Its that time of the of year again where Apple updates its products in time for the holiday shopping season, but with Apple’s ever expanding product line what should we expect to see updated?
The iPhone has already been updated this year … well the 4 inch model has anyway, with the introduction of the iPhone SE in the spring. Even though the iPhone SE has been a great success for Apple, this event will only see the 4.7 inch (iPhone 6S) and 5.5 inch (iPhone 6S Plus) models being updated.
Unfortunately this year’s iPhones seem to be destined to be remembered as the one where Apple got rid of the headphone jack. It will be interesting to see how Apple puts a positive spin on this (water resistance, sound quality etc), but whatever the reasoning I would expect the Keynote to mention the benefits of both Wireless and Lighting Cable headphones. This will also mean that Lightning EarPods will be bundled with the this years iPhone’s, in addition to Apple’s offering its own premium wireless headphones called AirPods alongside the new iPhone.
One less noticeable physical change will be an update to the iPhone’s Home button, so that it has no moving parts and use Taptic feedback, much like the Magic Trackpad.
To ease the pain of the missing headphone jack, Apple will bump the capacities of the iPhone so base model comes with 32GB of storage and introduce a new colour to the lineup.
The iPhones will also be updated to have a True Tone display, that was introduced with the 9.7 inch iPad Pro earlier this year, so those 3x Emojis will look even better.
One of this years major hardware updates will be exclusive to 5.5 inch Plus models, and will be a dual camera system allowing for better depth of field and performance in low light conditions.
Unsurprisingly both the 4.7 and 5.5 inch will be updated to Apple’s A10 processor, which is set to be 50% faster than the current A9.
The new iPhones will be available on either Friday the 16th or 23rd of September.
Apple Watch was unveiled 2 years ago and has been available for purchase for a year and a half, so it is set to get its first update, focusing on the health aspects of the Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch will gain a GPS chip of its own, meaning that it can accurately track your run without having to take your iPhone with you. The Apple Watch won’t gain any cellular capabilities this year, so what it can do untethered from your iPhone will be limited, but with the extra capabilities made available to apps in both watchOS 2 and watchOS 3, the Apple Watch is now more than capable of undertaking tasks while untethered from its iPhone.
In addition to the GPS the Apple Watch will get a Barometer to help monitor your fitness such all those flights of stairs you go up and down over the course off the day.
The new Apple Watch will be faster, lighter and have better battery life, but I think so insignificantly that the majority of users won’t even notice. The existing sensors such as the heart rate monitor will be updated for increased accuracy and have extra capabilities such as measuring blood oxygen levels.
In addition to updating the Apple Watch, Apple will also take this opportunity to release a new set of seasonal bands that will be compatible with both the 1st and 2nd Generation Watches.
The MacBook Pro is set to get its biggest overhaul since it was updated with the unibody enclosure in 2008. Although it will feature a slightly thinner designer than its current incarnation, the major change will be the multitouch function bar including Touch ID. This will allow developers to display contextual virtual keys and information on the function row, while the Touch ID would reduce the friction of using Apple pay on the web as well as giving you a convenient way to unlock your Mac.
The rumours point to this not being announced until later in the year, but anyone who is expecting this to be as thin as the MacBook Air will be disappointed. The updated MacBook Pro will be available in both 13 and 15 inch sizes, and include USB C and Thunderbolt 3 Ports.
iOS, tvOS, watchOS and macOS
All of Apple’s OSs had an update unveiled at WWDC in June, so the only updates you should expect to see (other than the refinements made during the betas) are those related to the new iPhone and Apple Watch hardware. Naturally we will get a run through of all the key features again during the Keynote, but it will be a similar presentation to what we saw at WWDC.
Apple’s second keynote of 2016 takes place on the 13th of June. Apple’s first keynote of the year focused on hardware but as this is WWDC, this keynote is going to focus heavily on software but what exactly should we expect to see?
Now that Swift is being developed in the public eye, you shouldn’t expect to see any Swift revelations at WWDC this year, but obviously it will dominate all of the sample code and have numerous sessions dedicated to it. One thing that Apple could have been kept under wraps is improved support in Xcode support such as refactor tools, and the rumoured Swift IDE for the iPad.
