On June 3, Apple will once again take to the stage at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California to announce new versions of iOS, macOS, watchOS, and maybe more at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
While last year's WWDC software highlights largely consisted of many under the hood tweaks — for example, iOS 12 sped up performance on older devices — we're expecting Apple to lean more into power user features this time.
As iPhone and Mac sales slow down, it's crucial Apple gives existing customers compelling features to help them get more stuff done. Beefing up its software with useful new features has never been more important.
iOS 13: Going dark (mode)
The last time Apple really revamped iOS was with iOS 7 in 2013. The mobile operating system ditched the skeuomorphic design language in favor of a flatter and minimalist interface. Each version of iOS has come with small tweaks here and there, but the software has mostly been left unchanged.
Apple's not expected to reveal a top-to-bottom redesign, but we should be getting a new dark mode that swaps the bright white interface to an easier-on-they-eyes black and gray. The mode should be similar to the dark mode that's already available for macOS 10.14 Mojave. Users will reportedly be able to turn on dark mode either in the Settings app or via a shortcut button in Control Center, according to 9to5Mac.
iOS 13 is also rumored to come with new animations for launching multitasking and closing apps, according to Bloomberg. Apple's also expected to tweak widgets so that they look better.
Other new iOS features said to be coming include a swipe-based keyboard (RIP SwiftKey?), more controls for Screen Time (good for parents), an improved "Share Sheet" for sharing information via apps, an upgraded sleep mode that works with the Clock app's "Bedtime" feature,
Updated versions of Apple apps such as Reminders, Books, Mail, Maps, etc. will also include new features to help users do more. For example, the Mail app is said to have settings to block email from contacts, mute threads, and simplify folder management.
Apple will also reportedly combine its Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps into one and might unveil its own Tile-like tag to help users keep track of their items. A revamped Health app will supposedly provide better information on daily activities, warn about playing loud music, and include menstrual cycle tracking.
Additionally, Safari's expected to get a new downloads manager that makes the web browser more similar to its Mac version and iMessage will become more like WhatsApp with the ability to add a profile picture, display name, and status.
On iPad, iOS 13 will reportedly include a tweaks to the home screen, a new interface for multitasking, and the ability to load up multiple versions of the same app. Some iPads (likely the iPad Pros) will probably also gain the ability to be used as an external monitor.
Overall, iOS 13 looks like it's gonna be crammed full of features that power users will appreciate.
macOS 10.15: More apps
First, what's Apple gonna call the macOS 10.15? Since ditching cat names in 2012, Apple's gone with Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan, Sierra, High Sierra, and Mojave. Assuming Apple sticks to naming macOS after scenic locations, macOS 10.15 should be no different.
The most notable announcement for macOS will most likely be support for iPad apps. While Apple announced plans to bring iPad apps to the Mac at last year's WWDC, the company will likely share more details on how they work during this year's keynote.
The long term plan is to revitalize the Mac platform by making it easy for developers to bring their existing iPad apps over without having to rewrite them from the ground up. It's a similar strategy to what Microsoft tried to do with its Universal Windows Apps — one app for PC, tablet, and mobile — but the strategy didn't exactly pan out.
It'll be interesting to see how Apple juggles having native Mac apps and iPad apps, each with their own UI and UX, on a macOS. For instance, how well will iPad apps, which are designed for multitouch, translate to mouse and keyboard? There are legitimate concerns that iPad apps, with their massive buttons and excessive use of negative space, might class hard with macOS. We've seen Android apps on Chromebooks with mixed results so it's likely iPad apps on the Mac might be a little rough around the edges out of the gate.
In addition to iPad apps on the Mac, we're expecting Apple to announce a standalone Apple Music app, which breaks the music streaming service out from the bloated iTunes. Apple's unlikely to be killing iTunes altogether — people still need a way to download songs and organize them — but the new Apple Music app could mean Macs won't slow to a crawl when you want to listen to music. Apple's also reportedly working on a standalone podcast app as well.
Just as iOS 13 on iPad will get a little bit more Mac-like, Macs will become more iOS-like with iPad apps. Apple said last year the two platforms aren't merging, but it's hard to see how they're not on a collision course.
watchOS 6: All grown up
Slowly, but surely, Apple's smartwatch platform is blossoming into its own irresistible platform. After years of piggybacking off iOS, the next version of watchOS will finally get an App Store of its own, according to Bloomberg. This will make the smartwatch more independent and allow users to install new Watch apps without having to go through an iPhone app.
While Apple has largely touted the Apple Watch as a health-centric wearable last few years with features like fall-detection and the ECG app, the company is expected to make the device even more computer-like with new apps such as Voice Memos for recording audio-based notes, an Apple Books app for listening to audio books, and a calculator app for, well, calculating things on the fly. Animoji and Memoji stickers are also said to be new features, though, they're more fun than useful.
Furthermore, Apple's expected to announce two new health apps for watchOS 6: one allegedly called "Cycles: to track menstrual cycles like on iOS 13 and another called "Dose" to remind you to take your pills.
Lastly, watchOS 6 is likely to get several new watch faces and more "complications" to display bite-sized information from installed apps.
All of the rest: tvOS 13 and Apple Arcade
Apple's big push into TV will likely also get brief stage time. It's possible Apple will announce an updated version of tvOS (we're up to version 13), but that seems like a long shot considering the company's more focused on its recently redesigned TV app and its TV+ streaming video service.
As for Apple Arcade, WWDC would be a good time to announce details the company didn't share in March. Like, how much is the game subscription service going to cost when it launches in the fall? How many games will subscribers have access to? How will games be controlled on Apple TV (via Siri remote, gamepad controller sold separately, or with connected iPhones and iPads)? There's still so much about Apple Arcade we don't know.
What we're not expecting
Similar to its services event in March, Apple announced most of its hardware ahead of WWDC 2019.
In March, Apple announced the new iPad mini and iPad Air, and spec bumps for the iMac, and second-generation AirPods. Then last week, Apple gave the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros performance boosts and updated their controversial "butterfly" keyboards to be more reliable. And earlier this week, Apple dropped a revamped iPod touch out of the blue.
One more thing?
The wild card for WWDC is going to be anything related to the new Mac Pro. Thew high-end Mac is aimed at professionals and was announced way back in 2017. Two years later and Apple has revealed virtually nothing about the new machine. Assuming the new Mac Pro is still on track for a 2019 launch, Apple could use the keynote to share more information on it. At the very least, show everyone it doesn't look like a trash can!