Any Apple event that includes a keynote by Steve Jobs is guaranteed to conjure up anticipation and rumors of what new products and services the Apple CEO might unveil. The keynote to Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, which occurs on Monday, is no exception.
It's already clear that any new announcements will center on the company's mobile platform as all sessions and labs at WWDC this year are focused exclusively on iPhone and iPad development. Since the April preview of iPhone OS 4
, rumors and leaks of details surrounding future iPhone OS features, the hardware of a next-generation iPhone, and potential deals with other US mobile carriers have swarmed around the Internet.
The case of the lost or stolen iPhone prototype that Gizmodo purchased
and then provided detailed photos of online in itself has led some analysts to wonder if there will be any real surprises at all. Meanwhile, cryptic one-line emails from Jobs over the past few weeks indicate that there will still be some impressive surprises when he takes the stage Monday morning in San Francisco's Moscone Center.
What's real, what's hype, and what will be the "one more thing" Jobs is famous for showing off at the end of these events? Here are my educated guesses based on Apple's history and the information that's out there.
1. New iPhone 4G
It's pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point that Apple will announce a new iPhone, both because the prototypes that have shown up over the past several weeks and the fact that Apple has released a new iPhone every year in the June-July timeframe since the original three years ago.
This model will no doubt include a design based on Apple's A4 processor
, also used in the iPad, and will likely include additional internal memory to support multitasking
and other additional processor-intensive features. If recent indications from iphone Czech site superiphone.cz
prove true, this model will also sport a much higher display resolution than previous iterations. As Apple readily doubles the higher end storage capacities with new models, this year's model will likely offer up to 64GB of storage as well as increased battery life.
Whether it will indeed feature the elusive front-facing camera and/or LED flash for the rear camera as anticipated -- based on references in the iPhone OS 4
SDK beta and the prototype published by Gizmodo -- may be less certain in light of rumors that Apple actually has two next-generation prototypes (one of which features a design more similar to the iPhone 3GS).
2. iPhone Tethering for AT&T
Again a solid conclusion based on AT&T's recent statement of tethering support in conjunction with a new range of iPhone/iPad data plans
. How popular tethering is viewed for existing iPhone customers may vary given that current customers can maintain the $30 unlimited data plan as opposed to switching to capped plans, which is required for tethering.
3. Additional US, International Carriers for iPhone
The rumors of a Verizon iPhone are far from new. However, the intensity of these rumors over the past few months may lend some additional credence to the idea. While it would be easier for Apple to offer an iPhone to T-Mobile because of it's GSM network in the US and relationship as an iPhone carrier abroad, Verizon would offer a greater customer base and is generally considered a superior carrier nationally.
If Apple does offer a CDMA iPhone model (as indicated by rumors that Pegatron is manufacturing one), it could also offer that model to Sprint customers in the US. Abroad there is less support for CDMA, but it could open additional markets in other countries including Japan and South Korea.
More recent rumors of a Verizon iPad being tested also led credence to Apple looking to expand US sales of its devices. In recent weeks, there have been comparisons between iPhone and Android sales
in the US and internationally that have hinted that one reason for Android's US success is because of the iPhone and iPad being tied to a single carrier. Regardless, look for an announcement of additional international sales of the iPad and potentially additional carrier deals for both the iPad and iPhone abroad.
4. Video and Mobile VoIP Chat
The potential for video chat on the iPhone (or iPad) goes hand-in-hand with rumors of a front facing camera. This could revolutionize how such devices are used, though they'd probably require a stand of some sort for the most effective video chat (or at least in assuring flattering video chat angles).
It is surprising that Apple has never offered an iPhone-iPad version of it's iChat solution for Macs. Such a solution could easily enable not just video, but mobile VoIP, instant messaging, remote presentation of photos, movies, or presentations, and even remote control of a workstation or other device -- all of which are features in iChat. Considering the emphasis on pointing out VoIP services as a background and multitasking feature in iPhone OS 4, this could be an area of potential expansion for Apple.
