What Can We Expect from the Apple WWDC Keynote?

We're only a few weeks away from the next Apple keynote - and it's fair to say that there's more anticipation around THIS keynote, in particular, than usual.
That anticipation is, first and foremost, a result of the unprecedented amount of time since the last keynote. It's been a long time... about twice as long as  what we've come to expect from Apple.

This keynote also comes at the end (well, hopefully the end) of a long and brutal slide in AAPL's share price. (It's down a a shocking 4% today, for some reason.)

People are eager for Apple to give us something to get excited about - ANYTHING, really.

So what can we expect?

1. iOS 7 Preview (Odds: 95% plus) - WWDC is, traditionally, a time when Apple gives a sneak peek into its next OS.

There has been a lot written about Jony Ive's new direction for iOS, most often anticipating a move to "flat" and abstract textures, instead of the current "real-life" or "skeumorphic" details such as faux-leather texture.
This is probably a good thing - GameCenter, for instance, just looks silly with all of its green felt. And "Find My Friends" (a ridiculous app for anyone except parents keeping tabs on their kids) is even sillier, with 1970's-era leather-craft loops.

At the same time, it's possible to go TOO far in "cleaning up" an OS - look at the visceral reaction to Windows 8 Metro (and the general "meh" reaction to Windows Phone) as proof.

Apple has a long and illustrious history of making computer icons and interfaces that resemble real-life objects. The very first Macintosh had a "desktop", and a "trash can", for instance. They need to find a middle ground here - some skeumorphism is OK and even appreciated... but too much starts to look kitschy.

The WWDC logo seems to be a large pile of "app icon" rounded squares. That could be a hint - could we expect a change to the iOS home screen? 

One change I'd happily welcome - make the icon for the standard Weather app dynamic based on your current location. It's not always sunny and 73 degrees.

If I open the app, it provides updated weather info based on my location - how about incorporating a "sun/rain/wind/snow" icon and the current temp on the icon itself? After all, the calendar app shows the current date - it's not frozen on the 7th or something.

2. New iPhones (Odds: 25%) - Over the last 6 months, we have heard a LOT about a "low-end" iPhone, intended to chase market share in developing countries.

I've gone over the numerous reasons why this may not be an ideal strategy for Apple - chasing low-end market share is antithetical to what Apple has stood for since Jobs' return. Apple has conclusively demonstrated that the path to profit is by dominating the marketshare for high-end, "aspirational" devices - while providing prior year's models as low price options.

This year may be a bit different, though.

I'd expect that Apple is going to be retiring the iPhone 4-4S form factor permanently. (And it's not b/c of that "defective power button" class action.)

I'm also guessing that Apple will be introducing the iPhone 5S, and also introducing an iPhone (probably just called "iPhone"), built on the iPhone 5 architecture and form factor, but missing some iPhone 5 functionality, but coming in a wide range of colors.

This fits Apple's M.O. - After a few generations, introduce colors! It worked for the iPod nano. It will work for the iPhone.

There are 2 reasons I expect Apple to ditch the iPhone 4/4S as a retail device - first, they'll want to end the "branching" that resulted from the move to the larger screen on the iPhone 5. It will make things simpler for devs if all iPhones are on the same screen size - and we'll get to that point sooner if the iPhone 4 is no longer available at retail.

Secondly - and more importantly - the iPhone 5 marked the switch to the Lightning connector. Apple will want to standardize the connectors in their active product lines - much as they hurried to introduce a Lightning-enabled iPad 4 ahead of schedule.

There are new iPhones coming. But probably NOT at WWDC. We may get some hints, but I expect that Apple will save the new iPhones for their own Keynote.


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