WWDC Expectations

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is only a couple of weeks away and everyone is wondering what the company will unveil during the keynote address. As much as we all have long wish lists for what we would like to see, I think it’s important to balance those with realistic expectations for what’s likely to happen.

The important thing to remember about WWDC is that it is a developer conference. It’s not a place where Apple is going to show off the newest iPhone or iPad 1. These are Apple’s flagship products and they demand separate events. Entire industries watch these products because they shape what will happen in the mobile space. They are that important.

So, don’t expect an iPhone or iPad at WWDC 2.

If not an iPhone or iPad, what can we expect in the way of hardware from the conference? Personally, I would look squarely to the Mac side of Apple’s product line.

The Mac is still an important part of what Apple does, but I don’t know that Apple would hold a special event specifically for a Mac product anymore. If they did, it would have to be quite a spectacular product.

For me, the Mac products fit well with a Tim Cook keynote at WWDC. That’s all I really expect from Apple in the way of hardware at the conference.

That leaves us with the one thing that everyone does expect from the conference — the introduction of iOS7 and OS X. The operating systems are why most of the people attending WWDC go to the conference.

This is where developers get one-on-one time with Apple engineers and get advice on how to make their products better 3. WWDC is also the place where developers learn about the new APIs they’ll be able to use in the operating systems and any changes they’ll need to make to take advantage of them.

iOS 7 is the thing everyone will be watching and talking about. Since Jony Ive took over software design, people expect the operating system to move to a more flat design, rather than the skeuomorphic design that Apple has favored for years.

Personally, I don’t think that Apple will take it as far as what some might think. The way I envision iOS 7 is more of a modernization of the look and feel of the operating system. Kind of like what Apple did with OS X over the years.

Take a look back at the first version of OS X with the Aqua interface and compare that with what we have today. You can see a lot of the same types of elements in the OS design, but it’s more modern — it’s smoother and less dramatic in its effects.

OS X will be very interesting for me. We have shifted our attention away from the Mac operating system over the past few years, but part of what we have come to expect from Apple is deep integration with all of their products and services.

That’s what I’ll be watching for with OS X. The continued integration between iOS and OS X, through apps and services, like iCloud.

There is no doubt that WWDC will be an interesting conference for developers. I suspect the promise of iOS 7 and OS X will cause a lot of talk for days and weeks to come.

  1. If you are going to write an article that Apple will release the new iPhone or iPad at WWDC, don’t do it. 

  2. If you write a story after WWDC stating that since there was no iPhone or iPad, the keynote was a bust, you are just stupid. 

  3. This is why consumers want developers to go to WWDC too. Better products make us all happier. 

  • alextheukrainian

    Can we get a Yup or a Nope on this article, anyone?

    • adrianoconnor


    • A yup? You’re doing it wrong!

    • bradpurchase

      I’m seeing a “yep” over here.

    • Yup

  • quietstorms

    It’s sort of tragic the way that it feels like the Mac is no longer a major product worthy of its own announcement anymore. The Air is still my favorite computer despite the iPhone.

    As for iOS, I don’t really care too much about any major redesign. There have been features such as inter-app communication APIs that should’ve been there two years ago.

    The biggest problem that Apple faces is functionality, not design. Visual design is just eye candy for the superficial.

    • Moeskido

      Visual design is more than eye candy. It’s how the UI works and allows new users to learn to operate it easily. It’s how the functionality of the software presents itself in a logical, uncluttered way. And it’s how Apple products distinguish themselves from the competition.

      What’s superficial are arguments about flat vs. skeuomorphic design styles.

      • quietstorms

        I was waiting for a comment like this which is why I specifically mentioned visual design. Design in general, like Jobs said, is about how it works rather than how it looks.

        The complaint for the superficial tech blogs and users has been about the way iOS looks compared to Android and WP. iOS has never suffered from a usability issue (animals and babies can use it) other than the limitations within the OS which is the issue.