5. Update on Game Center and iAd
More details on the iAd and Game Center frameworks introduced in the iPhone OS 4 preview are all but certain. The exact timeline of Game Center and details on producing and distributing ads using iAd will no doubt make up the bulk of these updates.
6. Timeline for iPhone OS 4 for iPhone and iPad
The launch of iPhone OS 4 for iPhone and iPod touch devices will certainly be detailed. Most likely, it will coincide with either WWDC itself or the release date for a new iPhone model (as this has been Apple's traditional major update for the iPhone OS to date).
Hopefully, Apple will also provide more details of the date and upgrade process for iPads, which is currently referred to as simply "sometime this fall." Any iPad upgrade details could be particularly important for educational iPad implementation given the release could coincide with the back-to-school season.
7. iPhone Enterprise Deployment and Management Features
iPhone OS 4 is slated to include a number of enterprise enhancements (several of which, EnterpriseMobileToday
has already covered in this article "iPhone OS 4: Guide to Anticipated Mobile Management Functionality
.") Expect specifics about new activation and configuration capabilities including the ability to perform over-the-air provisioning and profile updates as well as additional management features.
It seems likely that Apple will be partnering with third-party providers for full-fledged solutions that work in multi-platform environments. Already Equinux has announced a provisioning and management tool called Tarmac
that likely hooks into these new capabilities. The low-down on such ventures will almost certainly be present as well as collateral announcements from partners.
8. Enhanced Overall and App-Specific Mobile Security Measures
iPhone OS 4 will also include the ability to encrypt email stored on iPhones and iPads. Expect more disclosure on that as well as on the options for app developers to make use of the same encryption capabilities for their apps. There will probably be a handful of demos, but the final release of apps taking advantage of this feature may not be all that wide initially.
9. Improved iPad File Sync Features
Apple's solution for syncing files between iPad apps and a desktop computer through iTunes hasn't really won any praise from users. The solution is confusing to new users and illustrates that the iPad needs a single, easy-to-access file system (particularly when using the iWork apps). This scenario is generally perceived as different from the originally envisioned solution in which the iPad would mount similar to a hard drive, so hopefully Apple will at least have a demo of a better option.
Considering that similar capabilities are expected to come to the iPhone with OS 4, this would be an ideal time to introduce such a solution. Ideally that solution will allow wireless file transfers using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or a cloud-based solution -- all of which seem to be managed better on other platforms and even by third-party apps on both the iPad and iPhone in regard to Wi-Fi and cloud options.
10. New or Updated Cloud Solutions
Speaking of cloud-based solutions, I wouldn't be surprised to see one or more announcements in this area. Apple should be able to easily use its Mobile Me iDisk feature as a repository for transferring files between its mobile devices and desktop computers (iDisk is a WebDAV solution that can be accessed from Macs or PCs directly or by way of a Web browser). Mobile Me already offers sync of contacts, calendar items, and Web bookmarks. Therefore, document syncing should be possible.
Apple also has its iWork.com solution, though this is more for sharing documents with others than for true syncing or cloud-based collaboration. The service has been floating around for 18 months, and while it does offer the ability to view and share documents online as well as to download them for use with iWork for iPad, it still seems rather feature-light and I can't help expect that Apple still has further plans for the service.
Likewise, Apple purchased music service Lala (and discontinued it this week). The overall assumption is that Apple will use Lala's technology to offer cloud-based media storage of personal iTunes media collections. If so, we're likely to see an announcement and demo on Monday along with additional details.
11. Revamped Version of iWork for iPad
An updated version of iWork for iPad
(and possibly, though less likely, a version of iWork for iPhone) could be included. If so, it would most likely focus on the larger complaints of iWork: the convoluted process of syncing documents to the iPad then importing them into the appropriate iWork app and the lack options for formatting, fonts, and media that cause imported documents to be stripped of content when imported. Given that other companies are beginning to announce alternative and more functional office suites, Apple would be wise to improve iWork immediately.
