June 8, 2012 at 10:48 AM ET
Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicks off Monday with a keynote presentation, and there's plenty of speculation regarding what might be announced. Here's a rundown of what could be revealed.
Apple often previews major iOS updates during its summer developer fest, a global crossroads for Mac and iOS programmers. Apple announced iOS 5 during WWDC 2011 (though it didn't ship it until the iPhone 4S launched last October).
Additionally, OS X Mountain Lion, the latest version of Apple's desktop operating system, is due to hit virtual shelves this summer — and an iOS update would complement that perfectly.
Based on recent reports, the next version of iOS will borrow a lot of features from the upcoming release of OS X Mountain Lion. It may include iCloud Tabs (which will allow users to sync browsing sessions across devices) and Mail VIPs (which allow you to mark certain individuals as important so that their messages are displayed more prominently).
There may also be a "Do Not Disturb" feature (which will allow you to temporarily toggle off notifications, alerts and banners when you need a bit of quiet time), Facebook integration, and a totally redesigned Maps app which may include 3-D geographical features.
With the exception of the iPhone 4S (which was released in October 2011), every new iPhone model has hit shelves in either June or July. So it's no surprise that folks are still optimistic regarding the next-generation Apple smartphone being announced at WWDC.
Unfortunately for those hopeful folks, most recent reports shoot down the idea that the next iPhone will be shown off during the WWDC keynote.
Let's be realistic here: We just barely finished peeling the protective film off of our third-generation iPads. Despite scattered rumors of "mini" iPads and the like, chances are extremely low that we'll see Apple announce any new tablets at WWDC — or until next year, for that matter.
Apple typically upgrades its various iPod lines all at once, and currently all of the company's media player models are ripe for a refresh. However, a major overhaul of the flagship iPod Touch tends to follow a major overhaul of the iPhone. So the odds are that we'll hear more about this around the time of the next iPhone's expected release, likely this fall.
If I had a buck for every rumor I've heard about the mysterious Apple iTV over the last year or so, I would be writing this blog post on a diamond-encrusted MacBook Air.
I call the so-called iTV "mysterious" because we're not absolutely certain about anything when it comes to this device. We have no idea what it would look like or even what its actual name would be. We don't know its specs. Heck, unlike the inevitable next iPhone or iPad or MacBook, we don't even know if this device will exist anytime soon.
We just have some vague speculation which suggests that we might see the iTV — a magically simple yet super smart television which will allow us to control our media by speaking, gesturing or using our mobile devices — at the end of 2012, not at WWDC.
What we might hear about at WWDC though, could be the software platform which will run on the iTV. But even that seems unlikely.
It's been nearly a full year since the iMac was last updated. This particular Apple product is past-due for a refresh and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw that happen sometime this summer (though probably later in the season, and likely not during WWDC).
New MacBook Air
There have been so many rumors about the MacBook Air's future over the last few months that it's tough to keep track. Most folks seem to be under the impression that the 11- and 13-inch models currently on the market will be joined by an ultra-slim 15-inch laptop sometime soon. While I'm not very confident about that little bit of speculation, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that Apple might put out a MacBook Air with a larger screen this year. If typical product release schedules are anything to go by, this would take place sometime in the fall.
New MacBook Pro
According to the folks at MacRumors, roughly 260 days pass between new versions of the popular laptop. By June, it will have been 240 days. Does that mean we'll see a new MacBook Pro at WWDC?
It's somewhat possible.
Bloomberg reports that "people with knowledge of [Apple's] plans" suggest that the Cupertino-based company will be unveiling a new lineup of thinner MacBook Pros which will run high-definition Retina displays, like those found on the iPhone and iPad. The appearance of apps compatible with such displays in the Mac App is, of course, only helping support this report.
The new laptops are also rumored to rely on flash-based memory, for the sake of shorter startup times and extended battery life.
New Mac Pro
According to 9to5 Mac, Apple may finally update the Mac Pro, its its high-end workstation. It's been about two years since this line saw any major upgrades, so it's not unthinkable that Apple might be looking to refresh it. Reports that Apple has begun pulling current Mac Pro stock from its stores don't hurt that theory either.
This year's WWDC keynote will most likely bring us software-related announcements — iOS 6 and perhaps the iTV platform. There is a chance that we'll see some redesigned laptops as well.
But odds are high that we'll be waiting a while longer for a new iPhone.
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