Way Cool to No Way: Apple Rumors for WWDC and Beyond

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

How Will Apple Finish Out 2015?

With Apple's annual Worldwide Developer's Conference now just days away, a lot of people are wondering what new shinies we'll see. Will there be a new Apple TV? Yet another update to some Mac or other? A better iPad Mini? What will iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 bring to the table? Will Apple continue its headlong rush into dazzling new features at the expense of quality, or will it slow down and start refining what it has already done? what shots did Google's May announcements fire across Apple's bow, and how might it respond? What will the fall bring? New iPhones, to be sure, but what will they look like, and what bits of advanced technology might they sport in their super thin casings? If the iPad doesn't get a mention at WWDC 2015, will it be updated in the fall? Where does the supposed iPad Pro fit in, and is it even real?

We'll all know the full score for WWDC by June 8, but the closer that day comes, the faster the rumor mill churns. Apple's fall event won't be too far behind, and then we're into the holiday shopping season, then Christmas, then it's 2016 and we get to do it all again, except with even cooler gadgets. While I don't put much stock in Apple rumors, some of what I've seen would be really wonderful if it were true. Some, of course, is way crazy. Come join me as I take a look at what the mill has spit out so far, and use some of my own suppositions to round things out. I'll link to specific stories where I can, but most of my information comes from two wonderful rumor roundups put out by 9 To 5 Mac and Cult of Mac. This is my first-ever post to be based solely on rumors and my own thoughts, but I think we'll both have a good time, dear reader. The only question is… where to start?

iOS 9

It's the Little Things…

This year's release of iOS will, by all accounts, bring only a few new features to users. It's main focus will be on security and stability improvements, which is a bigger deal than you might be thinking. I know we all hate to update our apps, look at the "What's New" section, and see only "bug fixes and stability improvements". That doesn't tell us anything, and it can feel like the update was only released so the developers would appear to still be working even though they're all secretly playing Candy Crush all day. No one at Apple is lazy, however, as evidenced by the huge array of features we've seen in every major iOS release since the first iPhone. In just the last two versions, we've gotten Control and Notification Centers, actionable notifications, Airdrop, massive amounts of APIs and other developer enhancements, braille input, and tons more. Imagine if Apple's developers turned their impressive talents and drive toward refining what we already have, instead of making new things. Just try to picture how stable and solid your phone would be if Apple aimed its resources at bug-hunting this year. Those times Airdrop randomly fails? Gone. VoiceOver crashes out of the blue? Not anymore. Timers don't sound through bluetooth audio? They do now. Your iCloud won't back up? Yes it will. Settings crashes for no reason? Fixed.

Enhancements--not features, but small tweaks--could also be incoming: more granular control over what happens during Do Not Disturb, a better experience while moving apps around, faster Today view in the Notification Center, smarter notification scheduling and management, separate typing feedback for braille, hardware, and software keyboards in VoiceOver. In my mind, iOS is currently quite good. Give Apple this year to bring its prodigious resources to bear on polishing and refining, and iOS could be magnificent.

In with the Old

Traditionally, older devices have stopped supporting the newest iOS release after about three years. Once that happens, users of these older--but perfectly serviceable--devices not only miss out on new features, but on important security updates as well. Critics often point to the way new iOS releases allegedly slow down older devices as a cheap trick by Apple to force customers into upgrading their hardware, a sign that Apple's software isn't that good, or both. However, as iMore explains, this is simply not the case.

Despite all the effort they already make-- consistently supporting older devices as long as they can, and updating new iOS releases to fix any problems encountered on those same devices--Apple is stepping it up a notch in iOS 9. Along with making iOS run better overall, the company is reportedly planning to offer a better experience to even older devices. For example, iOS 8 should have been the last supported release for the iPhone 4S, if history is any indicator. According to the above article, though, iOS 9 will run on the 4S, and it will do it better than iOS 8. This is due to a revamped development process; as 9 to 5 Mac explains, Apple will build a solid core, then add features one at a time, limiting which features go on which devices. In the past, the model has been to build all the features into iOS, then strip out the ones that certain devices can't handle. The distinction is important: iOS 9 will have a stable core that can run on any supported Apple product, instead of being full of fancy features that had to be stripped out, and whose removal may not have been tested as thoroughly.

Dawn of the Super Siri?

In 2011, the iPhone 4S brought the world a digital assistant that you could talk to, and that would talk back as it carried out your orders. Jarvis it was not, but it could send texts, set reminders, and do other basic tasks.

