Apple WWDC 2019 Predictions

It is that time of year again, just after Memorial Day, the school year is coming to an end, some students are graduating, and summer is just about to begin. While many are enjoying the beach or taking a vacation, there is a group of individuals who will be hard at work updating their applications, or learning all about the new versions of Apple’s operating systems; macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS. This group who will be doing this are developers. Each year in early June Apple holds its World Wide Developer’s Conference, also known as WWDC.

This year’s WWDC opening keynote will be held on Monday, June 3rd, 2019 at 10:00 am Pacific Time. You can stream it on Apple’s site. While nobody can predict with 100% certainty what Apple will release, it is fun to be able to make predictions regarding what one thinks Apple will release. Some of these predictions are more likely to occur than others. While some of these are merely things that I would like to see, others are things that would make sense for the evolution of each operating system.

You can skip all of the text and just jump to the Recap, if you are so inclined.

Here is my list of predictions, starting with iOS.

iOS

iOS is, by far, Apple’s most dominant platform.With well over 1.4 Billion active iOS devices, it should come as no surprise that this would be a primary focus for Apple. So I will start with iOS for my predictions.

Supported Devices

From time to time Apple no longer supports devices with the latest operating system. I think iOS 13 will drop support for some devices. With iOS 12, Apple primarily focused on speed improvements, and they wanted to support the same devices that could run iOS 11. In fact there were 31 different devices supported with iOS 12. I think that this year there will be some devices that will no longer be supported; specifically, the iPhone 5s, the first-generation iPad Air, the iPad mini 2, and the iPad mini 3. All of these devices have an Apple A7 processor.

Along with this, it is possible that Apple will no longer support devices that cannot support Augmented Reality, which would be anything running an A8 processor. If this is the case, it which would be an additional 5 devices. These would be the iPad Air 2, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the iPad mini 4, and the 6th generation iPod Touch. It would be a a surprise for Apple to stop supporting a product that was literally on sale one week before the keynote, but it is entirely possible.

I give the likelihood of eliminating support for A7 processor-based devices at 95%, with the elimination of A8 devices at 10%.

Dark Mode

With the release of macOS Mojave, Apple included a new option for users; Dark Mode. I would expect that this will be coming in iOS 13 in order to bring consistency between the two platforms. Of course, if it does happen, then developers will be able to detect whether or not it is enabled and adjust their themes accordingly. I think there will be a system-wide ability within Control Center to turn on and off dark mode, for quicker access for users. I give this a likelihood of 90% chance of happening.

Screen Time Enhancements

One of the biggest features for iOS 12 was the inclusion of a method of tracking screen usage. The iOS 12 version of Screen Time provides some features like limiting total app usage, allowing unlimited usage of an app, or even groups of apps. All of this can be controlled by the user, or if part of family sharing, a parent. I think iOS 13 will include some additional features for users and parents. Alongside these, I also think that developers would be able to control some settings, but only through an explicit user’s interaction and possible confirmation. I do not know if Apple would allow developer access, due to privacy, but it is possible. Although if they do, it would be only through an explicit user interaction.

I give additional Screen Time enhancements at 90% and developer control a likelihood of 50%.

iPad Specific Items

The iPad is the one device where it would make sense to have a big change made to it. When the iPad was originally released in 2010, it was a separate operating system. During its lifetime it became one with the rest of iOS; which is predominately iPhones. The iPad is more than just a consumption device. For many it is a productivity device and hence the iPad could easily warrant becoming its own type f device. With this, there are a few changes that I can see happening. The first of these changes is multiple applications.

Multiple Instances of apps

I think iOS 13 will bring some new ways of interacting with applications. In particular, the ability to have multiple windows for a single app on the screen simultaneously. This may not be the same app running simultaneously, but multiple windows, which would appear as the app running multiple times. This will provide some challenges for some applications, but it could be worthwhile.

I think this is much needed to make the iPad an even better platform as well as making it a more productive product. I give this prediction a 75% chance of occurring.

Different Layout

As alluded to above, the iPad is currently, effectively a giant iPhone; at least that is how the home screen depicts the iPad. For smaller iPads, like the iPad mini and even the 9.7-inch iPad, the grid is not a bad solution. However, on larger iPads, like the 10.5-inch iPad Air, the 11-inch iPad Pro, and absolutely the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the grid of icons no longer makes sense. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a larger screen than some of Apple’s Macs, and is close in screen size to others. One way to fix this the current layout on the larger screens would be to allow more icons in a row, by reducing the gap, but still maintain the existing grid layout.

