Apple has just announced that their 31st annual, world wide developers conference, WWDC, will kick off — virtually — on Monday, June 22, 2020.
And yeah, that’s three weeks later than usual, but what’s usual this year anyway?
If you’re not familiar with it, WWDC — affectionately known as Dub Dub, is the big summer show where, every year, Apple announces updates to all of their operating systems and the developer frameworks for same, which now includes iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and, of course, macOS.
Some years, though not every year, Apple also announces new hardware. The new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR. The iMac Pro and HomePod. MacBooks, iPads, even iPhones back in the days of Steve Jobs.
And, now, we have a heavy emphasis on services as well, which are helping to move the needle for Apple even when the rest of the world is on hold.
In a normal year, Tim Cook would come out on the WWDC keynote stage with his usual “Good Morning”! Talk about the developers in attendance, from all the countries around the world, the students and scholarship winners, and then turn to business.
Maybe services first. Apple Music and Apple Arcade seem to be humming along fine. Apple News is doing a great job, but is still in only a tiny handful of countries, which when compared to the previous two is just really, really sad. I can’t even imagine how just absolutely gross the international licensing must be, but it’s Apple’s job to figure it out.
Same with Apple Pay Cash and Apple Card. They’re still U.S. only. And, sure, U.S. banks are more competitive than most every other place on earth, and Goldman Sachs was about as desperate to get Apple’s product as AT&T was to take the original iPhone, sight unseen.
But, international customers already feel like we pay higher prices for less features, and anything Apple can do to push those high-affinity services out further would mean a lot.
Apple TV+ has produced some great content but now, like most other services, new seasons have been suspended and it’s unclear when additional programming will resume. With no catalog content to fall back on, like Netflix and Disney+, and the original year of free service coming to to an end, Apple’s going to need to decide what to do to keep the numbers up. Maybe a second year with the purchase of 2020 Apple device?
There’s also the idea of an Apple bundle. Apple Prime. Apple+. Basically, all the services, and maybe even iCloud, all together at a discounted price. Apple does a very little of that for students but it’d be a great thing to do for everyone.
I guess the only question is whether or not it would accelerate or decelerate Apple’s promise to double services revenue by end of year? In other words, would Apple make up the discounts on volume?
Let me know what you think in the comments.
Apple TV & tvOS
Last year, Tim Cook stayed on stage for tvOS, because TV+ dovetailed into it so nicely. In previous years we got Eddy Cue, senior Vice President of internet services, and members of the Apple TV team.
Either way, there have been rumors of a new Apple TV box for a while now. One with an even more recent, more powerful processor to better handle things like overlaid HDR, and next-generation Apple Arcade games. Even one bundled with a gaming controller to try for some of the casual console market.
I think we’ll absolutely see a new box at some point, but how far Apple is willing to with bundled gaming is another question.
iPhone and iOS
Apple hasn’t announced iPhones at WWDC for a decade, but Tim Cook has been handing off to Craig Federighi, senior Vice President of software engineering, to announce new versions of iOS for almost that long.
Craig is so good on stage I really hope Apple figures out a way for him to present virtually, in whatever way works. Even, yes, via Memoji.
iOS 14 is on tap for this year and I think, new features aside, Apple has to make up for the hot mess of a launch that was iOS 13 beta last year by giving us something much closer to the solid, stable, smooth experience that was the iOS 12 beta. For me, every other tentpole is a distant second.
That includes the rumored new Fitness app, messaging features, AR lens app, default apps, and everything else. And let me know if you want to see videos on those in the comments below.
The one bit of related hardware I am looking very much forward to is AirTags. Apple announced the new FindMy network at WWDC last year, and I’ve been waiting to see those little tags literally every season since.
I’ve already done a video on them, so hit subscribe and check it out, but how Apple is going to present them, sell them, and especially reassure everyone about the privacy of them, is something I’m really interested in seeing.
What everyone else is probably far more excited for are new, less expensive AirPods and even newer, more expensive AirPods Studio, or whatever Apple calls the over-the-ear models. Maybe with senior Vice President of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller doing the honors.
iPadOS and iPad
Apple updated both the small and large iPads Pro at WWDC 2017, with Vice President of product marketing, Greg Joswiak doing the honors. But the low-end iPad was updated last September and the Pros, just over a month ago. That leaves the Air and mini, but Apple’s been content to leave them for years before, so…
Craig Federighi announced the first version at WWDC last year — which was also the 13th version, because it’s still based heavily on iOS. And this year we’ll get 14.
One of the biggest rumors for it was full-on pointer and cursor support, but we got that with iPadOS 13.4. The other, is Pro Apps, namely Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, and most apropos for WWDC, Xcode.
If Apple’s been doing in private what Adobe’s been doing in public beta with Photoshop for iPad, we could see real-but-not-full versions of some or all of those come June. Drop a like below if that’s something you really, finally want to see.
Apple Watch and watchOS
For the last couple of years we’ve gotten the Pride bands at or around WWDC. But the show belongs to watchOS. Kevin Lynch, Vice President of software, typically does the honors. Last year, tag-teaming with Dr. Sumbul Desai, Vice President of health.
Rumors for this year include sleep tracking, which has been rumored ever since Apple bought Beddit a couple of years ago. Also, more fitness features, because there are always more fitness features. And, a way to address mental health the way the Apple Watch has been addressing physical health for years already. Which would be terrific.
Let me know in the comments if you want to see a whole video on that.
Of course, I’m hoping for something that’ll make the Apple Watch even more independent from the iPhone. Maybe a way to set it up on its own?
The Mac and macOS
John Ternus, vice president of hardware, has been handling Mac announcements for a while now. From the Mac Pro last year to the iMac Pro a couple of years ago.
And yeah, the iMac line in general and the iMac Pro especially are more than a little long-in-the-tooth, so updates there would be great to see. If not in June then certainly in October.
The current macOS Catalina, introduced by Craig Federighi last year, has been just as painful as iOS 13. More even, when you consider the loss of 32-bit games and plugins for people who loved and depended on them, and the annoyance of the new security model for people used to the complete freedom of the traditional Mac.
After 10.15, Apple really needs a make-good with 10.16, a software version of the new Magic Keyboard, so to speak.
Of course, what everyone is really waiting for… is what everyone has been waiting for for years now — any sign or signal that Apple is getting ready to move any part of the Mac lineup to their own, custom, in-house ARM processors. You know, like the ones in the iPhone and iPad that have been running roughshod over the entire silicon industry going on a decade now.
Any more things
Apple’s automation efforts are still underway but probably still a ways off. We’ll certainly hear more about augmented reality, especially with LiDAR now on the iPad Pro and, rumor has it, coming soon to the iPhone Pro.
What about Apple Glasses, realityOS, StarBoard, and everything next? Probably also still coming next rather than now. Though LiDAR, and the AR apps we’ll be getting starting this year are rocketing us towards it.
Same with the artificial intelligence that, under senior Vice President John Gianandrea, I think will end up being as important to the next decade of Apple as silicon under senior Vice President Johny Srouji has been to the last one.