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.