The annual Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) starts later today, in an all new virtual avatar. While the format changes from human interaction to an all-digital one, WWDC remains as important as ever. This is where, as it is every year, the company is expected to give us a sneak peek at the future of the software side of things—iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, macOS, tvOS, App Store, services, apps and more. This year however, there is that extra edge, potentially, that has us hooked. While WWDC isn’t usually the base for new hardware announcements, we could however see a slight diversion from the usual. There is the possibility of the confirmation of the ARM powered Mac computing devices, which could represent a big blow for Intel.
There is a lot to expect from this virtual version of WWDC 2020, which starts with the traditional keynote later today and then proceeds to host developer sessions over the next few days. The WWDC 2020 runs virtually through till June 26, and there will be more than 100 engineering sessions, there will be more than 1,000 Apple engineers on hand in the virtual developer forums and there will also be the Apple Design Awards. WWDC’s significance resides in the fact that this is not just a peek at the next line of software for Apple’s line-up of products, but also the company’s close interaction with the developer community. These could be some of the key announcements to look forward to at WWDC 2020.
iOS becomes iPhoneOS?
It would actually make sense. There has been a lot of excitement, mostly emerging from the social media platforms, that Apple could rename iOS to iPhoneOS as we head towards what was till now known as iOS 14. Whatever the naming theme, expect iOS 14 to be a considerable upgrade over iOS 13 as we know it. We could see a new design language for iOS, after a largely consistent experience for years. There will be the expected under-the-hood updates for greater stability and better performance, but the clamor for more features is quite evident. Could see full-fledged widgets for the home screen? Could we get the functionality that allows us to set third party apps as defaults? That would give Apple a significant advantage in the antitrust arguments. Maybe offline Siri functionality? iMessage getting even more functionality? Maybe even dynamic wallpapers, much like macOS?
All said and done, expect a significant chunk of the attention and resources to be spent on making iOS (or iPhoneOS) even more secure. That could include additional privacy functionality for Safari, for instance.
There has long been the rumor that the next iPhone line-up will integrate LiDAR technology, and if that is true, we will see considerable conversation around the AR apps and experience on an iPhone with the next update.
A new direction for Macs?
It is almost as if the ever-annoying rumor mill was partially broken in the lead up to WWDC 2020. There were absolutely no speculations or leaks about what the next macOS will be like, or what will it be called. Yes, the macOS naming remains a big deal, and we still don’t know what will succeed Catalina.
But there are important things at hand. There have been persistent reports that Apple could announce the shift from Intel’s chips to custom designed ARM processors. The project is codenamed Kalamata and it is expected the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which also makes chips for the Apple iPhone and iPad, will be making the new Mac processors as well. These will be based on the A14 chip that is expected to power the next Apple iPhone. This could give Apple a massive advantage in terms of bringing the marriage of hardware and software even closer together, which will give a massive boost to the user experience, something where Apple already has a massive advantage over the Microsoft Windows 10 based laptops.
Services could become a bundle
Apple could be looking to further strengthen its services business, by offering users a bundle subscription. Right now, you pay separately for Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ and so on. A single subscription bundle, with perhaps the option of also sharing with families, could just be the convenience users need. But for that, the likes of Apple News+ will have to roll out globally for this to be really useful.
More software, as expected
At WWDC 2020, expect Apple to also announce updates for watchOS, tvOS for the Apple TV and could give the HomePod smart speaker the versatility of plugging into third-party music streaming services—much like how Amazon allows us to use Apple Music by default on the Echo line-up of smart speakers and smart displays.