Andy Williams actually got it wrong. The most wonderful time of the year isn’t Christmas; it’s the two weeks around the end of May when Apple holds its annual developer conference. In one speech, we normally get a mix of new hardware and software updates, and Apple lays out the direction it’s going to take for the next 12 months. This year, we’re expecting a big one when WWDC 2017 starts on Monday at 1:00PM Eastern. In this post, we’ll roundup all of the most notable WWDC 2017 rumors so you know what to expect during Apple’s big WWDC keynote next week.
Right now, the safest best for new hardware at WWDC 2017 is an update to the MacBook lineup. It might be a little odd, considering Apple just launched an all-new MacBook Pro back in November, but all the leaks, rumors and retail supply chain leaks have pointed towards some kind of new model.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that we’re probably not going to see a new MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro with a few more ports. Instead, the smart money is on the current MacBook range getting a spec bump on the inside, most likely with Intel’s new Kaby Lake processor. Improvements have also been made to the graphics cards for portable machines, so you could also expect the MacBook Pro to get a graphics bump.
We’re also expecting to see a new Siri-powered home speaker to pop up looking a lot like the Amazon Echo. Smart speakers have emerged as the obvious portal for controlling the smart home, so Apple can’t let Amazon and Google run away with the prize.
It’s challenging to innovate on the concept of “kitchen speaker with an AI and a microphone built in,” so Apple has two options here: launch a keep-up-with-the-Joneses product that demonstrates its commitment to the product and lays the groundwork for something revolutionary to come; or try the classic Apple move, and make a much more expensive version to capture the high end of the market.
It’s unclear what a “high-end” home speaker would look like, but a focus on audio quality using Beats branding isn’t out of the question.
Just like the new MacBooks, it’s possible that we’ll see a spec bump for the iMac. Intel’s new processors sure would look good inside, and it would lessen some of the cries we’ve been hearing that Apple doesn’t produce ‘“pro” computers any more.
Finally, there’s rumors going around that we’ll see a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro at WWDC. It likely won’t be a “new” form-factor, as there’s already a 9.7-inch iPad Pro on the market (and it recently went on sale!) Instead, look for much thinner bezels enabling a bigger screen in the existing body.
Apple uses WWDC to show off the newest version of iOS every year like clockwork, and there’s zero reason to imagine that this year will be different. Bloomberg rumors suggest that iOS 11 will see a design overhaul, not as severe as the iOS 7 update that scrapped skeuomorphic design, but still significant.
One of the biggest new features could be the introduction of a “dark” mode across the entire OS, something that jailbreakers have been doing for years. It’s a quick and easy way to save a little battery life and appease some of the more hardcore fans.
We’re also expecting updates to apps, including a possible peer-to-peer payment function in Apple Pay, and more videos in Apple Music to tie in with Apple’s first original series launching soon.
One thing we haven’t heard much about are updates to Siri. Google’s recent developer conference focused heavily on the Google Assistant, and how it’s finding its way across the entire platform.
If Apple is expecting the Siri Speaker to do anything well, Siri’s going to need some major updates, and fast. One of the big interface differences between the Assistant and Siri is the ability to have written conversations and type queries; it’s quite possible that Apple builds that functionality right into iOS 11.
Of course, we’re expecting to see a new version of macOS, but it’s unlikely to be anything big. We said above that Siri needs to be a focus of WWDC overall this year, so that’s one obvious thing for Apple to focus on for the Macs.
Siri found its way to the desktop at WWDC last year, so some new features could be in order. “Hey Siri” functionality could be expanded, and third-party features don’t currently work for Siri on MacOS.
What we won’t see
Some bad news: we almost definitely won’t see a new iPhone. Although the iPhone SE is technically due an update, the timing would be terrible. Apple is expected to announce three new phones of some kind this fall; the last thing it needs is a new cheap iPhone undercutting the “super-cycle” of people upgrading to the iPhone 8.
A new Mac Pro is also probably off the table. Although the timing for a preview announcement makes sense, Apple execs previously hinted that a new Mac Pro would come by the end of the year. That also gives Apple time to integrate Intel’s newly-announced Core i9 chips, which are an obvious thing for Apple to stick inside its premiere video-editing machine.