A Siri Speaker Plus Software
WWDC tends to be a software-focused event, but Apple may be announcing several new devices at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 5.
There’s a remote possibility we’ll get a sneak peek of the iPhone 8, but based on recent reports, there’s a much better chance we’ll see a revamped a new Siri-powered speaker that will compete against Amazon’s legion of Alexa speakers, a revamped 10.5-inch iPad Pro and an update to Apple’s MacBook lineup.
There’s also bound to be major updates to iOS, but also macOS, tvOS and more.
The annual conference is Apple’s chance to give developers — and the people that buy iPhones, iPads, Macs and smartwatches — an early look at what changes the company is making to its many operating systems.
This year’s edition of WWDC will move out of San Francisco, where it’s been held the last 14 year, and head down to San Jose, Calif., and the McEnery Convention Center. That venue last hosted WWDC in 2002.
What Apple hasn’t said is what will be on the agenda when the week-long conference kicks off on June 5. Here’s a preview of what to expect:
Siri Speaker: Apple may be ready to join the likes of Amazon and Google with a voice-controlled speaker. That’s according to Bloomberg, which reports that the Siri-powered device is already being assembled, with a chance that Apple will show off the speaker at WWDC to drum up interest among developers. Bloomberg’s report follows an earlier research note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that outlined Apple’s speaker plans.
The focus will be on audio, Bloomberg says, with the device featuring surround sound and potentially sensors that can adjust audio based on a room’s acoustics. Expect tie-ins to Apple services like HomeKit and Apple Music as well, and potentially greater integration between Siri and thrid-party apps. (Apple opened up Siri to certain types of apps during last year’s WWDC.)
A New iPad: That same research note from Kuo also claims that there’s a greater than 70 percent chance that Apple will unveil a new iPad at this year’s show. The iPad will reportedly come with a 10.5-inch screen and support Apple Pencil, meaning it will be of the iPad Pro variety.
According to Kuo, whose comments were earlier reported on by 9to5Mac, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro will sit between the 9.7- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros and will come with an all-new design, featuring slimmer bezels than previous models. That will allow it to pack more screen into the same chassis as a 9.7-inch model. It’s unknown right now how much it will cost and when it might be released.
More MacBooks: Seriously, more hardware? 9to5Mac says that’s the case, with rumors suggesting that the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro are going to get the latest Kaby Lake processors from Intel. There’s even the possibility of the MacBook Air making its triumphant return at WWDC, though that seems a bit of a stretch.
iOS 11: The past few WWDCs have given audiences a sneak peek at the next version of Apple’s operating system for iPhones and iPads, and the 2017 edition of the conference should be no exception. iOS 11 figures to have a prominent part at WWDC, with Apple potentially discussing advances in its AI-powered Siri assistant.
Since the iOS 10 update landed last fall, Google has unveiled its Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa has gained more skills and Samsung has made no secret of the fact that it’s working on a personal assistant of its own for its next phones. Apple will likely want to show off any new tricks Siri has learned that will help it keep pace with this rapidly advancing field.
macOS: While mobile devices now generate the bulk of Apple’s revenue, the Mac remains a key part of Apple’s plans. As with iOS, the macOS usually gets extended stage time at WWDC, and we should learn what California landmark Apple will pick as the name for the next version of the OS, along with other features planned for the update. Recent updates have seen macOS and iOS become more integrated, a trend that’s likely to continue.
watchOS: As with Apple’s mobile and desktop operating systems, the OS powering its wearable line should get a preview as well. That could give us a hint on what features Apple has planned for the next Apple Watch update.
tvOS: The focus could be on hardware here, instead of the platform that runs Apple’s set-top box. Bloomberg reports that Apple’s next Apple TV will feature 4K support, and WWDC would give the company a venue to show off this rumored product. Still, Apple TV is a pretty consumer-focused product and not the best fit for stage time at a conference that’s attended by developers.
iPhone 8: As noted, Apple tends to shy away from hardware announcements at WWDC, focusing instead on the software that developers use. But this year’s WWDC takes place in June, around the the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone going on sale. Apple could use the occasion to take the wraps off the iPhone 8. At the very least, its iOS 11 preview could hint at new features we can expect for the phone should Apple stick to a fall release schedule for the iPhone lineup.
Look for Tom’s Guide to cover every last minute at WWDC when the show kicks off on June 5.