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WWDC 2017: What to expect from Apple’s big developer event keynote

Siri ... and a speaker?

Apple Introduces New Products
Apple’s iPad could use some extra attention today.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off with one of its trademark product keynotes, starting Monday, June 5 at 10 am PT, 1 pm ET. Recode will cover WWDC live from San Jose, Calif. — stay tuned for the latest.

What will Apple introduce? The company’s promotional material for WWDC doesn’t say anything specific this year. But here are several announcements Apple could make, in our best-guess order of their likelihood.

iOS 11

A new version of iOS, Apple’s operating system for the iPhone and iPad, is a near certainty. What’s more interesting is that basically nothing about iOS 11 has leaked yet — similar to last year — except a “Files” placeholder app that suggests more granular access to files on iOS devices.

We’ll be looking for a few things from Apple’s most important platform.

One is Apple’s continued evolution of Siri, its voice-based assistant. Last year, Apple opened Siri to a select set of developers, such as Uber, Square and Pinterest. It would seem obvious to open Siri further, especially as Amazon is getting traction with its rival Alexa and Google is putting muscle behind its Assistant service.

Apple will probably also have more to say about its AI efforts, one of the more important technology arms races in the industry today.

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Kicks Off In San Francisco
More Siri apps should be on the way.
Andrew Burton / Getty

Another thing we’re curious about is some sort developer platform for augmented reality or the camera.

Facebook, Instagram and Google are pushing ahead with AR, and Snapchat AR selfie filters have become part of everyday communication. Apple has the advantage of controlling the default camera app that millions of people use every day. Something here seems possible — even if just some Apple-designed camera filters.

This month is the tenth anniversary of the first iPhone launch, which many think will lead to a more-dramatic-than-usual update to its hardware design later this year. What does that mean for iOS’s user-interface design? Perhaps Apple will make some substantial changes to the home screen, which has evolved over the years but is still mostly an array of app icons.

Other iOS possibilities could include an Apple Pay-powered peer-to-peer Venmo competitor, which Recode previously reported was being discussed; some iPad-specific features to make the tablets more capable for would-be “pro” users; group FaceTime, à la the popular House Party app; and some Apple Music updates, perhaps around its video efforts like “Carpool Karaoke.”

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Kicks Off In San Francisco
Eddy Cue will probably have something to say about Apple Music.
Andrew Burton / Getty

watchOS 4

Apple used WWDC last year to reveal watchOS 3, a major rethink of the software that runs the Apple Watch.

We don’t expect anything as dramatic this time. But Apple will likely introduce some new features for Watch users and developers. We’d expect to hear more about health and fitness, notifications and watch faces.

(Though we wouldn’t expect anything that requires new Watch hardware or sensors — that’s probably later in the year.)

tvOS update

Apple should also offer some new features for the software that powers the Apple TV set-top box, which seems to be doing okay but not extraordinarily well. (When’s the last time you heard about a must-have Apple TV app?)

New Siri features seem pretty obvious. Apple may also use the venue to officially announce that an Amazon Prime streaming app for Apple TV will be arriving.

macOS 10.13

A new version of the Mac’s operating system is also likely imminent, though we don’t expect anything revolutionary here.

Wish list: Breaking up the bloated iTunes app and a cleaner Apple Music experience.

Mac hardware updates

Apple will reportedly update some Mac models, according to a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, though the upgrades don’t sound extraordinary. Gurman’s report said some MacBook Pro notebooks would get faster chips, the MacBook would receive its annual update (which happened earlier in the spring last year) and the old-but-popular MacBook Air could even get an update. Nothing about a larger MacBook or non-Intel Macs, though an iMac update also seems plausible.

More interesting: Whether Apple will say anything more to the developer audience about its plans for the mea culpa Mac Pro. It’s probably too early.

iPad updates?

Apple rolled out a new iPad this spring but didn’t touch its iPad Pro lineup, which is getting suspiciously old. Bloomberg’s Alex Webb writes Apple is “likely to unveil iPads” at WWDC, and so the iPad Pro seems the most likely candidate for a revamp.

Perhaps this is where Apple will start talking up the AI chip it has reportedly been working on.

(The iPad mini, too, is due for an update, though Apple may instead ignore it, focusing on larger iPads and iPhones.)

Some sort of Siri speaker?

Apple has “started manufacturing a long-in-the-works Siri-controlled smart speaker,” Bloomberg’s Gurman reported, with few details. This makes sense — the Amazon Echo is a popular device, Apple makes entertainment devices and owns Beats — but we don’t know much more about it.

Some speculation is that this will be less a kitchen-counter-focused gadget and something more appropriate for the living room, but not much information has leaked. Perhaps we’ll learn more this week.

What not to expect

We don’t anticipate hearing anything about AR glasses, AirPods 2.0, Apple cars or new iPhones.

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