In 2015, Siri now feels more like a forgotten feature, at least in certain ways. Yes, it's gotten integration with more services, but if you ask it about a fact, it'll usually show you a Wikipedia article and make you read the details yourself. It may also stop responding to commands after it answers one question, or randomly fail to find a business you ask it to look up, even one you know is nearby. Request the definition of a word, and it's a toss-up as to whether Siri will simply tell you the information, or show it on the screen and happily tell you to "take a look".

I could go on about Siri's shortcomings, but some rumors suggest that all my griping will soon be pointless: iOS 9 could bring a major overhaul to the digital assistant we all know and (don't really) love. This more powerful Siri will integrate with a host of background services, all aimed at bringing time- and location-sensitive information to you when you need it. Imagine if your phone could read you some interesting tweets or sports scores while you get ready in the morning, or automatically have your shopping list ready when it sees you're at the store. Think about how powerful even a limited Siri API would be for developers: you could ask it if you have any appointments that day, and it could look at not just your calendar, but recent emails, iMessages, WhatsApp, and Facebook invites/messages to see if you've made plans recently, even if those plans never made it to your official calendar. You could ask Siri "is milk on sale anywhere" and have it review apps from local stores, as well as coupons and sales on websites, to see if milk (the type and brand of which it could pull from scanned receipts) is discounted at any local stores.

Context is another key to making Siri far more useful than it is today. I mentioned bringing up your shopping list when you get to the store, but that's only the start of it. Think about how often relevant information would be handy to have waiting just a swipe away: recent health details at the doctor's office; a list of today's calendar events when you get to work, but only those events on your Work calendar; a restaurant's menu as you walk in the door; coupon codes--but only for things you normally buy anyway--as you get to a store; notifications about bad traffic if you approach an area that may be affected; pulling up a rewards card for a business as you arrive there; the list can go on and on. Essentially, Apple wants to turn your iPhone (and Apple Watch, if you have one) into a single hub of information that you never have to manually locate. Anything you need to know or be reminded of will be presented automatically, without you having to set things up in advance. Gee, sounds a lot like Google Now On Tap, doesn't it? Not that that's a bad thing at all; any way my iPhone can become even more convenient and helpful is a win in my book.

Bring It Home

The final piece of supposition for iOS 9 is in regards to HomeKit. You may recall that Apple announced HomeKit at last year's WWDC as a way of letting you control your home with your iOS device. Specifically, it was hoped that you'd one day be able to wake up, say "Hey Siri, start the coffee and warm up my car", and Siri would do just that using HomeKit-enabled devices in your coffee maker and car. Lights, heating, security systems, and more were all listed as prime candidates for voice control.

A year later, though, we have a few light bulbs, a wireless door lock, and that's pretty much it. HomeKit is a solution not in search of a problem, but in search of a foundation from which to start solving that problem. It never caught on with third-party device manufacturers, so people didn't know to ask companies to make it, so companies didn't see the need to make it, and down and down the spiral went. As you're probably expecting, though, this is set to change at WWDC as, just six days before the big event, a bunch of companies launched HomeKit-compatible devices. Apple is prepping a big update to the HomeKit framework itself, plus partnering with companies to bring compatible devices to market. There may even be a HomeKit "hub" app in iOS9, simply named Home, much like the Health app is the central manager for the HealthKit framework. Who knows… this time next year, you might think nothing of unlocking your door with your Apple Watch, and telling Siri to "turn on the living room lights, and put CNN on the TV".

Keep Watching the Apple Watch

Don't worry, your shiny new Apple Watch isn't being replaced by a new model--at least not yet. Instead, it could see a major new software update sometime this year, the biggest detail of which will be native apps. Right now, Watch apps are really iOS apps that push some information to your wrist. No apps are stored on the Watch itself, and you can't have a Watch app without also having that app on your iPhone. This model makes sense for a first release, but it limits what information and sensors apps can hook into, and it can cause major delays when information needs to be retrieved from the internet.

Get ready for all that to change. Apple will, if that report is true, soon offer native Watch apps and even third-party complications. As things stand now, you can add only Apple-approved complications--battery level, temperature, reminders, and a few more--to your Watch's clock face. If this rumor pans out, though, apps can offer their own complications, drastically increasing the utility of the Watch. Imagine a complication for Twitter or Facebook notifications; Skype, Whatsap, or Messenger alerts; more weather information; how many calories you've eaten today; you get the idea. Apps will be able to put important details on the clock face, giving you information you care about right away. Plus, apps can run faster thanks to not being tied to an iPhone.

