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What's next for Apple: June and beyond


Apple will be holding its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) from June 11 until June 15 this year. As usual, expectations for the event are high — after all, it could bring a new product announcement or two.

But rather than consult our dream journals for the next great iLineup, let's take a level-headed look at what we can expect to hear from Apple, both at WWDC and for the rest of the year.

iOS 6
Apple is in the habit of releasing major iOS updates during the summer and so many are assuming that the Cupertino-based company might unveil iOS 6 during this year's WWDC. This isn't such a crazy bit of speculation, particularly considering that Apple announced iOS 5 during WWDC 2011 and the event, which lives up to its name as a global crossroads for Mac and iOS programmers, generally focuses on software, rather than hardware. 

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.

If I were placing bets on what will be announced at WWDC 2012, I'd put my big money on iOS 6.

New iPhone
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.

According to CNET, analyst Tavis McCourt of Morgan Keegan said the next-generation iPhone should arrive in the fall of this year. South Korea's Maeil Business Newspaper backs up this release date and explains that the head of human resources at Foxconn's Taiyuan factory said that the device will become available "around October." (Or at least that's how Kotaku's Brian Ashcraft translates the publication's claim.)

Of course, there's a flip-side to every piece of gossip. The folks at 9to5 Mac believe a "reliable source at Foxconn in China," who suggested that the device is set for a summer launch. Digitimes points out that "the Chinese-language Commercial Times quoted Daiwa Securities as indicating" that the gadget will be unveiled at WWDC.

As I've said before, my best (reasonably educated) guess is that the next-generation iPhone will probably arrive in the late summer or early fall of this year. (And if you held a gun to my head and forced me to pick one, I'd go with the fall — which would give the current, hot-selling 4S a full year to soak up the sales.)

New iPad
Let's be real here: We just barely finished peeling the protective film off of our third-generation iPads. Despite 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.

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?

Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz certainly thinks so, and he makes a compelling argument. He points out that there are precedents "for similar hardware product introductions" during WWDC events.

"Apple announced the unibody MacBook 13-inch in WWDC 2009, after introducing 15- and 17-inch models in October 2008," explains Diaz. And now, he says, the timing is perfect for another such announcement. Intel's new Ivy Bridge chipset is just hitting the market, and on top of all that, the current MacBook Pro supply seems to be drying up.

But will it be, as Diaz says, a massive redesign, the likes of which haven't been seen since the 2008 launch of the "unibody" MacBook Pro? That is a tougher wager to make.

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 iMac
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 iPod
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 from a villa in the south of France. 

I call the 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 size it would be. We don't know its actual name. We don't know its specs. Heck, unlike the inevitable next iPhone or iPad or MacBook, we don't even know if this will exist anytime soon.

We just have some vague speculation which suggests that we might see this device — 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.

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