It’s been a week since Apple held its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. In a previous post, I listed my top 5 predictions for WWDC. How did I do? The software predictions mostly came to fruition while none of my hardware wishes were met. Overall, my Google IO predictions fared a lot better. Although Apple has been phasing out hardware announcements at WWDC, in favor of a September event (here’s last year’s event), I was hoping for new platform announcements that developers can start to work in advance of the holiday season.
Let’s dive into the five predictions and analyze Apple’s strategy through the lens of its WWDC announcements.
Siri [Beats?] Speaker to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home
Prediction: Fell Flat Except for Siri
Siri was front and center during the conference as Apple’s Eddy took a cue from Google’s “AI first” approach. At the show, developers were very excited about Apple’s announcement of an API for Siri. The assistant currently services over 2 billion requests per day, and should help drive more engagement for app publishers. For example, now inside a messaging app, you can ask Siri to call an Uber or order you a pizza. In addition, Siri is now available on the desktop via macOS.
This could be a precursor to a Beats Speaker announcement in September. Opening up Siri now allows app developers time to integrate, and would help the new product compete with the Amazon Echo “Skills” ecosystem of integrations.
Prediction: Came True (I predicted no announcements)
None of Apple’s products today are capable of powering a VR headset. Since there were no hardware announcements, my prediction of nothing VR-related came true. I’ve mentioned that Apple tends to improve on existing hardware versus creating a new category, so they’ll certainly take a wait-and-see approach as they refine their vision for the space. In addition, Apple hasn’t historically embraced the gaming segment which is the primary adopter at this point. I’ll repeat this from my previous post: If Apple updates the GPUs in its Mac lineup, that could be a signal for future VR investments.
New Macbook Pros and New Thunderbolt Display
Prediction: Fell Flat, kind of
Although the announcement didn’t come at WWDC, just yesterday Apple announced they are discontinuing the Thunderbolt Display. This is widely speculated to result from a new 5K display to be announced in September. The current Mac’s resolution already runs at 5K but when connected to the Thunderbolt Display runs at a lower resolution.
No news yet on the new Macbook Pros but we also expect those in September.
Apple Watch 2 / watchOS 3
Prediction: Software Came True
We didn’t get our hands on the Apple Watch 2 but we did get to see the new watchOS 3. Apple has since put up a preview page for the new OS and also released their WWDC video (use Safari on Mac or Edge on Windows to watch). Improvements in the new OS include faster load times for apps, new watch faces, activity sharing, enhancements to messaging, wheelchair accessibility, a new HomeKit app, an SOS feature, and more. As with the rest of the hardware predictions that didn’t come to fruition, we expect the new watch to be announced in September.
iOS 10 and the iPhone 7
Prediction: Software Came True
The story here is similar to the Watch — lots of new software announcements but nothing on the new devices yet. Apple has also posted a preview page for iOS 10. One of the biggest announcements was the opening up of iMessage as a platform, a strategy that’s worked particularly well for messaging apps in Asia as well as Facebook Messenger. Now developers can embed apps into the iMessage “app drawer” to allow everything from custom stickers to group food orders. Other enhancements to iOS 10 include a redesigned Apple Music and News app, new functionality in Maps and Photos, and the addition of rich notifications.
Although there were no new hardware announcements, most of the software announcements hinted at what’s to come: watchOS 3 on the new Apple Watch 2, iOS 10 on the new iPhone 7, and potentially Siri on a new Amazon Echo competitor (Beats Speaker?). We also saw tvOS mature as a platform with the addition of single-sign on for content apps, enhanced Siri support, and HomeKit support.
Tim Cook is certainly pushing his agenda for a more open, transparent Apple. This benefits both consumers and developers in the form of privacy enhancements, new functionality on top of open platforms, and closer collaboration between Apple and its ecosystem of partners. There’s a lot more in store for September, so look out for our future predictions on this hardware event.