While this would would be an improvement, it would be a half-step. A true solution might be to have a list of all of the apps, somewhat akin to the list view on the Apple Watch, that can be moved between the two sides of the screen, or better yet, is accessible from Control Center and have the app previews be in a smaller scrollable view.

What would take over the screen would be your apps. You would be able to stack them and swipe between them to find the app, or app pair, that you are looking for. This would be a radical shift, but would also allow users to be more productive. As much as I would like to see a big shift for the iPad, I do not think we will be betting it. For this prediction I am giving it a 15% chance of occurring.

Developer Tools on iPad

There is one group of users that are not able to do most of their work on an iPad and those are developers. There are some development tools available for them, like Swift Playgrounds, however, they are not able to bring in their existing code and perform significant work. While the task of bringing Xcode to the iPad is likely occurring somewhere at Apple, it is not likely that it will be available this year. However, I do think there might be some additional developer features available.

The one that I would like to see is Interface Builder. Imagine, if you will, that you are a developer who has an idea and only have your iPad with you. Now. what if you could import your Storyboards into Interface Builder for iPad? You would have access to many of the features of Interface Builder for Xcode, like UI Elements, Auto Layout, and all of the properties. Now, imagine if you could tell Interface Builder for iPad which Objective-C header files, or Swift files to use to pull in existing IBOutlets and IBActions. Or, if you do not have an existing project you would be able to create a set of Swift files that you could add to a project on Xcode on macOS to be able to make your idea come to life.

I do not expect to see this, but it would be great to see some additional developer tools available on iPad. I give additional developer tools being available on iPad at 25%, and Interface Builder for iOS a 5% chance of occurring.

Now that we have covered iOS, let us turn to macOS.

macOS

When you hear the term “macOS”, you might think “old and antiquated”. However, I think that will change with macOS 10.15. Before we get into the specifics of why I think it will change, we must take care of the most important aspect of any macOS, the name.

Name

With the release of OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Apple changed from the “Big Cats” to “California Places”. At the time Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi joked about using the name “Sea Lion”. Instead, they moved to the California Places motif. The names have been on a “tick-tock”-like cycle and were all related. First it was Mavericks, which was somewhat on its own. Mavericks was followed by Yosemite, then El Captain (which is within Yosemite). Then came Sierra and High Sierra. From Yosemite to High Sierra, the names were all related. Last year’s release of Mojave was a bit of a side-step, but still somewhat released. All of these places have been natural places. I think this year will be different.

I have been brainstorming different places within California. I think the name will be macOS Golden Gate. The reason I am choosing this name is because of the myriad of changes that will be coming with this release, and it still fits in with the overall theme of California Place names. At the same time though, I think this release will be one that users will mention changed a number of things. I am giving the likelihood of Golden Gate being the name at 10%, only because it is likely that it will be named something else and names are notoriously difficult to guess. Now, let us move onto the biggest change iOS apps on the Mac. As for one of the changes that will help define this release is something apple talked about last year.

iOS Apps on the Mac

Last year Apple mentioned that they were bringing some of their iOS apps to the Mac. They started with four of their own; Home, Stocks, Voice Recorder, and News. I think developers will be to bring their own apps to the Mac, specifically apps that support the iPad. This will be a huge change not just for developers, but also for users. The Mac has not received as much attention from developers as iOS has. While it may seem like this will be the end of the Mac, I do not think it will be. If anything it will only bolster support for the Mac. This is because there will be more apps, which may bring more users. Additionally, who does not want to use some of their favorite iOS apps on the Mac. Undoubtedly, there will be a bunch of shovel-ware, but there will also be some excellent apps that will be coming out for the Mac.

I give this prediction a 95% chance of occurring. I would give it 100%, but I am not sure if it will be iPad apps only and not include iPhone apps. The rumors indicate that this year it will only be iPad apps that are brought over, but Apple has a way of surprising us. Let us look at another feature that is not available on the Mac right now, Screen Time.

Screen Time on the Mac

Continuing with the iOS coming to the Mac, I think Apple will bring Screen Time to the Mac. It will bring the same features as are available on iOS, meaning that users will be able to limit the amount of time that apps, groups of apps, or websites that can be used. This will help people reduce their overall screen time across all of Apple’s platforms.. I give this is a 95% chance of occurring, because people use more than just iOS and I know I would like some insight into what I do on my Mac. My next prediction is something that we do not always see at WWDC, hardware.

Hardware

It is not every year that we get new hardware at WWDC. Last year there was no new hardware. However, in 2017, Apple released the 2nd Generation iPad Pros. I do not think we will see any hardware that is released at WWDC, but I think there will be some hardware shown off.

