At its annual developer-palooza yesterday, Apple trotted out a lot of new goodies. A new iOS! A new OS X! But they also didn’t announce a whole lot of stuff we expected to see. Here’s what was missing, and our best guess at why.
Apple TV SDK
Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that an Apple TV refresh would hit as early as April. But April came and went with no new Apple TV. Then again, Re/code nailed the fact that to think there wasn’t a new Apple TV coming to WWDC. But that doesn’t mean that the device is long overdue for a refresh.
Not only has Amazon launched a powerful competitor in Fire TV, its very own fast-as-lightning set-top box earlier this year, but Roku — which has been making streaming products in the US for a long time — dropped the $US50 Roku streaming stick, an HDMI device that works with pretty much any TV and offers oodles of channels and apps. Apple TV feels more and more limited by the month, especially when there’s what seems like an obvious solution — open up an SDK for developers, get more apps and games in there — that would have been a perfect WWDC fit.
Better Apple Maps
The launch of Apple Maps was a pretty serious misfire, and it notably lacked directions for public transit. While things have gotten better of late, it was a little surprising not to see the rumoured addition of transit directions as part of its iOS 8 reveal, especially given that Apple bought up HopStop nearly a year ago. The feature could still find its way into iOS 8 before the public release this fall, but in the meantime, you’re still going to want to stick with Google.
Standalone iTunes Radio
There was a bit of buzz via 9to5Mac that with this iOS refresh, Apple would spin out iTunes Radio into a standalone application. It would work much like Pandora or iHeartRadio, but would come pre-installed on your phone just like the other de facto Apple-made apps like Stocks and Reminders that you never use any way.
It makes sense that a standalone iTunes Radio app would happen someday, maybe even in time for iOS 8. Apple has been actively enhancing the service by adding stations like NPR and ESPN, and the Beats acquisition gives the company access to one of the most robust streaming services out there. Expect this to happen sooner than later.
Split-Screen Multitasking for the iPad
Microsoft Surface has snap mode. And according to 9to5Mac, was Apple going to add its own version of split-screen multitasking on the iPad version of iOS. It would let you run and view two apps at once. It would also make it a bit easier for apps to work together. It’s something we certainly would like to see on the iPad — and seems like a natural fit for iOS 8’s app extensions, which allows two apps to communicate with one another — but apparently the feature isn’t quite ready, says Brian X. Chen of the New York Times.
The iPad As a Secondary Display
It’s pretty nice to have a second monitor. You can keep our eyes on a million things at once. But you also have to buy an actual second monitor. Anyway, there was chatter that we’d be getting the option to use the iPad as a supplementary screen, but that’s not the case. Apparently it’s something Apple is definitely testing, but wasn’t quite ready to show off at WWDC.
Control Center for OS X
Sure, OS X Yosemite is one of the most dramatic redesigns the Apple desktop has gotten in years. And, yes, features like Hand Off bring iOS and OS X closer together than ever. But while it leaked screenshots indicatedthat OS X would get a Control Center much like the one on your iPhone that debuted in iOS 7, that would let you access different programs and apps across your computer, this feature notably absent from the debut of the latest OS X. Whether that’s because Apple’s still working on it or because they decided to scrap the idea altogether remains to be seen.
Retina MacBook Air
We’ve been hearing rumours of a pixel-packed, ultra-light MacBook Air for many moons now, and at this point enough ultrabook competitors are pushing resolution to the limit that the MBA is starting to look a little dusty by comparison. It’s likely that Apple’s waiting for Intel’s next generation of processors to be ready before upping the display as well. That should be sometime this fall.
Cheaper iMac/iPhone 5S
These were pretty low on our predictions list, but Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo — who has a better than average rumour track record — seemed to think a cheaper iMac or even a cheaper iPhone 5S were a distinct possibility. Look for these in the fall as well, if ever.
iWatch rumours have existed since before the dawn of time, so we’re not exactly surprised that we didn’t see an iWatch yesterday, either. Still, there was an outside shot that it could have been packaged with Apple’s Health app.
Does it mean Apple isn’t working on a wristable? No way. In fact, it seems likely that they might be. And given recent hires in medical sensor tech, Apple is probably at least somewhat serious about a watch of some sort. That doesn’t mean we’ll see it any time soon, though. As everyone else who’s tried has demonstrated, making a smartwatch is hard work, and Apple’s not one to release something half-baked.