You have probably heard that next week Apple will hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. While most of it is indeed for developers, the company also always holds a keynote to unveil new hardware or software – and sometimes both. This year, I think we’re being treated to the latter.
I have a lot of predictions for Monday’s announcements and a few hopes, too. My pure speculations will be listed in the following paragraphs, separated by Hardware and Software headers. Let’s dig in, shall we?
Hardware is first up this year since there’s a lot of Apple’s lineup that needs refreshing; specifically, the entire Mac lineup is lacking Ivy Bridge processors. So that’s my first prediction: new Macs. It’s obvious that a few of Apple’s desktops will be refreshed, but those aren’t very pocketable, so I’m going to focus on MacBooks.
There have been a few rumors about what Apple will be doing to its notebook line on Monday. Some sites have stated that there will be a merger of MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines to make one MacBook series; others have said that there will be the addition of a MacBook alongside the existing Air and Pro; and some have said that both the Air and the Pro will get updates and the two will continue to exist happily.
I’m going to predict that it’s just going to be updates across the board, even though I’d love to see the reinstitution of the MacBook brand. But even though that dream won’t come true for a while, Monday should still bring me plenty of surprises that I’ve been wanting for a long time. I’m predicting that the MacBook Pro line will be getting Retina (high-resolution) displays and thinner bodies, as well as better performance under the hood from Ivy Bridge CPUs and, on certain models, better dedicated GPUs. As for storage, I think we may see a move to flash-based memory – but as an upgrade. I don’t think it’s financially viable to replace a Pro model’s large amounts of storage with a smaller amount, but maybe Apple’s got it figured out and can upgrade everything in this generation.
Meanwhile, I think the MacBook Airs will just get performance and storage capacity upgrades. The design is still a great one, despite some heat issues for some users. My sister’s Air doesn’t get warm unless she’s geeking out on Minecraft, though, so there’s really no reason to upgrade the chassis at this point.
I’m going to address the 15-inch MacBook Air rumor just for a minute, but it’s not because I think it’s going to come true; in fact, I think quite the opposite. If the MacBook Pro gets a thinner design, there’s no reason for a 15-inch Air. Personally, I think Apple likes to think of the Pro line as the professional’s choice, and the Air as the consumer’s. A 15-inch Air would likely be priced too high for consumers while offering less power than a professional would like.
If you think about that for a minute, then a slimmed-down MacBook Pro would make a lot of sense. Apple can forget about the wedge shape, keep it at a nice 0.8-inches thick, and still pack in the stuff that’s required for a product labeled Pro: powerful processors; beefy GPUs; and bright, beautiful, pixel-dense screens.
Luckily for prospective customers, new hardware isn’t all that’s coming out of Cupertino on Monday. WWDC is a developers conference, and developers need an operating system to develop for. Enter OS X Mountain Lion, the first piece of software that Apple will be showing off on Monday.
Mountain Lion was announced in mid-February of this year. The biggest feature of the OS X update are, according to Apple, “…all-new features inspired by iPad.” These features include iMessage, iCal, Notifications, Game Center, and other services that you know from iOS.
Since Apple already promised a summer release for Mountain Lion, I expect the OS to be available for download Monday, or a few weeks after it. Really, though, I can’t imagine Apple showing off a new version of Mac OS X alongside new Macs without a release – no one is going to buy the new hardware if something better is just a month or two away!
If you’re not interested in OS X, then you might be in iOS. Thanks to CNET, it’s been “confirmed” that iOS 6 will be making an appearance during the keynote at the Moscone Center. Other than the banner that wasn’t concealed very well, not much has been rumored about iOS 6. There is the possibility of Siri the gimmick coming to the iPad, but other than that – nothing.
I doubt iOS 6 will be released on Monday, or even this summer. The next iPhone will not be released Monday or this summer, so there’s no reason for the next version of the operating system it runs to be, either. However, if that unreleased iPhone has a larger screen, I believe we may see it in a presenter’s hands. It won’t be a glimpse for the typical consumer, but rather for the developers who will have to tweak their apps for the new resolution.
So, to conclude, here are my predictions for WWDC 2012:
- The MacBook Pro will be updated with a thinner body (about 0.8-inches thick) and newer internals, specifically Ivy Bridge processors.
- The MacBook Air will receive simple spec bumps. Expect Ivy Bridge processors and bigger storage capacities.
- Mountain Lion will be shown off and released – or at least given a release date within the next few weeks.
- iOS 6 will be shown off. A release is unlikely due to the new iPhone, which may make a cameo based on its screen size.
I’ve never claimed to be an analyst, but these have been reported by numerous sources. I’ve simply given my thoughts on what is (probably) actually true. We’ll all find out together what is true on Monday; in the meantime, what are you expecting to come out of Apple’s labs?