That last point is important: imagine being able to set up calendar events, check stocks, or send tweets from your Apple Watch without having to have your phone nearby. As the article points out, some of this may require a hardware refresh to add necessary wireless components, but then again, maybe not. Even if your Watch can't talk to the outside world on its own, it will be great to have stand-alone games and other features that don't necessarily need the internet to work.

Apple TV?

As you may recall, Apple lowered the price of its Apple TV set top box from $99 to $69 back in March. While some people thought the company was simply cutting the price to make the (then) newly announced HBO Now service more accessible to a wider audience, I remember thinking--even as the announcement was being made--that there was more to it. If this article with some information on an upcoming Apple TV update is accurate, it looks like I might have been on the right track.

According to that article, Apple is getting ready for a major overhaul of its set top box, in several ways. First, there will be a new physical box, replacing the current Apple TV 3. I imagine it will be priced at between $99 (the price of the current Apple TV, before the price cut) and $149. Why so high? This box will come with the hardware you'd expect--hookups for your TV, wifi capability, the internals to run everything--and more. One rumor says that there will be a super-duper remote control bundled with this new box, featuring a trackpad. How great would it be to move a pointer around the screen, not with arrows, but just by touching the remote? Better still, such a device could easily support VoiceOver gestures, letting you explore the screen with your finger, perform rotor gestures to read by character or word, and more. So long as you know VoiceOver on iOS, you can start using an Apple TV equipped with this accessory straight away… if Apple listens to my ideas.

Second, some sources claim that third-party apps are on their way. Developers can finally offer native Apple TV apps, which could open up a whole new platform. Games could be controlled on iOS, but displayed on the TV while your phone shows a full set of controls. Or, you could download apps to give you more entertainment sources, ones that Apple doesn't natively offer. Instead of waiting for Apple to cut deals with them, TV channels could simply make their content available via an app, as could non-traditional sources like TED, or lesser-known movie/TV streamers.

Third, Siri continues its evolution: it is being baked into the Apple TV. I'm not clear on how this will work, but it seems like you would be able to tell Siri on your phone to "play my acoustic playlist on Youtube" or "I want to watch Interstellar", and the request will be pushed over to your Apple TV, which will load up the media and begin to play it.

As an aside, other rumors have claimed recently, that your Apple TV could be your HomeKit hub. After all, how would you tell your thermostat to lower the temperature while you're away? Siri can pass along the request, but does that mean that your heating system needs to be on your wifi network? How would you give it the password, preferably without downloading an app? Having a different app for every smart device in your house, only to end up controlling all those devices with one app anyway, would get quite tiresome. To solve this, Apple will let each HomeKit-compatible device connect to your Apple TV, requiring no additional apps or setup. While you're out and about, any request you make of Siri to control a smart device will go to your Apple TV, which will pass it along to the relevant appliance. If Siri can be made to be always listening on your TV, similar to the Amazon Echo, you could simply issue commands from your couch without having to activate Siri or touch any devices at all. Lighting, heating, locking, and other HomeKit instructions will be routed to the proper gadgets, while anything else will be acted on by the Apple TV.

Maps: Transit Directions and Indoor Support?

Apple has had problems with its in-house mapping service ever since it launched. Points were mislabeled or missing, major landmarks had been moved around, and things got so bad that the Australian government warned citizens against trusting the new service!

Nowadays, most of the major bugs have been ironed out, but we still want to see things move to the next level. Rumor has it that Apple is preparing to do just that; it is prepping two major enhancements to Maps, as well as switching to its own POI information and images instead of relying on providers like Tom Tom.

Going Public

The first update is the addition of public transit directions. Google Maps can already do this, but it is something that Apple Maps hasn't been able to offer since its debut. According to sources, though, Apple is prepping public transit support for Maps, at least in select cities. Imagine Siri telling you not just to turn left or right, but "Wait for the F train, then take it to Harvard Square". Such instructions would be nice for people who already know their city's public transit system, but invaluable for anyone new to an area or even traveling somewhere in their home town they've not visited before. The advantage of Apple implementing this is the integration--Google can already do it, yes, but Google can't use Siri to instruct you, or add a new Taptic pattern to your Apple Watch to alert you when your bus arrives. Google also can't tie itself into the rumored contextual information system we talked about in the previous section, whereas Apple can. This would let your phone calculate your travel time based on public transit schedules, and alert you when you have to leave. It could also automatically pull up bus or train schedules, or even maps of nearby transit stops, when it knows you're about to need that information.

