Daniel Eran Dilger
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WWDC 2010 Prediction & Speculation

Daniel Eran Dilger

What’s likely to make it into Steve Jobs’ keynote at WWDC on Monday? Here’s some ideas, ranging from almost assured to speculative wishes.
iPhone 4 & iPhone OS 4

Likely to be the main thrust of the presentation, Apple’s latest phone and mobile OS release are already known to deliver a lot of new features: multitasking, folders, email and enterprise features, gaming platform features (that won’t be finished till the fall), iBooks for mobiles, iAd for developers, Bluetooth keyboard support, camera zoom, spellcheck, camera zoom, support for Photo’s Places/Faces/Events, Home page wallpaper, and lots of other minor features.

What else is likely to show up as a “surprise” in the new release? Almost assuredly video iChat, giving that front facing camera a purpose and seeing if Apple’s version will suddenly make people want to video chat after generations of resistance to the idea. Kids have grown up doing it, so maybe it’s ready for prime time. AT&T is leaving the unlimited data business for a reason.

Also: tethering will actually work in the US on AT&T if you pay an extra $20 for monthly rights (but not bandwidth). What Apple needs to do is add WiFi Connection Sharing, as currently the iPhone OS can only share its mobile connection via Bluetooth or a direct USB link. The problem for iPad is that it currently doesn’t support either Bluetooth DUN or Internet via USB. The iPhone OS either needs to add support for the latter or simply add WiFi to the options for tethered sharing. Will it this week? Perhaps less likely, but maybe. While it’s working on Bluetooth, please add support for printing and document sharing profiles.

Widgets on the Home screen. They eat up battery life on Android, but so does Google’s implementation of multitasking. Perhaps Apple can trump both by activating a page’s widgets only when its displayed, without incurring the delay of Dashboard on the desktop. Support for such a thing could turn Dashcode into the tool that enables casual users to create their own functionality on the iPhone. It might also help clear out the junk apps from the App Store by setting a higher bar for what qualifies as an “app.”

Web search: Apple is improving search in general, already having outlined new iPhone OS 4 features like search autosuggestions and a listing of recent searches. The scuttlebutt is that Apple will also be adding Microsoft as a search option, and making the Google/Yahoo/Microsoft option in Safari more obvious to users. Of course, that won’t make Bing any better than it is at returning results.

We may also see something related to iPhone OS Maps, whether Apple adds support for Google Maps Navigation (after all that Apple trashing Google did “in jest” at I/O), or its adds support for Bing maps (which haven’t impressed me much), or adds its own layer of mapping features based on the Placebase acquisition.

Along similar lines, Voice Control may get integrated into Apple’s acquisition of Siri, a personal assistant app that takes voice requests and translates them into concierge-style suggestions that tie into services including OpenTable, TaxiMagic, MovieTikets.com, Rotten Tomatoes, WeatherBug, Yahoo Local, Yahoo Boss, StubHub, Bing, Eventful Freebase, Citysearch, AllMenus.com, Gayot, and Wolfram Alpha. Steve Jobs said Apple isn’t getting into search, but his company does own the mobile client and the mobile platform, so it can craft these as a way to divert search clients to alternative search engines.

Watch which clients you piss off, Google. Apple will drop you like you’re PortalPlayer. And good luck in cuddling up to Microsoft after that.

How Apple could slay Google at WWDC 2010

Cloud services

Siri is sort of a cloud service of its own, but Apple is also rumored to branching out its existing cloud services and building some new ones. MobileMe appears set to possibly launch a free tier of service to provide access to, among other things, iChat buddy discovery services just like the Mac OS X desktop. You’ve never had to pay for a .mac iChat name, and Apple may be extending that to provide basic email and other services, reserving some level of MobileMe goodies for its paid tiers.

iTunes Replay
, which Apple has been pushing the labels and studios to buy into for well over a year now, appears set to make an appearance as a way to stream personal music and movie purchases from the cloud rather than having to load them on the phone directly. Apple’s acquisition of Lala is likely to play a role in this feature. Google wants to compete with its Music website, but the company doesn’t have infrastructure in place to sell, organize and present media the way Apple has for most of the last decade.

