What Will Star in Apple's Big Show?
May 30, 2012 5:00 AM PT
Apple has released its schedule for its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which will take place in San Francisco next month. The event kicks off with a keynote address on Monday, June 11.
The conference is an opportunity for developers to attend workshops and discuss the future of building for iOS and OS X, but in years past it's also been the stage for major company announcements. Apple didn't divulge who will address the crowd for the keynote, but in the past it's traditionally been the CEO. Last year, Steve Jobs addressed the crowd -- despite being on medical leave -- to reveal the iCloud service. The year before that, he introduced the world to the iPhone 4 at WWDC.
Along with the schedule, Apple also released a free iOS app that will allow attendees -- many of whom who shelled out $1,599 to go -- to plan their schedule and keep track of conference events.
It's unknown whether the 2012 keynote will be the source of any major hardware announcements. A new MacBook Pro is widely expected to make an appearance. Supply chain rumors from Foxconn indicate that the factory has begun taking orders for an Apple television set in its trial stage. But the company has kept a cautious approach to the television market, Andrew Ladbrook, senior analyst at Informa, told MacNewsWorld. It's likely not looking to make waves with any announcements about a set next month, he said.
"Apple seems to be at least content with its current product," he told MacNewsWorld. "Instead, its slow approach with Apple TV allows for it to improve the device in the real world and make it so they will have a quality service when and if they launch a TV set."
The company didn't respond to our requests for comment.
Fresh Outlook for Apps
Although some editions of the iPhone made their public debut at WWDCs in years past, the most recent model wasn't released until last fall, meaning the arrival of a new iPhone at WWDC 2012 also seems unlikely. Where developers can probably expect to see big changes, though, is in software, said Brian Collins, account executive at Appency.
"It's a pretty safe bet that there's going to be a Mountain Lion OS launch, and we're pretty sure we're going to see iOS 6," he told MacNewsWorld.
iOS 6 would be the next version of Apple's operating system and would probably power the next-generation iPhone. OS X 10.8, or Mountain Lion, is Apple's next-generation desktop operating system, also expected to launch soon.
The OS upgrades are expected, but where Apple could surprise some developers would be with an overhaul for iTunes and the App Store, said Collins. The online market started as a spot for iTunes users to download songs but has since had to become a thriving store for customers searching for songs, podcasts, apps, TV shows, movies and books to be used through a variety of devices.
"The App Store is kind of like this dark abyss hole," Collins said. "There's a lot of talk about how they need to have better ways for people to find what they're looking for, better ways of promoting apps and turning it into more of an actual store. There are 650,000 apps in there, and there have been almost 800,000 total, so when you're looking at such a large number ,you have to believe that eventually they're going to have to make a change."
An overhaul could make the store better suited for online commerce by making more retail-oriented moves, said Collins, such as making search easier, having personal recommendations similar to what a site like Amazon does, and by having positions at the corporate level of Apple be more like app buyers at a retail level, rather than app editors.
Like any transition, that might be one that would take some getting used to on the developer side.
"The good news for developers is that it would be easier for them to find stuff," said Collins. "But the bad news is that we've all gotten used to the old one. But developers love what Apple has to offer, and anything like WWDC that helps make Apple's process more transparent definitely helps developers and is something to look forward to."
Mapping Away From Google
One change expected as iOS 6 launches is a 3D mapping feature. Apple has traditionally used Google Maps to power its navigational services, but the company has made recent acquisitions that suggest it's interested in creating its own in-house version of Maps for the iPhone and iPad. Apple's version will have a 3D option, according to information from BGR. Pictures that BGR obtained show a grainy, 3D version of downtown New York City where buildings pop.
"Is this in huge demand?" Collins asked. "Probably not, but that being said, people weren't demanding a phone that also played music and gave you apps. Apple tends to look at what is in demand, and they're also very good at pushing boundaries and telling people what they want and need."
While the company puts a heavy emphasis on design, it's probably just as interested in moving away from Google as it is in making its maps 3D.
"This is probably one of those things where Apple doesn't enjoy that Google is even on their platform," he said. "This is a way for them to be able to step out and create their own map consistent across its platform," said Collins.