Take It Inside

Indoor mapping has long been seen as a pipe dream by the visually impaired. Sighted people would find it handy, but they can always locate a map of the mall, or look at signs above aisles. The blind don't have those options, thus making an indoor navigation system extremely valuable.

It looks like Apple may be getting ready to change that. A rather sketchy rumor suggests that Apple is preparing its own indoor mapping solution for certain locations, which could be ready for initial rollout this year. While the kind of detail most of us would like isn't going to appear with this initial launch, I can easily imagine the following scenario happening in, say, 2018:

You walk into your local shopping mall, and ask Siri, "where's Burger King?" Your response is a set of verbal instructions, guiding you along concourses and up an escalator, until you're walking along and hear "Burger King is on your left". The restaurant's menu appears on your screen, part of the contextually aware, ever-helpful system you installed way back in 2015. You get your food--paying, of course, with your Apple Watch--then ask for directions to the nearest Apple Store. Again, Siri directs you through the mall, guiding you right to the store's entrance. You ask your phone where to find the MacBooks, and are told to proceed straight ahead. You do so, and as you come to a display table, you are instructed to take a right. You obey, keep walking, and soon hear that the MacBook display is five feet ahead of you. Essentially, the same level of instruction you can receive while walking or driving to a destination now could be gotten while walking inside a building.

Drop the Beat

Apple acquired Beats Music last year, and news on that front has been sparse ever since. Sure, Beats headphones gained official support by AppleCare, and there were a few other minor notes, but nothing big ever came of the deal. All that silence may finally be drawing to an end, as WWDC could reveal the details of an Apple-run Beats Music streaming service. It's also possible that, instead of outright replacing Beats, Apple will dramatically upgrade iTunes Radio with a ten-dollar-per-month subscription tier that provides more features. In the future, Apple may be planning to fold Beats and this newly revamped iTunes Radio service together into a single product.

I can't say a lot about this one, since we really have little information beyond "it's probably coming soon". What I've seen so far is often contradictory or incomplete: The price is going to be $8 or $10 per month, but record labels won't agree and will force it higher; it will integrate with iTunes, or it will remain its own app; iTunes Radio will fold into this new service, or maybe not; it will replace Beats, or leave Beats alone. The only thing we can say for sure is that this service is probably coming, and if it does, it will be challenging the likes of Spotify and Pandora, not to mention Apple's own iTunes Radio. All we can do is wait and see what happens on June 8.

The Hardware

Okay, so iOS 9 will have a contextually aware super servant, magical new maps, and tons of fixes and tweaks. What about the hardware it runs on? What's the story on new iPhones and iPads, and will there finally be a new Apple TV? Only time will tell, but here's what people like to think they know so far.

iPhone 6S: Go On, (Force) Touch It!

Early in 2015, Apple announced a system it called Force Touch, which is used in the Apple Watch and the trackpads of its latest MacBook Pros. Force Touch combines pressure sensors with mechanism that can produce a clicking sensation under your finger. In plain English, a Force Touch trackpad doesn't move like a regular one does as you click it. Instead, it can feel how firmly you are pressing down, and can simulate the click you would expect to feel. Incredibly, if you didn't know this system was there, you'd never be able to feel that you weren't clicking a regular trackpad--I know, I've done it. On the Apple Watch, the same system is used both to let you bring up extra options in certain places, and to "tap" you on the wrist to deliver notifications. The system is remarkable, offering physical feedback without requiring the surface you're touching to actually move. It can also tell how hard you are pressing, which is perfect not just for clicking a trackpad but for all kinds of applications. In OS X, for instance, you can press harder to draw thicker lines, or vary how quickly you move back or forward in a media file by changing how hard you're pressing down. In iMovie, as you drag a clip toward the edge of your timeline, you feel a gentle clicking from the trackpad to alert you that you're near the end. Force Touch, and the associated Taptic feedback, offer a whole new level of interaction between you and your device… and it could be coming to the iPhone this fall!

