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What to expect at Apple’s WWDC keynote

TechCrunch TechCrunch 10/06/2016 Romain Dillet

Apple is about to kick off its annual developer conference in San Francisco on Monday. As usual, the company will get things going with a good old keynote filled with secret and not-so-secret announcements. Here’s what I expect to see.

A good chunk of the conference should be about iOS and OS X updates. Usually, Apple showcases some of the most significant features at WWDC. Developers then get access to beta versions, and the final versions ship in September.

Let’s start with iOS 10. Rumor has it that Apple could unveil a new dark mode for default apps as well as a way to hide built-in apps. There could also be a new Home app to control all your HomeKit-enabled apps (like the Health app for HealthKit-enabled apps).

Following Apple’s fight with the FBI over the iPhone encryption system, Apple wants to avoid other cases like that. In order to do that, Apple could increase the security of iOS so that Apple wouldn’t even be able to help the FBI when it comes to unlocking iPhones.

Among other changes that would make sense, Apple could improve the Phone app as it basically hasn’t changed for years now. Maybe there could be a way to see if your contacts are available and didn’t activate ‘Do Not Disturb’. Maybe Apple is looking at ways to sync your voicemails with your other iOS and OS X devices.

Talking about communication features, a recent rumor has suggested that Apple could bring iMessage to Android. That could be a big deal for families that want to create iMessage groups but one or two people are using an Android phone. It’s long overdue if Apple wants to stay relevant against Facebook’s messaging apps, Messenger and Whatsapp. Also, please Apple, I’m begging you, we need previews in the Messages app for links, tweets, YouTube URLs and more.

Now that we got all the low-hanging fruits out of the way, let’s talk about the big changes, starting with a brand new Siri.

If you have an Amazon Alexa at home or have been playing with Google Now, you know that Apple has been lagging behind on this front. Apple was the first company to introduce a personal assistant in its phones, but it hasn’t changed much since then.

First, with iOS 10, Siri should be much more capable than before when it comes to understanding what you’re saying, answering quickly, and using context as much as possible. The company has bought a promising tech company called VocalIQ to power its next generation Siri. And Siri should now be able to remember what you were looking for five minutes ago and use that to refine its answers.

Second, third-party developers will finally be able to build Siri integrations using an SDK. Imagine asking Citymapper for directions, paying back your friend on Venmo and booking a concert ticket.

In other big changes, Apple is supposedly working on a big Apple Music redesign. Apple unveiled Apple Music last year at WWDC. While there are millions of subscribers, the interface is confusing as hell.

Nobody uses Connect, it takes too many taps to do something, you can like songs but you can also add them to your library. And I could go on and on. If Apple wants to convince another tens of millions of people to subscribe to Apple Music, it needs to be redesigned.

Let’s switch gear and talk about OS X 10.12, or macOS 12. Yes, you read that right. Releasing iOS 10 and another version of OS X was starting to be confusing. So Apple will drop the X, and unify its naming conventions.

Other than that, we don’t know much. Apple should be adding Siri version 2 to macOS. It could live in your menu bar for example.

Rumor has it that Apple finally wants to do a big iTunes update. The good old iTunes hasn’t aged well and is now crippled with bugs. So the new iTunes should come this Fall and be unveiled at WWDC.

Finally, Apple will let you unlock your Mac using TouchID on your phone. Why now? Because Apple could be working on a MacBook Pro with a TouchID sensor…

Talking about the MacBook Pro, Apple is working on something interesting. The new laptop will get the latest Intel processors, but that’s not all. Apple could use this opportunity to make the MacBook Pro slimmer and lighter. Most of the ports should be replaced with USB-C ports as traditional USB, HDMI and MagSafe ports are too thick.

But don’t get your hopes up as the MacBook Pro shouldn’t be ready for WWDC. Similarly, the Mac Pro and the Mac Mini badly need updates but WWDC should be all about software this year.

So if you were also waiting for an updated external display with a retina resolution and an integrated graphics cards, it’s not for now.

Let’s mention tvOS 10 and watchOS 3 for a minute. Don’t expect an Apple Watch 2 just yet, but Apple could unveil a new version of watchOS with a refined interface and more powerful native apps. watchOS 2 was supposed to make the Apple Watch an app platform. But let’s be honest, watchOS still needs more work. Raise your hand if you still use the side button to call up the Friends screen.

As for tvOS 10, we don’t know much except that it would be logical to add the new version of Siri to the Apple TV. As always, Apple could be hiding a few surprises. Apple already unveiled massive App Store changes ahead of WWDC because the keynote is already too packed. So Monday’s keynote could be interesting, and we’ll be there to cover it live.

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