Thursday, June 1, 2017

WWDC 2017 Expectations

Next week, Apple is holding its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2017) in San Jose, CA and we don’t know much, as the usual rumor mill has been fairly quiet. John Gruber put it best yesterday when he wrote about the lack of scoops and Tim Cook’s famous “doubling-down on secrecy” comment.

WWDC is a developer event at heart, but Apple has been known to make consumer-facing announcements there as well, since media coverage will be high. Apple is set to give the opening keynote at 10AM Pacific on June 5, and you can watch it here.

Typically, hardware-specific announcements are kept to a minimum, but we may be in for a a few surprises this year. Either way, here’s what I think we can expect (and not expect).

Siri Smart Speaker

Likelihood: Possible

Bloomberg reported yesterday that the rumored Siri Smart Speaker has entered production. There are very little details on what it will do apart from the obvious. I’m really excited about the possibilities this product could offer, and I wrote about what Apple could possibly do given the power of integration across their product line.

The main point of contention is if it will have a screen. I think it will, given Phil Schiller’s recent interview with Gadgets 360 in which he says:

So there’s many moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn’t mean you’d never want a screen. So the idea of not having a screen, I don’t think suits many situations. For example if I’m looking for directions and I’m using Maps, Siri can tell me those directions by voice and that’s really convenient but it’s even better if I can see that map, and I can see what turns are coming up, and I can see where there is congestion, I understand better my route, and what I’m going to do.

Dave Mark from The Loop seems to think it won’t, as a screen would likely drive the price up. He definitely makes some good points.

What about price? I’m thinking $249 if it has a screen, $179 if it doesn’t.

The truth is: nobody knows because leaks have been extremely sparse, but it’s fun to speculate.


Likelihood: High

Apple will most likely update Macs across the line with performance improvements. This includes Intel’s latest processors (Kaby Lake), and potentially higher capacity RAM options for the MacBook Pro. USB-C ports aside, when the current MacBook Pro was introduced last October, many pro users were upset with its low maximum RAM (16GB) amount.

There’s also rumors of a new Mac mini and Mac Pro, as it was noticed yesterday that Apple registered new Macs in Eurasia. Apple was recently very candid about the current Mac Pro, saying they “designed themselves into a thermal corner” which prevented them from taking it the direction they wanted. The truly next-generation of Mac Pro isn’t due this year, but perhaps we’ll see a middle ground solution next week.


Likelihood: Probable

Apple has been rumored to be working on a new 10.5″ iPad device. Latest reports indicate that the device has entered production and will have an edge-to-edge screen with very minimal bezels. An announcement at WWDC would make sense.

There are small murmurs of the current iPad Pro line receiving spec bumps, as well as questioning regarding the future of the iPad mini.

Wishful Thinking
I wonder if we’ll also see Apple Pencil Series 2 (or equivalent) with enhanced features (maybe a built in eraser and even shorter lag time?). Maybe a wireless keyboard with Touch Bar, as well.

Apple Watch

Likelihood: Low

Apple introduced Watch Series 2 back in September 2016. It’s probably safe to assume major Watch revisions are on an annual cycle now.

Apple TV

Likelihood: Unknown

Apple TV has long been thought to receive a small update giving it the capability of playing 4K video, as the current one does not. No word on if we’ll hear anything about it at WWDC, though. Also, I will probably rant about this in another post soon, but the current Apple TV does not have a gigabit ethernet port. How is this not table stakes by now?

iOS 11

There haven’t been any leaks of iOS 11, but there’s still time. Closely accuracte mockups of iOS 7’s major design overhaul leaked in the final hours before its reveal. Mark Gurman from Bloomberg had previously reported there will be interface updates for the iOS side of the house.

There also seems to be a thinking that the iPad will finally get substantial software features to take advantage of its bigger size. This was rumored to occur last year with iOS 10, but seems to have been deferred.

I would welcome this with open arms. iOS in its current form feels like disservice to my iPad Pro 12.9″, with its big screen and under-utilized performance. John Gruber thinks adding a trackpad to the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard would also be a step in the right direction, and I have to say I agree. He envisions a trackpad being used for scrolling text and pages, without introducing a dedicated mouse cursor. I know I would be more inclined to use the iPad for text editing and whatnot if this existed.

macOS 10.13, watchOS 4, tvOS 11

Virtually nothing has leaked about macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, which is kind of exciting. Maybe we’ll be genuinely ‘wowed’ this year for a change.


Given that the Siri Smart Speaker has reportedly entered production, what OS will it run? iOS? I really don’t think so. My bet is on Apple introducing a new homeOS (or similar), which would be in line with their one-OS-per-device strategy1.

  1. Except for the iPad, the poor thing. iPadOS would be pretty cool.