The biggest impact this could have on users, at least the one that jumps out at me right away, is typing. Imagine that you feel a physical click each time you press a key, perhaps a double click if the letter you typed was capitalized. Imagine a VoiceOver typing mode in which you had to Force Touch a key to type it, thus letting you explore the keyboard all you wanted without entering anything. Force Touch could also add a whole new dimension to VoiceOver commands: Force Touch with one finger, then use your other hand to issue commands, and you've suddenly doubled the possible commands available. Or, perform a VoiceOver gesture while pressing harder, to access secondary commands, or maybe shortcut gestures.

There are a lot of possible ways Force Touch could enhance he experience on an iPhone, and my personal expectation is that the feature will arrive on all of Apple's mobile devices--including the iPad--soon. Furthermore, I anticipate it will also come to the trackpads in the MacBook Airs, not to mention the stand-alone Magic Trackpad, by the end of the year.

Looks Like…

The iPhone 6S will almost certainly look like an iPhone 6, and come in the 4.7- and 5.5-inch screen sizes introduced last year. The iPhone 3GS looked like the iPhone 3, but the 4 looked different; the 4S looked like the 4, with the 5 sporting an external re-design; the 5S looked like the 5, and the 6 was the different-looking one. There's no reason Apple will break with tradition and release a radical new design, when it has a form factor that it knows works well. Next year, the iPhone 7 could look completely different, but this year, all the changes will be internal.

First, some sources think that the 6S will contain a 12 megapixel camera, and include 2GB of LPDDR4 ram. Translation: pictures taken with your phone will probably look the same as on the iPhone 6, but will not pixelate or blur as you zoom in or blow them up. The increased ram means that your phone will have to close apps far less often, and will run a bit faster because information it needs right away can be accessed more quickly. Other improvements include use of the same aluminum found in the Apple Watch Sport, making iPhones 60% stronger and thus less prone to bending. This new casing material could also introduce a "rose gold" color option, adding to the three choices kicked off by the iPhone 5S--gold, space gray, and silver.

Will We C a Smaller Option?

What of the smaller iPhone many people still want? This so-called iPhone 6C may or may not exist, and no one has a handle on it yet. The only evidence we thought we had was probably based on bad photo editing, and the image that sparked the hype has since been removed. Besides, why would Apple want to offer a cheaper iPhone option, when the very capable 5S is still available, and sales of iPhone 6 units shattered smartphone records?

Now, To Thoroughly Examine iPad Rumors

The iPad Air 2 was announced last October. It was the thinnest, lightest, most powerful iPad to date, and it still offers incredible performance in an impossibly thin package. However, Apple is never content to coast on past successes, and it's a safe bet that a new iteration or variant of the iPad will be released this fall (no, probably not at WWDC).

There are two sections to the iPad rumors: software, with iOS 9, and hardware, with a whole new form factor. On the iOS side, reports suggest that iPad owners will get two features many have been wanting for years: multiple user support, and split screen app viewing capability.

If the iPad could do split screen viewing, it would immediately become far more useful to many than it already is. The ability to display two apps, or two windows from the same app, at the same time is huge. Imagine, reading a webpage in Safari, then making notes in Pages as you read. What about texting someone details of an event in one window, while Mail or Calendar is open beside Messages, showing you the information. You could even kill your productivity by having your report open in Pages, while also leaving Dice World or Trivia Crack on the other half of your screen. Those are all examples of displaying two apps at once, but there's a chance that two windows from one app could also be supported. Imagine finally being able to have two emails, or Pages documents, or Calendar windows, or Safari tabs both on your screen at the same time? What if you could have a photo chooser on the left, and the Keynote presentation into which your photos are going on the right? Picture multi-page scanning in KNFB Reader; you could look at the scanned text on the right side of your screen, and have the image-capturing window open on the left. The possibilities for this are very exciting to consider, and I very much hope this one is true.

Multiple user support is the other big feature we might see at some point. While most people don't share iPods or iPhones with each other, families often share a single Mac. Allowing each person to make his or her own user account on that Mac is only logical, so everyone can have their own files and settings when they use the machine. Apple has long pushed the iPad as an individual device like the iPhone, but the fact is, a lot of people share one or two iPads among everyone in the house. As Apple continues to work on the education and business markets, multi-user support becomes an important option to provide, and it might finally happen at some point this year.

The way I see this working is based on the passcode/fingerprint. Each user will make an account, and set a unique passcode on it. Once that's done, the person can add his/her fingerprints for use in place of the passcode. From then on, all anyone has to do is walk up to the locked iPad, hit the Home Button with a finger whose print is saved, and the iPad will log into that user's account. Should fingerprints not be an option, the user simply taps in their passcode. This is in contrast to the traditional model of choosing the user as whom you want to log in, then entering that account's password. It seems to me that Apple will want to make this as seamless and efficient a process as they can, and what could feel more personal and easy than being logged in based on your fingerprint?

