Apple’s major annual event, the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), kicks off on Monday.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives will deliver a keynote in front of thousands of developers, journalists, and Apple employees.
Apple holds this summit once a year to speak directly people who make software for iPhones, iPads, and Macs, and announce what new capabilities Apple has been building into its products.
So WWDC is usually about Apple’s software — not its new hardware. But this year, there’s a possibility it launches a few new or updated products, too.
This year, WWDC will take place from June 5 to 9 in San Jose. What’s Apple planning? Let’s break it down:
Tim Cook’s keynote
Apple always kicks off WWDC by having CEO Tim Cook and his executive team run through a high-level overview of Apple’s announcements.
Then, during the week, paying attendees can attend workshops and other classes with Apple employees that walk them through the new features that were discussed at the keynote.
This year, you can expect Cook to give the audience a good idea of how many devices Apple has in use, and other milestones Apple has hit throughout the year.
You can also count on an awkward demo or two, a couple of dad jokes, and a bunch of new stats.
Like most Apple events, the keynote will be streamed live on Safari, on Apple TV devices, and on Microsoft’s Edge web browser for Windows 10.
The biggest reveal for most people will be the latest version of iOS, the software that runs on iPhones and iPads.
Apple typically reveals the changes and updates to iOS during WWDC, distributes the beta versions of that software over the summer, then pushes those updates to people’s phones in the fall when the new iPhone comes out.
Not much about Apple’s planned software updates has been leaked, so a lot of it could be a surprise.
One thing we’re expecting is a slight Apple Music redesign to focus more on original video. It’s also possible that Apple will use this to launch two of its video projects in development, the Shark Tank-like “Planet of the Apps” and the James Corden-spinoff “Carpool Karaoke.”
It’s also likely that Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, will get a lot of love. Apple will likely open Siri up to additional developers so they can integrate their apps with Siri, in the same way developers can build “skills” for Amazon’s Alexa assistant.
Currently, Siri can answer questions that Apple has programmed it to, plus a few queries from selected apps — like Uber. If you’re an app developer and not in the few categories that work with Siri, like messaging or payments, you can’t integrate your software with Siri.
Another long-rumored feature that could be debuted is a dark mode for iOS — bits of code and assets for an iOS dark mode have surfaced in the past, and if Apple is planning a new iPhone that can display darker blacks this fall, then it would make sense to introduce the feature now.
One recurring rumor is that Apple may launch a 10.5-inch iPad on Monday. This iPad model was first suggested last fall by Wall Street analysts from firms including Barclays and KGI Securities.
This model has been called “revolutionary” by the analysts but it’s still unclear how Apple will talk about the device’s improvements and advantages over its other iPads.
If Apple does launch an new iPad or two, expect the company to spend some time going over how the iPad Pro can be used as a desktop replacement, focusing on multi-tasking and productivity.
Apple is preparing to update all three of its line of laptops with new processors, Bloomberg reported last month.
These computers won’t be redesigned, but they will get a faster chip that will help them last a little while longer before becoming outdated.
Expect the MacBook Pro to get a new Intel processor in the “Kaby Lake” family, the most recent generation of Intel PC processors. The 12-inch MacBook will also get an update, but it’s unclear whether that will be a Kaby Lake chip. Finally, it’s possible that the MacBook Air might get an update as well — its first in two years.
As for MacOS, in recent years Apple’s desktop software has taken a backseat to iOS in terms of major new features. Since WWDC is a developers’ conference, expect big changes and updates to Xcode, the software everyone uses to make apps for iPhone and iPad.
We’re expecting an action-packed WWDC so there will probably be a lot of surprises on Monday, with new hardware chief among them.
But there lots of smaller bits that Apple will also spend some time on. Apple will launch the newest version of its Apple Watch software, WatchOS, so that will gain new capabilities. Some possibilities include sleep tracking, or other sports activity tracking. Expect Apple to spend a little bit of time talking about its health software like HealthKit, too.
Apple will also likely spend time on Apple TV, which it called its fourth platform last year. Reports recently have suggested that Amazon may launch its Prime Video app for the Apple TV at WWDC. Apple will also likely reveal new features, such as an expansion of its TV automation app.
Apple could also give a look inside its new $5 billion campus, Apple Park.
… one more thing
The biggest question going into WWDC is whether Apple will launch its smart speaker to take on Google and Amazon.
Bloomberg said earlier this week Apple could reveal the speaker next week ahead of it going on sale later this year. That would make sense, especially as an incentive for app developers to work on their Siri integration over the summer.
The idea behind the rumored speaker is that users could talk to it and tell it to, say, turn on lights, or answer basic questions.
This speaker was described by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a late April note distributed to clients:
We expect Apple’s first home AI product will have excellent acoustics performance (one woofer + seven tweeters) and computing power (similar to iPhone 6/ 6S AP). Therefore the product is likely to be positioned for: (i) the high-end market; (ii) better entertainment experience; and (iii) higher price than Amazon Echo.
We’ll see if Apple reveals the Siri Speaker on Monday. It’s unclear right now. We’ll learn on Monday as Business Insider covers the WWDC keynote live from San Jose.