        • Moeskido

          Pardon me for reading “Visual design is just eye candy for the superficial” and not realizing it wasn’t a generalization. 😉

    • Mr. Bee

      Yo udon’t know much about design so you? 🙂

      • Mr. Bee

        and I can’t spell apparently either.

    • SockRolid

      Agree that some UI visual design is sizzle and not steak. But everything needs a little “showroom appeal.”

  • Gary

    it would be nice to see an Ive inspired revamp of the OS X interface as well…

    • jon siddle

      While the iPhone/iPad/iOS updates are great, I still get more excited at OS X and desktop/laptop updates. Better integration of their services and increased functionality is always appreciated more than the eye candy. With that said, it wouldn’t shock me to see a complete interface redesign after the 10.9 release.

      • Gary

        The skeuomorphic design in core apps like calendar in OS X will look very out of place if iOS 7 does go to a flat design. I would think that they have noticed that too. Increased functionality is high on my wishlist too.

        • lucascott

          Reduced pointless skeuo is likely than a totally flat design

          Re: functionality, I don’t think Jim will mind me posting this link. It’s a collection of blog entries my cousin made about what she wishes would change in iOS 7. Some of them are things I’ve mentioned before, others are n thoughts but I like the way her head is going http://wearefangirls.blogspot.com/search/label/Apple

    • quietstorms

      I only think a correction is needed to the apps that imitated iOS design.

      I’m more interested in seeing Preview and TextEdit on iOS for proper iCould syncing.

      Every Mac app should have their iOS counterpoint for true iCloud syncing.

  • Thomas Alvarez


  • Nice article Jim. This kind of stuff is refreshing to hear, and keeps hopes realistic. I agree with you that WWDC is a developer event, and take your word that we won’t see a new iPhone then. But we’ve seen the iPhone 3GS / 4 / 4S released at WWDC, so has Apple broke this pattern for good?

    • (I suppose that the iPhone didn’t truly become the flagship product we know it as today since around the launch of the iPhone 4, so it makes sense).

      • foljs

        No, that’s not it.

        It was already a huge success by version 1. And by 3GS it dwarfed the Mac profits already.

    • noliv

      The iPhone 4S was announced in the fall, NOT at the WWDC. The 3G, 3GS and 4 were announced at WWDC.

      • My apologies, I mixed up the order. I meant to say 3G / 3GS / 4.

        • lucascott

          Apple rarely reverts to old form so I would say what happened back then is moot at this point. We should be expecting iOS hardware in the Fall, no matter what some Taiwan site with ‘sources’ might claim

  • Austin

    A Mac refresh seems very likely to me; the amount of activity in the mac refurb store over the last two months seems way above average.

  • noliv

    Loving the footnotes! 🙂

    • Jimh

      Now if only people who try to write articles will ay attention to them! (one can always dream)

  • dzweifler

    So, if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying that we should expect a redesigned iPhone to to come out of WWDC, right?

    • nathanziarek

      I think he was pretty clear that an iPhone release is all but guaranteed.

  • redoak

    My thoughts on what would be an ambitious WWDC. And, general flow

    Data Center Updates

    Store Updates – SF, China plans, India plans, Turkey

    Developer Tools – Updated environment iTunes Connect – Reporting improvements, including download source tracking

    iOS 7

    iCloud Updates. Enhanced photo services Maps 2.0 – New APIs, services. Expanded Flyover coverage Siri – New APIs and supported features

    iTunes 12 – New features, expanded country coverage iTunes Match update iRadio Launch

    ITunes U Update

    App Refreshes: iBooks, FaceTime, iMessage

    OSX 10.9

    iWork 10

    Hardware, Mac Pro – New Mac Re-Freshes: Air, Pro Time Capsule Themes: 802.11 ac, Haswelll Wildcard: Thunderbolt Retina Display

  • nathanziarek

    While I’m a sucker for redesigns, my real hope is improved iCloud services — most notably photo and video sharing. For a company that bills itself as integrated, the lack of interplay between various versions of iPhoto is comical.