The hardware aspect is also exciting for many. Apple is rumored to be working on an iPad Pro: an iPad with a 12-inch screen and, presumably, far better battery life and beefier internals. Best of all is the suggestion that this new device could start to bridge the gap between laptop and tablet for Apple: it might include USB support! Given that the size of the new USB-C connector--found in the 12-inch MacBook line--is nearly the same as a lightning port, it is no stretch to imagine Apple including both connectors in the iPad Pro. It might even turn out that USB-C replaces Lightning in this model, leaving Lightning to the 10-inch and lower crop of devices while USB-C becomes standard on the larger ones. It is unclear if the iPad Air 2 will remain the top-of-the-line 10-inch device, or if that, too, will receive some attention.

The Mac Side

Little has been said about the Mac and its operating system, OS X. Rumors suggest that, similar to iOS, OS X will be given an update consisting mostly of security and stability fixes, and if Beats Music debuts, you can bet it'll be on the Mac in some form or another. Personally, if 10.11 includes zero major features, and all bug fixes, I'd be even happier than if it were to focus on new shinies that don't work perfectly. Fix the bugs, I say!

That said, this article reminded me of one important detail: Siri. It has been said for a couple years now that Siri could make the jump from iOS to OS X, but we have yet to see it happen. With Cortana coming to desktops in Windows 10, and Google Now already available on any computer that runs Chrome, Apple may feel pressured to catch up to the competition. I've been wondering just how helpful Siri would be in practice, and I've come to the conclusion that it would just become another little-noticed but very helpful tool. I'm faster at launching apps with my keyboard, but it would be much more efficient to simply say "Hey Siri, what's eighty pounds in American dollars" rather than running a Spotlight or web search. Similarly, it would be wonderful to have a way to tell my computer what music I want to hear, rather than delving into iTunes.

Mac hardware also hasn't gotten much attention, which is understandable. Apple released its MacBook (the 12-inch Retina model) back in April, alongside upgraded MacBook Pros and Airs. The iMac was given a beautiful 5K display last fall, and at that same event, the Mac Mini got new internals and a price drop. Given all that, I'd be very surprised if a new Mac of any kind were announced. The new MacBook is still too fresh to warrant a hardware upgrade, and the rest of the lineup has gotten significant attention in the last eight months. No, in my estimation, this will (mostly) be the year of iOS, Apple TV, and the Apple Watch. Sure, there could be minor internal updates to the Macs, and the Mac Pro has been quiet for a while, but we won't see any completely new models just yet. Next year will most likely bring the second generation Retina MacBook, but I anticipate nothing big until then.

My Predictions

Here's my guess as to what will happen this year in Apple Land:

WWDC introduces iOS 9, with a massively overhauled Siri. It includes the new context-aware, always-ready information system, along with a host of bug fixes and usability tweaks, and runs on devices all the way back to the fifth-generation iPod Touch and iPhone 4S. OS X 10.11 comes out, including a new look for iTunes (in preparation for Beats Music) but no other big changes. As with iOS 9, it includes mostly the bug fixes Mac users have been clambering for for years. Most Apple fans will hold back tears of joy when, in October of 2015, they install the updates on their devices and find that everything, finally, just works!

Meanwhile, back in WWDC land, the new Siri-capable, third-party app-ready Apple TV comes out. It looks the same as the current model, but slightly smaller, and sports much more powerful internals, along with an array of microphones for picking up spoken instructions. It sports a newly updated operating system which, in addition to Siri, apps, and yet more bug fixes, supports Handoff. This will let app developers create experiences for your phone, iPad, Watch, and TV, seamlessly transitioning between them as the situation requires. Most Apple TV owners will joyfully upgrade, and waste hours yelling random commands across the room before the novelty eventually wares off. After a couple weeks, the Apple TV will do exactly what Apple intended: settle into your life, becoming a hugely valuable, totally integrated device you barely even think about, even as you use it every day. It will be like having an Apple Watch, and realizing that you don't really think about the Watch you use all the time, but there's no way you'll go back to not having one, it's just that seamless.

