By David Nield:Credit:The Gadget
It’s almost WWDC time: Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, where we usually get a slew of updates about the company’s growing range of hardware and software products. Expect iOS 10, the next OS X, the Apple TV and the Apple Watch to all feature heavily.
It all begins on 13 June in San Francisco, and the rumour mill has been abuzz with speculation about what Apple has in store. Here are the whispers we really hope are true, together with some new ideas we’ve come up with for ways Apple can go forward.
1. Superior Siri
Smartphones just don’t seem to be innovating the way that they used to but one area where there’s still a lot of room for improvement is digital assistants, and while Siri works well enough we’d love to see tighter integration with iOS and third-party apps, better awareness of context, and even some smarter AI trickery thrown in too.
It would certainly be the perfect riposte to the launch of Google Assistant. We’d also love the rumour to be true about Siri expanding beyond iOS (and tvOS) to the desktop – you really need a digital assistant app to be everywhere if it’s going to be useful, and from the tip-offs we’ve heard it sounds like Siri will indeed be one of the main stars of WWDC 2016.
2. iMessage for Android
We’re big fans of iOS but one of the platform’s weaknesses is the iMessage app – it works perfectly fine when you’re chatting with other iPhone users but is incompatible with Android phones (switching you to standard texting instead) and is a pain to get out of if you ever decide you want to ditch your Apple smartphone and join the other side.
The problem has become so acute that there are now third-party hacks for getting iMessage working on Android – but an official solution from Apple would be much more useful. Maybe they could ask the team who made Apple Music for Android to do it, and add some better import, export and cross-compatibility options at the same time.
3. Apple Echo
All the indications are that software’s going to be the main focus of WWDC 2016, but we thought the same about Google I/O 2016, and the Mountain View company whipped out Google Home – obviously it’s a fairly blatant rip-off of the Amazon Echo, but equally obviously this kind of device is going to play a key role in our future smart homes.
We already know that Apple wants to get involved in smart homes thanks to HomeKit, so it makes sense that it’s got an Echo-like device up its sleeve (indeed, we’ve seen rumours to that effect). Siri would definitely be on board, though some industry analysts think the current Apple TV will get Echo-like powers instead of Apple launching a new device.
4. Apple VR
Apple – the VR train is leaving the station and you need to jump on board. While it might be a bit of a stretch to expect some kind of Oculus Rift competitor from the Cupertino company, it would be nice to see an initiative like Google’s Daydream announced on stage at WWDC, then developers can start building new iOS apps with virtual reality in mind.
Of course the iPhone can already play 360-degree videos and there’s a Google Cardboard app for iOS too, but so far Apple hasn’t made any moves in virtual reality (or indeed augmented reality). It’s obviously a growing and popular field in tech and if Apple ignores it then it risks getting left behind, especially with the interest from Google and Microsoft.
5. MacBook Pros
Apple has a habit of neglecting some of its hardware lines while it focuses on other areas, and the MacBook Pro is definitely due an upgrade – in the past year or so Apple has been all about the super-light, super-thin MacBooks but power users need laptops too. It’s been more than a year since the last upgrades, which weren’t particularly substantial.
6. Apple Watch 2
If we were being really greedy we’d ask for an updated, improved version of the Apple Watch too, though it’s more likely Apple will stick to software updates for the timepiece at WWDC. Most criticisms of the smartwatch have been that it’s too sluggish and slow to respond, something that upgraded hardware would obviously help with.
And one more thing… the Apple Car
The keynote phrase “one more thing” has lasted beyond Steve Jobs time at Apple and last year we got the launch of Apple Music at WWDC 2015. Let’s hope there’s a ‘one more thing’ this year too – it seems a little early for the Apple Car but wouldn’t it be great if Tim Cook rolled onto stage in a gleaming new electric hatchback, complete with Apple branding.
It’s almost definitely not going to happen – but then this is what we want to see at WWDC, not what we’re actually going to see. We’ll probably have to make do with tweaks to iOS, OS X (or macOS?), tvOS and watchOS as normal, but it should be interesting nevertheless. We’ll be bringing you all the big WWDC stories on T3 as the event unfolds from 13 June.