The dates are confirmed, the Moscone Center is booked, and the tickets are sold-out. Apple’s highly-anticipated Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for 2012 is almost here, a time when the company traditionally announces new versions of OS X, iOS and other goodies. What could we expect at the June 11-15 event? Here are some of our thoughts, updated since our last report in March.
Apple did announce three of the five previous iPhones in June. However, we’re pretty sure the company will take cues from 2011 and not announce their new handset until fall. Could we be wrong? Absolutely, but given Apple’s next-generation iOS (6.0) (see below) has yet to arrive to developers, we’re sticking with the fall timeline.
In addition, we don’t think Apple will use WWDC to release an “iPanel.” Rather, Apple’s answer to the television, if it were to arrive, would come later this year at a separate, “special” event. Finally, don’t expect an “iPhone nano” or iPod touch update. Again, if/when they arrive, it will be later this year.
Finally, Apple will probably use WWDC to unveil new versions of all or some of their desktop products, including the MacBook Pro (last updated in October), MacBook Air (July), iMac (May), and Mac Mini (July). These updated models will have OS X Mountain Lion preinstalled.
OS X Mountain Lion
First announced in February, Apple’s next generation OS X, codenamed Mountain Lion, will likely arrive at WWDC. Version 10.8 will include OS X versions of iMessage, Reminders, Notes, Notification Center, Twitter Integration, Game Center, and finally AirPlay mirroring.
At WWDC, Apple will almost certainly announce iOS 6.0, the next version of their popular operating system for the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad. Here are some of the things we’d like to see in iOS 6.0.
New way to deal with apps
For the most part, iOS has handled apps pretty much the same way since the App Store arrived in 2008.
As apps are added, they line up across the screen, with positions determined by the user. With iOS 4.0, folders were added to the mix. When in “jiggle mode,” users can drag any two apps on top of each other and create a folder. From then on, other apps can be added to the folder; up to 12 on the iPhone and 20 on the iPad.
While we don’t expect Apple to reinvent the wheel here, it would be nice to see some improvements to how iOS handles apps.
Some ideas include a frequently accessed app folder, where your most used apps reside without user input. These apps would always be open for quick startup.
In addition, a weather splash would make accessing the latest outside temperatures much easier. When on the go, it isn’t always convenient to go into the Notification Center or click on an app to bring up the weather. Another company does this quite well, as this photos shows:
Finally, rather than having to go into the App Store to find updates, iOS should instead offer alerts when new updates are available. Better still, iOS should change the look of the icon for these apps so that one click would automatically install the update.
Toggles in Notification Center
The Jailbroken hack by SBSettings already offers this, making the process that much easier and faster. Apple should give this to all iOS users.
App Store shopping cart
Buying new apps remains a cumbersome process. Each time a purchase is made on an iDevice, iOS throws you back to your home screen. Instead, offer us an App Store shopping cart, where purchases can be bundled and then downloaded at the same time.
While we’re at it, will we ever get trial apps?
Turn-By-Turn Voice Navigation
A major complaint with the iOS Maps app is that it lacks a navigation feature. For a while now, Android fans have been able to enjoy “Google Maps with Navigation” on their smart phones. However, there is no built-in navigation feature within Apple’s mobile operating system. Because of this, we believe iOS 6.0 will feature turn-by-turn voice navigation features for the iPhone and iPad.
Recall that last year, Apple noted the company was in the process of developing “exciting new features” for location services within the iOS. The listing, for an “iOS QA Location Engineer,” explains that part of the role will involve “working on exciting new features for iOS location services.”
Third Party Access to Siri
Siri, the voice recognition software, remains limited. Apple should open this up for other developers.
For example, have ESPN tell use the baseball games scheduled for this weekend; or have the iTunes Movie Trailers app tell us what’s showing at our local multiplex.
While we’re at it, extend Siri’s reach to the iPhone 4.
Better Music app, Last.fm scrobbling
Most third-party music apps now include Last.fm’s popular scrobbling feature, which helps identify a user’s musical tastes. We think the time has come for Apple to include this feature in their long-neglected Music.app. In fact, our advice is for Apple to look at any one of the many third-party streaming apps out there and compare it to their own. Indeed, the Music.app is in need of a nice update.
First launched with iOS 4, multitasking on an iPhone/iPad is more like multitasking-lite. To make it better, Apple should offer a split screen app view. In addition, by double-clicking the home button, we can see icons for those apps already open. Instead, give us the ability to preview those apps performing the same steps.
Millions of customers listen to podcasts each day. Unfortunately, there is no way to subscribe to these feeds on your iPhone/iPad. Instead, users must select specific podcasts, which are then downloaded onto the iDevice. Subscriptions, where are you?
Multi-user login / A Lock Folder
Finally, bring to iOS a multi-user login. Why do our children’s apps have to sit alongside those made for adults, like banking and news apps? And while we at it, Apple should offer us a lock folder. Here iOS customers could put apps that are inappropriate for others to view.
We know this isn’t a complete list, but rather a place to start! What would you like to see unveiled at WWDC and/or with iOS 6.0?