It’s become a little tradition on this blog that I post my predictions for all Steve Jobs’ big keynote events. In some ways this isn’t quite as much fun as it used to be because big Apple news tends to leak out these days. In the past making WWDC predictions was much more about imagining what Apple might do, rather than analysing rumours which is really what it’s about now. That’s still fun, but it’s more about logic than it is about imagination.

[tags]Apple, WWDC, WWDC 2008, Developers, Steve Jobs, Keynote, iPhone, predictions[/tags]

It’s important to know what WWDC is all about. It’s the World Wide Developers Conference and it’s run by Apple. It’s not like MacWorld where Apple are an invited guest at a trade show for Mac products, it’s Apple talking to the people who write software for the Mac. That reality plays a large part in determining what is and is not the focus of Steve’s keynote. This won’t be about consumer computers or laptops, it won’t be about Apple TV and it won’t be about the iPod or movies. These things will probably all get mentioned in Steve’s opening “look how great we are” slides but they won’t form the focus (with the obvious exception if the iPhone and iPod Touch).

The 400lb Gorilla

Lets start by getting the obvious stuff out of the way. The next generation of the iPhone will obviously be announced. It will almost certainly support 3G and it will come with the shiny new iPhone OS which will have support for third party applications. This is a big deal for developers and it will take up a significant amount of time in the keynote. I expect we’ll see lots of demos of cool software running on the iPhone.

What I don’t expect is built-in GPS support like some are suggesting we’ll get. GPS is a real batter hog and with 3G in there already the iPhone’s battery will be under enough strain as it is. It is just possible that we’ll see support for Bluetooth GPS devices. That would be a nice compromise. For now I think Apple are happy with their GSM and WiFi triangulation system for figuring out roughly where you are.

As usual with iPhone news the iPod Touch won’t come in for more than a cursory mention, just to say that it supports the App Store too but that existing owners will have to pay if they want to play. I’d imagine the cost will be around $25.

Mobile Me

I’ve been hoping for a .Mac revamp for ages now, this time I’m expecting one. I’m pretty sure the rumours about the name change are true, .Mac will become Mobile Me. I don’t think we’re going to loose any of our existing services, instead I think we’re going to gain a few more ways of keeping our many digital devices in sync. That means more and better synchronisation, and, hopefully, iDisk access on the iPhone and iPod Touch. If we’re going to have things like word processors running on the these devices then we need somewhere to save and open files to and from. What better place than your iDisk! I also think we’ll see proper TimeMachine backups of the iDisk. Right now iDisk is a less secure place to store information than your local hard drive because you can’t go back to old versions of files and folders on your iDisk. That needs to change.

What I don’t expect to see is Apple moving .Mac away from being about keeping your digital life together and moving towards social networking instead. Mobile Me, not Mobile Us! I’ve heard people say that Apple will take on Face Book and My Space with a new social networking site that will actually be cool. I just don’t see them doing that. I think it would be a bad idea and very much out of character.

I’m also going to go out on a limb here and predict that Mobile Me is coming to Windows. I expect it will tie in very closely with the iPhone and since many iPhone users are Windows users it would not make sense to leave them behind. I think that cross-platform philosophy is the main reason behind the name change from .Mac to something without the Macintosh connotations.

Snow Leopard

This week a whole new set of WWDC rumours burst forth, predicting the arrival of OS X 10.6 in the not too distant future. The rumours make wild predictions of support for 64 bit Intel architectures only, and release dates of January 2009. The idea is apparently that this will be a cleanup release where everything gets tidied up and optimised but very few, if any, new features get added. There has also been a name suggested, Snow Leopard.

I buy into some of this. But not all of it. I do think we’re going to hear about 10.6, and I expect we’ll get a name for it. It might even be Snow Leopard. What I don’t think we’ll see is a demo. It will be more of an outlining of what Apple have in mind for the OS, and when Apple plan to release it. I expect Apple to announce a date on which they’ll end support for the Power PC G4s and G5s. This will be described as the final chapter in the Intel transition. I also expect to hear that 10.6 will be released by WWDC 2009 at the earliest, with MacWorld 2010 being the most likely release date.

I don’t expect Apple to announce an end to support for 32 bit Intel Macs. They are just too new to abandon. Take my MacBook Pro for example, it’s only two years old yet it’s 32 bit. It will still be under Apple Care till June or July 2009. Apple also make a big deal about how their mobile OS is the same as their desktop OS so I don’t see 10.6 being 64 bit all the way. That would require the abandonment of the Core Duo machines and the splitting off of the iPhone OS from OS X. Neither would be wise from a PR standpoint IMO.

Finally, since this is a developer conference this would also be the perfect time to announce an end to support for the Carbon framework. I expect 10.6 to be Cocoa all the way.

Some Maybes

I like to end on some complete long-shots but before I do that I want to mention a few medium-shots.

Traditionally new versions of the iWork and iLife suites have come out at WWDC. Although we haven’t heard any rumours to that effect, I wouldn’t be shocked if we were introduced to iLife ’09 and iWork ’09 on Monday. I’m not saying I expect we’ll see them, but we might.

It’s also traditional for pro level hardware to be announced at WWDC. MacBook Pros, MacPros, and XServes are the most likely hardware to be announced at WWDC (apart from the iPhone of course!). I’m not expecting a MacPro but it has been a long time since we’ve gotten a new MacBook Pro so that’s a definite possibility.

My Wish List

I have no realistic expectation of getting any of this, but they would be cool things to get all the same. First off, a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPhone would be great. Select, cut, copy, and paste for the iPhone would also seriously rock.

But, what I’d REALLY like is a Mac tablet. Like an iPod Touch only bigger. Think Star Trek. I think they’re coming, just not at this WWDC.


In summary, I think there will be very few surprises. Apple’s veil of secrecy is no match for the current insatiable demand for Apple news and scoops, hence I think all the big stuff has leaked out. I think the biggest surprises will come in the form of specific apps from the app store. We’ve heard very little in the way of rumours about cool App Store apps, and I definitely expect Apple to have a few stunners to show us on Monday.