The 2017 WWDC: The Speculation Begins

May 10th, 2017

So Apple has done what’s needed to jumpstart speculation about what is coming from the company for the rest of the year. Invitations have been sent to selected journalists for the June 5th WWDC keynote. As the rumors about the next iPhone continue to take shape, talk about macOS 10.13 and iOS 11 will begin to assume prominence. Will they be major upgrades, or simple refreshes with improved performance and a few dozen enhancements?

Regardless, Apple will make it seem as if there are going to be major changes, that Apple is poised to upend the technology industry yet again. But the real question is what sort of changes Apple really needs to make with its flagship system software. Is there anything seriously lacking on Macs that Apple needs to address, other than to make macOS faster and more stable? Unfortunately, releases have bred tons of criticisms about programming lapses, inconsistent performance,

And why does the listing for macOS Sierra at the App Store not include user reviews?

And, no, I couldn’t care less what name Apple uses this time. But what I do expect to see is a release version of the Apple File System (APFS), which offers loads of state-of-the-art file system features. These include snapshots and other capabilities that will no doubt result in all-new and more flexible Time Machine backup utility. I just wonder whether APFS will make it possible to create bootable Time Machine volumes.

With iOS 10.3, Apple has already launched APFS, and it doesn’t appear that it’s resulted in any serious compatibility issues. My wish list is relatively sparse. I’d like to see more flexible text editing capabilities, and perhaps some new ideas for iPad — and perhaps iPhone Plus — multitasking. If Apple hopes to make it easier to be productive on an iPad, iOS 10.4 might offer features that will help developers add important new features.

I’d be happy if you can just record audio and video from one app in another app, and maybe have more flexible access to the file system for creatives. That doesn’t mean iOS has to do things in the same way as macOS. I’d like to see bright ideas from Apple’s OS developers that I never thought about before.

But what about hardware?

With Apple’s assurances that they love Mac professionals, will there be a demonstration of the next Mac Pro? Showing off a product that won’t be out until early next year is not unheard of. Remember that the controversial 2013 Mac Pro was first launched at that year’s WWDC, even though it didn’t actually ship until late December. And, in fact, most users had to wait until early 2014 to receive product.

I suppose it’s also possible that there will be news about the 2017 iMac with professional features. If that’s the case, it could ship in late June, sporting more powerful processors and graphics, and perhaps with additional ports and other features that will make it possible for this all-in-one powerhouse to replace the Mac Pro for more users. I would anticipate the ability to run two external 5K displays.

Before I bought my original 27-inch iMac in late 2009, I had a Mac Pro. But I felt that, for my needs, the iMac was a better fit. But I also expect that the pro features will be available in optional configurations. You’ll see be able to buy the refreshed iMacs for the same prices as the current model, maybe even less.

There might even be a refreshed MacBook and Mac mini, but both products would be treated as afterthoughts. If they are launched at the WWDC, they would arrive with brief announcements at the June 5th keynote or just a press release.

While the Mac hasn’t received the treatment it ought to receive in recent years, staying the course with the rest of the announcements wouldn’t seem out of line.

That said, rumors about the next macOS and iOS are quite sparse so far. Maybe my aging memory is lacking, but I seem to recall more talk about these topics in earlier years. It doesn’t seem to be as much on the radar these days with all the talk about the iPhone 8, whether or not it’ll arrive on time, and new Mac hardware.

Oh yes, maybe there will be something from Apple to compete against the Amazon Echo. On the heels of comments from Apple’s marketing VP, Philip Schiller, that the Echo lacks a display, Amazon has introduced a model, the Echo Show, which offers just that. There’s no connection, of course. Obviously this new model has been under development for a while.

But to me, it resembles a low-end TV set that one might put in a kitchen or a patio setting. Yes, I realize it has a touchscreen and a camera and thus serves the function of a video phone. At $229.99, it seems to be a decent enough deal for those who care.

That said, it’s time for a reality check: Apple reportedly sold far more Apple Watches than Amazon sold Echos, yet the latter is thought to be a success, while the former is thought to are a failure. But an Apple alternative to an Echo would be a consumer product, and it would seem a better fit for early fall introduction, not fodder for a developer’s event.

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One Response to “The 2017 WWDC: The Speculation Begins”

  1. dfs says:

    There are a lot of improvements Apple could make. Consider, for inst., the way the Mac handles telephony. All we are given is FaceTime, and it is clear that the telephone part of that application was a last-minute afterthought slapped onto what is essentially a videophone app. (Apple doesn’t even bother to offer a Dial With FaceBook option in the Services list). It’s clunky, it’s barebones, and its a a thousand miles distant from the wonderfully sophisticated way the iPhone handles pretty nearly everything to do with telephony. You can’t use it for telephoning without having your screen invaded by that videoconferencing window (and, by the way, why doesn’t a company usually so concerned about security give us a way of switching off our Mac’s camera so we can rely on a solution to that problem more elegant than a PostIt note?) And, although it would be silly to expect Apple to accommodate competing mobile phones, what would be wrong with creating a Mac phone app that could handle a landline phone via a USB modem? Sure, there are good telephone apps (Phone Amego, Hands Off — Dialectic’s hideous interface rules it out), but they rely on Bluetooth and involve their users with its notorious range and stability problems. If Apple paid as much attention to the telephony needs of its Mac customers as it does to its iPhone ones, especially those who use laptops, that would be a giant step forward.

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