With this upcoming week being the informal "Christmas for App Developers", Apple's World Wide Developer Conference, rumors have been flying around with what new things Apple will reveal, ranging from iOS 6 to the new iPhones and everything in between.
To begin with, new hardware is highly unlikely, as WWDC is primarily a conference for developers to be shown the new tools that can use. In the past, Apple has used its main keynote for showing off the latest and greatest software and developer tools that it has to developers. The one big deviation from this was the reveal of the iPhone 4 at WWDC 2010. It does not seem like there is much for Apple to reveal in regards to hardware this year, as most product lines have been refreshed already. With no real hardware, the big features of this years WWDC will have to be on the software and how it relates to future Apple products.
One of the big things that will be released at this years WWDC will be iOS 6, the latest iteration in the line of operating systems for iPhones and iPads. While not including huge new features to the iOS, like in previous versions, iOS 6 appears to be focused on ironing out the minor kinks in the software and continuing to keep iOS devices at the top of their game. Some of the minor pieces that have been rumored to be part of iOS 6 include the new mapping software that Apple has been developing, updates to iCloud, expansion of Siri, and most notably integration with Facebook.
The New iMaps
This rumor is that Apple will stop using Google Maps for its iOS stable of devices and instead will release its own mapping app for use in iOS devices. This will allow for Apple to reduce its reliance on Google for providing vital services for iOS while giving themselves a leg up to allow for developers to directly develop on top of the map application. This could allow for apps to directly utilize it. In order for the iMaps to be on the same level as Google Maps on Android phones, turn by turn navigation must be included. Apple has been buying mapping companies in order to develop a perfect mapping app for iOS devices.
Updating the iCloud
iCloud was one of the big features of iOS 5, featuring the ability for iOS users to upload and download music and pictures from the cloud. The leaks about iCloud have shown that Apple will expand iCloud into the Reminders and Notes apps that are iOS standards. What would be a truly expansionary leap for iCloud would be its use for integration with all apps on the iOS software. Imagine being able to begin playing Angry Birds on the MacBook Pro, stop mid-level, pick it up on your iPhone and finish the level off on your iPad all at the same time. Perhaps one of the more functional uses of iCloud would be to help resolve the iMessage problem of receiving a notification of getting the same message across all devices regardless of having read the message on one device already. The expansion of iCloud would allow for the different iOS devices to communicate and inform one another that a message has been read.
Say What Siri?
Siri has been one of the most controversial Apple releases in recent times, with some people loving it, with others saying it is so bad that Steve Jobs would have "lost his mind" over how poor performing it is. Part of the reason for this has been because Siri is still in beta and requires people to interact with it in order for it to learn and provide better information to users. In order to get more interaction volume Apple must either hope that existing iPhone 4S users increase their usage of Siri (and those celebrity ads aren't helping) or they must increase the volume of iOS devices that use Siri. Thats why with the release of iOS 6, Siri will be a mainstay on all new devices, allowing for more people to use Siri and eventually improve its quality.
Apple Likes Facebook
One of the biggest rumors bordering on a truth that will come out of WWDC and the new iOS 6 is a deeper integration of Facebook along with Apple. This deep integration is a potential win/win/win for Apple, Facebook and the consumer with both companies getting synergistic effects and the consumer getting a tighter integration between two titans of the tech industry.
The big benefits of Facebook integration with iOS would allow for Facebook to gain deeper information about what users are listening to, much like what Spotify does tying deep into Facebook's Open Graph to provide advertisers with even more granular information about the individual consumer. In addition, the integration of different events in the Apple ecosystem being triggered on Facebook could lead to increased sales of music and apps.
The other big benefit to Facebook being integrated with iOS, would be the ability of different apps to be able to utilize the friends list on Facebook. One of the big uses of this would be for populating Game Center, which has languished on iOS ever since its release in iOS 4. It only seems natural that Game Center would get integrated with Game Center because iOS 4 was supposed to come pre-integrated with Facebook. One of the big questions for the integration of Facebook with iOS is if it will help jump start the languishing Ping or if Apple will realize that no one really uses it and will just kill it off.
Apple TV SDK
One of the biggest Apple rumors is that Apple will release a new iTV that wil "kill cable" and run the living room. However, since Apple is reluctant to release hardware at WWDC, they will probably begin to get developers on the bandwagon to begin to develop apps for the new iTV. Rather than let select developers in on the fact that new hardware is coming out, Apple will allow for developers to create apps that run on the current Apple TV, and when the new iTV is released, most apps will be easily portable. While most things developed for Apple TV will not be games like Fruit Ninja or Cut The Rope, different apps will be developed and certain ones will rise to the top and become differentiators for buying an iTV when it is released.
WWDC is a place where the newest tools for Apple developers come out to play and new software is released to the public. Irregardless of there being no new hardware released, Apple often releases groundbreaking software. We'll find out exactly what the biggest new features for iPhones and iPads are tomorrow.
Did we miss anything? Anything we're off base on? Let us know in the comments.