Apple WWDC 2012
11 June 2012 16:51 | Posted by Luke
Today may just be another Monday for most people, but for Apple fanatics today is roughly equivalent to Christmas or New Years. The Apple WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) begins today, and will run for four days in Moscone West, San Francisco. Tickets to the event are capped at 5,000, and sold out in less than two hours. Apple has also lowered the minimum age for attendees from 18 to 13, reflecting the growing trend of younger and younger developers.
For those unfamiliar with the event, the WWDC is quite a simple concept on the face of it. Many technology companies hold similar conferences, where developers are assembled and informed as to upcoming changes to hardware and software, to allow them to get a head start on coding software for new devices and building updates to old software to ensure compatibility, etc.
However, because Apple is one of the world’s largest (and most secretive) companies, the WWDC has over the years become an annual excuse for Apple to build hype (as it does so well) and reveal some of its plans for the coming year. Traditionally, although the event is exclusive to developers, a media circus surrounds it due to the regular announcement of new products. Last year a number of big changes were revealed; Mac OSX Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud. Two of the past iPhones have also been announced at WWDCs (the iPhone 3G in 2008 and the iPhone 4 in 2010) but most believe that the iPhone is big enough to warrant its own event, and so don’t expect to see the ‘iPhone 5’ this week.
Last year, many were disappointed with the focus of that event on software rather than hardware, but this year (if the rumours are true) should sate everyone’s appetites for new gadgets, as there are some major hardware revisions expected that we’ll discuss in more detail below. Like many technology blogs, we’ve rounded up what we expect to see over the next few days.
This one’s less of a prediction and more of a nailed on certainty. Banners at the event yesterday revealed that we’ll definitely be hearing about the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system. One of the biggest highlights of iOS 5 was its heavy integration with Twitter, and some sources are predicting that iOS 6 will focus on making sharing with Facebook easier. Improvements to iCloud, which has struggled to gain a hold in the cloud storage market, are also very likely, to increase competitiveness with Dropbox, Amazon Drive and Google’s Cloud Storage.
In addition to these updates, Apple is also likely to make a push with improvement to Siri, its main selling point for the iPhone 4S, which has also struggled for uptake among many iPhone users.
MacBook Pro/Mac Pro Updates
The rumours of an update to Apple’s line of MacBook Pros has been flying around for a long while now. Almost as soon as the 2011 MacBook Pros were released, many began to discuss how the form factor of these machines should be changed to match the ‘ultrabook’ design pioneered by Apple in the MacBook Air. This appears to be one of the most likely announcements at the WWDC, with the MacBook Pros being slimmed down, losing the optical drive and getting a spec bump. I recall last year having to decide between the performance of the MacBook Pro and the portability and speed of the Air. I eventually opted for the former, but I will admit that one machine that provides the benefits of both would be a tempting prospect indeed. A less-likely rumour is that these new improved laptops will boast ‘retina’ displays, much like the latest iPad. While this could be the case, it seems unlikely given how much a retina display would cost for a large laptop screen such as the 15-inch or 17-inch MacBook Pro.
There are also more recent rumours that the Mac Pro lineup, Apple’s hardcore desktop machine, will receive its first refresh in two years. 9to5Mac is betting that Apple’s most heavy-duty machine will receive a significant upgrade, with powerful new Intel Xeon E5 chips, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports and better graphics cards among the predictions.
Mac OSX Mountain Lion
With the mobile OS getting so much attention, why should it’s desktop cousin be absent from the party? Version 10.8 of Apple’s Desktop OS ‘Mountain Lion’ is definitely coming, analysts are just unsure of when we’ll see it. Considering the hype that continues to surround Windows 8, it certainly wouldn’t hurt Apple to at least unveil some of the key features of Mountain Lion, even if it isn’t fully baked yet.
Other Long Shots
Although almost all of these rumours are unfounded (with the exception of iOS 6) they would appear to be the most likely announcements of this year’s WWDC. However, as Apple has proved before, they are capable of coming right out of left field and hitting consumers with something they didn’t expect (cue Steve Jobs’ famous ‘And one more thing’ line). Among the outside bets are Apple’s long-rumoured ‘iTV’. Virtually no one expects to actually see one of these at the conference, but some believe that Apple could unveil an SDK, which would confirm that an Apple TV is coming, and would allow developers to begin building apps for such a device. It is a developer conference after all, right?
Some are also talking about the possibility of Siri being introduced to desktops and laptops, or perhaps to iPads, but that seems unlikely given its current exclusivity to just one Apple device (the iPhone 4S). Perhaps Tim Cook and Co. will surprise us all and unveil a new iPhone, or the long-rumoured 7-inch iPad (or iPad Mini). Let’s put it this way, I’m not holding my breath.