Siri is destined to become the focal point at this years conference, with it receiving a major update and making its way to the Mac. More importantly for the WWDC crowd, Apple is also set to (finally) unveil a developer API.
There is also an outside chance that Apple may launch a speaker akin to the Amazon Echo and Google Home, but with iOS having Hey Siri I’m not sure that it’s needed.
iOS is unlikely to get an equivalent to Android’s Instant Apps feature this year due to Swift 3.0 not being ABI compatible, thus meaning that the (30MB) runtime and standard library has to be bundled into every app that uses it.
iOS has been destined to gain the ability to pick the default apps (e.g. email, web browser, calendar and reminders) for the last few years, so this would be an obvious feature to debut alongside Siri.
A lot of iOS apps have started to include a Dark Mode recently and OS X gained an official Dark Mode last year. One thing that Apple could introduce is a system wide Dark Mode that apps could detect, and be automatically enabled alongside Night Shift.
iOS 9.3 introduced Multiuser iPad support for education, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this rolled out to all users allowing families to share an iPad. Moreover following on from iOS 9 I expect to see improved Multitasking support on the iPad, such as drag and drop between apps.
tvOS is the youngest of all Apple’s OS’s even though it shares its major version number with iOS.
It’s hard to predict what changes will be made to tvOS, as the biggest improvements will simply be access to more content (Amazon Prime app anyone?). One thing we may see unveiled at the event is an official Apple Game Controller, which will prove that Apple are serious about making Apple TV a gaming platform.
watchOS still being young has lots of room for improvement, so I would expect watchOS to see some substantial changes in terms of both usability and APIs. I expect Apple to abandon the honeycomb springboard and address the functionally of the Apple Watch’s only button.
OS X 10.12
OS X, Mac OS, MacOS or macOS, who knows what it will be called after this event (bets are on macOS)! but it will certainly receive its annual update.
As mentioned OS X will finally get Siri support, the most interesting thing will be to see if Siri and Spotlight are unified allowing you to either talk or text Siri.
iOS Developers can hope for UIKit or at least UXKit be announced for the Mac, but this is probably unlikely.
The MacBook Pro is set to get a major update this year having a thinner and lighter design, OLED function row, Touch ID support and the migration to USB C/Thunderbolt 3.
The OLED function row will allow the (virtual) keys to be context aware e.g. Showing volume and playback controls when in iTunes. This is the exact same pitch that Steve Jobs made with the iPhone’s virtual keyboard in 2007.
Although the unveiling of the new MacBook Pro is imminent it looks like WWDC has come a couple of months too early, but we me see it unveiled for shipments at a later date.
iPhone will stick to its pre holiday schedule and won’t get an update at WWDC, even then it’s looking increasingly likely it will be the 3rd revision of the iPhone 6’s design and not a true iPhone 7.
The only iPad that is due an update this year is the iPad Air, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the iPad Pro 12.7 updated to have a True Tone display, but these won’t see an update until the fall.
The Apple Watch has been available for a little over a year now so for any other Apple product you would assume that it is destined for an update soon, but not at this event.
Apple’s first Keynote of 2016 is set to be a tale of evolution not revolution, setting the stage before the more significant WWDC Keynote in the summer, but what can we expect to see announced…
FBI and Security
The biggest story surrounding Apple this year has unfortunately been to do with FBI and the the proposal of ‘GovtOS". I don’t expect this to be addressed head on during the keynote but I would expect a passing reference to it and Apple’s continued commitment to privacy and security.
It has been nearly 2 years since Apple last updated the 4 inch iPhone (the iPhone 5s), and since then the iPhone has seen major improvements in terms of performance, camera and the inclusion of NFC to enable Apple Pay.
Although the 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch screen size iPhones have proved to be extremely popular and profitable for Apple, especially in Asia, it has become apparent that there is still a significant section of the market that wish to have a smaller and lighter phone. A lot of these customers are iPhone 5/5s owners that are now due an upgrade, so this is what the iPhone SE is attempting to address.
