WWDC 2011 Predictions

Part of me had already decided that I wasn’t going to publish predictions for WWDC this year. At least to me, it felt like Apple sucked all the air out of the room when they made the keynote announcement. Because, they didn’t just name a date and time, they announced that Steve Jobs would be on stage and that the keynote would focus on Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud.

This is the first time I can remember where Apple explicitly announced what the topics would be for a keynote address. And, it made me feel like speculation wasn’t even worth the time to write it. But, late last night the mood struck me and I just started writing. As it turns out, there’s a lot more to this keynote than you’d expect. And even with the rumors of no hardware releases at WWDC, I’m still getting incredibly excited about the keynote. Nearly every device I use right now will likely receive a major software update by September. That’s exciting.

Now, regarding the rumors and speculation:

iOS 5

iOS 5 will be a pretty substantial update. There has already been a leak through the App Store updates page that revealed that iOS 5 will be able to automatically download application updates to your device without having to sync with your computer.

This is a neat feature and will be welcomed with open arms by most, but anyone who skipped all of the updates to Twitter for iPhone that included the Quick Bar will understand why some might want to turn automatic updates off on their iOS devices.

Speaking of Twitter, there has been talk about Twitter being integrated into iOS 5. And, it’s all but confirmed. I expect iOS 5 to feature the ability to upload photos to Twitter directly from the camera roll, the ability to connect contacts in iOS to users on Twitter (e.g. open up a contact, tap on their Twitter username, and be given the option to direct message or mention them without leaving the Contacts application), and new APIs that will allow developers to easily integrate the tweeting functionality within their application.

And then we have the possibility of revamped notifications and widgets. I’m not really sure what to expect with widgets. I hope that, if they are in iOS 5, they are just on the lock screen. I really don’t want widgets mucking up the home screen. Honestly, I can’t see myself using them if they aren’t on the lock screen. Notifications are another feature where I’m not sure what to expect. MG Siegler published an image of what may be the revamped notification implementation. The image may be fake, but he’s been told that it’s the “right idea.”

Lion

There isn’t a whole lot to say about Lion, Apple already demoed back in October of last year. And, I doubt much has changed since then. Except maybe integration with iCloud.

9 to 5 Mac has heard from their sources that Apple could surprise us with a June 14 release date, but I’d guess August-September is a much more likely time frame.

iCloud

As John Gruber put it in his WWDC 2011 Prelude:

Don’t Think of iCloud as the new MobileMe; think of iCloud as the new iTunes

MobileMe already keeps your contacts, calendars, email, and bookmarks in sync across all of your devices, but iCloud is for everything else.

Everything that MobileMe users have to connect their iPhones to their computers to sync, will sync through iCloud. Everyone knows and talks about the music stream features, but that’s only because Apple can’t keep a feature like this under wraps when they have to negotiate with record labels for licenses.

Yes, iCloud will store music, but I also expect it to store application data, TV shows, Movies, and nearly any file you’d like to send to an application on your iOS device. Application data syncing alone would be a game changer. The ability to play Angry Birds on your iPhone and iPad without losing your place when switching between devices is a big deal. But, having all your media and files available takes it to another level.

This has the potential to make the current Apple TV much more useful. Right now, if we want to watch something that we own on our Apple TV the iMac has to be on and iTunes has to be running, or we have to stream video from our iPhones or iPad over AirPlay. But, booting up the iMac and opening iTunes is sometimes more trouble than it’s worth. And, most of the time we don’t have what we want to watch on our iOS devices. But, if our entire library is always available to stream from the cloud, the Apple TV can play anything from our library at any time.

Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme

TUAW pointed out last week that there has been a recent supply issue with Time Capsules and AirPort Extremes. Supply of both products have been drying up globally. This is usually a sign that updates are coming soon.

The updated Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme is rumored to feature an A4 or A5 processor running iOS.

9 to 5 Mac has learned that Apple has been internally testing Time Capsules that are capable of caching software updates for both Mac and iOS devices. This means that users wouldn’t have to wait for the update to download before installing the updates and households with multiple computers could update without having to download the software update separately.

I don’t know if Apple has managed to build it into iOS 5, but software update caching could be the way that Apple decides to offer iOS updates without the need to tether to your computer.

Apple could even use your Time Capsules hard drive to buffer streaming files from iCloud. This would make streaming video and audio from iCloud nearly indistinguishable from playing back locally stored content.

But, here’s my wild speculation. What if all of these iCloud rumors are true, but iCloud isn’t a service that puts all of your data on Apple’s servers. What if these new Time Capsules are your iCloud? It’s terribly far-fetched, but what if all of this data that we’re assuming will be saved on Apple’s servers is instead saved on your own Time Capsule at home. Music, Movies, TV Shows, application data, etc. all saved on a hard drive in your home network, that you have control over. That is something that would pique my interest.

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