Apple WWDC 2017 Preview: New Hardware and Software

WWDC tends to be a software-focused event, but Apple may be announcing at least two new devices at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 5.

There's a remote possibility we'll get a sneak peek of the iPhone 8, but according to a recent report, there's a much better chance we'll see a revamped 10.5-inch iPad Pro and a new Siri-powered speaker that will compete against Amazon's legion of Alexa speakers.Apple CEO Tim Cook will kick off WWDC 2017 on June 5. (Credit: Getty Images)Apple CEO Tim Cook will kick off WWDC 2017 on June 5. (Credit: Getty Images)

There's also bound to be major updates to iOS, but also macOS, tvOS and more.

The annual conference is Apple's chance to give developers — and the people that buy iPhones, iPads, Macs and smartwatches — an early look at what changes the company is making to its many operating systems.

This year's edition of WWDC will move out of San Francisco, where it's been held the last 14 year, and head down to San Jose, Calif., and the McEnery Convention Center. That venue last hosted WWDC in 2002.

What Apple hasn't said is what will be on the agenda when the week-long conference kicks off on June 5. Here's a preview of what to expect:

A New iPad: WWDC might typically focus on software, but KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks it might be a hardware affair, as well. And he says there's a greater than 70 percent chance that Apple will unveil a new iPad at this year's show. The iPad will reportedly come with a 10.5-inch screen and support Apple Pencil, meaning it will be of the iPad Pro variety.

According to Kuo, whose comments were earlier reported on by 9to5Mac, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro will sit between the 9.7- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros and will come with an all-new design, featuring slimmer bezels than previous models. That will allow it to pack more screen into the same chassis as a 9.7-inch model. It's unknown right now how much it will cost and when it might be released.

Siri Speaker: In addition to the new iPad, Kuo said in a recent note that Apple is also planning a new smart home hub that would compete with Amazon's Echo and Echo Show. The device, which could be known as the Siri Speaker, has more than a 50 percent chance of being announced at WWDC. Kuo said that the Siri Speaker would be unveiled alongside new efforts by Apple to expand its artificial intelligence platforms.

According to Kuo, the Siri Speaker will come with several speakers and a sub-woofer and could come with a touch panel that would mimic the screen Amazon announced last week in the Echo Show. It's likely the Siri Speaker will also come with high-quality sound, though Kuo hasn't confirmed its design or features.

iOS 11: The past few WWDCs have given audiences a sneak peek at the next version of Apple's operating system for iPhones and iPads, and the 2017 edition of the conference should be no exception. iOS 11 figures to have a prominent part at WWDC, with Apple potentially discussing advances in its AI-powered Siri assistant.

Since the iOS 10 update landed last fall, Google has unveiled its Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa has gained more skills and Samsung has made no secret of the fact that it's working on a personal assistant of its own for its next phones. Apple will likely want to show off any new tricks Siri has learned that will help it keep pace with this rapidly advancing field.

MORE: iPhone 8 Rumors: What to Expect from the 10th Anniversary iPhone

macOS: While mobile devices now generate the bulk of Apple's revenue, the Mac remains a key part of Apple's plans. As with iOS, the macOS usually gets extended stage time at WWDC, and we should learn what California landmark Apple will pick as the name for the next version of the OS, along with other features planned for the update. Recent updates have seen macOS and iOS become more integrated, a trend that's likely to continue.

watchOS: As with Apple's mobile and desktop operating systems, the OS powering its wearable line should get a preview as well. That could give us a hint on what features Apple has planned for the next Apple Watch update.

tvOS: The focus could be on hardware here, instead of the platform that runs Apple's set-top box. Bloomberg reports that Apple's next Apple TV will feature 4K support, and WWDC would give the company a venue to show off this rumored product. Still, Apple TV is a pretty consumer-focused product and not the best fit for stage time at a conference that's attended by developers.

iPhone 8: As noted, Apple tends to shy away from hardware announcements at WWDC, focusing instead on the software that developers use. But this year's WWDC takes place in June, around the the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone going on sale. Apple could use the occasion to take the wraps off the iPhone 8. At the very least, its iOS 11 preview could hint at new features we can expect for the phone should Apple stick to a fall release schedule for the iPhone lineup.

The Siri Speaker will likely cost more than the Amazon Echo, though it's unknown how its price might compare to the Echo Show.

Look for Tom's Guide to cover every last minute at WWDC when the show kicks off on June 5.

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