Christmas in June: Apple fans draft wish lists for WWDC

Visions of iPhones, iWatches, Apple TVs, and iHomes are dancing in the heads of the Apple faithful as WWDC nears

"It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Andy Williams might have been singing about Christmas, but for all the good Apple fanboys and girls it's a time when visions of iPhones, iWatches, Apple TVs, and iHomes dance in their heads. Rumors about what Santa Cook will unveil June 2 at WWDC are at fever pitch, and the wish list of Apple goodies is tantalizing. But like Christmas morning itself, the reality of what will actually be delivered is likely to disappoint.

What do we know for sure about the agenda at WWDC? Precious little. As Macworld UK gushed this week, "We were already pretty sure that Apple would hold a keynote on the first day of WWDC next month, but now we're certain." Phew! Those of you holding your breath in fear you'd be denied that two-hour edge-of-your-seat thrill ride can now exhale. In fact, everyone with access to an Apple device will be receiving that present, thanks to a public webcast of the opening event.

As for the rest of WWDC, Apple is being its usual disingenuous self. A schedule for the conference titters, "We can't tell you everything yet," and is filled with dozens of session slots with titles like "Shhhh, Can't Tell You Yet," "All Will Be Revealed Soon," "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait," and "The Suspense Is Building."

However, the consensus among rumormongers seems to be that CEO Tim Cook's keynote will be devoted to OS X 10.10 -- and possibly iOS 8 because, as PC Advisor put it, "we hardly think [Apple] will talk about [OS X 10.10] for the whole two hours." OS X 10.10 is likely to feature a new look with "similar toggle designs to iOS 7, sharper window corners, more defined icons across the system, and more white space than the current version. However, OS X characteristics like the Finder, multiwindow multitasking, and Mission Control will not disappear in favor of a more iOS-like experience," according to 9to5mac. Apple will likely opt for a California-themed name for the software, if its recent trademark filings on Redwood, Yosemite, and Big Sur are any indication.

Details about iOS 8 are even more scant, but design changes aren't in the forecast. The new OS for Apple mobile devices will likely come in the fall and focus heavily on health, entertainment, and home-automation that may integrate with -- wait for it -- the iWatch, Apple's elusive and almost mythical wearable. According to MacRumors, "while some have held out hope that the company will give us a look at its highly rumored iWatch, it looks like that will not be happening [at WWDC]."

But InvestorPlace, for one, still holds out hope for an iWatch -- even admonishing, "Apple needs to get its iWatch out there before it's buried in a sea of options. Giving Samsung three times to get it right before even making a first attempt could turn out to be a big mistake, and those stand-alone smartwatch rumors may be enough to force Apple's hand and see Tim Cook finally take the wraps off the iWatch at WWDC 2014."

Meanwhile PC Advisor predicts that Apple will instead hold a separate event to unveil the iWatch in the fall and tie it to the introduction of the new iPhone 6, reasoning that "while we've heard so much about the iWatch, we've never actually seen any evidence that it exists. Apple may be notorious for its secrecy, but with the amount of iPhone and iPad leaks we've seen over the past few years, we think it's highly unlikely that Apple has managed to keep the iWatch completely under wraps this whole time."

The most hyped rumors concern the likely introduction of Apple's "Jetsons"-style smart-home automation platform. After Google's acquisition of Nest, the heat is on (no pun intended) for Apple to jump into this category. As Financial Times writes:

As it hunts for new sources of growth, Apple has in the past year launched CarPlay, which lets drivers show iPhone apps on a screen in their vehicle's dashboard, and iBeacon, an indoor positioning system used by retailers, event venues and marketers to send messages based on location. ... A similar set of technologies will soon be extended to other parts of the home such as security systems, lighting and appliances -- perhaps with the addition of a new component, near-field communication (NFC).

For some reason, the rumor mill is always saying Apple will adopt NFC, even though it gets little use on rival Android devices. Regardless, Apple watchers expect at least one piece of hardware to be announced at WWDC, and pre-show guesses range from a low-cost iMac to a new Mac Mini to an updated 12-inch MacBook Air with a Retina display. About the last one, Investor Place says that "compared to competing UltraBooks -- many of which offer full-HD or better resolution, touchscreen capability, and cheaper price tags -- the MacBook Air is falling behind."

With longer odds are bets that a couple of bigger and better iPhones will be unveiled at WWDC. Although new models are expected sometime this year, it's more likely that any iPhone announcement at the show will be about a new 8GB iPhone 5s model for emerging markets.

But the award for product with the most all-over-the-map predictions goes to the much-delayed Apple TV entertainment streaming box. While few hold out strong hopes of seeing anything definitive at WWDC, Macworld UK notes:

It's been two years since Apple released a proper update for the Apple TV, and honestly, we're growing a little impatient. With rivals including Google, Amazon.com, and Western Digital releasing competing products that are pretty impressive, we're hoping that Apple has got something amazing up its sleeve for the Apple TV.

And in the "please bring me a pony for Christmas" wish list category: An Apple-branded television has been so long rumored it's basically an urban myth. But who knows? Miracles may yet happen at Christmas -- er, WWDC.

This article, "Christmas in June: Apple fans draft wish lists for WWDC," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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