12. Better App and File Organization
iPhone OS 4 will include a folder-based concept for organizing apps on the iPhone and iPad home screens. This is a much needed feature both for allowing larger numbers of apps and making it easy to find the one you need quickly and easily. Again, hopefully some of this concept of organization also spreads to document and file organization (though I'm not holding my breath for a fully accessible file system of any kind).
13. Demonstration of Multitasking
No doubt we'll see an updated or final demo of how each of the multitasking components function, perhaps with more details of integration capabilities between them -- even if only something along the lines of copy-and-paste between an email and Web site or document.
14. Improved Photo and Video Creation and Management
A number of reports indicate that some of the feature of Mac OS X's iPhoto tool such as organization of pictures by event or date, by geotagged location, and by facial recognition techniques, will be included in the Photos app for iPhone OS 4. I wouldn't be surprised to see some additional capabilities (particularly on the iPad) that mirror iPhoto's ability to create slideshows, add keywords and titles, perform basic image editing or color correction, and such. Likewise, I wouldn't be surprised to see the basic video trimming features on the iPhone 3GS improved with basic editing capabilities.
15. iPad Printing
One big issue with the iPad (and to a somewhat less extent the iPhone) is the lack of printing support. While some app developers have made attempts to compensate for this, it seems likely that Apple will provide a device-wide solution at some point given that Steve Jobs responded to an email on the issue indicating such support would be coming. Whether we'll see it on Monday or not is less certain.
16. Fix for iPad Wi-Fi Issues
Apple has posted tech notes suggesting possible fixes to iPad Wi-Fi issues and also promising permanent fixes via a firmware update. WWDC seems as good a time as any to release that update if it is available and stable.
17. Additional Bluetooth and Peripheral Support
iPhone OS 4 will bring Bluetooth keyboard support to the iPhone, a long standing feature request by many. Apple may introduce additional Bluetooth or physically connected peripheral capabilities. Although Apple announced support for third-party hardware developers to create iPhone accessories that pair with an app for functionality over a year ago, there have been few such solutions placed into production. Apple could use WWDC to promote or demo some such solutions.
18. iBooks Expansion
Apple's iBookstore will be coming to the iPhone and iPod touch with iPhone OS 4. No doubt this will make the WWDC keynote. A further possibility is that Apple will provide a desktop solution as well, much like Amazon allows Kindle purchases to be read on a computer, a smartphone, the Kindle device, or an iPad. While reading on a computer isn't always preferable, having broad access to books for reference in that form can be useful.
19. Improved Maps and Navigation Solutions
Although Steve Jobs mentioned that Google will be staying on the iPhone and iPad for search at this week's All things digital conference, he didn't mention the Maps app, which is currently powered by Google Maps but is lacking navigation features available to Google Maps on Android devices. Apple also purchased PlaceBase, a mapping and map overlay company. This could mean a replacement for Google Maps or an Apple -- designed expansion of the Maps app while still using Google Maps data.
20. Full List and Demo of iPhone OS 4 Features
Whatever the full complement of new features in iPhone OS 4, they will no doubt all be touched on or highlighted during this keynote. There will be demos of both new features of the OS as a whole as well as updated Apple apps and probably a large selection of third-party apps that make use of new developer capabilities.
Whether this will encompass all the details that will see or whether Apple has some more surprises in store, we'll find out in a few days. Check back with EnterpriseMobileToday.com
on Monday and throughout next week for details of the keynote and other announcements from Apple and third-party developers at WWDC.
Ryan Faas is a technology author and consultant specializing in Apple technologies in the home, enterprise and mobile space. His most recent book is "The iPhone for Work." You can find additional information about his work and consulting services as well as follow him on Twitter by visiting the Ryan Faas Web site