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Apple’s WWDC 2018: iOS 12, macOS, and what else to expect

Apple’s WWDC 2018: iOS 12, macOS, and what else to expect

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Expect a better working version of iOS, instead of a better looking one

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It’s that time of year again. The days are long, the sun is shining, and Apple is getting ready to take the stage at its annual developer conference to unveil a look at the future of its iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS operating systems. That’s right, WWDC 2018 is here, and it all kicks off on Monday, June 4th at the San Jose Convention Center.

Keep it locked

The keynote starts at 1PM ET / 10AM PT on June 4th, and as always, The Verge will be reporting live from San Jose with all the news as soon as it happens, so keep it locked here for all the details.

The rumor mill has been almost uncharacteristically quiet about Apple’s upcoming announcements this year, but here’s what we’re expecting to show up:

Software

WWDC is a developer conference, so it’s become almost tradition for Apple to unveil a sneak preview of the next version of all of its major software updates for the fall.

iOS 12: iOS updates are usually the star of WWDC, but temper your expectations for any big, flashy updates at this year’s conference. According to a report from Axios, the next major iOS update is said to focus on improving reliability and performance, which, given the almost unending stream of issues with iOS 11 following its release last fall, is probably a good thing.

A bigger focus on reliability rather than new features

But there are a few things that we might expect to see. iOS 12 will be the first major update to iOS following the introduction of the iPhone X, so it’s possible that we’ll get some new functionality that will be better able to take advantage of the iPhone X’s gesture interface, as alluded to by Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive when the phone launched last November.

Axios’ report also mentioned that there are still some new AR and health features in the works for this year’s update, and it’s possible Apple might have decided to bump up things like the redesigned home screen or updates to bundled apps that were originally said to be delayed. A new report from Bloomberg would seem to corroborate this, with rumors that much like Google in Android P, Apple is going to make a new “Digital Health” feature designed to help you better manage your time on your device a big focus of iOS 12.

There are also rumors from The Information that Apple may be opening up NFC on its devices to developers for things like transit fares, plus, there’s always the chance that we might finally get long-awaited features like better notifications or multi-user support for iPads, although I wouldn’t necessarily hold my breath. Overall — expect a better working version of iOS, instead of a better-looking one.

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

macOS 10.14: The rumor mill has been a bit quieter about updates to Apple’s next version of its desktop software, so it’s harder to say what to expect here. The one big thing that might be coming is some sort of integration between Mac and iOS apps — but the rumor mill has been divided as to whether or not we’ll be seeing that at WWDC this year (Mark Gurman at Bloomberg says yes, John Gruber at Daring Fireball says no), or to what extent Apple will be implementing it, but it’ll be something to watch for. Also, perhaps we’ll get a confirmed name for the next version of the Mac operating system.

watchOS 5: Take this one with a grain of salt, but an unverified rumor from MacRumors claims that Spotify may be coming to the Apple Watch alongside a new “StreamKit” framework in watchOS 5, which would be a pretty big deal if true. There’s also probably going to be the usual slate of new watch faces (including a Pride-themed one that’s already leaked) and fitness features, as is usually the case for a watchOS update.

Siri needs some work

Siri: Put bluntly, Siri needs some work. The digital assistant was once Apple’s shining crown jewel of what the technology could be when it launched in 2011 on the iPhone 4S. But since then, Siri has stagnated in growth to the point where it’s barely a viable competitor to its far smarter and more useful counterparts in Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. If ever there was a time for Apple to announce a revamped Siri (perhaps one that’s more open to third-party apps and services, better at providing answers to questions, and more consistent across all of Apple’s devices) it would be at WWDC.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

tvOS: The Apple TV certainly gets less of a spotlight at WWDC than Apple’s other platforms, but expect to hear something about the software for Apple’s streaming box at WWDC. Apple has said before that Dolby Atmos for Apple TV is coming at some point, so that might be something to look forward to. There also might be some news about Apple’s nascent streaming service — which the Apple TV will likely be a core part of — but given that it’s not expected to launch until sometime in 2019, it’s probably too early to expect anything.

Hardware

WWDC tends to be more of a software event than one focused on hardware, but we’ve still seen physical products get announced at WWDC in the past. Here’s what might pop up:

MacBook Pro refresh: Apple’s MacBook Pros have been having a rough time, with increasing complaints about failure with the butterfly-style keys. While it seems unlikely that we’ll get a full-fledged redesign this year (the current model is only a few years old), we might get an update with upgraded eighth-generation Intel processors at the very least, and maybe an increase in RAM.

Maybe Apple will finally upgrade the Air?

MacBook Air refresh: Rumors have been swirling that Apple is working on some kind of update for the MacBook Air, ranging from Apple releasing a cheaper version of the depressingly outdated model currently for sale (according to former KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo), to a Digitimes report that claims that Apple has a new entry 13-inch MacBook model planned with the same Retina display as the existing 13.3-inch MacBook Pro.

Image: Apple

iPhone SE 2: Apple hasn’t launched an iPhone in June since the iPhone 4, but it’s possible that the long-awaited follow-up to the iPhone SE might show up at WWDC this year (assuming it exists at all.) Then again, we’re already close enough to September and Apple’s usual iPhone event that it might make sense to just wait until the launch of the other new iPhones then (again, if there even is an iPhone SE 2).

AirPower: Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat was announced back alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone X last fall, promised for sometime this year. There’s still no word as to when Apple is planning on launching it, but maybe we’ll get an update on it at the keynote this year.

Odds and ends: It’s been almost four years since Apple last updated the Mac Mini. Is that likely to change at WWDC this year? Probably not. But it might. There’s also the chance that a cheaper, smaller HomePod-style gadget shows up, or maybe the rumored Apple-branded over-ear headphones.

Update May 31st, 12:20PM ET: Added information about Apple’s rumored Digital Health feature.

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