Stuart Breckenridge

WWDC 2015 Predictions

WWDC is less than two months away and instead of waiting till just before the event, I thought I’d post my predictions now and then check them afterwards.

iOS 8.4 and iOS 9

I expect iOS 8.4 and Xcode 6.4 will be announced and released at the Keynote. Included in iOS 8.4 will be the new Music app and, I’m guessing, an expansion of the iTunes streaming service, iTunes Radio, to other countries1. iOS 8.4 is the only beta I can recall where it’s been released in order to give developers a sneak peek:

“This preview provides a sneak peek into what we’ve been working on, and what’s to come — the music is just getting started.”

It’s a marketing teaser in a release notes document. Not very Apple.

Betas of iOS 9 and Xcode 7 will be released at the same time as iOS 8.4. iOS 9 will include the full Apple Watch SDK that developers were promised in 2014.

I’d like to see some streamlining of the apps provided by Apple – I count 30 stock apps provided as standard in a fresh install of iOS, which is an insane number2. It’s a larger number of apps on 64GB/128GB iPhones bought from the store as they have the iWork suite and Garageband installed as well.

OS X

I’m somewhat tired of the annual OS X release cycle. But it has to be this way: you couldn’t have Continuity on iOS 8 without having Yosemite, OS X has to keep pace with iOS as they become more intertwined. My tiredness aside, it won’t stop Apple from releasing a beta of OS X 10.11 (I’m going with the codename Mojave) at the Keynote.

I believe we’ll see more Continuity features, perhaps with Knock style integration that allows the unlocking of your Mac using only your phone. Other than that, I’m really not sure what to expect from OS X 10.11, other than the usual small tweaks and feature enhancements.

On my wishlist is a version of Bootcamp that works consistently with 3TB Fusion Drives. I have little hope of this actually coming to fruition.

Apple TV

Apple TV is due for a substantial refresh. I don’t think Apple made a mistake when they said that pricing for the Apple TV “Starts at S$108” at the Watch event in March. It implies that something else will be added to the line up. I think it’ll be a 4K capable Apple TV puck in conjunction with a new iTunes UHD movie and TV show download service. Guesstimate price: $299.

There’s been discussion about a streaming TV service featuring ABC, CBS, and Fox, costing around $30 - $40 per month. I don’t get what the benefit of this would be – it doesn’t add anything compelling. It’s also very U.S. centric which limits its appeal.3

Included in the iOS 9 SDK, I also think developers will finally get the ability to code for the Apple TV, perhaps using an expanded variant of the Back Row framework.

It’s the final piece of the ecosystem and there’s no reason not to open it up. It also falls neatly into the Epicenter of Change WWDC 2015 slogan.

Apple Pay

An expansion to countries outside the U.S. is a possibility, but there’s been very little news on the subject for a while. If it does happen, I think the expansion will focus on Canada and European countries.

As an aside: it infuriates me that day-to-day, in Singapore, I pay for most things with Visa PayWave/Mastercard PayPass and Apple Pay doesn’t work.

*Banks: How hard can it be?*

iCloud

Regarding iCloud, I think what we’ll be told is that “iCloud Photo Library only just came out of beta and we’re already storing x amount of photos”. I’d like to see more competitive pricing announced for the iCloud storage tiers, but I don’t think it’ll happen. I’d also love an iOS app that allows you to manage your iCloud Drive on a file-by-file basis. The chances of Apple allowing such control are probably nil.

Prediction Summary

  • iOS 8.4/Xcode 6.4: released at the Keynote.
  • iOS 9/Xcode 7/Full Apple Watch SDK: beta release at the Keynote, final release with new iPhone hardware.
  • OS X 10.11: beta release at the Keynote, final release in October.
  • Apple TV: revised 4K capable hardware, available in July, priced $299.
  • Apple TV: beta SDK at the Keynote, released with iOS 9.
  • iTunes Radio: Expansion to other countries.
  • iTunes UHD: New 4K movie/TV show download service.
  • An iCloud Photo Library success update.
  1. Despite launching in September 2013, iTunes Radio is still only available in two countries: the U.S. and Australia. ↩︎

  2. Remove the Tips app, remove Facetime, and remove compass. ↩︎

  3. A limited appeal doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t happen: Apple Pay is U.S. only; and iTunes Radio is only available in the U.S. and Australia. Thus, it’s not unprecedented for Apple to launch a product in one country only. However, I’d point to the difficulty that Microsoft had with the TV portion of the Xbox One – it’s almost a second thought in countries outside of America. ↩︎


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