What to expect from Apple’s big event tomorrow

Crowds will line up to see what’s new from Apple.
Crowds will line up to see what’s new from Apple.
Image: AP Photo/Eric Risberg
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After a quiet winter and spring, Apple will unveil its first new products of the year Monday, June 2, at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. While a big surprise is always possible with Apple, expectations are best kept subdued. Unless the company has achieved its best leak control in years, nothing crazy seems imminent. Watchers are mostly expecting updates to the Mac OS X and iOS operating systems.

Hello, I’m a Mac

Perhaps the most dramatic change Apple will reveal Monday is a striking new look for OS X, the Mac’s operating system. This will be the first new version of OS X reimagined by Jony Ive, Apple’s long-time head of industrial design, who shook things up last summer with his radical new look for iOS 7, the mobile OS. Expect simplifications across the OS, which may seem jarring—and cause some commotion—when it’s released to the public, likely later this year.

Apple could also introduce new Mac models during the event—new displays that show off the fancy new OS design would be particularly welcome—but there haven’t been many recent whispers.

An iPhone a day…

iOS, which powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, isn’t due for a major update this year—that was last year. Expect mostly minor changes here and there, a token mention of Apple’s recent Beats acquisition, and a few new features.

One new app that’s been reported is Healthbook, which aggregates and organizes all the health and fitness data that iPhone apps and accessories can track, such as activity and blood pressure. Apple might also finally add public transportation directions to its Maps app, which Google’s rival mapping app has had for some time. But 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman—one of the most reliable Apple journalists in the world—warns that some features could be running behind schedule, and that Apple is still finalizing which will make the cut for the first iOS 8 beta release.

Assuming Apple keeps its iOS release schedule consistent this year, expect iOS 8 to launch to the public sometime in September along with any new iPhone(s). It would be a surprise if Apple showed off any new iPhone or iPad devices ahead of that.

A look ahead

One of the more interesting things Apple could reveal is a look at its future. Apple is gradually making all its devices—phones and tablets, computers, TV set-top box, and future wearables or other gadgets—function more consistently with one another, and we’ll be looking for clues. Will the new Mac OS hint at a potential future for touchscreen Macs? Or further convergence between OS X and iOS? Can Apple’s design principles work as well on a small screen on your wrist as on a big-screen TV? These are admittedly geeky questions, but important ones, as we get used to switching ever more seamlessly between devices.

One more thing

If Apple were to shock everyone with a new hardware product, what could it be? Gurman rounds up the usual suspects: Some sort of watch/fitness device; a larger iPad like Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 3; a new Apple TV device—probably not a television per se, but an updated version of the current set-top box, perhaps with “smart home” controls; or maybe a new Mac laptop running a custom Apple chip. These all sound plausible, if unimaginative, and there haven’t been any juicy leaks lately. This suggests either a mostly mundane keynote, or a major secrecy coup.