Apple’s iTunes Replay cloud service reappears in movie studio talks

Other hardware

I already detailed ideas about Apple TV 4 being an iPhone OS device oriented toward streaming from the cloud and/or your local iTunes repository just like AirPort Express. By the way, I’m still waiting for Apple to turn Bonjour “remote ready” into a standard that third parties could use to easily turn the iPhone into a general purpose remote control device.

Another expectation, that new Mac mini models will inherit the work put into Apple TV 3.0 to become equipped with Front Row 4 and built-in HDMI ports, was also already detailed. I also suggested that Apple could extend the App Store into the living room via the new “headless iPod touch.” But what about apps on the Mac mini?

Its users will want to run the same TV-oriented apps, which Apple could facilitate using a layer of iPhone OS emulation that already is used in Xcode for developer testing purposes. Imagine if you could download iPhone OS games and other apps to the Mac desktop to run them casually on your desktop or on your living room TV. A slightly larger market for App Store developers, and more flexibility for users who want to use their iPhone OS apps as desk accessories on their Mac.

Last year, WWDC ushered in and focused upon the new series of MacBook Pros. Those already got a refresh this year, and iMacs and iPods typically get a refresh event in the fall. The Mac Pro is due for a refresh however, and perhaps with it a new line of Mini DisplayPort Cinema Displays. But I don’t think Apple is getting into the TV business.

Apple might likely demonstrate new peripheral equipment for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, showing off equipment that links to the devices via Bluetooth and USB. It’s a little surprising that the company isn’t actively marketing the mobile Point Of Sale attachments it uses in its own retail stores to ring up purchases. At just $199, the iPod touch would make a very cheap alternative to the hand held systems currently in use, and offers a far richer supply of apps and audience of custom developers.

Reality Check: Apple TV isn’t turning into a TV

Other software

Is it time for iLife and iWork 2011? Perhaps, although Apple is pretty focused on the iPhone this year. Another possibility: additional HTML5 development tools to further the agenda of moving the web past the Flash-based 90s and into the future. If not a general purpose app, perhaps an extended Dashcode that can generate cool widgets or even iPhone and iPad centric web apps, as an alternative to custom apps written in Objective-C. Think of the large number of simple Enterprise custom apps that could be created by non-programmers if Apple created simple tools for laying out native feeling mobile web apps.

If not, it’s still likely that a developer preview of Safari 5.0 will appear, following up the developer preview of 4.0 at WWDC 2008, which was released to the public last summer. New in this build will likely be WebKit2, which adds support for split processes similar to Chrome, but in a way that other WebKit vendors can use in their own projects. It seems less likely that Apple would embark on opening up its browser to an official extensions API to copy Firefox and Chrome, but it’s a possibility.

Nobody is expecting to see much of Mac OS X 10.7, making it the first time WWDC hasn’t been principally about the Mac platform. But these days, the Mac itself is earning a minority of Apple’s profits. It’s not getting abandoned, but it’s not going to get primary billing and may even step out of the limelight from year to year as the iPhone OS rapidly expands to serve an installed base that’s now around four times as large as Macs.

Probably no update on 64-bit Pro Apps either, given that Apple’s developers aren’t that relevant of an audience for such software.

Oh, and there won’t be any Gizmodo at WWDC this year either.

  • salvo.dan

    I think one of the secondary reasons they wouldn’t be showcasing X.7 is that Snow Leopard pretty much concluded the MacOS 9-MacOS X transition, purging the last of the legacy Carbon Code in the Primary OS. There isn’t any significant developer technologies to announce. We are also only up to 10.6.4. 10.2-10.5 didn’t reach EoL until 10.x.8 or higher. Snow Leopard still has plenty of life in it.

    iTunes X will be on my wishlist, iTunes 9.x still contains too much Carbon and is still brittle and tasteless, especially on Windows. Safari 4 doesn’t need to be updated to Safari 5 and iTunes is still the primary ambassador for Mac OS X to Windows. It may not be a Developer App (like Safari), but it should be Showcase of Mac OS X technologies. It’s graduation from QT7 to QTX will signal QTX finally being mature.

  • mscabot

    Oh man what a cool idea Dan! A simple environment for the average simi-geek user to create apps for their devices, whether it is via emulation on a box PC, or running a native OS on a mobile device, simply awesome. Incorporate apple script, Dashcode and maybe some drag and drop safari extentions to make creating an app drop dead simple. Great idea!

