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The Obligatory pre-WWDC Prognostication

What We Know

We know (based on posted pictures) that Apple will announce iOS 8 and the next version of OSX. (That’s OS Ten, not OS X”, people. Let’s get it right this year.) Since 8 comes after 7, that makes sense. So does version 10.10 of OSX, since the last version was 10.9. Math nerds get upset at that, because 10.10 is not a real decimal. But 10.10 isn’t a decimal, it’s a version number, so shut up about it already. I get mad at it because I have to say oh ess ten ten dot ten” over and over again.

And, that’s all we know. And I am happy about that. Apple announcements are an exciting time for nerds and geeks. We wait months to see Apple (and other companies, for that matter) walk out on stage to show us what’s coming down the pipe in the near future. It’s fun to watch, and when too much information leaks early, it takes the wind out of the sails. This WWDC is still pretty much up in the air.

Software

iOS 8 has some rumored changes. It won’t be a big visual overhaul like 7 was, but there will be some new consumer features, new developer APIs (for Healthbook, CarPlay, iCloud, etc.), and maybe a couple of new stock apps.

Healthbook

Image copyright 9to5MacImage copyright 9to5Mac

Healthbook is rumored to be similar to Passbook. It will aggregate data from different sensors and apps into one place, much like Passbook does with loyalty cards, airline tickets, and Starbucks. It seems these are both the baby steps to a bigger thing Apple is working on. Passbook is step one in mobile payments. Apple is obviously getting people used to paying with a phone, and will expand that service in the coming years. Healthbook is step one in Apple’s wearables strategy. Healthbook now, then come this fall you’ll be buying a health sensor band to go along with it.

Siri, what song is this?

Shazam has partnered with Apple, and it’s pretty obvious that it will be used with Siri.

Maps

Maps get better all the time. I haven’t had any of the problems that plagued the app in the beginning in quite a while. Apple has bought HopStop, Embark, and BroadMap in the last year so in-app transit directions are almost guaranteed. And very welcome for us city dwellers.

iCloud Improvements

Image copyright 9to5 MacImage copyright 9to5 Mac

Have you ever saved a PDF on iCloud in Preview on your Mac and wanted to view it on your iPad? You can’t. Same goes for simple text documents in TextEdit. I am a plain text fiend. I use NVAlt and several iOS apps through Dropbox to keep it all straight. If I could do it through TextEdit, I’d be much happier. I try to keep things simple and use as few apps as possible. These would both be a big win.

OSX 10.10

The banners reveal El Capitain, which is in Yosemite National Park in California. Best guesses indicate the next Mavericks will be called Yosemite. Because spelling Mavericks was too easy. Changes are said to include minor performance and battery improvements, AirDrop between iOS and OSX (finally!), and a more iOS7 aesthetic. I don’t see them going all flat and white and Helvetica Neue on everything, but expect some changes.

Mockups of some of the leaked information are all over the web, but none of them really jibe with each other, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what it will look like. Safe money says more transparent overlays, less grey linen, and flatter icons. Anything else is a wild guess.

Last Minute Addition!

This one really gets my motor revved. iMore, among others, have recently said that Apple is working on a Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) style certification system for home automation.

I love home automation. I have Z-Wave switches all over my apartment. I use iPads and Kindle Fires as touch screen controllers. I have Hue lights, and I use the heck out of IFTTT to trigger things. I have a Vera that controls my lights, and a infrared to ethernet adapter that makes my WiFi things talk to my stereo, TiVo, and everything else. I also have a dozen or so apps in a folder that control all this stuff in wildly different ways. The TiVo App simulates the actual TiVo remote, the Vera App is a page of switches and sliders, the Onkyo App is just horrible in every way. The Hue App is great, but works differently than expected sometimes.

Enter Apple. If this Home Automation convergence is really going to happen, it has to be easy for normal people. Most people won’t mess with a dozen apps to watch a movie.

Imagine if the AppleTV gets a software update to be the controller for the home. Now, when I choose a movie on the AppleTV, it knows to turn down the lights. If I tap a Leaving Home” button on my phone, the phone can talk to each individual app and turn off the lights, lock the door, set the alarm, and turn on the security camera. Your phone is with you always, so it could do this automatically when you leave home, based on location services. I do a lot of this already with IFTTT, but it’s fiddly. People don’t like fiddly.

I’m all for this. It’s not a you need an iPhone to operate your house” kind of thing, it’s a if you have an iPhone, operating your house is better” kind of thing. Hue, Vera, Samsung, and all the rest will still have Android and Windows Phone apps, but the iOS apps will just be better and work together.

Hardware?

WWDC is the Developer Conference. It’s to show developers what new software they will be working with for the coming year. Apple has released new hardware at these events before, but it’s never expected.

Bigger iPhones

Many bloggers are posting pictures of parts from the next iPhone. Yes, it’s coming, it’s bigger, and it will probably be called the iPhone 6. Duh.

It won’t be released at WWDC. There will probably be hints, like Apple encouraging developers to design for more varied screen sizes and resolutions, but a real hardware announcement for the phone is a non-starter.

iPad Pro

See above. Rumors of a 12″ iPad have been circulating, but don’t expect anything concrete here, other than references to variable screen sizes. Bonus points: The rumored split screen apps for the iPad is said to be a no-go right now. If the iPad Pro is a thing, expect split screen apps to be added to 8.1 or 8.2 in the fall when the new iPads are announced. It will be an additional feature for new hardware, much like the M7 chip in the iPhone 5S and iOS 7.2.

