E3 is almost upon us, and that means that Apple's World Wide Developers Conference, otherwise known as WWDC, is also here.
Although early speculation revolved around the unveiling of a new iPhone 7 and a new Watch, it looks like Apple is staying clear of any major hardware announcements. Instead, the company will now reportedly dedicate its keynote presentation to major software innovations. The biggest, of which, will be crucial upgrades to its AI bot, Siri, in order to compete with Amazon and Google's more sophisticated bots.
One Siri rumor that's reportedly set to be confirmed at WWDC is the overdue integration on Mac and Macbooks. As of right now, Siri is only available on iPhones, iPads, Apple TV units and the Apple Watch. Mac and Macbook users have been asking for years for the voice-activated assistant to be made available on computers, but nothing has ever been done to appease those demands until this year.
The lack of hardware announcements shouldn't be too surprising, however, considering Apple released the smaller version of the iPhone and iPad Pro in March. The dedication to software announcements and developments falls in line with what the other major tech companies are focusing on, too. The biggest portion of Google's most recent I/O conference focused on bots with natural language components built in (meaning you can have a conversation with a bot and not just ask it questions) and Google Home, its answer to Amazon's voice activated assistant, the Echo.
While this year's WWDC may not be the flashiest, it will be one of the most important for people who use Apple products in their daily lives. Here's what to expect out of next week's WWDC, from iOS 10 to Apple TV.
The biggest and potentially only new Apple hardware device that may get announced at WWDC is the company's answer to Amazon's Echo and Google's Home. This is the year of integrated homes, with living room voice-activated assistant devices becoming all the rage. It would be naive to think that Apple hasn't already been working on a device to rival its competitors, but the biggest question is whether or not they'll unveil the machine. It seems unlikely, but if there was ever a time to do it, it would be now.
Specifically, Apple is going to focus pretty heavily on the developers who use the company's technology and platform. It shouldn't be too surprising to hear that Apple will probably create a software development kit for Siri, allowing third-party apps to benefit from and integrate the technology.
While Apple probably won't release an upgraded version of the operating software running on the watch, be prepared to get a look at what's to come. One of the biggest problems the Watch has is the lack of developers creating apps specifically for the watch. Instead, what the watch has had to rely on are a few first-party apps and a variety of somewhat-but-not-really reformatted third-party apps that can be downloaded on the Watch if wearers want.
Those looking to get their hands on the Apple watch 2, which is what we'll call it for the time being, should wait until later this year. Possibly September.
If speculation is true, it looks like Apple Music is about to get a major redesign. One of the biggest problems Apple Music faces is its unnecessarily complicated user interface design, and after months of complaints from users — who didn't just defer to Spotify — Apple has reportedly been working on enhancing the experience. Apple Pay, Photos and iCloud services are also set for major security and design upgrades, which will largely be addressed during the keynote presentation.
If there was ever a time to do it, it would be now
On the iPad side of things, it looks like there will be more tablet-only functions that are made available, but what the company should hopefully announce is more third-party apps designed specifically for the iPad Pro. Right now, many of the third-party apps available on the Pro aren't designed for the new tablet's specifications, and images, for example, can look off. Apple is aware of the reformatting issues and should be introducing new methods for designers to work with the specific display requirements the Pro demands.
Like the rest of its hardware counterparts, don't expect any major physical updates to the Apple TV. Last year, rumors started circulating that the TV could act as a hub for Apple's HomeKit — which connects appliances and devices inside your home — and would use an upgraded Siri to do just that.
There are tons of other avenues that Apple is exploring, too, but there's a good chance they'll be holding off on announcing it for the time being. The company recently invested $1 billion into a ride sharing company in China and has reportedly been looking into the autonomous car industry. Apple could also be looking into its own VR headset, or at the very least, creating software capable enough to run current VR devices.
For now, Apple is going to focus all of its attention on Siri and playing catch-up with the other voice activated assistants available to consumers right now. If last year's conference was about announcing new hardware for people to get their hands on and showcasing the future of Apple products, this year is all about making the user experience on those platforms as easy and enjoyable as possible.
The livestream for Apple's keynote presentation starts at 10 a.m. PST — the same time as Microsoft's presentation at E3. It will be available to stream through iTunes and on Apple's dedicated site for the presentation.