become the cheapest 7 inch tablet on the market (Google’s Nexus 7 is currently $199 for the 8GB Model). I think the iPad mini will start at $249 for the 8GB WiFi only model and go up from there for more capacity and LTE. At $249, the iPad mini will be cheaper than the base model 5th Generation iPod touch, albeit with less capacity (32 GB for $299). If Apple are pedantic about having clear product lines and pricing, they would have to start the iPad mini at $329, but a £129 premium when compared to existing 7″ tablets is quite excessive.

Conclusion

I expect the iPad mini will be targeted at the eBook and Educational markets, but as it is so cheap it will inevitably increase Apple’s tablet market share, just as the iPod mini did for its MP3 market share 8 years ago. Will it cannibalise iPad sales? Definitely. Will it become the most popular form factor? We will have to wait and see.

iPad

The New iPad may be become The Old iPad at this event (what was the problem with numbers again?) as it is set to be updated with a lightning port and rest of the World LTE just before the holiday season. If Apple are going to refresh the iPad lineup in the spring, I personally don’t think this will happen, but maybe they want to mix up their product release cycles and not refresh the iPod lineup until later next year.

Macs

The Mac Lineup got no attention at the last keynote, but I think it is poised to get some on Tuesday (but maybe it won’t even make the Keynote).

13″ MacBook Pro Retina

The 15″ MacBook Pro Retina burst onto the seen at WWDC and it has had very favourable reviews especially in regards to its retina display. It is now time for the 13″ MacBook Pro to get the Retina treatment in addition to shedding its disk drive. I expect the non-retina 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros to still be available as the Retina Models come at a price, and the 13″ model will probably start at the $1699 mark. Like many others, I think I will be holding out for the 13″ MacBook Air Retina.

iMac and Mac

The iMac and Mac mini have not been updated since May and June last year respectively so they are long overdue an update. I think the update will only be an internal speed bump with the headline feature being the ability to have 32GB of RAM in the iMac and 16GB of RAM in the Mac mini.

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