    I’d like to see what they did with iTunes Match come to iPhoto / Aperture — all my photos, backed up and available, to all my devices. Crop a picture on my Air, see the results on my iPad.

    • Vangelis

      I wonder why you don’t use dropbox.

      • Michael

        Cause Dropbox doesn’t have the possibility of being anywhere near as seamless as iCloud does.

        If you use multiple platforms….then by all means use Dropbox and all of the other great 3rd party services. But if you are all in with iOS and OS X, the potential for iCloud is pretty significant.

      • nathanziarek

        The biggest reason is that photos on my iPhone wont automatically upload to Dropbox. I want something that’ll work seamlessly.

        I’m also not sure a pure file-sync system like Dropbox would work. The interesting thing about a system that understands images is that I can crop an image on my laptop and only the crop dimensions need to be sent to the server, not the whole new image. Same thing for metadata like GPS positioning.

        Plus, I can’t afford Dropbox for 300GB. Flickr might be an option though.

  • tylernol

    things I expect: -OSX maps app -Siri on OSX -fixes to icloud /core data sync to make it easier to use for developers -improved method in iOS to share data between applications, ripping off the Windows “contracts” scheme is fine by me. -“flatter” iOS UI. But not Metro,please.

    wishlist: -open up API to developers on Apple TV -Mac Pro successor

    • nathanziarek

      AppleTV Apps is an interesting twist for this WWDC. Just last week or so the CW network announced they’d have an app on the device. Probably reading too much into it, but maybe that’s a sign of things to come?

      I personally think Apple wants to reinvent TV with a per-app channel model similar to Newsstand. While they figure out the details, they don’t want to open the AppleTV up to all development and have their plans derailed.

      My guess is the AppleTV stays as it is — incremental updates and partners — until Apple announces a wholly new model of TV subscription.

      • lucascott

        I think Apple might be pushing to get all nets on the box. And I’m cool with that. It’s the only AppleTV I care to see. I don’t even mind if I have to have a cable subscription to use them if it means I can also do it on my iPad on the road and I can stop paying $10 a month to rent a cable decoder box. Have the nets declare they will add the earnings for all these views into their Ratings funds for make good to vote on shows getting canceled or not and I’d be in heaven

  • sockatume

    The Weather app in iOS6 is the kind of look that could work across iOS7. Streamlined, with an extensive use of thinner fonts and design elements than were possible on the pre-Retina devices, but not flat. I’ve always wondered if it was a test case that got snuck in to the release.

    Given that the blogosphere’s reaction to Sony’s PS4 event (you’d think they’d shown up and shrugged), I don’t hold much hope for a rational response to the WWDC. It’s a shame because the OS design is what will really shape user experience, directly or indirectly.

    • Herding_sheep

      There wouldn’t be a rational response to any Apple event, even if they invented a self-sustaining, time-traveling, flying unicorn. “it doesn’t browse the web AND travel through space-time simulatenously!!”

      On a serious note, I don’t expect the weather app to be the direction of the iOS7 redesign. Its definitely a more refined look from previously, but it still has elements of “glitz.” The 3D lighting effect and gradients. Or as Jony put it, “a designer wagging their tail in your face.”

      The only thing I hope for is that Jony doesn’t discourage playful animations and transitions. Those are things that I absolutely love about Apple products. It doesn’t do anything in a pure design sense, but it provides an unconscious satisfaction. It gives the OS a certain feel of flow and fluidity that I’ve always loved about OSX and iOS. Yes, its very superficial. But its also an excellent display of the superior graphics power of iOS/OSX and CoreAnimation.

