Perhaps alongside the new 10.5″ iPad Pro, we may also see a new standalone Siri device during WWDC. This would be a device that runs some version of iOS for third party software integrations, and comes with powerful Beats branded speakers, and, of course, Siri. It’s been rumored to share a similar form factor with the current cylindrical Mac Pro, which would make it look a lot like Apple’s competitors from Amazon and Google, but with an Apple spin on the design. Amazon was first on this scene with it’s Echo devices, powered by their own voice assistant, Alexa, and with a wide range of third party integrations that boost the capabilities of the platform. While Google’s Home is catching up, Amazon’s Echo is still, by far, the head of the pack when it comes to third party integrations and capabilities. Plus, I think the Echo looks cooler. Google’s Home serves the same purpose, using Google’s Now technology to build a voice assistant. Both can operate devices around your home, both can answer questions as well as follow up questions, they can search the web, dim the lights, play music, and, in the case of the Alexa, even order you a pizza.
Is Siri in over its head?
The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is Apple’s chance to reveal their new operating systems and software that developers can use to make new apps and services. Huge changes come to iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS, as well as the tools we use to make apps for these platforms, like Xcode. Apple has also occasionally used this as an event to introduce new products. These are rarely hardware focused events, but if Apple’s introducing new hardware that developers will have to change their apps for (or create completely new apps), then it’s a good time for a reveal. Apple has revealed new iPhone models, Macs, Intel integration, and more at these events. While WWDC keynotes are typically focused on new software for developers to leverage, they do occasionally introduce new products or product categories. That’s where this latest rumor comes from. Apple didn’t completely overhaul their iPad lineup in the spring as they usually do. Instead, they introduced a new low cost 9.7″ iPad and stopped selling older models. The current 9.7″ iPad Pro (review) was released in March of 2016. The 12.9″ iPad Pro was released in November of 2015. The iPad mini was released in September of 2015. These are devices that have gone more than a year, almost two for the iPad mini, without even a modest spec bump. Apple’s products are due for an update, and if Apple’s revealing a new leap forward for the iPad Pro, WWDC, starting on June 5th, may be the perfect time to do it.
Apple introduced watchOS 3 at WWDC, and it aims to fix the biggest complaints about the smartwatch. watchOS 3 also adds a number of features that no one expected. Next to iOS, watchOS received the most attention during WWDC, showing developers that Apple is focused on evolving their mobile platforms. Apple added exciting new features like faster app loading, a dock for apps with background updates, faster replies, easier watch face switching, SOS assistance, and new fitness activity features. Apple added many new features to watchOS, but interestingly didn’t discuss battery life at all. This is strange considering some of these features–while incredible–must reduce the Apple Watch’s already short battery life.
tvOS powers Apple’s brand new Apple TV (4th generation Apple TV). It’s built on iOS, and features an App Store and the touch sensitive Siri Remote. It allows Apple to claim that the future of TV is apps. With services like HBO adding a streaming-only platform like HBO Now, that could be true. If there was any doubt that apps were the future of TV, Apple worked to put them to rest with tvOS 10 (tvOS shares versioning numbers with iOS). tvOS 10 brings better support for live channels, enhances Siri search, single sign on, dark mode, HomeKit, and the ability to rely less on the Siri Remote. These changes make the Apple TV more capable of replacing your entire television entertainment needs, all while adding cool new features.
Yes! macOS! macOS! I cringed every time I had to write OS X, which means “Operating System 10.” What kind of horrible branding is that? What operating system does the Mac platform run now? Tenth what? Now we have “macOS.” As a programmer, writer, and marketing enthusiast, I’m so happy to see Apple recognize that stripping their branding from Mac OS X, just to preserve the silly “10” Roman numeral was a terrible idea.
Apple did a lot more for macOS than just fix its name (the latest version is called macOS Sierra, by the way). They also expanded Continuity, iCloud Drive, added automation for directories, created a new system for tabs, and… added… SIRI! Yes, Apple’s beloved iOS, tvOS, and watchOS digital assistant has finally landed on macOS.
Siri, remind me to celebrate all of that.
iOS saw the bulk of the time during the WWDC keynote yesterday, so I thought I’d start with that. It also featured some of the most exciting and fun updates. For iOS 10, Apple focused on 10 clear areas that needed improvement. The result is what they call the largest iOS release ever. That’s saying a lot since iOS 2 brought the App Store. However, iOS 10 will bring us new features, open the OS up to developers, redesign the lock screen, and give us an implementation of something we’ve wanted for so long: homescreen widgets. Apple also improved the keyboard, made Messages fun, gave Photos some serious intelligence, gave Apple Music the redesign it desperately needs, improved Apple News, and even gave HomeKit a Home. iOS 10 really is a huge release, and is, on its own, almost enough to excuse Apple for the fact that no hardware was updated for WWDC.
Tomorrow, Apple will kick off WWDC with a keynote speech starting at 10AM Pacific Time, 1PM Eastern. Apple is expected to announce iOS 10, macOS (the rebranded OS X), watchOS 3, and tvOS 2. It’s also possible, albeit still unlikely, that Apple will also reveal new hardware, including a new MacBook Pro. Apple will stream the entire event, so those with an iOS device, Mac, or Apple TV will be able to watch it using Safari or in the case of the Apple TV, an app. Through Safari, you can go to Apple’s WWDC 2016 Event Page to watch a live stream of the event. On the Apple TV, there’s an app on the home screen for any Apple event, including WWDC, iPhone launches, and other Apple keynotes.
I personally also like to follow along using various Twitter users and Engadget’s live feed. Can’t have a website up because you’re at work? Follow @leafncore on Twitter! I’ll be live-tweeting, so, while I won’t be at WWDC (maybe next year?), I will be live-tweeting each new and exciting feature.