Why do I get so excited about Apple events? They’re usually just new gizmos & software. What’s to get so excited about? Well, I use those things all day, every day. An upgrade to my device is quite literally an upgrade to me. Ten years ago, I couldn’t video chat with my mom. Now she calls me on FaceTime. That’s a new ability, like a super-power. Before the web and Google, we had to get information through knowledgable people, and libraries. It took time and effort. Now all that knowledge is at our fingertips. If you don’t think that’s a super-power, you’re crazy. So, yes, it’s just software and gizmos, but they fundamentally make our lives better… so for me, the WWDC Keynote is like Christmas. I get to find out what my new super-powers will be.
WWDC is a conference for developers, and as such it’s mostly about software, not hardware. With that in mind, here are my predictions & fantasies for what iOS 8 and OSX 10.10 will bring.
I believe the “tentpole” feautres will be centered around 3 key concepts:
- Consistency (of Aesthetics and Experience)
- Presence (via iBeacons, sensors, cameras)
- Interconnectedness (via iCloud and inter-app communication)
Unlike in previous years, this time I’m pitching you every idea I have, not just the ones I think are likely.
- iTunes goes multi-app (Music Player & Store, Video Player & Store, Radio & Store, App Organizer)
- OSX Mode & iOS Mode (unlikely at this time, but maybe by OSXI)
- OSX Mode = default to saving in filesystem + windowed apps + Spaces
- iOS Mode = default to saving in iCloud + full screen apps
- Each account on the system can choose its preferred Mode
- Dock comes hidden/off by default on new systems. Emphasis on LaunchPad.
- new hardware Home button and/or gesture takes you back to LaunchPad (replace current F4 key with one that resembles Home squircle)
- new double-tap Home button or gesture takes you to new Multi-tasking switcher. It will resemble the one from iOS, and will show the app icon with a thumbnail of the app above it. This will replaces the Cmd-Tab interface. Could potentially also be activated by a re-purposed F3 (Exposé) button, OR an extra button on a new Magic Mouse.
- AirDrop – you’ll be able to easily send PDFs and other files directly to your iOS devices, and vice-versa
- new Phone app will tether to your iPhone and allow you to place and receive any/all calls on your Mac. Will come with built-in ability to record calls for podcasts. Will notify all call participants that the call is being recorded. By default, it will attempt to make all calls using FaceTime Audio.
- Translucence, Blur, Flatter UI elements, Motion/Physics to match iOS
- Parallax (using FaceTime camera or IR sensor) lets you peek around, over, and under app windows. How far you can peek will depend on how close you are to the display.
- Touch ID for Mac keeps your system secure
- bio sensor(s) in mouse, trackpad, keyboard, new Home button, or Touch ID
- presence detection allows iCloud to always deliver your notifications, and perform home automation, correctly based on what device you’re actually using at the time. The Cloud will always know exactly how long it’s been since you interacted with each device, and how close you currently are to any one of your devices (possibly because you’ll wear a tiny iBeacon, and your devices will sense it)
- System Preferences gets renamed to Settings
- cross-device (iOS/OSX) clipboard manager that works like Reading List. Makes sharing bits of info (smaller than a file) between devices super-simple.
- OSX (and iOS) get a new filesystem and TimeMachine gets upgraded
- Siri for Mac
- more APIs to make sandboxing more flexible/practical
- notifications for non-AppStore apps?
- redesigned AppStore (possibly sub-stores: GameStore, AppStore, etc)
- a new “Made For iPhone And iBeacon” program for automatic non-cumbersome home automation. Instead of having to manually turn lights on and off via an app, you’ll wear an iBeacon (or have one in your wallet/purse), and your house will react to your presence or absence.
- Siri gets local processing and major speed improvements
- Any app can have a self-updating icon
- NewsStand apps are just apps. You can remove them from that folder. They can still auto-update.
- skinnable Game Centre popovers
- Music App goes multi-app (Music Player & Store, Video Player & Store, Radio & Store)
- Control Centre will come up easily & reliably even when a keyboard is on-screen
- inter/intra-apps comms via remote view controllers. Could potentially enable 3rd party default apps.
- OSX can already use an AppleTV as a display, and now iOS can, too. It can pair with an AppleTV + Bluetooth keyboard + Bluetooth mouse. Now your iOS device is also a great iWork station.
- Maps gets Transit directions
- Improved developer metrics
- iTunes Radio & Beats music in more countries
- iCloud storage increased from 5GB free to enough to match the capacity of your device
- Photo Storage – unlimited with iTunes Match
- Video Storage – 1 year of video storage. At the end of the year you will have the option to have your videos shipped to you on a thumbdrive, harddrive, solid state drive, DVD, or BluRay. They will also be available for pick-up at your local Apple Store. This is kind of like “Photo Books”, but for video.
- AppleTV gets a new UI with universal search, Siri, and an SDK
- new Magic Mouse with hardware Home button
- new wireless keyboard, exactly like the MacBook Pro keyboard with integrated trackpad under the heels of your hands
- either the Magic Mouse or the new keyboard will include a Touch ID sensor
- 12″ MacBook Air with edge-to-edge display (miniscule bezel)
- Thunderbolt Retina display with dual mics & FaceTime camera, and potentially an IR sensor
- MacBooks with Beats audio
It’s the night before WWDC and 9to5mac is now saying that the iPad might be updated to act as a display for the Mac. That’d be “neat”, but there are already lots of 3rd party apps that enable that, so I thought: what could Apple do to take that to the next level? Then I remembered a podcast I listened to last week (Rev VR) where they said that the Oculus Rift is great because it’s both an output device (display) AND and input device (6-DOF sensors). Of course! Making the iPad a display for the Mac is no big deal, but if it could also be a touch input device, that could be huge… AND it has precedent: Microsoft’s “Smart Glass” concept for using iPad with xBox. It makes total sense to extend that to Macs. What kinds of interactions could it offer? Well, for one thing, it’d be a great “console” for GarageBand, with touchable on-screen sliders. It could be handy for picking tools in Photoshop. Who knows what other possible applications there could be? BONUS: Mac sales and iPad sales would reinforce one another. Each would make the other more powerful, instead of each stealing sales from the other. It makes the power of Apple’s products additive, instead of competitive, and that’s a strategy they always like.
I just had a brainstorm. If you CAN use an iPad as a Mac display, then the new rumoured 12″ Retina MacBook Air and the 12″ iPad could be the same device: A MacBook Air with detachable iPad display. Detach it, and it’s an iPad running iOS. Attach it and it’s a retina display for your MacBook. That would absolutely kill Microsoft’s Surface strategy. Not only that, but Apple could charge a bit of a premium for it. The tricky part would be making the interconnect between the iPad and the MacBook fast enough to support non-laggy scrolling and other high-bandwidth graphics stuff.