Apple might have built its cult following on the back of Steve Jobs’ ‘One more thing…’ but there are some patterns that we can follow, as well as tracking some of the better-sourced leaks. So, what can we expect from Apple when WWDC kicks off tomorrow?
Apple Watch Will Go Solo
When the iPhone was released, there was no App Store and you needed a computer to set it up. It didn’t take long for the App Store to arrive and there’s no need to connect your iPhone to a computer to set it up, reset it, add apps or do much of anything else.
The Apple TV was similarly limited but it now has its own App Store.
The Apple Watch relies on connecting to an iPhone for whole bunch of things from set up to loading apps.
My tip is that Apple will be looking for significant sales growth from the Apple Watch as iPhone sales stagnate. And that means making it more useful. One way to do that would be to cut the cord between the iPhone and Apple Watch.
watchOS 6 will give the Apple Watch it’s own, on-the-watch, App Store and let users set the device up and use it, even if they don’t own an iPhone.
While some features, such as the full suite of health, fitness and well-being apps, will work best with an iPhone, or perhaps an iPad if Apple broadens iOS support for the Apple Watch, it will become a more self-sufficient platform.
The slow death of iTunes
iTunes was not always a steaming pile of crap – at least not for Mac users (it’s never been great on Windows). But as Apple made iTunes into the hub for devices, movies, podcasts, TV shows, ringtones and more, it has grown from jukebox software into an amorphous mess with a confusing interface.
Apple has split the various bits and pieces in iOS with separate movies, music, podcast and store apps. We can expect macOS to get a slew of new apps as all those bits and pieces get split into their own apps.
It’s an evolutionary step that will lead, I think, to WWDC 2020 announcing the death of iTunes.
Health will get smarter
While I do quite a lot of work on a Windows system (my current travelling machine is a Samsung Galaxy Book2) and I really like the most recent releases of Android, a lot of my workflow and lifeflow is based around my iPhone/Apple combo.
Apple’s Health app is OK but it’s little more than a data collection point with pretty, but kinda useless, graphs. It lacks the tools to give real insight into what the data means.
I expect Apple to give Health a serious update with better analytic tools as well as a much-needed UI update. And look for Apple to leverage its relationships with a number of major healthcare providers to support those new tools.
A cool feature I’d like to see is the ability to share data more easily with external analytic tools. And, if Apple gets the security side right, the ability to use the larger screen on an iPad and not limit the Health app to the iPhone.
Augmented reality evolution
AR is one of the technologies that has great potential but very few people have been able to successfully exploit. Google recently showed it off in their conference app recently and there are lots of applications in specific industries.
Apple rolled out its ARKit tools for developers with iOS 12 and will continue to give it some attention. Apple knows that its continued growth will rely on better relationships with large corporate customers which is why it has partnered with IBM and SAP in recent years.
AR is a technology that will help them further develop its enterprise and industrial business.
iOS and macOS apps will share more code
When updated operating systems are announced, there’s a mixture of actual new features and new features that are really old features competitors have but there’s a game of catch up being played.
Dark mode will appear in iOS, following it’s kinda-release in macOS last year. The break up of iTunes, along with the arrival of the News app last year, as well as various other tweaks signal that Apple is inevitably making it’s two main operating platforms closer than ever before.
Apple is still some time away from completely merging them. I think we’ll see the two platforms sharing a processor family before we see the software uniting.
I expect developers will get a big boost with the ability to share more code than ever across the platforms. That means iOS developers could create an app and, with minimal effort, have it run on a Mac.