Apple's plans for the rest of 2018 and beyond are about to come into focus. The company has announced that its annual developers conference will take place in San Jose, Calif. during the first week of June.Apple's Tim Cook at WWDC 2017. (Credit: Tom's Guide)Kicking off June 4 and running all week, Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference gives software makers a chance to dive into the nitty-gritty of the company's assorted operating systems. But the conference also offers news for the rest of us in the form of previews for this year's updates to iOS, macOS and other Apple software.
The announcement today (March 13) was light on details of what to expect this June. But based on past WWDCs and rumors swirling about Apple's plans for this year and beyond, we have some ideas on what CEO Tim Cook could announce when he takes the stage June 4 to kick off WWDC.
iOS 12 and macOS... together at last?
You can usually expect previews of iOS and macOS updates to command large sections of the WWDC keynote. But if rumors about Apple's development plans pan out, the company's two most important operating systems could be sharing a lot of stage time.
That's because Apple is expected to introduce universal apps that would run across Macs, iPhones and iPads. That rumor, based on a late 2017 report from Bloomberg, would allow iOS app makers to bring their wares to the Mac in an effort to give the Mac software market a boost. Apps built with these new tools would be able to run on devices with either touchscreens or trackpads, saving developers the hassle of having to build two different versions of the same program.
If universal apps are part of Apple's plans, there would be no better place to introduce the concept than an event attended by thousands of software makers. In addition to laying out a timeframe for when such apps would appear — reports suggest as soon as this fall — Apple could spend WWDC with app makers diving into how the new tools will work.
As for the OSes themselves, we've heard far more detailed reports about Apple's rumored iOS plans. The new version, iOS 12, will reportedly emphasize reliability and performance instead of new features after iOS 11's bug-beset rollout. Still, other rumors suggest Animoji is due for an update: it's reportedly going to be integrated with the FaceTime video messaging app and it may arrive on newly released iPads. Improvements to Siri are also reportedly in the works, but when are they not?
watchOS and tvOS
iOS and macOS aren't the only game in town for Apple. You can also expect the company to take some time at WWDC to preview changes to watchOS and tvOS for its respective Apple Watch and Apple TV products. That said, we've heard very little about either future update thus far.
Apple has shown an increasing interest in monitoring and collecting health and fitness data, with its smartwatch at the center of those efforts. In fact, Apple unveiled its HealthKit service at WWDC 2014, so it wouldn't be unexpected if the company were to spend some time at this year's conference outlining new tracking features or the health industry partners it's lining up to boost its efforts in that space.
Last year's WWDC saw Apple roll out ARKit, a set of developer tools that led to a bit of boom in AR-friend apps for iOS devices. Cook has personally touted the growth potential of augmented reality, so it's likely that Apple's plans for AR will remain on the agenda for WWDC 2018.
Time for hardware? Cheap MacBook, New iPad Possible
Apple typically saves its hardware announcements for standalone events, choosing to concentrate on developer-focused news during WWDC. Still, last year's show not only included a preview of the HomePod speaker but also the unveiling of the iMac Pro. Apple even took the wraps off an upgraded iPad Pro, too.
But even those announcements were geared toward an audience of developers. Apple needed to talk up the HomePod so that developers could start working on optimizing their apps for the Siri-powered speaker in advance of its release. Meanwhile, the primary audience for the Mac Pro (and to a lesser extent, the iPad Pro) included WWDC attendees.
Based on the most recent rumors, Apple could announce a cheaper new MacBook with a Retina display that costs around $999 (the same as the MacBook Air) and a new iPad that could take advantage of features like Face ID and Animjoji. Adding fuel to that iPad rumor fire is a new report out of Taiwan spotted by BGR that claims a new 11-inch iPad Pro and an updated 12.9-inch iPad Pro will both appear at WWDC.
Updated at 4:17 p.m. ET with additional iPad rumors.