John Paczkowski

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Handicapping Apple’s WWDC Keynote

wwdc_2013
For Apple, the first half of this year has been unusually quiet. There have been no special events, few product announcements. Indeed, the company has been virtually silent since last fall, when it rolled out major redesigns of a number of key products: The iPhone 5, the iPad and iPad mini and the iPod line.

So Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address from Apple CEO Tim Cook will be regarded with great interest not only for annual updates to the company’s desktop and mobile operating systems — OS X and iOS, but also as a harbinger of devices to come.

iOS 7

The centerpiece news of the day will be the unveiling of iOS 7. This latest iteration of the operating system that runs Apple’s iPhones and iPads will be the first to version of the OS to be truly crafted under the design leadership of Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, who was last year charged with overseeing the “human interface” of all Apple products. On stage at our D11 conference last week, Cook said Ive has been “really key” in recasting iOS. “We recognized that Jony had contributed significantly to the look and feel of Apple over many, many years and could do that for our software as well,” Cook explained. “And I think [what he's done] is absolutely incredible.”

As AllThingsD reported earlier this year, iOS 7 is expected to be significantly “de-glitzed” from its predecessor, featuring a flat design that favors simplicity over flash and skeuomorphism. As one source who has been briefed on iOS told AllThingsD in early May. “You know Game Center’s green felt craps table? Well, goodbye, Circus Circus.”

Also expected in iOS 7, tighter social integration with Flickr and Vimeo, some improvements to Maps and, perhaps, some content and services enhancements via an expanded deal with Yahoo.

Cook also talked about opening up more of the iPhone to developers, and a number of companies are holding out hope to be able to do some of the same things they have long been able to do on Android, such as crafting alternate software keyboards.

OS X 10.9

The second big software announcement of the day, and one about which comparatively little is known, is OS X 10.9 — Apple’s forthcoming desktop operating system. What comes after Mountain Lion and what sort of improvements will that update bring to the platform? Cook’s WWDC keynote should answer both those questions. Expect OS X 10.9 to feature improved full-screen apps with multiple screen support. Longshot: We may also see Siri and Maps integration, according to chatter I’ve been hearing, but haven’t yet been able to confirm.

iRadio

Apple on Friday signed the last of the big deals it needs to finally announce its long-in-the-offing Internet radio service. With agreements in hand for all three major music labels, the company is finally poised to discuss iRadio, or whatever it has chosen to call the service — a free streaming music offering that’s been described to me as a happy collision of iTunes Genius and Pandora.

Hardware

Word on the street is that the WWDC keynote will bring with it refreshes of both the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. The biggest change here: A switch to Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors, which are said to dramatically improve battery life and graphics performance. Also potentially on tap, a new Mac Pro. Apple’s desktop powerhouse is long overdue for an update, and the company promised to roll one out this year.

What Else?

Improvements to iCloud, which could clearly use them. As I wrote when iCloud first launched, “If, as Steve Jobs says, software is the soul of Apple’s products, hardware their brains and sinew, then iCloud is their memory — and soon perhaps one of their biggest selling points as well. Certainly it’s a feature that will differentiate Apple’s already well-differentiated products even further from the competition.” It’s been two years since iCloud debuted, and the service still hasn’t quite delivered on Jobs’s promise

And beyond that? It’s all guesswork until Cook takes the WWDC stage at 10 am Pacific. AllThingsD.com will be covering his address live, so please be sure to join us for coverage.

AllThingsD’s Ina Fried contributed to this report.

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