WWDC 2018 Preview: What to expect from Apple's biggest show of the year!

WWDC 2018 Preview: What to expect from Apple's biggest show of the year!

WWDC is mostly software only. Mostly. This year, though, there’s a lot more to expect…

Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicks off with its traditional keynote on June 4, 2018.. It’s returning to San Jose, just a short distance from Apple’s Cupertino home and, unless Apple surprises us with a spring event again, it could just be Apple’s first keynote of the year.

Typically, WWDC is a software-and-services-only type of affair, with new operating systems and features, but nothing in the way of new hardware. Typically, but not always. Last year was the biggest exception to that rule in recent memory, with updated, Kaybe Lake versions of the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac, an A10 version of the iPad Pro, and the all-new 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

So, it’s safe to say anything and potentially everything is possible at WWDC 2018.

Every year, WWDC provides an opportunity for millions of developers to learn more about how to create new experiences across Apple’s platforms for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac and HomePod. A broad range of robust developer APIs, including SiriKit, HomeKit, HealthKit, GymKit, MusicKit, ResearchKit, and CoreML, give developers new ways to help users take command of everything from their health and homes, to how they get around, shop and learn. Last year at WWDC Apple debuted ARKit, and since then, developers with apps in every category on the App Store have embraced inventive ways to engage customers with virtual experiences overlaid in the real world.

iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS: All the new operating systems. All of them.

Major new OS updates are as close to sure things as we get going intot WWDC. There’ll be a new version of iOS. A new version of macOS. And new versions of tvOS and watchOS as well.

If past is prolog, Craig Federighi will do the honors for iOS 12 and macOS 10.14. Kevin Lynch will walk us through watchOS 5, and Eddie Cue will handle tvOS 12. (If the latter even gets any stage time.)

Big things to look for:

  • Smarter Siri: HomePod has shown Apple the cost of letting Siri languish and, with Craig Federighi at the helm now, Apple has to realize it has no choice but to redouble — requintuple — its AI and assistant efforts.
  • Cross-platform frameworks: Developing apps for iOS and macOS is still too inefficient, not just for third-parties but for Apple itself. Marzipan is one rumor, but the basic idea is that if you have a great iOS app, be it Messages from Apple or Drafts from an Indie, there should be a way to bring everything but the point-and-click interface of it to the Mac.
  • Parental Controls: Apple has been leading in this area for years but renewed attention from activists and sensationalists is forcing Apple to take it to the next level. Which is great for everyone.
  • ARKit: Tim Cook is still all-in on AR and a follow up to last year’s big augmented reality announcement feels inevitable.
  • Health: Another area Apple is focusing on lately is health and we should see more and better not just for iPhone but for Apple Watch.
  • Yoga: Apple’s reportedly looking into ways to track yoga, Tai Chi, and other types of workouts.
  • Stability: Rumor has it a good chunk of the new features originally scheduled for WWDC 2018, including a new Home screen, new CarPlay UI, new Mail app, and more, have been pushed back in order to give engineers time to polish the existing features.

Read our iOS 12 rumor roundup

Read our macOS 12.14 wishlist

Read our watchOS 5 rumor roundup

iPad and Mac: The hardware potentials

Apple doesn’t showcase new hardware at WWDC. Except when it does. With rumors hot and heavy, this could be one of the years it does.

Phil Schiller is the best in the business at introducing new atoms for all the new bits to run on, at least when it comes to iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Jeff Williams has been handling Apple Watch when it makes an appearance, and Eddy Cue — Apple TV.

So, what could we get?

  • New MacBook Air: One of the biggest rumors making the rounds is an updated MacBook Air with a Retina display and current-generation Intel processors, but with the same sub $1000 price tag entry-level buyers know and love.
  • iPads Pro: Putting the iPad line onto Apple’s A11 Bionic platform feels like a must, and rumors have it we’ll get less bezels and more display, iPhone X style, as well.
  • HomePod mini: Lowering the price of entry for Apple’s new computational audio device makes sense as well but may come later than June.
  • Updated Macs: Last year, Apple Kaby Lake’d it’s MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac line. It remains to be seen if Coffee Lake is ready for Apple prime-time. But if it is, we could a wave of new Macs as well.
  • Modular Mac Pro and Pro Display: Apple said it was working on a new, modular Mac Pro with Pro Display. But will it be ready for preview?

Read our iPad Pro 3 rumor roundup

Read our MacBook and MacBook Pro rumor roundup

Read our HomePod 2 wishlist

Any more things?

Always more things! Despite the hardware, software will still be key at WWDC. Apple’s shown the company can make bold new designs and cutting-edge new features, but also work to revolutionize medical research and patient care, accessibility and privacy.

The devices will get the lion’s share of media attention in June, but it’s all the new Kits that’ll be defining how we use those devices for the next year.

Wait, back up, when is WWDC 2018?

WWDC 2018 starts Monday, June 4 and runs through Friday, June 8.

And it’ll be in San Jose again this year, right?

Right. It’ll be held at the McEnery Convention Center, 150 West San Carlos, San Jose, CA.

That’s in the same area as Apple’s current Infinite Loop campus and only a few minutes away from the new Apple Park.

How’s San Jose as a venue?

McEnery Convention Center has everything from hotels to restaurants within walking distance. Apple is also working with the city and local businesses to make sure developers have an amazing week during the show.

Based on last year, it’ll be the closest thing to an Apple campus for outsiders — at least for a week.

When does registration open?

WWDC is so popular, Apple holds a lottery for the tickets. Registration for the lottery is open now.

Developers can apply for tickets from now through March 22 at 10 a.m. PDT via the WWDC website. Tickets are issued through a random selection process, and developers will be notified of application status by March 23 at 5 p.m. PDT.

You can apply here: https://developer.apple.com/wwdc/register/

Is it worth paying for a WWDC ticket?

WWDC tickets are US$1,599 each, which is a lot of money. Is it worth it? If you want to talk to Apple engineers about issues you have with your apps, go to design labs to get help with your interfaces, or otherwise consult directly with the people who make the SDK and API, then yes.

Is it worth going to WWDC without a ticket?

There are a lot of events that happen around WWDC, and a lot of people who attend without tickets. If you want to hang out and network with other people in the Apple community IRL, WWDC is the way to do it.

If you can’t get to San Jose, will WWDC 2018 still be streamed?

More than ever. And not just the keynote. I think that’s an area Apple really wants to keep up on, especially considering the convention center can only hold a tiny fraction of Apple’s developer base.

In other words, keep your Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad WWDC apps ready.

Where can you find more information on WWDC 2018?

Right here: https://developer.apple.com/wwdc/

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