The Road to WWDC 2013: Lots of Excitement From Apple Lies Ahead

WWDC Keynote

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) has often played host to a number of new product and software announcements.

I doubt that I am alone when I say that there has not been much excitement surrounding Apple as of late, especially when you take into account that it has not held a special media event since unveiling the iPad mini in late October. But, that should change in the near future.

We’re already approaching the halfway mark in April, so an Apple event in spring is long overdue. It’s still too early for the launch of the next iPhone, one would presume, while the iPad mini is still less than six months old. So, that brings the full-sized iPad into focus. But that’s not all. 

Apple could update the full-sized iPad with a design akin to the smaller iPad mini at an upcoming media event.

Apple could update the full-sized iPad with a design akin to the smaller iPad mini, pictured above, at a standalone media event in the near future.

Although the fourth-generation iPad was released alongside the iPad mini, with the same form factor as its full-sized predecessor, that move seemed to be part of a larger goal of having all iOS devices equipped with a Lightning connector heading into last year’s holiday shopping season.

That means Apple should eventually update the 9.7-inch iPad to have the same design as the iPad mini — thinner and lighter with chamfered anodized aluminum edges — and could hold a standalone event at some point in the next few months to show it off.

Apple Rainbow LogoApple pundit John Gruber of Daring Fireball echoed that sentiment in a recent roundtable discussion with other well-connected individuals:

As for events, I’ve heard nothing, but I’d think Apple would like to introduce the new Mini-style full-size iPad in April. If we don’t see it in April, I’d guess that it’s late. And if it’s late, I think they’d do a standalone event in May rather than hold it until WWDC in (I presume) June.

An event dedicated to the full-sized iPad refresh makes sense, Gruber adds:

I don’t think they would want to unveil the new iPad at WWDC alongside iOS 7, because the new iPad won’t ship with iOS 7. It’d be weird to introduce the iPad and do demos of crufty old iOS 6 and then moments later show off the new hotness of iOS 7.

Apple will likely have too much on its hands to announce at Worldwide Developers Conference anyways, as the Cupertino-based corporation should provide a first look at its iOS 7 software, announce refreshes to its MacBook lineup, and presumably show off OS X 10.9.

Apple unveiled new MacBooks, OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6 at WWDC 2012 last year.

Apple unveiled new MacBooks, OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6 at WWDC 2012 last year.

For those unfamiliar with WWDC, it is a weeklong event that Apple holds annually at Moscone West in San Francisco, California, where registered iOS and OS X developers come — at a cost of around $1,599 per ticket — to attend Apple’s opening keynote and take in hundreds of workshop sessions afterwards.

A mockup design of iOS 7.

A mockup design of iOS 7 with quick toggles within Notification Center and the lock screen.

The unveiling of iOS 7 should be one of the most exciting highlights of WWDC, as it is believed that the departure of former iOS head Scott Forstall, and increased responsibilities for Apple design chief Jonathan Ive in turn, will result in a large design transformation across the entire platform.

Looping back to John Gruber for insight on that matter:

Word on the street is that iOS engineers with carry privileges all have some sort of polarizing filter on their iPhone displays, such that it greatly decreases viewing angles, thus making it difficult for observers to see the apparently rather significant system-wide UI overhaul.

That “significant system-wide UI overhaul” could be a transition to a minimalistic, flat appearance throughout the mobile operating system, ridding much of the skeuomorphic design elements that Forstall seemed to favor. The design language of Apple’s new Podcasts app could best foreshadow what to expect in iOS 7.

A mockup of the so-called "iPhone 5S" by graphic designer Martin Hajek.

A mockup of the so-called “iPhone 5S” by graphic designer Martin Hajek.

To go along with the revamped software, a new iPhone could be in store at WWDC. Although, a July or August announcement is more agreed upon by industry followers. Whenever it comes, the so-called “iPhone 5S” could have an improved processor and cameras, a 4.3-inch or larger display, and come in a variety of different colors.

A mockup of iOS with an aluminum, minimalistic theme over skeuomorphism.

A mockup of iOS with an aluminum, minimalistic theme sans skeuomorphism.

As far as a refresh to Apple’s MacBook lineup goes, the next-generation notebooks are expected to be powered by Intel’s yet-to-be-released Haswell processors, and the entire notebook family could gain Retina displays. Outside of those few details, which are purely speculative, there is little else known about what the latest Macs will entail.

Apple is expected to unveil its next-generation MacBook lineup at WWDC 2013.

Apple is expected to unveil its next-generation MacBook lineup at WWDC 2013.

Alongside those new Macs should be an initial preview of OS X 10.9, the next major version of the Mac operating system to follow Mountain Lion. So far, we’ve heard that Apple will further bridge the gap between iOS and OS X by bringing both Siri and Apple Maps to the desktop. We’ve also heard that Apple has pulled engineers off OS X 10.9 to work on iOS 7.

Apple's previous-generation iPod nano stylized as a wearable watch.

Apple’s previous-generation iPod nano stylized as a wearable watch.

So, that’s what we know so far; or, what is expected anyhow. But then there is the element of the unknown. The purported iWatch. A low-budget iPhone. The so-called “iTV” or “iSlate,” whatever Apple decides to call its rumored HDTV set if such a thing even exists. And there might even be more in store beyond that.

Most analysts believe that most Apple product releases will fall in the latter half of this year, so we’re teetering on the brink of excitement. Whatever happens to unfold over the next few months, be sure to follow along on iFans for the latest updates and comprehensive coverage leading up to, during, and following WWDC 2013. What are you hoping for most from Apple in the next months?

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