  • tombomdoodle

    I’m not desperately searching for flat or non-skeumorphic design: it’s good to have some metaphors which vaguely comfort the user and make things feel a little less harsh and so rigidly digital (if that makes any sense). All I really hope that they get rid of, and I believe that’s what this article is saying on the iOS side of things, are the extremes. That means getting rid of the leather and torn paper features on the iPad’s Calendar; the green felt of Game Centre and the almost obsessive usage of “Apple linen” which has been thrown into Siri, Notification Centre and Folders. I’m actually a fan of its usage in Maps (on the directions), Music and Reminders as the instances where it is used is far lighter – they just make iOS stand out from Android and Windows Phone which, certainly in the case of Windows Phone, can come across as too robotic (pun not intended). On a non-design point of view, I think Apple needs to work out what they’re actually doing with some of the apps they’ve made. Passbook is the main issue for me; there are 22 apps available for Passbook in the UK (a vast improvement actually as the last time I checked there were around five) yet 17 of these are to do with air travel or hotels. There are two shopping apps, Starbucks and Apple, but why aren’t Apple encouraging more people to use it? Costa is the second biggest coffee shop chain in the world yet their app does not work with Passbook. Hopefully we’ll see Apple expand upon the app to encourage more developers to make apps for it. Another issue for me is Spotlight. It seems a little antiquated yet it could be the perfect space for, say, widgets (in addition to search itself). Why not incorporate some Siri functionality too? Sure, I can understand Apple would want people to use Siri more, but not everyone, including myself, is comfortable with using Siri (especially as it’s awful with getting my voice right despite the fact I haven’t got a heavy accent). I’d love to be able to use Wolfram Alpha via Spotlight or ask other questions. Contacts on the iPad is awful – when you switch the iPad into portrait you get two thick black bars at the top and bottom purely because of the book theme used. The last little niggle I have is brightness settings on the fifth iPod touch. As the iPod doesn’t contain a brightness detector any more, it would be great if brightness could be incorporated either into the recent apps/multitasking bar (like on the iPad) or Notification Centre, which would also allow for Bluetooth and other settings to be quickly accessible. That’s my list of essentials for iOS 7, but it certainly wouldn’t be an upgrade worthy of being called “major.”

    • lucascott

      “but why aren’t Apple encouraging more people to use it?”

      Not Apples style. They create the tool but let folks pick. Just like they don’t force universal apps, IAP for removing ads etc.

      In a way I wish they would. And I wish they would break up universal apps to be more like the SD/HD sets with video

  • Winski

    YEAH JIM !!!! Thanks for a little reality check… I’m also VERY glad to hear from you on the IOS7 look/feel issue… Black, white, flat, bland, simple…ALL wrong… EVOLUTION not revolution… shows incredible maturity versus throw all of it on a wall and see what hits the floor first…

    Again, thanks ….

  • For iOS I’d like to see a better file management system, “do not disturb” function stopping pop-up windows when I’m watching videos, a quicker access to key settings, more inter-app operability, perhaps more “tap to share” for other social networks (tumblr, flickr, vimeo…), and please no flat design like Windows Metro or Google cards – I hate it. I mostly like the skeuomorphic design, it could be adjusted, refined, but should not be thrown away.

    For OS X I’d love to see more features for Finder, Siri integration (makes more sense on desktop. I don’t like to talk to a virtual assistant in public, but a very well working Siri on my iMac would really enrich my experience), Apple maps with the ability to create own maps and embed them… I have more, but I think if they deliver half of this I would be happy already.

  • Bram Stolk

    They will announce a Mac PRO, possibly based on massively multi core ARM architecture. You read it here first!

    • How about a Mac Pro with the guts of an iOS device on a daughter board for much better simulation testing prior to actual device testing?

      That is, IMO, as close to a Mac Pro would get to using ARM.

  • SockRolid

    Where “skeuomorphic” means “old fashioned.” And “flat” means “modern.”

    Having said that, Apple seems to be relatively cautious when freshening up the iOS and OS X look and feel. Ive may not have issued a nuke-and-pave directive to get rid of all skeuomorphism and faux textures across the board. But I’m sure he started a trend that will continue over several years. Toward simplification, sleekness, and modernity.

  • It was always my impression that the WWDC keynote announced new stuff only when developers would need the advanced knowledge of the new stuff in order to have apps available for its launch.

    or that was the general fig leaf behind the announcement at least.