12″ Retina MacBook Air

I could see this happening. Many developers code on an Air. I use an 11″ Air as my daily computer. The 12″ is said to be more like a mini 13″ MacBook Pro. More blocky and less tapered. They’ll need the extra volume to fit in more battery for the screen, I’d guess. Apple recently lowered the price of the MacBook Airs $100, so this would leave room in the pricing structure for a new model. And retina screens are so pretty.

Retina Thunderbolt Display

The old thunderbolt display needs an update. It’s currently thicker than an iMac. While a Retina/4K Thunderbolt Display would be awesome, Apple currently only sells 2 computers that can run it, the 15″ Retina MacBook Pro with discreet graphics card, and the Mac Pro. It’s a maybe, but a low-volume seller to be sure.

iWatch

While I would love to see it announced, I find it unlikely. Something this anticipated by nerds would probably get it’s own hardware event, or be bundled into a hardware event with other new stuff. That being said, a wearable of some sort would need developer support, and Apple currently sells nothing like this. Announcing it now for a fall release makes sense. It would give developers time to get apps ready for day one, and Apple would be losing any sales by pre-announcing a product they don’t have an older version of.

Pie In The Sky Thoughts and Wishes.

Inter App Communication

We need this. Say I have a text document, which as I’ve already pointed out, I have several. I see that document in my DropBox App, and tap the Open In” button to open it in Byword. It works fine. I edit the document, but need to preview the Markdown syntax in a code editor. So, I tap Open In” in Byword, and open the document in Diet Coda. It works, and I happily see my color-coded brilliance and send it off to Editorial, which is a text editor that runs simple code. All is well and good, except now I have a copy of that document in Dropbox, Byword, Diet Coda, and Editorial. This is an extreme example, but it happens. Well, not to me, I’d just do everything in Editorial, but that’s for a different day. Take a photo, import it into a photo editor, then slide it over to an app that will put meme-text on it, then publish to Instagram. Four copies of that picture are now in four different apps. It happens all the time.

iOS needs a Send to” command, not an Open in”. Select a picture, send to iPhoto, then send to Meme Gen, then send to Instagram. When it leaves one app, it’s gone. Same with documents. If I open a Pages document in Word, close it in Pages. I don’t need both versions. Android and Windows Phone both do this to varying degrees of success, and Apple can do it better.

Choose Default Apps

We need a simple screen in Settings to choose default apps. I use Mailbox for email. I use Camera+ for most of my pictures. I use the Safari web browser. I like CoBook for my contacts. Some like gMail, the stock Camera, and Chrome. Certain apps should have user-defined defaults. Bury a screen in Settings to set default browsers, email clients, text editors, cameras, and online storage providers. It won’t add complexity to novice users, because they will never change the settings. Advanced users can choose to open links in a different browser, or have a Mailbox sheet pop up instead of the default Mail.app sheet when composing an email within an app. It’s easy, and developers would have to support it per app. Mailbox would have to create a popover sheet for composing a message within another app, but it wouldn’t be an undue burden, and could be a marketing advantage.

More iCloud Storage

We need to get more iCloud storage. I can buy a 64GB iPhone and a 128GB iPad. Then, I can buy up to 50 GB of iCloud storage for backup. I can’t even do a full backup of my phone. I know, I know. You don’t back up EVERYTHING. Apps, music, and movies can be re-downloaded from iTunes. But what if I have several gigs of video and picures in my Camera Roll? What if I have 200 Keynote presentations? What if my workgroup uses iWork to collaborate on multi-gig projects? I need to be able to have enough storage to handle that if Apple wants me to use iCloud. Right now, stuff is all over iCloud, Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. Would it be so hard to say You bought a 32GB device, so here is 32GB of storage. It costs $25 a year.” If you buy a 128GB device, you get the same deal. Apple makes money on the memory upgrades, $100 for every doubling. (an 8GB upgrade from 8GB to 16GB is $100. A 64GB upgrade from 64GB to 128GB is also $100. I don’t get it…) At least give us a cloud to go to.

Improved photo workflows

Something, ANYTHING better than Photo Stream, please. Where are my pictures? On the Camera Roll, in the Photo Stream? I delete the picture from the Camera Roll, but it’s still in Photo Stream? What if I delete it from Photo Stream, will it delete it from iPhoto back home? Who knows…

Customizable Control Center

Let me choose the 4 apps in the Control Center, just like I can choose the four apps in my Dock. I never use the flashlight or the Calculator. Just let me put OmniFocus in there, PLEASE.

Notification Center

A few things: Lose the weather sentence and show me an icon and a number. That’s all anyone needs. Also, let me dismiss all notifications at once, and let me reply to messages and delete emails by swiping around Notificaion Center.

Actionable notifications

When a text pops up, let me reply. I don’t need to open Messages to do it. Same for reminders, calendar invites, Twitter messages, etc.

On board Siri

Remember Voice Control? You could open apps, play songs, and look up contacts and call people in your address book. All with the on-board processor of the iPhone 4. Here we are years later, and apparently the magic Siri cloud is necessary for these simple tasks. Move the easy stuff back on to the phone.

🗓️ June 1, 2014 🏷️ Apple🏷️ WWDC Support me on Ko-fi
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