6 predictions ahead of Apple’s big WWDC 2016 event

7 Jun 2016

Here are 6 of our predictions for Apple's WWDC 2016 in downtown San Francisco starting on 13 June, including new hardware and software.

Next Monday (13 June), Apple will kick off its Worldwide Developer Conference at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Here are our six predictions ahead of the pivotal event.

While the keynote will take place at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, where Apple revealed the iPhone 6 Plus and the iPad Pro last September, the remainder of the week’s sessions will take place a few blocks away at the Moscone West venue.

Last year’s WWDC saw the unveiling of Apple Music and Apple News, split-screen modes for iOS 9, the Swift programming language going open source, reproductive health added to HealthKit and new features in OS X El Capitan.

It is widely expected that Apple will use the occasion to drop the OS X brand name for its Mac operating system and will instead adopt MacOS

1. iOS 10

The next version of the iOS operating system, iOS 10, could be unveiled at WWDC next week, including a redesigned Apple Music app. The Music app is likely to be designed to put more of a focus on album art and the “new” tab in Apple Music is being replaced with a “browse” option.

iOS 10 is also expected to feature an intuitive new interface and 3D-touch shortcut previews.

There have been rumours that Apple is working on a new Siri SDK that will be given to developers as part of iOS 10 to enable them to build Siri support into third-party apps.

Apple is also expected to add new features, including Apple Pay support in browsers, to allow Apple Pay users to make purchases in online stores.

2. Swift

“WWDC 2016 is going to be a landmark event for developers who are coding in Swift, and building apps and products for iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP for worldwide marketing when WWDC 2016 was announced.

Last year at WWDC, Apple revealed its plans to make Swift open source and no doubt we will hear big numbers in terms of uptake this year.

Swift was revealed for the first time in 2014 at WWDC, creating a whole new canvas for programmers and developers to build their ideas on.

Apple describes it as an intuitive programming language that is easy to learn, even if you’ve never coded before.

The open source code is available via GitHub and includes support for all Apple software platforms — iOS, OS X, WatchOS and TvOS — as well as for Linux.

3. OS X or MacOS

Expect major new features and capabilities in OS X. Last year, Apple revealed OS X El Capitan as part of its recent penchant for naming the operating system after its favourite California landmarks. But, this year, something bigger could happen and the next version of OS X, OS X 10.12 may be renamed MacOS in keeping with Apple’s product branding strategy for its other operating systems such as iOS, TvOS and WatchOS.

One of the hotly-anticipated new features to be added to the Mac operating system is Siri integration to enable users to do the same things on Mac via Siri as they can with iOS, such as opening apps, dictating messages and more.

4. Watch 2

WWDC is primarily a software event but Apple has been known to throw in the occasional new piece of hardware, such as new MacBook Pro devices, the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro.

But what is also expected is the potential unveiling of the second generation of Apple Watch, or we’ll call it Apple Watch 2; the first major upgrade of the hardware platform since it was first revealed in 2014.

Some of the rumours around Watch 2 suggest Apple may create independent models with their own in-built SIMs while slimmer models are also rumoured. How long will it be before Apple makes the Watch compatible with Android devices? Maybe never.

5. MapKit

Apple-owned vehicles have been seen driving around US cities to gather Street View-like data and this could only mean that Apple is planning a huge update to its Maps application, which was a glitch-ridden affair when it first launched. However, in recent years, Apple has been bolstering Maps with public transport capabilities and more

To give it even greater potency, Apple is rumoured to be revealing a MapKit API to enable the Apple developer community to take Maps in a whole new direction.

6. MacBook Pro

Apple’s MacBook Pro line-up is due a full refresh and the chances are WWDC 2016 could be the time and place for a big reveal. No doubt the new machine will be a slimmed down affair and will possibly sport the same USB-C charging port that debuted on the 12-inch MacBook in recent weeks for enabling charging, data transfer and video transfer via a single connector. Perhaps we will also see a MacBook Pro emerge in a distinctive rose gold hue.

WWDC image via Scott Schiller on Flicker/Creative Commons

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years