WWDC 2017 is now official. It will be held, as always, in June.
Each year, Apple puts on a conference in California to showcase new software, software updates, and technologies that developers can leverage in order to make their apps more innovative and up to date. Apple calls this conference the Worldwide Developers Conference, and although it's geared toward developers, consumers are invited to watch.
There's usually a healthy dose of consumer excitement in the opening keynote. Apple used WWDC 2016, for instance, to announce iOS 10 for iPhones and iPads, MacOS Sierra for Macs, WatchOS 3 for Apple Watch, TVOS 10 for Apple TV, and more. We've rounded up all the rumours to paint you a better picture of what to expect from Apple this year.
We've also included how you can watch WWDC 2017 online.
When is WWDC 2017?
This year's WWDC will be held in San Jose - rather than the usual city of San Francisco - from 5 to 9 June at the McEnery Convention Center. It means, for the first time, it is on the doorstep of Apple's new Cupertino complex.
Where can you stream WWDC 2017?
Apple always kicks off WWDC with a main keynote around 10am PST (5pm GMT) which will be available to watch online through the Apple developer website or the WWDC app on iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.
What can you expect from WWDC 2017?
Apple is fairly predictable when it comes to macOS updates. It unveils the new version of macOS (or, prior to 2016, Mac OS X) at WWDC in June. So, Apple will probably unveil the next version of MacOS (10.13) at WWDC 2017. As for the name, Apple long ago stopped naming its desktop operating systems after big cats. It's since moved onto California locations like Yosemite, El Capitan and Sierra.
At this point, Apple hasn't revealed an official name for this year's update. It's probably going by a wine or fruit-themed codename. For the sake of clarity, we've assumed throughout this article that Apple has continued using its version numbering convention and will call the next operating system macOS 10.13. But one reporter has argued that Apple will release the next version as MacOS 11.
As for features, Apple has rolled out a new file system, APFS, which is currently at the experimental stage and should get a final release in 2017. Other than that, not much is known about the next update. People have talked about wanting a Health app, Home app, and dedicated Music app for MacOS. Other wish-list features have included a system-wide Dark Mode and nearby iPhone auto-unlock feature.
Apple will almost certainly unveil iOS 11 in June 2017, followed by a public release in September 2017. The software will launch alongside at least two new iPhones on the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, so if we let our imaginations run wild, it could be a blockbuster release. We also figure the iPad 4, iPad mini 2 and iPhone 5 will potentially miss out on iOS 11 compatibility, but we won't know for sure until Apple makes an announcement at WWDC.
At this early stage, we've only seen a few of rumours about new features. For instance:
Apple was granted a patent in November that mentions a dynamic keyboard positioning for touchscreens. The patent describes a concept in which typing "is improved by dynamically and automatically positioning the desired home-row keys of an onscreen keyboard below the user's fingers while their fingers are hovering above the surface, thus reducing the need for the user to look at the onscreen keyboard while typing". Keep in mind Apple bought Typesoft Technologies in September 2014. Its Dryft virtual keyboard uses a similar technique.
Business Insider said Apple wants to make Siri sound more human. It's conducting an operation "in an unmarked office at 90 Hills Road, Cambridge, where it is aiming to make Siri talk more naturally. A large proportion of the current staff were previously employed by the voice recognition startup VocalIQ, which Apple acquired in 2015. So, we might see Apple update Siri with new capabilities.
It was widely expected that iOS will get a new viewing mode called Dark Mode, with black backgrounds that reduce eye stress. It's already been discovered in iOS 10 beta 1, which released last June, but it hasn't been unlocked yet. Other than that, we're pretty sure Apple will at least mention HomeKit/Home app and HealthKit/Health app, if not at least announce some new features or functionality for the apps.
One of the last iOS-related rumours that has been doing the rounds claims Apple is finally planning to bring its iMessage service to Android. As any iPhone user will tell you, it's one of the most useful features in not only iOS but also MacOS. If true, it would be one of the few times Apple has launched an app for Android, with the first two being Apple Music and an app to help you switch from Android to iOS.
In October 2016, John Gruber, who has close ties with Apple, claimed Apple created internal mockups of iMessage for Android to test the look and feel of the experience on the competing platform: “I’ve heard from little birdies that mockups of iMessage for Android have circulated within the company, with varying UI styles ranging from looking like the iOS Messages app to pure Material Design,” Gruber wrote.
In theory, this would mean anyone with an iPhone or Apple ID would be able to send iMessages to anyone else with the service enabled. Presumably, if Apple does launch it as a bespoke app, it would also act as an SMS app replacement. If not, that would mean yet another messaging app to be installed alongside all the other commonly used apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Allo, Hangouts and so forth.
Apart from iMessage for Android, Apple launched a new Messages app as part of its major iOS 10 update. While previous years have seen the app slowly evolving to be more capable, last year’s revolution brought with it a huge change in focus. Instead of an aging - but necessary - communication tool, Messages became a cool, interactive and fun application. We may see even more features added at WWDC 207.
Apple released the latest version of the WatchOS operating system, WatchOS 3, to the public last autumn. The software, which is meant for Apple Watch, debuted at WWDC 2016. It's a significant update that brings new apps, new watch faces, a new dock, new activity sharing, a new Breathe app, and a slew of navigation and performance improvements, and more. We're expecting Apple to introduce more improvements in June.
Bloomberg reported Apple is developing new apps for the Apple Watch, including one that tracks your sleep. This would be supported across all existing models of Apple Watch. Unfortunately, rumours are otherwise slim. Many consumers would like the ability to create their own watch faces, as well as the ability to customise their Digital Crown functionality and sync their Apple Watch to multiple iOS devices.
There's not much news floating around about TVOS 11, but we expect Apple to at least touch on it. Consumers' wish-list features include 4K and Dolby Atmos support, Safari for Apple TV, Home app for Apple TV, "Hey Siri" voice activation, and Siri search for local files on a Mac.
Bloomberg cites analyst and generally reliable tipster Ming-Chi Kuo, as saying Apple will unveil its speaker at WWDC 2017, stating that some Apple employees have already been testing it in their homes. It's thought that Apple's speaker will have facial recognition technology to help differentiate between users and deliver personalised settings for things such as music.
The speaker will also likely integrate with Apple's HomeKit software to control smart home products. We haven't seen any leaked pictures of the speaker yet though, so all eyes will be on San Jose to see if anything shows up.
Will any other hardware debut at WWDC 2017?
It's not very common, but Apple has used past WWDC keynotes to announce updated hardware (such as 2014's Mac Pro, AirPort Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme, and new MacBook Air). As for this year, Apple's fourth-generation Apple TV is due for an annual refresh. Apple may also use the event to update its Mac Pro and MacBook Air.
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