WWDC 2013: 6 Things To Look For At Apple's Annual Showcase


If you're an Apple nerd (guilty), or know one, you may be aware that the tech giant's annual showcase is just around the corner. The Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, is the Cupertino-based company's chance to show off their latest designs and creations to the designers, bloggers, and techies who love them. So whether you're an eager early-adopter or a casual user, here are the big items to be on the lookout for next week:

1. iOS 7

One of the biggest announcements at the event will be a new operating system for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. iOS 7, the latest iteration of the popular mobile operating system, comes after the firing of longtime iOS Senior Vice President Scott Forstall (collateral damage from the much-maligned Apple Maps incident). He's been replaced by legendary designer Jony Ive, whose minimalist aesthetic has been behind many of Apple's most popular devices.

One of Forstall’s most iconic design markers was heavy-textured "keuomorphic" design — or virtual designs that mirror the look and feel of real-world products (see the green felt on the Game Center app, the torn legal pad in the Notes app, or the weird linen stitching hidden alllllll throughout the operating system). 

Though Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a big fan of skeuomorphic design (the stitching on the iPad's Calendars app was modeled off a detail in Jobs' Gulfstream Jet), Jony Ive is not. They don't stand the test of time, he claims, and don't lend themselves well for a unified experience across multiple core apps in a platform. 

iOS 7 users can expect a "flatter" environment. 9to5mac reports, "the iPhone’s Notes app has replaced the yellow notepad design for a flat white look. Apps such as Mail, Calendar, and Maps have also gained a more uniformed look with flat white textures. While the core elements of those apps are mostly white, each app has been given a unique button color. Essentially, each app has a white base with a respective color theme."

The WWDC 2013 logo, at the top of this page, is probably a not-so-subtle nod to the new aesthetic. As is Windows 8.

2. iRadio

Rumors have been circulating for months about an Apple-branded Pandora competitor — an Internet-based streaming music service for Apple customers. Jobs was famously anti-streaming, claiming for years that they had tested the model and found it didn't work. People like to own their music, he claimed.

It seems times have changed, as streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, and Rhapsody have exploded in popularity within the last few years. And competition for your ear is only increasing, as Google entered the arena earlier this year.

What might an Apple-branded music service look like? According to those familiar with the deals, it will probably be free, pulling from "Genius-like" recommendations that already guide customers in Apple's App and Music stores. And it will almost definitely be supported by audio ads. Bloomberg reports, "Like Pandora, a station can be created based on a particular song or artist, and the program will then play other songs based on those preferences. It will be tightly integrated with iTunes, so a person can easily download a song they hear that they want to buy."

3. OS X 10.9

Users looking for an upgrade to the Mac operating system probably won't get too much, as many of the company's efforts have been put into pushing the upgrade to iOS. Though there will probably be a few minor tweaks to OS 10.8, or "Mountain Lion." 10.9, in addition to a new kitty, will likely see a new method for switching between apps — presumably modeled off the quick-look feature on iOS, in which a user can double-tap the home screen for a quick look at all apps running. This has helped to conserve battery on iThings, by minimizing the processes running in apps that aren't currently opening, and may soon be coming to the Mac.

It's been long rumored that Apple has been experimenting with bringing Siri to the Mac … though no one seems very optimistic that we'll hear her chipper voice on our computers any time soon.

4. Hardware

It's unlikely that Apple will do anything drastic with their hardware next week (sorry for those looking for a new iPhone or iPad), though there may be some updates here as well. Many speculate that the MacBook Air may be fitting with Intel’s new Haswell chipsets, while other Macs may get the new 802.11ac WiFi chips for faster downloading.

5. Maps

Apple hasn't given up on Maps. Improvements have been ongoing since the debacle of iOS 6 (and stunning popularity of Google’s own mapping app for iOS), though many expect to see integration down the line between Siri, Maps, and … cars?

The company has been plugging along with "Eyes Free" car integration, working with car manufacturers on a way to integrate the operating system into the car counsel, communicating with the phone by voice to navigate, place calls, and even check text messages. It's unlikely we'll hear any major announcements about this on Monday, but it's definitely something to keep an ear out for.

6. Siri

Many are clamoring that it's time for Siri to get an upgrade, including offline capabilities. The pretty-helpful-but-still-not-great virtual assistant still feels more like a gimmick than a time-saving tool, and many are hoping for a collection of new features to better compete with Google's own competitor, Google Now.

How do these sound to you? Tell us your wish list, and what you’d most like Apple to come out with next.