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Posted on Jun 8, 2015

WWDC 2015 Annual Predictions

Like a groundhog, once a year here I am, predicting the imminent future. As in, what is Apple going to tantalize us with this year? Or, alternatively, what do I wish they’d reveal? My list has a few repeats every year, and it seems that one of my favorite unicorns is about to be spotted, while another has vanished completely.

It seems that Apple won’t be releasing an actual television anytime soon. This rumor was always a bit confusing to me. A TV is ajust a big flat panel, and all the smarts that you can put into it and upgrade on a regular basis won’t justify buying a new 80″ TV every year. I’m willing to let it go. Especially since the iCar is everyone’s new favorite Apple Unicorn.

For me, if Apple finally reveals an AppleTV SDK it’ll be the culmination of a long and persistent prediction path for me. Of course, rumors say that the new hardware won’t be forthcoming, but I kind of figured that would end up launching closer to August anyway. Makes more sense for them to launch a cable replacement service then anyway. And when there is still no SDK at the end of today’s announcements? Well, I will be sad but no longer surprised. I’ll take comfort in seeing a WatchOS SDK instead.

I do think we’ll hear about it though, as part of a focus on Home Kit. We won’t see any Apple branded Home Kit devices, but I’m sure we’ll see some boring third party products that do the same thing as every other smart home product. Yes, IFTT will let me have Hue light bulbs turn purple whenever the Lakers win. Like that’s been a frequent occurrence lately. I still haven’t bought a Nest, and that is the one Smart Home device that I can justify as both useful and attractive. I am holding off on this whole smart home movement in the hope of avoiding a box in my garage filled with ugly, bulky smart home plugs.

Apple Music? Sure, why not. Because there’s nothing like introducing a platform to developers that they can only consume and not integrate into. But hey, that means the possibility of an appearance by Taylor Swift is on the table. I fully expect that Google Music, Spotify, Amazon Music and Tidal will all end up being very similar services with a few really annoying exclusives as differentiators. Just like Amazon and Netflix now, 95% of the content will be completely duplicative so that you feel stupid paying for more than one.

Speaking of Netflix, if Apple is going full bore into streaming music, how long until they move into streaming video? Do they roll their own or do they buy Netflix?

Will we see new iPads? Nah, that’ll be part of the annual iOS device launch around September.

No, this year we’re looking at OS updates for iOS and Mac OS. Lots of stability improvements, a font swap from Helvetica Neue to San Francisco, and a lot of small changes to clear away things that annoy users. One thing that I think we’ll see is better notification integration between the different platforms. In other words, if I already saw the notification on my iPhone, I don’t need to see it on my iPad and Macbook too. I think there will be a lot of fixes in that vein that will smooth the customer experience rather than expanding it.

One thing I’d love to see but won’t? A single place to enter your username and password for your cable provider. This would be ideal for the current model where there are a plethora of apps on iOS and AppleTV that require the same cable credentials in order to work. Which is ¬†patently absurd and stupid. But with Apple rolling out their own cable replacement later this year? Why improve the crappy model now? On a related note, I’ll really miss Comcast not at all.

I also expect a pretty big focus on improved Maps. Apple doesn’t like being the butt of jokes, and they know that they’ll have to have a Maps product that is exponentially better than the competition in order to overcome this particular blemish. Especially if they really are planning on releasing an AppleCar somewhere down the road.

All in all I expect a pretty low key event. So of course something magical is bound to be revealed.

 

Posted on May 20, 2014

2014 3rd Annual WWDC Predictions

Okay, so really, it’s my 3rd annual wish list. Especially since I’ll be trotting out the items rom my previous lists that have yet to see the light of day. I won’t be including iTV, iWatch or any iPhone or iPad updates. Those will all come later in the year. Well, unless the iWatch and the glorious rainbow unicorn that is iTV fail to materialize. Again. On to my shopping list! I mean, predictions.

1. AppleTV SDK. I know, I am setting myself up for disappointment again, 3rd year running. 1st rule of guru-dom is that you keep predicting the inevitable because inevitably you’ll be right! Also, new hardware and an updated UI/OS. AppleTV works better than Roku (haven’t tried Amazon’s Johnny come lately Fire) but the UI for Netflix on Roku is prettier. And it has Pandora, Amazon Prime, and a bunch of other stuff. With Amazon entering the fray, Apple will finally open up the toolbox and let developers close the gap for them.

2. iMac 4k/Retina. It is time. Why? Because I am looking to replace my iMac finally, and want the resolution to be as lovely as a MacBook’s. Sure, I could just splurge for a Mac Pro, but I’m not working at home enough to justify it. Plus, what 4k monitor would I get? I need the constraint of an iMac. Otherwise, I’ll just keep spending until I have to decide between a maxed out Mac Pro with 4k monitors and RAID boxes dangling off of it.

3. Of course, if Apple takes the guess work out of huge equation by introducing their own 4k displays, that might tip the scale.

4. iOS8 will be shown off but not released until the iPhone 6 in September. Some interesting stuff, but nothing too major that hasn’t already been talked to death in the rumor mills. HealthBook? Sure. But new hardware will lead to new software features – and we’ll hear about those in September. NFC, solar, 42″ iPad, holographic chess… Not at WWDC.

5. Mac OS X Irvine. Okay, it’ll probably be OS X Yosemite, but someday my little hometown will get its due! Jong Ive’s fingerprints will be all over this one. I expect this to be a pretty major overhaul. And I expect to be surprised.

6. Since this is a wish list, I’m throwing in a redo of iBooks for Mac OS X. How putrid was this app that ate all of my ePub files last year? Makes me long for Microsoft Bob. Sure, Bob was terrible, but it didn’t make things worse. You could get rid of it. iBooks is the first product from Apple that makes me angry. I like to put my own art, years and categories on books. Like I do with everything that still gets to live in iTunes. Someday I’d like to see my Kindle and iBooks and books that (shocking!) I bought somewhere other than Apple or Amazon live on the same virtual bookshelf too. But I’m not holding my breath. Hey, somebody in Cupertino, fix this.

7. The death of iTunes Radio? Nah, not yet. The Beats acquisition should get some air time, but no real information as to what it really means. Lots of talk about how everyone really looks forward to working together and making the best music experience imaginable. I have to admit, this one doesn’t move me much yet. I would have been more excited to see them buy Twitter. Or Yahoo. Pinterest. Apple makes great hardware, and has a pretty awesome content delivery service. They don’t do social too well on their own, though they have done a better job of integrating it into their core products. Actually, forget I said I wanted them to buy Twitter. I would rather be able to integrate a whole bunch of services really well rather than just have a couple of Apple approved services. See: AppleTV.

8. Huge emphasis in iOS 8 on maps. I had Apple Maps direct me to a hospital in Silicon Valley last year. It had me drive by the hospital in a way that didn’t let me see that I was passing it, and told me I had arrived a few blocks later on the wrong side of the street. True story. So, a big focus here, with integrated transit being big too. No flash, no dazzle, just reliable information and true eases of use.

9. App updates for Mac OS X Irvine. Can’t overhaul the OS and leave the apps looking like yesterday’s news. Just ask Scott Forstall.

10. One last thing… Seems like a slow news year. Perfect time to do something unexpected. I’ll go with something in the Nest / WeMo / Hue range of product types. It isn’t happening, but this is my wish list, and I want to tinker with home automation.

Tune in June 2nd and laugh at how inaccurate my predictions are!