The Biggest Questions Apple Might (or Might Not) Answer At WWDC 2019

Illustration: Apple

On Tuesday, a host of developers and press will gather in the heart of San Jose to learn about Apple’s software plans for the coming year. Here’s a collection questions we hope Apple answers at this year’s WWDC.

Will iOS finally get a REAL dark mode?

Almost certainly. With macOS getting a dark mode in last year’s Mojave update, and rival Android getting an official dark mode at Google I/O, it stands to reason iOS will finally get one too. Particularly after pictures of the mode leaked to 9to5Mac earlier this week.

iOS currently has something like a dark mode, thanks to its ability to invert every colour on the screen and make white things black, but the new dark mode should be more visually attractive. It’ll also likely be well received by anyone with an OLED display in their iPhone. Dark images on OLED displays use up less battery.

Besides a dark mode, Bloomberg has outlined many new features likely coming in the next version of iOS. They include an improved Mail app with the ability to block emails from certain accounts, an updated and more complex To Do app, and a better Bedtime tab in the Clock app.

Will my iPhone or Watch finally track my sleep?

It’s getting closer. Right now, there are many third-party sleep tracker apps, but nothing native. And that will likely remain the case post WWDC. The Bedtime tab in the Clock app should be a little more extensive and is meant to better support new sleep tracking features available on the Watch. It seems sleep tracking won’t come just yet.

Instead, Bloomberg suggests Apple will announce a Sleep Mode for the phone which should automatically mute notifications, turn on Do Not Disturb, and even dim the lock screen, so it doesn’t blind you at three in the morning.

Will the Apple Watch get better battery life?

Unlikely. While an updated watchOS could improve battery life on existing Apple Watches, it’s doubtful it will be a significant enough improvement to get excited about.

And perhaps that’s just one reason sleep tracking won’t be live on the Apple Watch any time soon. Right now, the watch gets 18 to 24 hours of battery life. Battery life will need to improve substantially if Apple wants people wearing the watch to bed every night.

Will the iPhone Health app finally be useful?

Signs say yes. The current belief is that Apple will finally refresh the app and update the landing screen for it. Apple will also reportedly add a new feature for “hearing health” so you can know if you’re listening to stuff too loudly. As with health wearable rival Fitbit, Apple will finally embrace period tracking.

Will Apple finally show off the new Mac Pro?

There’s a good chance. Apple has promised a new Mac Pro for over two years now. The tower was last revamped in 2013, and most of the internal components found in the Mac Pro available on Apple’s site today date back to 2015. There have been a lot of advances in the desktop space since then, and with Intel releasing new Xeon processors earlier this year, and AMD expected to launch new GPUs in July, the time is right for a new Mac Pro with cutting edge tech packed in.

It’s also important to note that over the last few weeks, Apple quietly refreshed both the MacBook Pro and the iPod Touch. It could have saved either of those refreshes for WWDC itself, but instead, it updated the hardware ahead of its major showcase. If we wanted to speculate, using nothing but circumstantial evidence, we might suggest Apple was clearing the way for even bigger hardware news.

Even if the Mac Pro is a no show, Apple will almost certainly be showing off a new external monitor with HDR and wide colour gamut support. It’d be neat all by itself, but a perfect partner for a refreshed Mac Pro.

Is Marzipan coming?

Yes, in a way. Marzipan is the internal name for a set of developer tools that will allow devs to develop a single app that works across iPhones, iPads, and macOS devices. Such a set of tools would enable Apple to unify iOS and macOS, eventually, combining them into a single operating system that works across a multitude of screen sizes and processor types.

Apple has repeatedly denied the unification rumour, with Craig Federighi spending a chunk of last year’s WWDC promising that iOS and macOS would never merge. But Marzipan itself definitely exists. Apps that will work across platforms are already here, in the form of the News and Voice Memo apps that appeared in Mojave last year (both were originally iOS exclusive apps). We should expect to see more Apple developed universal apps at WWDC this year, including Podcasts and Screen Time.

According to Bloomberg, Apple will also announce that third-party developers can create a single app for the iPad and macOS. The apps would be available on the iPad and macOS stores respectively, but devs would only have to code the app once to work across both types of devices—and hopefully, we’d only have to buy it once too. It’s not quite what Marzipan is rumoured to be (still no explicit cross macOS/iPhone support), but it’s a step closer.

Will Apple kill macOS?

Absolutely not. macOS is safe for another year. Though, as noted above, developers will soon be able to develop a single app for macOS and the iPad at the same time, and Apple is rumoured to be adding mouse support to the iPad Pro. With mouse support and a full version of pro apps like Photoshop, the iPad Pro would be a much more viable alternative to macOS. Still, with an updated Mac Pro hopefully coming this year, macOS’ days are hardly numbered.

What about iTunes?

Not exactly. It’s hard to believe that Apple will straight up kill iTunes entirely, though, with the launch of a standalone TV app and the rumoured Apple Music standalone, it seems possible that Apple will enter the early stages of phasing iTunes out. It’s about time.

Will we get more details on Apple Arcade?

We’d better. Arcade was announced back at Apple’s weird services-focused March event, and there haven’t been a lot of details since, but given WWDC is a developer conference and Arcade will need lots of developer support to succeed, it seems logical we’d learn more about the tools game designers need. We’ll also hopefully see some of those games. Sonic and Frogger-like games have already been announced, but Apple noted several developers had already signed on to build games for its service. Presumably at least one will be ready to show off on stage.

Will watchOS finally let you download apps from the Watch?

Hopefully. Right now, if you need a new app on an Apple Watch, you have to pull out the phone the watch is bound to, download from a dinky little app store that is really just a subsite of the primary iOS app store, and wait for it to download, slowly, from the phone to the watch.

Apple is reportedly planning to add an actual app store to the Watch itself, making adding new apps a lot easier. Among those should be a calculator watch, so you can make like that one uncle in 1988 and do quick maths from your wrist.

Will Siri stop sucking?

Probably not. Siri might be available on nearly every iOS and macOS device, but the system struggles to be as smart as rivals Google Assistant and Alexa, which the HomePod made painfully clear. There are no rumours currently related to improved intelligence, but Siri shortcuts, a feature introduced last year in iOS, should be coming to macOS as well.

Will Apple talk about privacy and security?

Count on it. Facebook might be terrible at caring about your privacy, but Apple has pointedly made privacy and security a selling point. There are no actual rumours about new privacy or security features, but at this point, the surprise would be Apple not mentioning it at least once.

On the security front, there is a rumoured rival to Tile expected. Apple supposedly has plans to combine Find Your Phone and Find Your Friends into a single app and start selling a dongle you can attach to non-Apple products so you can find them too.

Will we see a new Apple TV?

Definitely not. The Apple TV is unlikely to be updated any time soon, and the TV app just got a refresh after the March event. However, it is important to note that tvOS hasn’t seen any new features leaked ahead of WWDC. So there could certainly be some surprises left in store.

Will we see the revamped iPhone SE?

Unlikely. While many people I know would love a cheaper and smaller iPhone and there have been rumours of one in the works from Apple since it killed the last one, the chances of Apple showing it off at WWDC are very slim.

Signs point to an iPhone SE 2 announcement in March 2020. So if you’ve got tiny hands, you’d better sit on them.

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