  • FightTheFuture

    does anyone think widgets are a good idea on a phone?

    it’s neat how you can add another layer of functionality to the android homescreen, but the screen is only so large to accommodate enough widgets. it could also confuse the average user on how to configure them.

    widgets seem like a good idea for something larger like the iPad, but for the iPhone it would totally ruin the simplicity. you have one button for a reason…

    as for how Apple will react to the Google I/O conference – i don’t think they’ll do anything. Apple has taken shots from every other tech company in the past, and it would only make Google look more defensive and juvenile if they didn’t respond.

  • salvo.dan

    @FightTheFuture
    The type of Instant Information provided by Widgets is redundant on the iPhone. Maybe live icons for Weather and 3rd Parties and more options for Alert Badges than just Red Numbers or Red Exclamations.

    By Apple not being reactionary to Googles taunting, just releasing great product and introducing new concepts and technologies, they show that they are still the market leader, above, or even oblivious to petty oneupmanship.

  • John E

    we already know the iPad 4 OS won’t be out for a few more months. so jobs will probably hold a few things back for that. widgets definitely could be one. and the new AppleTV – the current model is still on sale, and porting the iPhone OS to it would certainly require new hardware. so it’s not coming next week.

    so expanding MobileMe and iTunes cloud services will probably be the big ‘new’ news next week.

  • stormj

    At some point there has to be some convergence between the “truck” Mac and the iPhone OS. Mac is currently so much more powerful than the iPhone that it only makes sense that some kind of emulation would give us access to iPhone apps on the desktop, and, by extension, the TV given an HDMI port.

    A new Mac Mini with an HDMI showing off some kind of iPhone app running capability in “AppleTV mode” would be a good way of doing that. Or, some kind of connector for an iPod Touch—but then I can’t play with it. We all can use something like a combo of the AirPort/Common TimeMachine backup/Mac Mini Server to store our iTunes files and play content on the TV.

    But there has to be a break with the old AppleTV. I’ve had one since it came out, and it just doesn’t have the muscle for HD video and apps and so forth. I think the old AppleTV gets deprecated, ruthless Apple style.

  • deemery

    How about a Mini Server with eSATA??

  • Etreiyu

    Nice round-up, Dan – but I’m surprised that you say nothing about how AAPL will beat back the Android “hordes”. To maintain momentum on all fronts, Apple needs a counterstroke to offset the damage done by the gizmodophone fiasco – and barring mystery tech of some unsuspected sort, there’s really only one avenue along which Apple can strike: PRICE.

    3G iPhones are gone, and there are no 8gb 3GS. What if Apple streamlines its offering like so:

    16gb 3GS -> free w/ contract
    32gb 3GS as a $50 upgrade
    64gb 4HD -> $99
    128gb 4HD -> $199

    Apple needs an aggressive move to maintain position, and there is no more aggressive option available to them.

    Thanks as always for your insight, Daniel!

  • Blad_Rnr

    Printing for iPhone/iPad is a must. How do you expect a college student/business user to do without printing? Tethering to a Mac for syncing is way too many steps.

    iChat for iPhone? Really? It would be the killer app, IMHO. I hope you’re right.

    We also need a better camera on the backside. It has to be bumped to 5MPs, with flash.

    Also, what is going on in NC with the new server farm? Any ideas, specifically? Lala is done for so what’s the point of such a huge undertaking?

    Good analysis as usual, Daniel.

  • deasys

    @stormj: “I’ve had [ Apple TV ] since it came out, and it just doesn’t have the muscle for HD video.”

    I’ve also had Apple TV since it was introduced. It plays HD video (1280 x 720p24) perfectly.

  • dsect

    In addition to these other ideas, I’d like two things added to iPhone OS: support for AirTunes and Bluetooth webcams.

  • jdb

    I would actually like for Apple to announce a new strategy for OS X development. Like salvo.dan I think Snow Leopard is pretty complete. I have a hard time coming up with something that needs to be added to the OS itself.