  • I would love to see a new Mac Pro, or something with similar internal expansion, especially if the GeForce Titan is an option. I really want something that does blender 3d, Adobe CS and Bootcamp gaming.

    In my wildest fantasies, a MacOS X version of the Surface Pro.

    Haswell laptops are probably most likely though.

  • imaginashaun

    Im wondering if I should buy my macbook air now or just wait….If i’m gna wait, then I would want to have it at least a week after the event. Do you guy’s think that’s possible?

    • GimmaFire

      I’m in the same boat as you! I’m waiting to see… I believe they will update the macbook air line.

  • Greg Saunders

    Wishful thinking, but wouldn’t WWDC be a good time to unveil a new product category (aTV, iWatch) and its corresponding SDK?

    • 11thIndian

      They could release an aTV SDK- since they already have a product on the market for it to run on. But I’m very inclined to believe that apps will be fairly restricted to “channels”.

  • foljs

    “”” It’s not a place where Apple is going to show off the newest iPhone or iPad 1. These are Apple’s flagship products and they demand separate events. “””

    Well, they did it in the past. And even if we argue about iPhone 3G etc, iPhone 4 was a flagship Apple product by any means of the imagination.

    Thing is, while WWDC might be a “developer conference” the WWDC Keynote is NOT a developer thing. It’s meant for the press and the general public.

    So there’s no clear cut logic what they might or might not showcase there. They have showcased every product at a WWDC at one time or another.

  • scottrichardson

    Can we get a yep/nope on a Mac Pro tower announcement?

    • Relentlessfocus

      Since Tim Cook has said no new hardware (modest chip upgrades not withstanding) before Autumn 2013 into 2014 is it really necessary for JD to yep/nope it?

      • scottrichardson

        Of course not, unless the Mac Pro update IS just a modest chip upgrade (that’s what most of us have ultimately wanted anyway).

        • lucascott

          ‘Most of us’? I would counter that no, most Mac Pro users want a heck of a lot more than a modest chip upgrade.

          • scottrichardson

            Yeah sorry, elaboration: Modest Chipset upgrade – with USB3, Thunderbolt, SATAIII. But those aren’t really ‘a heck of a lot more’ when they have been standard for 2 years now. Would I like a new form factor tower? All SSD, SLI etc? Yep but if they simply upgraded the chipset (CPU, RAM, USB3, TB, SATAIII) and a Radeon 9000 series or GeForce700 series GPU, that would certainly keep many MP users happy.

      • 11thIndian

        I think the context for that statement was geared more towards Apple current and any new consumer-facing products, part of Apple’s campaign to set expectations for WWDC. A new MacPro sits very much outside the interest of most of their customers. If they’re ready to- they’ll announce it.

  • Danny

    It’s a fact the launch of the new MacPro and how important it will be the integration of software and hardware redesign from iOS (Remember what happened to swf format and what it meant in battery saving devices)

  • Relentlessfocus

    From a structural point of view integration of and services on iCloud are likely Apple’s top priority right now. I expect there will be new wrinkles and hooks, improvements in existing structures and new initiatives designed to propel development in directions which Apple view as critical to their future plans. I would be disappointed, given the effort Apple is putting into this area if developments were trivial.

  • doughamlin

    All I want is an app/channel store for the Apple TV.

    • lucascott

      It wouldn’t likely be a store. More like the channels would be backed in. Which I suspect many would be fine with so long as they can ‘delete’ those they don’t want or can’t use cause they don’t have the right cable subscription. Or at least move icons around so those things are at the bottom and out of the way. And there’s a decent amount of space for buffering etc

  • Jesse Head

    Why, oh why, oh why has there been no mention of Ive’s influence upon OS X and a possible flatter look for THAT OS? You know… the one that also has the leather bound Calendar and felt Game Center.

  • mtcowdog

    iOS7 paint job … meh. iCloud, services, content, interoperability, new features … That’s the engine upgrade I want to see.

  • lucascott

    I wouldn’t be shocked if there was no mention of any hardware Mac or iOS. The trend has been to remove hardware from the conference and get it back to its intended focus and I can see them finishing that move off.