The iPhone SE will gain the physical appearance of the iPhone 6s/6s Plus and be available in the same 4 colours as the iPhone 6s/6s Plus and start at $549 with 16GB of storage. The iPhone SE will include a slower version of the A9 Processor that’s found in the 6s and 6s Plus and Apple Pay, but not 3D Touch.
iPad Pro 9.7"
The next update to the iPad 9.7" is set to see it rebranded to the iPad Pro. Like with its existing larger sibling it is set to gain a smart connector for accessories, four speakers and support for the Apple Pencil. I would expect it to have same storage and connectivity options as the existing iPad Pro (32 GB + WiFi, 128 GB + WiFi and 128GB + WiFi/Cellular), with the 9.7” Model starting at $599, sitting above the iPad Air in lineup which will remain at $499.
Apple Watch Bands
Following in the footsteps of Apple’s last keynote, Apple are set to an announce a new set of Apple Watch Bands including the previously leaked space black Milanese loop. This should keep the the Apple Watch Lineup fresh heading through the summer, before it sees a major update later this year.
iOS 9.3 is now at Beta 7, and comes with some significant improvements for a point updated including night mode, secure notes and multiple users on iPad. This will likely be released after the event alongside the less significant Mac OS (10.11.4) and Watch OS (2.2) updates.
Just as predictably as night follows day, Apple is set to refresh its iOS lineup in time for the holiday season, but what should we expect to see and what fails to make the cut?
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus (as the names suggest) will be an incremental update to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In addition to the usual speed bump, this year’s iPhone will get Force Touch which will offer developers the opportunity of a “Contextual Tap”, rather the Apple Watch’s 1 Menu Per Screen. As Force Touch will be limited to only the 6S and 6S Plus, these features will be limited to shortcuts in the near term.
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will be available for preorder on Friday, with a release date of the following Friday at the existing price and 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB storage capacities.
An Apple TV hardware refresh and SDK is an almost certainty, since it made its appearance on the iOS Dev portal at WWDC. Apple dropped the price of the current generation Apple TV to $69 in January, leaving the $99 price point vacated for the next generation Apple TV. With the Apple TV set to include Siri support in a Motion Detecting Remote, a $99 price might be something that Apple struggles to meet while maintaining their healthy profit margins. I expect the Apple TV to start at $149 with 16GB of Storage, with Third Party Bluetooth Controllers being available for more traditional console like games.
Last years iPad Air 2 update left us with an overpowered iPad without any major apps to take advantage of it. The iPad Pro is set to rectify this by having a larger 13” styli compatible screen. This alongside iOS 9’s Adaptivity APIs, might see the iPad finally break through and become a serious creation device.
Expecting to see the iPad Pro ship in October at around $799, but it is possible that it will not be unveiled until next month.
The iPad Air (as mentioned previously) is already overpowered, so Apple might take the opportunity to not update the iPad Air this year.
Last years iPad mini only received Touch ID and new colours, so it is a generation behind the current iPad Air. It is more likely than the iPad Air to receive an update, but that it is by no means guaranteed.
Inline with tradition we are going to see a round up of iOS 9s new features … basically the same presentation we saw at WWDC in June. Other than support for new hardware features I wouldn’t expect to see anything new added.
iOS 9 will be available to download next Wednesday for the iPhone 4S/iPad 2 and above.
In conjunction with iOS 9, watchOS 2 will also be available to download next Wednesday alongside a plethora of watchOS 2 apps. I wouldn’t expect to see anything revolutionary, but apps running entirely on the Watch will improve the experience immensely, and custom complications add an interesting twist.
OS X El Capitan
OS X is also due to be released this fall, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pushed backed to an October Keynote, as there is nothing significant tying it to this event.
There are lots of things to look forward too over the next couple of months and indeed lots of things to develop for, but the Apple TV is set to steal the show a this Keynote.
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 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.
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.
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 …
Details regarding what Apple might announce at WWDC have been few and far between this year, but here is my thoughts and predictions:
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In short, I have a feeling this one is going to big…
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 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:
- List the Supported Features in your Info.plist
- Handle a Delegate Callback in your App Delegate
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.
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 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.
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.
The existing iPad lineup (air and mini) like the iPhone also not due an update till September/October.
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.
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.
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.
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.