WWDC’14 Expectations

WWDC’14 is a go. Many people are excited about what Apple has planned for the keynote this year. As the public headline of their developer conference, the keynote has always centered on iOS and OS X in recent memory. This seems to be the case this year too, judging from the leaks by Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac. The highlight of these rumors is a complete visual redesign of OS X 10.10, and the introduction of Healthbook: an aggregation platform for health data in iOS.

However, the overall feeling (pundit wishful thinking) is that Apple might have something else up its sleeve. In 2010 the iPhone 4 was unveiled, in 2012 the first retina MacBook Pro, and last year the new Mac Pro. With Tim Cook repeatedly promising new products this year, the tension is rising. Feasible candidates for an introduction at WWDC are the long-rumored 12 inch MacBook Air with a refreshed design and a retina display, a refreshed Mac Mini, and some kind of health accessory to go hand in hand with the Healthbook introduction.

I’m keeping my expectations low. I suspect it will only be about software updates to current products. Yet, I’m really looking forward to a shocking redesigned of OS X. On the iOS side, Apple will also want something to pitch during the keynote. Healthbook is indeed the most likely contender, as the iPhone already has a number of sensor readings and third party accessories that can be aggregated in the app. Furthermore, it’s obvious that the redesign that began with iOS 7 will be further refined in iOS 8.

A shortlist of things I would like to see in iOS:

  1. For the third year in a row: improved inter-app communication. This would enable to more easily chain together apps and construct more elaborate workflows. For instance, taking a picture with the Camera app, sending it off to one or two editing apps, and posting it on Instagram. This introduces many user-facing problems that need to be fixed though. Things like default applications and scaling share-with dialogs.
  2. Multi-user support on iPad. iOS could make use of fingerprint unlock to transparently support multiple home screen and app configurations. Development effort and iPad sales are at least two good reasons why Apple would never implement something like this.
  3. Apple Wallet Service. Use you AppleID and coupled credit card for online and retail payment. The iPhone would undoubtedly play a big role here.
  4. (a) Better way of doing browser tabs in Safari on iPad, (b) an overhaul of keyboard auto-correction (especially on iPhone), (c) focus on advancing iOS for iPad, (d) better ways to manage apps on the home screen, (e) AirDrop that works reliably, fast, and between Mac and iOS devices, (f) Siri in more languages (Dutch) and with app integration, (g) a fix for the app silo problem where documents (files) only exist within a particular app, unless you store them on DropBox.

I don’t want to venture a guess as to if and when iOS would adopt these features. It is clear Apple is again spread thin between finishing what they started and working on hot new products.

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