Apple fans are busy preparing for the highlight of the year (well after the new iPad and iPhone unveiling events) as the firm's Worldwide Developer Conference, or WWDC, begins on Monday.
Leaks and rumours about what might be unveiled at the event have been hitting the news for a few weeks now, while the recent $3bn purchase of Beats Electronics has put Apple’s future strategy back in the spotlight.
Apple always uses WWDC to show off the next version of its iOS operating system. Last year that meant iOS 7, the most drastic overhaul of the popular platform since it was unveiled, with mixed results.
This means that iOS 8 is unlikely to be a drastic overhaul from iOS 7 and will likely include more tweaks and updates, with reports suggesting a focus on healthcare, similar to Samsung’s recent Healthbook app.
Meanwhile, leaks have apparently shown new apps running on iOS 8 called Textedit, Tips and most intriguingly, iWatch Utility (pictured left).
Multi-tasking for iOS 8 on the iPad may also appear, allowing users to have two apps opened at once, which should make life easier for those of us who need to move data from one app to another.
Ovum analyst Nick Dillon told V3 Apple should also looks to improve the integration between applications and the iOS platform with the next update, as it lags both Android and Windows Phone in this regard.
“Intents in Android and Contracts in Windows Phone enable apps to easily send data to each other enabling a more fluid experience for the user as they work across multiple apps,” he said.
“Conversely Apple only allows apps on iOS to interact with a very limited set of apps that it has integrated into the platform (Messages, iCloud, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo & Mail), which makes for a much more stilted experience.”
Mac OS X 10.10
While iOS is likely to retain its look and feel for a while yet, the Mac platform is set for some major changes, if the leaks prove accurate (and they usually do).
Macworld has already posted a leaked screenshot of the Mac OS X 10.10 redesign that shows the same ‘flat’ design that iOS now has, as Apple works to provide a more unified experience across its platforms.
There’s not been huge amounts of information on any new features or functions that may be coming to Mac OS X 10.10 but the inclusion of Siri could well be on the cards.
Whether office users want to be seen talking to their computers is another matter.
Smart home push
Earlier this week it was rumoured that one of the main attractions at WWDC would be Apple's unveiling of a new smart home control system for iOS. This would essentially allow iOS device owners to control other electronic items that contain the necessary software.
Given that smart home technology is emerging as the next major area of innovation and competition for tech giant - with Samsung and Google already making their moves - Apple is no doubt keen to join the race.
As such, don't be surprised if Apple announces its intent to take its technology beyond the phone, tablet and laptop, and into more areas of everyday life.
Apple never really uses WWDC to show off its main hardware, certainly not iPhones or iPads, which get their own, special unveiling events. However, we may hear of new Macbooks and iMac models. Given that two new models have already been unveiled, though, new offerings are likely to be thin on the ground.
What will be of more interest is whether or not Tim Cook or any other top Apple execs let slip any more rumours about future hardware innovations, most notable the long-rumoured iWatch.
It seems unlikely anything official will be announced, but we may get a few choice hints and leads that the time is drawing near for the iWatch's unveiling. Of course, Apple being Apple, it may well put us all out of our misery and show of the device on the first morning, catching everyone off-guard, but probably not.
One other area that will be fascinating to hear more about, hopefully, is Apple’s long-term plans for its $3bn purchase of Beats Electronics. The move has made little sense to most seasoned industry commentators, but Apple has a knack of proving its doubters wrong and wowing its fans with new innovations, so perhaps rash denunciations of the deal are a tad premature.
What Apple has in mind for Beats is not clear as yet, though most expect it to use the technology to push into the music streaming market. Hopefully Apple will provide some more information on the deal. We’ll be all ears.
Check back with V3 next week to find out what takes place at the show and our reactions to the announcements and unveilings
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