The mapping features are not talked about at WWDC, because Apple isn't ready yet. Indoor mapping won't even be acknowledged until 2016, but the transit directions will be talked up big time at the big event in September 2015. That day, though, the spotlight will be focused mostly on the iPad Pro and the iPhone 6S/6S Plus. Sporting the same form factor as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the S series will be either as thin, or just a touch thinner, but with far more capable internals. Better CPUs, more ram, upgraded TouchID sensors, and, finally, no more 16GB storage option. Internal storage will start at 32GB and go up to 128 (the iPad Pro, incidentally, will start at 64 and go up to 512). The cameras on the 6S phones will be 12MP, and will no longer stick out as much--there will be a slight bump still, but nothing like it is now. Their low light sensing will suffer a bit, but they will still be among the top cameras on the market. Optical image stabilization will remain exclusive to the Plus, as will the special landscape tricks apps are allowed to play with.

Basically, the big draw for the S series will be the better camera, vastly increased ram, and--that's right--Force Touch! You'll be able to press on your screen, and the phone will know how hard. Apps can use this pressure-sensing ability in all kinds of creative ways, from drawing to games to music creation and beyond. The phone will also be able to provide Taptic feedback, which will be different from the usual vibration (though that will remain in the phone too). You'll be able to feel a click as you push on the screen, just like clicking a trackpad. This will be used for clicking keys on the on-screen keyboard, clicking buttons, warning you when you approach the edge of the screen while moving apps around, providing "error" feedback if you try to tap a dimmed control or perform any other disallowed action, and so much more. Force Touch will go unnoticed by some, and will cause a few people to panic when they push on their screens and think they feel the glass cracking under their fingers. By and large, though, it will become yet another Apple special: something you use constantly, and would miss horribly were it suddenly gone, but that you never actively notice because it integrates so well with your everyday life.

The iPad Pro will have a 12-inch Retina HD display, the same PPI as what is found on the current iPhone 6 Plus, only with less susceptibility to glare. Just under the surface you'll find the same Force Touch technology that every Apple Product from now on will begin to include, and past that will be internals that make this iPad as powerful as a MacBook Air from 2012. One of the biggest draws will be the inclusion of a USB-C port alongside the standard Lightning connector; you can charge this iPad with either cable, meaning that you'll be able to use your Retina MacBook's charger, or power your Mac from the iPad or vice versa. The port will also accept USB devices--printers, thumb drives, and so on. Aimed at students and workplace professionals alike, the iPad Pro's larger display, impossibly light and easy-to-hold body, and use of USB will be a huge draw. Many users won't see the point, but enough will, and the Pro will be a big hit.

There You Have It!

Those are my predictions, based on the rumors and leaks I've been reading. I'm excited to see how much I got right about WWDC on June 8, and later, in the fall. I'm also curious to hear what you think: what will Apple do, and what will they fail to do? What has you most excited about this year? What do you wish they would do that you know will never happen? Hit the comments section!

Oh, one more thing. If anyone can figure out why I phrased the iPad Pro header the way I did, give yourself a cookie. Look at the way that heading is written, then look at the feature list. If you think you know, leave a comment. Have fun!

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13 Comments

#1 iPad Pro

I'm hoping to hear about the rumored iPad Pro before the end of the year. Rumors last year seemed to think it would be announced early this year, but that obviously hasn't happened. The rumored 12in. screen appeals to me since my primary reason for owning an iPad is having a big screen I can hold in my hands to watch movies on, and if Apple can make an even bigger screen that's still light enough to hold in my hands, then I'd definitely want it.

As for everything else, I'm hoping that Apple really has made an effort to squash as many bugs as possible in their upcoming OS updates. I'll also be hoping for mention of Apple's rumored TV streaming service, but I don't think it'll come up, and if it does, it will almost certainly be restricted to the US on launch day like most of Apple's new services.

We're still waiting for Apple Pay in Australia, and I hope by the end of the year there will be an indication of when it will come down under. Most retailers here already have NFC terminals. Arrival of Apple Pay in Australia would tip the scale for me to buy an Apple Watch, but for that, I'd wait until next year in any case to see if Apple follows their usual pattern of updating most of their products on a yearly basis.

#2 Not a New iTunes!

Somehow I just knew I'd find mention in this post of a new iTunes interface. But that can't be, because I'm just now learning the current interface! Lol if it does happen though, it will no doubt be riddled with accessibility bugs. Actually it'll probably all turn out okay. Maybe a few bugs here and there, but over time those will be squashed only to be replaced by new ones, and so on and so forth. But I wonder if I'm just about the only one who likes the current interface for iTunes? I'll admit it's taken a lot of getting used to, but I like it. Most of what I've been doing in there anyway for the past week or so is importing my vast CD collection, so I guess the worst is yet to come? It'll also be nice if some of these VoiceOver help messages get updated.