    Maybe one or two features that would be revealed via the betas but no actual full announcements

  • Steven

    Can you yep/nope any specific technologies? I’m anxious to know if OpenCL will be made available in iOS 7.

  • bjwanlund

    Can you yep/nope iRadio (iTunes’s answer to Pandora) or the iTunes answer to the likes of Netflix/Hulu for streaming movies and TV shows?

  • Josny

    iOS 7 needs to be way more than a look and feel change.

    They are falling way behind on functionality.

    The iOS lock and home screens are woefully inadequate for a “smart” phone.

  • alisanta

    So before WWDC D-day, people will start to call it boring.

    Another nice feature we’d expect is indoor mapping Integrated into iOS.

  • TommJim

    Dude that makes a ll kinds of crazy sense. Wow.


    • Miss Gideon

      How bout this then? Bobby Brown Serves Nine Hours in Jail for Third DUI While California is known for having some of the toughest DUI laws in the nation, it seems Bobby Brown has been let off easy. He was released Wednesday after serving nine hours of his 55-day jail sentence for driving under the influence.

      L.A. County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore told the media that Brown was released early due to jail overcrowding and good behavior. http://zautos.com/bobby-brown-serves-nine-hours-in-jail-for-third-dui/ Make sense too

  • Darrell

    What about new versions of iWork? iLife? Aperture?

  • disqus_08sdLZM0LR

    Logic 10 Please .

    • 11thIndian

      Not at WWDC. Not the right venue at all.

      • disqus_08sdLZM0LR

        so what is ?

  • Both the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 were introduced at WWDCs. I’m not presuming that iOS devices will be announced at next week’s conference, as Jim is spot-on with insight; but, it’s important to note the occasional flutter in Apple’s pattern.

    I always view OS X/iOS update demos as a tantalizing precursor to hardware bumps, as Apple loves to point out how “the new features we heard about at WWDC just scream on this new hardware”.

    If iOS 7 doesn’t bring with it more than a resurfacing (that is to say, none of the much needed improvements in user experience), that will really disappoint me.

  • Jeremy

    Yep, yep, nope, yep, nope, yep, nope.

  • Jazzduck

    For me, the real question is whether Tim Cook will announce the replacement to the Mac Pro.

    The professional creative community desperately needs a revitalized high-end workstation offering from Apple. Tim’s already basically confirmed to them that they will get something in 2013; the questions that remain are what they’ll get, and when they’ll get it.

    I think that you’re right that Apple wouldn’t throw a whole separate event to announce a new desktop Mac these days. And much of the pro developer community that will attend WWDC overlaps with the pro creative community, so if Apple is going to make good on Tim’s promise, I feel like WWDC is where it’s likely to happen.

  • Chuck 5566

    Maybe one new Mac: the new Mac Pro. WWDC seems like a good place to announce that product.

  • Uwe

    I agree that they don’t take iOS 7 as far as some may think. But I’m pretty sure stitched leather, wood panels and stuff like that is gone. I hope.

  • dvdphn

    Didn’t Apple use to have a type of small gathering/presentation to focus on iOS and OS X before WWDC, around April-ish? Then at WWDC they’d quickly go over several of those tent pole points.

    (Personally, I feel like I’m going through Apple keynote withdrawal. It was nice to have something to watch and keep the Apple excitement every couple of months. Tim Cook at D11 is an okay fix.)

    Last year, WWDC keynote felt like three separate events: OS X, iOS, then hardware. Each getting around 30 min of presentation time, (or 40/40/20 split). This year will probably be similar, but with better flow/integration/crossover.

    Since Apple hardware are masterpieces in functionality, it’s about time that the software gets influenced by Ive magic too, (I see it every time I turn on the wireless keyboard and Magic Trackpad, love that laser-etched green light indicator). Don’t get me wrong, the software’s been great, (much better than Android), but it still seems incomplete on some level, (i.e. not as satisfying as the click of the home or sleep/wake buttons).