Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook is due to kick off Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference Monday with his annual keynote speech.
Company shareholders and fans will be fixing a critical gaze on the conference to see what Apple has planned, particularly since it hasn’t had a major product announcement in more than six months.
There’s plenty of speculation about what will come up Monday, ranging from the fairly safe prediction that Apple will show off redesigned versions of its mobile and desktop operating systems to the riskier bets that it will have some updated hardware on display.
The company isn’t expected to release a new iPhone or iPad at the event, but could give its laptop lines a refresh, according to a report from CNET that cites analyst Mingchi Kuo of KGI Securities. At last year’s conference, Apple unveiled a new version of the MacBook Pro and an updated MacBook Air. Kuo expects a new version of the MacBook Pro that is thinner and sports an upgrade to Intel’s Haswell processor, and possibly a new MacBook Air with improved microphones.
Another expected — but not confirmed — announcement from the show is the release of an Apple streaming music service similar to Pandora. Nicknamed “iRadio” by the tech press, the service is rumored to be an ad-supported product that will generate music channels based on music that consumers say they like.
The service is expected to be tightly integrated with Apple’s successful iTunes store, making it easy to buy songs with a minimum amount of fuss. Apple has been rumored to be on the verge of announcing a similar service for years, but speculation is particularly high this year as the company faces stiff competition in the music space.
With challenges from Spotify, Pandora and Google’s All Access Music service, and Apple radio service would step into a crowded arena. But it would come with a wide base of users already turning to Apple for music.
WWDC has also traditionally served as the company’s stage to show off updates to its mobile and desktop operating systems. This year, the company is expected to make dramatic changes to the way that its mobile system, iOS, looks.
Last year, after an executive shakeup that included the departure of Apple’s lead iOS designer Scott Forstall, the job of designed hardware and software fell to Apple’s hardware leader Jony Ive. With Ive now in a position to direct the look of the company’s software, many tech bloggers and analysts expect that he will take some of the minimalist design principles he applies to Apple gadgets to the software as well.
That would be a departure from the current system, which relies on replicating real-life textures— such as the green felt on the iOS game center — as a central design tenet.
Some have already picked up clues as to what the new system may look like from the app designed for the conference itself. The WWDC app has fewer shadows and textures on display than it has in the past, as Gizmodo noted, and has an overall crisper look.
Apple, as it did last year, will stream the WWDC keynote on its Web site and on the “Apple Events” channel on Apple TV.
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