WWDC is right on the other side of this weekend, and the rumor mill is running full-bore. Scarcely a product is escaping its attention. Here, we run down some of the more credible items we're expecting to see out of the event, as well as some tidbits on which we call shenanigans.
iOS 6: a life in pictures and map tiles
It's official: iOS 6 will be unveiled on Monday. One of iOS 6's biggest speculated additions will be to the Maps application, which is expected to sally forth from Google's APIs into the PlaceBase, Poly9, and C3 Technologies territory that Apple acquired some months ago. The new Maps may include a 3D mode to compete with the 3D offerings Google announced on June 6.
On the back-end of iOS 6, Apple may be adding a tracking tool for developers to gather and process data from users of their software, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The tool would replace the deprecated UDID and would add a new layer of privacy controls between the developer and the user. The tool may not debut at WWDC; WSJ states it will be available "in the coming weeks."
Some of iOS 6's additions may actually be iCloud additions: Apple is likely to turn its iOS Photo Stream into a full-fledged photo sharing service. The service will also including video-sharing capabilities. Apple is also preparing to add Notes and Reminders to iCloud.com, as evidenced by Apple's iCloud beta test portal for registered developers.
More minor changes may include Facebook integration at the OS level, similar to how Twitter is integrated now. iOS 6 may also gain 1080p AirPlay mirroring, automatic app updates, and a change in OS design from blue to silver, more like what is currently on the iPad.
Possible, but implausible: Siri for iPad—as much as our beating hearts yearn for this, Apple seems to firmly believe that Siri needs to be backed by a persistent data connection. Not all iPads have this, and there's not an apparent solution to this problem. Siri APIs for third-party developers and live app icons have also been mentioned, but we think they're unlikely.
Hardware: you get an update! And you get an update! And you get an update!
Most of the Mac products on Apple's slate are so long in the tooth, they have elephant tusks. A collective sigh of relief went round the Internet as rumors arose immediately before WWDC that Apple may finally update the Mac Pro, which has gone untouched for nearly two years. The new Mac Pros are likely to make use of Intel's Sandy Bridge-EP architecture with Xeon E5s, giving users the option of having up to 16 processor cores. Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 ports may also be in the Mac Pro's future. We're guessing Apple will keep the tower's optical drive, and that Apple will update the tower's exterior, too.
As for Apple's corral of MacBooks and iMacs, some or all might see an upgrade to retina displays. As we learned between the retina updates to the iPhone and iPad, "retina" doesn't mean an absolute pixel density, as far as Apple is concerned. Instead, it's a sliding scale depending on how far Apple thinks the screen will be from your face-plane. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S have 326ppi screens, while the third-gen iPad's screen is 264ppi.
We'd guess a Mac retina display's ppi would be even lower, but anything is possible. Regardless of our suspicions, however, higher-res displays seem imminent: back in March, a developer noticed an unusually large iChat icon in a Mountain Lion developer release. It would have fit in the allotted space if his screen had great pixel density. And, Apple has begun approving apps on the Mac App Store that have what many consider to be "retina" graphics. The plot densifies!
The Macbook Pro is also due for a body and spec update, and there's a maelstrom of rumors insisting that it will morph into a more svelte form factor. USB 3.0 is a likely addition alongside Thunderbolt. The 15-inch model specifically is rumored to be getting a pixel-doubled 2800x1800 display (220ppi), a resolution that the HD4000 integrated GPU on IvyBridge processors are capable of driving, as is the rumored NVIDIA GTX 650M GPU. The 13-inch and 17-inch models have been somewhat less gossiped about, but if Apple keeps both models around, we expect Apple will tweak the updates to fit those models as needed.
On the inside, all Macs (Mac Pro aside) are expected to get bumped to Intel's Ivy Bridge CPUs. Theoretically, the computers could all go quad-core, but Intel introduced dual-core Ivy Bridge chips on May 31; we'd bet a mix of the two will be sprinkled inside Apple's lineup.
In more mobile technology, we haven't seen many rumors that we'd place bets on. But we can get behind the possibility of a small announcement for a T-Mobile iPhone, especially since pre-paid outlets have started carrying them.
Possible, but implausible: A new iPhone. Sure, one is coming eventually, but probably not yet (we think fall is the new iPhone season). We're also taking a stand against 7 (or 7.85-inch) iPad rumors. Never say never, but there would need to be some dramatic, earth-shaking shifts in the success of Apple's current iPad and consumer demand before we'll throw a bone to this one.
Applevision: the mysterious Apple TV
Whether the next Apple TV will be a television set or remain set-top box rages on, but there has been little evidence for a be-screened version emerging during WWDC. What is more likely is an SDK for the device that will allow third-party developers to build apps for the platform, as reported by Boy Genius Report.
Mountain Lion: Lion's Appalachian cousin
Mountain Lion has been circulating in developer releases for a few months now, and a solid preview is all but certain. It's possible (some say likely) that the OS will be released alongside the deluge of new hardware. The gap between OS X and iOS will fade still more with MoLo, with increased integration and shared features between the two. We've already gotten a pretty good look through developer previews, which included a "do not disturb" feature for notifications that is likely to extend to iOS 6 and the new Gatekeeper feature that will keep the platform from executing applications from untrusted sources. One small tidbit indicates Apple may include automatic app downloads as reported, similar to the way iOS handles new apps now.
The only rumor mongering still going on that concerns Mountain Lion is about the release date—we feel comfortable saying WWDC will result in an announced release date for the OS.