This is that time of the year again. The annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) begins later tonight, with the keynote that should give us a very good peek into what Apple has planned. At least on the software side of things, and perhaps some hardware too. Like every WWDC keynote, Apple will show us the direction in which the software platforms, including iOS and macOS are headed—with the final releases for these pieces of software arriving on your iPhone, iPad and Mac devices later this year. When Apple CEO Tim Cook gets on the stage in a few hours time, there should be some good news for developers, with more powerful tools for augmented reality (AR), machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Could we also see some new hardware? Well, the surprise launch of the iPod Touch has been done and dusted, so that is not on the agenda anymore.
At least that is what we expect it to be called. First things first, this will surely focus heavily on performance improvements and bug fixes. But the question still remains—will it bring wholesale changes to the interface, and really change the way the iPhone and iPad have felt all these years (barring minor tweaks and changes). It is not known if Apple will finally allow users to place icons as they please, on the home screen, and actually be able to see the wallpaper. But that aside, expect a Dark Mode to be available system-wide and in Apple’s own apps. Speaking of which, iOS 13 should bring with it significant changes to Apple’s own apps, such as Mail, Calendar, Messages, Music, Facetime and Reminders. Be it a new design, some added functionality or purely a repositioning based on the need, this will be a critical time for Apple to give these apps the updates they truly need.
It is perhaps important to note that unlike Google which tends to update its own apps from time to time, Apple usually leaves its own apps be, till a new iOS version is rolled out. Therefore, this annual upgrade opportunity becomes even more critical.
But then, what could these updates be? The Messages app, for instance, has remained largely the same for a while now. At a time when it is under increasing pressure from WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger (read, iOS users may not be too averse to the idea of switching to Android now, since they won’t lose friends), it may be time to give Messages a fresh coat of paint. Then there is Mail. Compared with the new Gmail and Outlook updates, Apple Mail feels barebones. Expect new functionality, which can perhaps sort your mails (social, shopping, promotions etc.). And these are just two examples.
iOS for the iPad
While iOS has largely remained the same on the iPhone and the iPad, barring some exceptions for the iPad Pro, that could change now. There are reports that the iPads could finally get support for an external mouse accessory, which would take it one critical step closer to becoming a laptop replacement. Multi-tasking could also see a change, at least with a new interface. Could Apple now give developers the leeway to extensively use the screen space with modular elements.
While there has been speculation about this last year as well, this could just be the year when Apple actually brings iOS and macOS apps closer. There is the Project Marzipan that gives us hope. Whether it is the unified platform sort of foundation that Microsoft tried and eventually gave up on, we don’t know yet. In fact, the wheels could already be in motion. The Stocks, Voice Memos and News apps on macOS right now are adapted from their iOS counterparts. We could soon have Siri shortcuts and Screen Time, move over from iOS to macOS to make the experience more consistent across the two platforms.
While you shouldn’t expect wholesale changes with macOS 10.15, but new functionality could go a long way in giving the experience of using a Mac a bit of a refresh. There is the fear that Apple is retaining the status quo with macOS for far too long, so it wouldn’t be completely unexpected for Apple to surprise us all with something completely new for the Mac platform.
What you need to remember is that this will be the last macOS to support 32-bit apps, which shouldn’t be a problem for most users except those who use legacy apps.
Apple Music and Podcasts
There is no denying the fact that iTunes changed the way a lot of us purchased and accessed music in the past two decades. It wasn’t easy, and it pretty effectively set in motion a digital music store solution which the music industry was looking for, as it battled the illegal file sharing on Napster. Now however, it has served its purpose, and the iTunes app may no longer be necessary, neither on iOS or macOS. It is expected that Apple will announce separate versions of Apple Music and Podcasts, finally giving iTunes the send-off, it has perhaps been expecting for a while now.