Apple WWDC 2011 Event – Rumours and Facts

Apple is opening the 2011 worldwide developers conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Center on June 6th.  The keynote address, which has been confirmed to be given by Steve Jobs will begin at 10:00am PT.

In a manner that is uncharacteristic and untraditional for Apple, they released an announcement this week confirming that the event will indeed announce the long rumoured cloud service, aptly named ‘iCloud’.  This will undoubtably replace Apple’s MobileMe service and will indeed provide much more functionality and enhancements.  To support this theory, Apple has been locking in agreements with all the major music distributors, unlike both Amazon and Google who released their cloud music service without any agreements.

What else though will be expected?

The focus this year definitely feels like it has a lot to do with software and functionality.  It has long been speculated that Apple will not be releasing its’ next generation of iPhone, and in fact, further evidence points to a minor release in September codenamed ‘iPhone 4S’ and a true generational upgrade in 2012 codenamed ‘iPhone 5’.  Sales of the current iPhone 4 further substantiate that Apple does not need to stimulate the market demand with new product.  The iPhone 4 is selling exceptionally well and frankly, most people – myself included – would like to get at least two years of use on each generation of device.

When Apple announced the iPad 2 in March, they called 2011 “The Year of the iPad 2”.  This suggests as well that there will not be another release of the iPad this year.

So, in consideration of these facts, the focus is definitely on software.

Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)

This is a no-brainer.  The development version of Mac OS X 10.7 has been available since its’ preview in October 2010.  It has gone through several beta cycles and it is indeed a forgone conclusion that it will be released on Monday.  While it will bring a number of enhancements and features to the OS, one area that is definitely being speculated about is how it will capitalize on the use of iCloud.  There has even been further suggestion that licensees of Mac OS X 10.7 will gain access and use of iCloud services for free.

Apple brought the App Store to Mac OS with the release earlier in the year and it is expected that Mac OS X 10.7 will be distributed electronically for a reduced price.  When Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) was released, it retailed for $29.

iOS 5.0

It is also expected that iOS 5.0 will bring a number of new features and enhancements to iOS devices.  Again, how iOS 5.0 will leverage Apple’s iCloud services appears to generate the most discussion.  One speculation is that updates will happen automatically through cloud services, including potentially, future iOS major and minor upgrades.

It’s a pretty much given that iOS devices will use iCloud to gain access to content, such as music libraries and other content such as TV shows and movies.  One area though that may be improved is the Notification service.  It was disclosed this week that Apple has hired Peter Hajas, a software developer who released a Jailbroken only version of his notification service, MobileNotifier.  Apple also previously hired Rich Dellinger, who developed the notification system that was in use by the Palm webOS operating system.

iCloud

This is the biggest area of speculation and probably the longest coming enhancement.  Tied to Apple’s expansion of its’ data centers with the development of a $1B US data center in North Carolina, iCloud will inevitably store user content to be accessible by any iOS device.  One capability that was suggested was that upon connecting to iCloud services, the users local iTunes content would get catalogued in the cloud and that optimal versions of the content would be automatically provided to the subscriber.  This is likely to extend to both TV shows and movies, as well as iOS applications.

The the introduction of iCloud, it is likely that MobileMe will be decommissioned and transitioned to the new service.  MobileMe has long been criticized for its’ lacklustre feature set and relatively high subscription fee.

And now for something else….

Apple traditionally leaves something at the end that is not generally expected.  What could that possibly be this year?

About Grant Fengstad

I’m a technology professional in the travel and transportation sector and have been very involved with the Internet for over 20 years.