On Tuesday, Apple's annual developer conference, WWDC, kicks off, and that means we will soon learn more about the company's newest and most exciting products. This year, the event runs from June 5 to June 9 (June 6 to June 10 in Australia) and is expected to serve as the launching point for major updates to iOS and macOS, as well as some new hardware.
This will be the first time in roughly 15 years that Apple will not be hosting the event at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco. Instead, the event will take place at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose. We'll be on the ground at the conference, so be sure to check back for our coverage beginning Tuesday morning. There's plenty to be excited about this year, so let's dive right in.
A new iPad Pro
Image: Gizmodo / Alex Cranz
WWDC is typically centred around software like iOS and macOS, but this year we're expecting some hardware too. The extremely credible KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says there's a good chance Apple will announce a new iPad Pro at this year's conference.
The new iPad Pro is rumoured to have a 10.5-inch screen that will fit comfortably between the existing 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch models. It will also reportedly feature a new design with slimmer bezels. There's no indication of exactly how much the new device will cost — but there's a very good chance it will be priced similarly to existing models (starting at about $850).
The new iPad Pro isn't the only piece of hardware expected to debut at the conference. Kuo also predicts that Apple is planning to launch a smart speaker to compete with the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
In a research note viewed by MacRumors, Kuo reportedly said there is "over [a] 50 per cent chance" that Apple will announce its new smart home speaker and begin selling them later in the year. Kuo said the speaker will likely produce excellent sound quality and will positioned for a higher end market (that is, it will be more expensive) than the Amazon Echo.
Adding to swirling rumours, the extremely credible Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman reported this week that Apple "started manufacturing a long-in-the-works Siri-controlled smart speaker". Gurman reports that the speaker will differ from the Amazon Echo and Google home by offering virtual surround sound technology and deep integration into Apple products.
The speaker will essentially serve as a hub to automate smart home devices through Apple's (currently underdeveloped) HomeKit platform. It will also help lock customers into Apple's walled garden as people begin to add more automation to their homes and subscribe to services like Apple Music. Gurman also reports that the speaker will have advanced acoustics that give it an edge over competing products such as the Echo and Google Home, and that Apple considered adding virtual surround sound technology similar to Sonos Trueplay.
It will also have comparable hardware to the Sonos Play:5 according to Kuo's research note, which says the speaker will have one subwoofer, seven tweeters, and computing power similar to the iPhone 6/6S. By comparison, as Mac Observer points out, the Echo only has one woofer and one tweeter. The Sonos Play:5 only has three woofers and three tweeters. In short, the soon-to-be-announced Siri speaker sounds much more powerful than Google Home or Amazon Echo.
New MacBook and MacBook Pros
Image: Gizmodo / Alex Cranz
It looks all-but-certain that we'll be getting a new MacBook lineup at the conference. French website Consomac is reporting that it found a Russian-language regulatory filing in the Eurasian Economic Commission database that points to at least five new models running macOS Sierra launching soon.
In addition to the filing, Bloomberg reports Apple will be releasing a new MacBook lineup to stave off competition from Microsoft's striking new Surface Laptop. The new MacBook Pro will get a bump to the latest seventh-generation Intel Core processors, giving it a significant hardware boost.
One of the more remarkable rumours is that Apple could revive the 12-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs by giving them a nice hardware bump, according to Bloomberg. Analysts aren't expecting any major design changes to either the MacBook or MacBook Pro, but say the new MacBook Air could have a new look.
John Gruber reported in April that Apple is working hard on a "completely rethought" Mac Pro with a modular design. The new design is supposed to accommodate high-end CPUs and GPUs, and make it easier for people to update the computer with new components on a regular basis. The company is also working on pro displays to ship with the new desktops. Unfortunately, Gruber reports that the next-gen Mac Pros "will not ship this year", meaning they likely will not make an appearance at WWDC.
A first look at iOS 11
Don't get your hopes up for new iPhone models. They probably aren't coming until later this year. What you can expect at WWDC, though, is a big focus on Apple's new mobile operating system, iOS 11.
We don't know much about the OS ahead of the show, but we're expecting a bunch of updates that focus on artificial intelligence. A sketchy rumour from Israeli publication the Verifier suggests that Siri will add contextual learning and better integration into Apple services like iMessage and iCloud.
Other updates to the operating system, according to 9to5Mac, could include features like group FaceTime, meaning that you'll be able to video conference multiple people from your phone. There's also a rumour that iMessage will add multi-person calls, making it easier to have up to five people join a single call.
The most dramatic changes will be specifically tailored to the iPad. 9to5Mac reports that things such as multi-user login are to be added to the operating system, while other blogs like MacRumors suggest Apple is working on expanded Apple Pencil support for the iPad Pro.
Updates to macOS, WatchOS and tvOS
Last year, Apple decided to drop the "X" from its desktop operating system's name, instead calling it simply macOS. As part of the update, Apple started integrating even more iOS features into the desktop with things such as Siri for Mac and Apple Pay for the web.
This year, we're expecting to see the second iteration of macOS (10.13), but there aren't any hard details about what exactly. We should also see updates to other operating systems including WatchOS for the Apple Watch and tvOS for the Apple TV, according to the Telegraph. This essentially means that every operating system in the Apple ecosystem will receive a significant update, and that seems like a reasonable expectation considering the event is specifically tailored to get developers excited about building apps for Apple products. As always, we'll be covering the conference as news breaks, so be sure to check back here June 6 to June 10 for more info about the latest updates.