#3 Apple Watch and things.

My take on this would be as follows. I hope that Apple does something about introducing the idea so that for example as handoff currently stands, you can take a call on your IPad then hand it back to the IPhone. You can't do things the other way. What if you could take a call on your IPhone, then hand the call off to your Apple Watch? Then decide to take that same call on the Mac?

#4 Thanks for this.

Very much enjoyed reading these thoughts and speculation. It's going to be remarkably exciting this year. I primarily want Apple to concentrate on producing very solid operating systems, with as few bugs as possible on release, as well as stamping hard on existing one's. Particularly when it comes to IOS, I'm at a loss to suggest any substantive new features that would really change the game significantly, and therefore hope that stability and quality are prioritized. An excellent article.

#5 pretty cool.

I actually think it would be cool to have force touch. One feature that comes to mind is the possibility where a user does not have to lift their finger to type.

For example, a user could slide their finger through the keyboard. When they find the character they want, they can push down, and then slide to another character and do the same.

Essentially, it can be like touch typing but without having to ever lift your finger.

#6 alex as default iOS and apple tv voice

well, my prediction is that apple will stop using vocalizer expressive, and make alex the default voice on both the apple tv and iOS. they will also put the same alex voice on OS X that's in iOS. and they will make the VoiceOver message that appears after a clean install of OS X, apear every time a mac is booted.

#7 day dreaming

I haven't test out the force touch on the mac, but it would be great if the touch feedback can let you feel the outline of pictures
Wishing apple can include something like google goglles
wishing Iphone can have a 4-inch version of 6s
wishing new screen of ipad and iphone can reduce its light reflection

#8 Can't see Alex as default voice

If Apple wanted to make Alex the default voice, then they would have to localise Alex a bit more. so there would need to be a UK version, australian version and so forth. Certainly that would be important to me as I place a premium on localised dialects. I quite liked the suggestion in the round table discussion of Eloquence being available, and wouldn't say no to the Ivona voices we enjoy on VoiceDream either, but I think these suggestions are more towards the 'no way' end of the continuum.

I must admit I haven't got an Apple TV, nor have I really looked into this before, but what is said on here about the possibilities that might open up with that sounds very exciting.

#9 disappointed

"The iPhone 6S will almost certainly look like an iPhone 6, and come in the 4.7- and 5.5-inch screen sizes introduced last year. The iPhone 3GS looked like the iPhone 3, but the 4 looked different; the 4S looked like the 4, with the 5 sporting an external re-design; the 5S looked like the 5, and the 6 was the different-looking one. There's no reason Apple will break with tradition and release a radical new design, when it has a form factor that it knows works well. Next year, the iPhone 7 could look completely different, but this year, all the changes will be internal."

you don't think they will fix the protruding camera? it's a major design flaw in my opinion, the fact apple edited it out from the picture just proved the point. sure one can use a case, but iPhone 6 is too big to cover in a case and still sits comfortably in the shirt pocket.

#10 Quicker Way of Deleting All Messages

Hi all. Just this morning as I was going through and deleting unwanted Mail messages, I got to thinking about something. I think it would be nice if the next major release for the Mac had a way to automatically delete all messages that are no longer needed or wanted. Windows has or had this feature, and although we're talking 2 different operating systems here this would indeed save time. But I won't throw my Mac out the window if this feature isn't implemented.

#11 The iPad Heading

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

No one got it, so I'll tell you. Prepare for the lamest, worst, most nerdy joke you've heard all week!

The rumor was that the iPad would handle split screen mode. I therefore phrased the heading ("Now, To Thoroughly Examine iPad Rumors") with… wait for it…

a split infinitive! Get it? Split screen, split infinitive! Okay, I'll leave the humor to someone else. :)

#12 I got it

I got it, but grammarian that I am (as evidenced by my adopting the sobriquet of a PG woodehouse character as my screen name on this excellent resource) , I was so disgusted with said split infinitive and your use thereof that I took some while to get over it. I look forward to hearing about your opportunity thoroughly to test split screen mode, encouraging iPad users boldly to go where no iPad user has gone before.

#13 I've also heard

I've also heard that the notes app is changing.