Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicks off on Monday with a keynote speech from the company’s founder and charismatic CEO, Steve Jobs. As is usual in these matters, the web is full of rumors and pundit-driven premonitions of what might be announced. Not to be outdone, after scouring the Internet and tapping the minds of all of my Apple-connected colleagues (OK, I hassled a few people on IM), here are last100’s five WWDC predictions.
New ‘brushed aluminun’ redesigned iMacs. Think Secret reports that Apple may take the wraps off a new iMac line featuring a brushed aluminum enclosure (similar to the Mac Pro), faster chips, and only available in 20-inch and 24-inch models (no 17-inch). I’m going out on a whim of this one as the conference is primarily for developers, so Apple doesn’t traditionally announce new consumer products; hence we definitely won’t see anything iPod related.
iPhone developer kit. When Apple first announced the iPhone, many noted that third party applications would not be permitted. It appeared the new device would run Apple-developed software only. Since then, however, Steve Jobs has suggested that the company is working on a way to allow outside developers to make software for the iPhone, without undermining security or stability. While we may not see the iPhone become a fully open platform, I think Apple will announce some kind of ‘made for iPhone’ developer programme or at least allow third party ‘widgets’ for accessing web-related services (similar to OSX’s Dashboard).
.mac upgrade and Google partnership. In what I’m hoping isn’t putting two and two together and getting five, Wired speculates that Apple will announce a major upgrade to .mac. The service offers online sync and backup of data, along with web-based email, photo-sharing, publishing, and calendar apps, but has fallen behind similar offerings from Google, Yahoo and AOL — both in terms of features and price. At the same time, Apple has forged an increasingly close relationship with Google (the two companies have worked together on software for the iPhone, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt sits on Apple’s board).
Schmidt said in April in an interview with me that he envisioned just such a relationship eventually. “We’re a perfect back end to the problems that they’re trying to solve,” Schmidt told me. “They have very good judgment on user interface and people. But they don’t have this supercomputer (that Google has), which is the data centers. What they have is a manufacturing business that’s doing quite well.”
Jobs’ response to .Mac’s whithered state? In response to a question last week he actually agreed, adding “stay tuned.”
Might we see a revamped .mac service with Apple-branded Google Apps?
AppleTV plug-ins. This one could be wishful thinking on my part, but also a distinct possibility. Apple will finally open its set-top-box to support third parties who want to add new functionality to the device. Its ‘closed’ nature hasn’t stopped the hackers so far, but a properly sanctioned developer kit would certainly make installing new plug-ins more consumer-friendly.
Mac OSX.5 ‘Leopard’s new 3D user interface. OK, calling it a 3D user interface might be stretching it, but don’t be surprised to see the much touted ‘top secret’ features of the next version of OSX, due to be released in October, include some serious new OS eye candy, which shows off the systems Core Animation functionality. For a glimpse into how this might take shape, just look at the iPhone’s animated UI elements.
Bonus: AppleTV games. Just like the iPod, Apple could announce a number of 3rd party ‘casual’ games for its set-top-box. Nothing too complicated, but classic titles that would work with the Apple Remote.