    I’m sure there are APIs that could be added on but those can be new frameworks without needing a wholesale OS update. So, Apple should announce that Snow Leopard is the Mac OS for the near future but lots of feature updates are coming as add ons. Again, like salvo.dan, I think Quicktime X is a perfect example of an API that needs work but doesn’t require any fundamental OS changes.

    This would change Apple’s business model for selling Mac OS X but I’m sure that they could deal with that. Selling OS software has never been a major profit generator for Apple anyway. Things like Quicktime X are free updates, maybe other features could be bundled as $29 upgrades.

    I doubt that they will do anything like this but I would love to see Apple shake up the OS upgrade market. Desktop OS’s are mature enough that the old model of biennial software updates seems much less necessary than in years past. It would also put Microsoft on notice that the PC model is entering a new and less innovative phase. That should rock Microsoft to its core.

  • http://www.life-id.nl vanfruniken

    In connection with other announcements, e.g. iWork, I think it is necessary that Apple changes its policy concerning update pricing for the iWork desktop version.
    I have already bought 2 versions of iWork, and, frankly, am not very eager to pay up the full amount every year when a new version of iWork comes out.

    Alternatively, switching the price to $10 per app as for the iPad (e.g., update only the one one needs) also would be a reasonable approach.

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  • ChuckO

    “HTML5 development tools to further the agenda of moving the web past the Flash-based 90s and into the future.”

    I hope they do that. It seems more likely now that they put that HTML5 demo page out there on the Apple site. It would help developers and be good pr for the Adobe battle.

  • http://blog.cytv.com cy_starkman

    I would also like to see a unified remote system.

    More than that though is a unified desktop helper that Appstore developers can plug into instead of each releasing their own. Part of this would be a desktop side install when you sync with iTunes so that as a user you don’t have to go to the developer site, download, install and etc…

    The current system is cumbersome and from reading reviews of Apps with desktop side helper apps, it is the main point of failure.

  • cjlacz

    Apple isn’t going to have a bunch of small updates for Snow Leopard, especially if they cost money. It sounds like you are suggesting they include updates to libraries with possibly new APIs. Very bad idea. That fragments the market. Developers couldn’t be sure that people had the required updates. Imagine telling someone they needed to buy another $29 dollar update from Apple to use your software. Having a single consumer desktop OS is smart I think. Large updates every 12-24 months means you have a stable platform to use and develop for. I don’t think we’ll see that model change for a while.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing a new advanced file system. I’d love a robust software RAID similar to what’s in ZFS.

  • http://backaccessward.blogspot.com beetle

    Wish List: I would like a way to run iTouch/iPad apps on my Mac!

  • John E

    well, it turned out to be all-iPhone and nuttin’ else. at least for the keynote. wait until september for the rest?

    that said, the iPhone 4 looks pretty amazing. a lot of state of the art hardware. and we get the iOS 4 update on the 21st too. will be intereting to read the hands-on reviews that week.

    meanwhile, the ‘droid fans are sniffing ‘nothing special’ on their favorite blogs (how long will it take HTC to copy all this?). whereas the game guys are really excited.

  • http://ObamaPacman.com ObamaPacman

    Safari 5 download is LIVE. =)

  • http://ObamaPacman.com ObamaPacman

    Holy shat, Apple “reader” strips the page of Ads, including Google ads.

  • http://blog.cytv.com cy_starkman

    @ObamaPacman

    Well, what else would you strip out to make an article easier to read.

    Wipe out the ads and you are left with a readable document.

    This is a very stealthy strategy, I would suspect it is based on usage research, so that on the surface it doesn’t look like an ad blocker, it’s a content reader!

  • http://ObamaPacman.com ObamaPacman

    @cy_starkman

    Daniel predicted this 2 weeks ago as a possibility to counter Google transgressions:
    http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2010/05/26/how-apple-could-slay-google-at-wwdc-2010/

  • FightTheFuture

    you can actually read this site with Safari 5’s Reader!

    it’s pretty slick, and i doubt you’ll see Chrome adopt anything like this.

    i’m digging the other slight changes to Safari 5, especially how it’s 3% faster than chrome. this happened with Safari 4 if i remember exactly. why are people so hung up over speed between Chrome and Safari? when Google updates Chrome and boasts it’s performance, it’s only a matter of time till Apple catches/surpasses it.