We're just a few days away from Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, which means the rumour mill's heating up again. Let's take a look at what's burbling and see if we can't separate probable fact from probable fiction. Updated.
Will the new iPhone be announced?
Ever since Apple's next-generation iPhone was uncovered, there's been speculation that the early reveal would push the announcement up from the traditional WWDC Steve Jobs keynote. Looks like Apple hasn't rushed things after all; expect to see Apple's next iPhone introduced, officially, June 7th.
Will it have video chat?
Almost certainly, based on the front-facing camera and iPhone 4 OS's video and group chat code. The real question is whether it'll be Wi-Fi only, a nugget that was indicated in the iPhone OS 4 Beta 2 SDK. Honestly, I don't think I'd mind one bit, given the havoc it would wreak on AT&T's already overloaded network.
Probability (Wi-Fi): 90% Probability (3G): 20%
Will its back detect multitouch gesture controls?
The majority of the iPhone's hardware is a known quantity this year, but the exact material of the back is still up for debate. Is the glass/plastic/ceramic material on the flat back designed to let cell signals through more easily? Or will it detect multitouch gestures for easier music and app controls? There hasn't been much to support this theory other than pure speculation, and while it would be a nice surprise it's not something I'd bank on.
Will the new iPhone go on sale?
Mashable and others have speculated that the next iPhone will go on sale simultaneously with its announcement. That would certainly break with tradition: typically, Apple releases its handsets in late June/early July. The original iPhone dropped on June 29, 2007, the 3G came on July 11, 2008 and the 3GS arrived on June 19, 2009. And AT&T's recent actions - blocking employee holidays this month and pushing up eligibility dates to June 21st - certainly indicate a release around that time. So while the schedule may be sped up somewhat, it's not likely that you'll be able to buy a new iPhone next week.
Will Apple TV get a much-needed upgrade?
There are believable rumours that Apple TV is going to get a major facelift soon: iPhone 4 processor and OS, 1080p streaming, 16GB flash storage, $US100 retail price. But! That same rumour also says Apple TV won't be part of the WWDC, and I generally like to take my rumours wholesale. Then again, a last-minute hint by Apple Nostradamus-in-chief John Gruber leads us to think this might be on the docket afterall.
Will there be a Verizon iPhone (or iPad)?
The Verizon-Apple courtship has been a lengthy affair, but no less authoritative a voice than the Wall Street Journal swears a Verizon iPhone is on track for release this spring. Then again, just Wednesday Verizon's John Johnson insisted that his company wasn't planning on supporting Apple devices in the near future. Oh yeah, John? Then what about that iPad testing, hmmm? Ugh. This is worse than Ross and Rachel.
Will we see iTunes.com?
This one's a little tricky. We know Apple's wanted to put iTunes in the cloud ever since their acquisition of streaming music service Lala last December. And Lala's May 31st shutdown, combined with Apple's recently registered iTunes Live trademark were both promising signs that iTunes.com would hit at WWDC. But it's not entirely up to Apple, and as of April record label negotiations were stalling out. So what's happened since then? Well, if Apple's successful last-minute negotiations with book publishers are any indicator, the smart money's on Jobs making a deal.
Will Mobile Me Go Free?
The idea that Mobile Me will be a free service soon hasn't been a rumour so much as a beautiful dream. But there's no real indication that Apple will make the switch other than that they should make the switch. And whether it happens this Monday or next fall is anybody's guess.
Will there be a MacBook Air upgrade?
The evidence for a MacBook Air upgrade is circumstantial, but it's the right kind of circumstantial. It hasn't been updated since last June, meaning it's way overdue compared to its MacBook Pro cousins. Rumours have been cropping up more regularly. But the tipping point may have been last week, when Intel finally announced its ULV Core processors. It's reasonable to assume that the MacBook Air hadn't been updated because there was nothing to update to. Now that there is, expect Apple to jump.
Will there be a Mac Pro upgrade?
The Mac Pro story is essentially the same as the MacBook Air's: overdue for a refresh, rumours swirling, processor delays - in this case Intel's hexacore Xeon CPUs - resolved. So we'll give it the same odds of happening next week.
Will there be a Mac Mini upgrade?
Another neglected category, another upgrade rumour. This one's got some legs to it as well: word of an HDMI-equipped Mac Mini burbled up in March, and again just a few days ago. It looks, though, like the upgrade wouldn't include a bump to Intel's Core processors - a bit of a disappointment, and possibly not major enough to merit a WWDC unveiling.
Will the "magical multitouch" trackpad make an appearance?
Just this morning, photos surfaced of what could very possibly be the mythical external multitouch trackpad we've been hearing about for years. Is the picture a portent of a WWDC announcement today? Keep your (multi)fingers crossed if you own a desktop.
Will there be a major OS X 10.7 announcement?
Is Apple working on OS X 10.7? Of course, And there's plenty of evidence supporting that. But while Jobs may give developers a taste of what's in the works, the only operating system we'll be getting the grand tour of will be iPhone OS 4.
Will Safari finally get extensions?
Daring Fireball's John Gruber has a very, very strong track record of predicting new Apple products. And while he didn't out and out say that Apple would be introducing an extension API for Safari at WWDC, he did strongly suggest the possibility last week. It also just makes sense: the extension gap with Chrome and Firefox is one Apple will want to address, and WWDC would be the right time and place.
Will Steve Ballmer Be There?
Analysts say the darnedest things! Like Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry, whose idle speculation that Steve Ballmer might show up at WWDC was promptly shot down by Microsoft. While it's not quite as crazy as it might sound - Bill Gates appeared at Macworld in 1997, after all—this one's only going to happen if Ballmer decides to take the stage by force. Which, hey!