Mac Pro Preview

In April of 2017, Apple met with some journalists about the future of the Mac Pro. It has been just over two years and I think they may have something ready to show off. WWDC is the best place to show off the Mac Pro. I do not think it will be available immediately, but will be available by the end of the year, similar to the iMac Pro. I think this has a 75% chance of occurring. Along with this, I think there will be a preview of a new standalone display. I also give this a 75% chance of occurring.

Now that macOS and its related hardware is covered, let us move to tvOS.

tvOS

Apple’s operating system for the Apple TV is tvOS. Given the limited nature of tvOS, it may not always be easy to guess what Apple might do.

One thing that I would like to see is the ability to save specific screensavers and select one that can be set as the default. This may be a niche feature, but it would be a nice one. I give this a 5% chance of happening.

There are two additional items that could be made to tvOS. The first of these is multiple users. tvOS does not currently have a way of differentiating multiple users. This could go a long way to helping people have a more customized and personalized experience on tvOS. I give this a very slim chance of happening; specifically 5%.

What I do think we will end up seeing is some new features to enable even more games on the Apple TV. This is likely to occur because of the release of Apple Arcade “later this year”, and the games in Apple Arcade will be able to run on iOS, tvOS, and macOS. I give the likelihood of this happening at 85%. I give it this only because they may not talk about it at the keynote.

That is all I have for tvOS, let us move on to watchOS.

watchOS

The function of watchOS has been honed since its release a mere four years ago. The initial intent was to replace an iPhone. However, its primary usage has primarily become a fitness and notification mechanism. While the Apple Watch has been able to become independent, it has had some progress with the addition of a cellular model. I think there will be another step to being its own device with no need to be paired to an iPhone. I think we will see a standalone App Store specifically for the watch. This will allow applications to be submitted without an accompanying iPhone app. I give this a 85% possibility of happening.

There are two additional features that I can think of that the next version of watchOS will have. New Watch Faces. This is a somewhat easy one. I think we will see a whole new Watch Face, what it will look like I do not know. I know I would like to see the addition of a single complication for the Infograph Modular watch face, and that is the “Now Playing” complication. It is available on the Modular watch face but not on the Infograph Modular one. I think the likelihood of a new watch face is 95% and I give the possibility of the “Now Playing” complication added for the Infograph Modular watch face at 30%.

There is one area where I think we will have some improvements and that is Siri.

Siri

One of the last areas to discuss is actually a service that is across all of Apple’s devices, and that is Siri. The idea behind Siri is to be your digital assistant, as in your single digital assistant. While this is great in theory, in practice it comes up quite short. There are things that Siri can do on one type of device, but not on another. Some of these make sense, like the HomePod cannot display results. However, if the answer can be spoken there are times that the HomePod just says “You can do this search on your iPhone”. Or when you ask for something and the iPhone says “Tap on the one you want”. There are times when you are not in a position to actually tap on something, but instead it would be nicer to be able to provide a number and have Siri describe each of them.

Siri really needs to become a single entity that is accessible across all of your devices and is consistent. Apple’s primary focus is on privacy, but if some information can be synchronized between your devices, using iCloud, Siri can remain private but be available everywhere.

I think we will see some Siri improvements, what they might be, I do not know specifically. However, I give it a 60% chance that Siri will be improved with some sort of synchronization between devices.

Predictions Recap

I have made a few predictions, 20 to be exact. So, let us recap my predictions.

iOS – Elimination of support for A7-based devices — 95%
macOS – iPad apps coming to the Mac — 95%
macOS – Screen Time on the Mac — 95%
watchOS – New watch face — 95%
iOS – Additional Screen Time enhancements — 90%
iOS – Dark Mode on iOS — 90%
watchOS – Standalone App Store — 85%
tvOS – More game features — 85%
iOS – Multiple Instances/Windows for apps — 75%
macOS – Mac Pro Preview — 75%
macOS – New Display Preview — 75%
Services/Siri – Siri synchronization — 60%
iOS – Developer control of Screen Time — 50%
watchOS – Now Playing complication for the Infograph Modular watch face — 30%
iOS – Additional Developer tools on iOS — 25%
iOS – Radically Different iPad Layout — 15%
iOS – Elimination of support for A8-based devices — 10%
macOS – Named macOS Tahoe — 10%
iOS – Interface Builder on iPad — 5%
tvOS – Save specific screensavers — 5%
tvOS – Multiple User support — 5%

WWDC 2019 is likely to be a big one for developers. Even having iOS apps on the Mac is a huge deal in itself. As I usually do, I will provide a recap of what is announce as well as a recap of my predictions; which ones I got right and which one I got wrong. The recap may not happen until later in the week, depending on what Apple ends up announcing.

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