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WWDC 2024 – big announcements expected

WWDC 2024 logo

In a little under 2 months, many questions are expected to be answered…

There are two big dates in the year for us Apple fans – one is the iPhone event in the fall and the other is WWDC.

Being predominately a developer’s conference it’s normally centred around software although it’s not unheard of for hardware to feature as well – of course, it was at WWDC last year that we first got sight of the Vision Pro.

This year the attention will be on how Apple goes about leaning into AI and what their plan is. It’s been a long time coming for Apple to truly invest in AI so it promises to be a pretty spicy affair.

Today we are going to take a walk through what to expect from this year’s keynote speech on Monday 10th June.

WWDC – the obvious bits

It’s a given that we’ll be seeing iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS 15, tvOS 18, watchOS 11, and visionOS 2 and what new features they have in store for us.

I’ve already written about how Apple has been very open about the fact that AI is coming to iPhone and iPad this year. We’ve even heard it from the horse’s mouth with Tim Cook going as far as to say that ‘we’re investing quite a bit in AI’.

iOS 18 is rumoured to be the biggest shake-up we’ve seen in years because of these AI features. In this ground-breaking update, we could see AI coming into play with apps such as Music, Maps, Pages and Keynote – with voice integration coming to those.

Siri will almost certainly be almost re-invented and will hopefully become more conversation-based which will make it easier to use meaningfully with Messages and Shortcuts.

The big question for me has always been how will Apple integrate AI into iOS – AI and privacy would seem to be at odds. But now we are getting some flesh on ‘dem bones.

This weekend Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman wrote that Apple is developing its own LLM that will run on device. It seems Apple is happy to concede that it might not have all the bells & whistles of its rivals, but instead will focus on how its AI features will help and benefit iPhone users in their day-to-day lives. Apart from the privacy benefits of Apple’s AI being carried out on device is that response times should be snappy and fast – Humane’s AI should take note!

Design freshen up

Other than what’s going on under the hood, there are expected to be some cosmetic changes to it as well.

Whilst we’d never expect an iPhone screen or OS to be completely customisable it looks likely that iOS 18 will offer more options to personalise it and may even take a few design briefs from the Vision Pro and visionOS. The grid layout will still be there but you possibly be able to space them out more individually.

There is one change coming that we know all about – RCS is coming to Messages.

Apple’s hand was somewhat forced on this one. Because of that it leads me to wonder whether Apple will make a big bru-hah about it or just let it gently be lost amid other announcements – much as they did last year when bringing USB-C to the iPhone.

macOS

I’ve heard nothing big regarding this year’s MacOS 15 update.

I’m guessing that many of the AI features they announce for iOS will trickle over to the Mac. If Siri ends up making the jump forward that we anticipate then dictation may come to the Notes app not only in iOS but also in macOS 15.

While I’ve heard no legit rumours about the naming of macOS 15 I have heard that of all things the Calculator app will be getting a new look. It will resemble the iPhone app’s round buttons rather than the square grid we have currently. It’ll get enhanced functionality that will include real-time currency conversions, a window that can be re-sized (finally) and better system-wide integration…but will it come to iPadOS too or is that a stretch too far?

Minor tweaks that we can expect to see spillover would be to Freeform, Maps and Accessibility – again using the improved Siri. One thing is for sure, if Apple do pull off the improvements to Siri that we’re hearing then it’ll be used everywhere.

The Photos app on Mac screams out that it could be perfect with a dash of AI. I’m a big fan of the Photos app on Mac as it stands, but if I could carry out some AI edits that would be the icing on the cake for me.

Any other goodies?

I mentioned earlier that at last year’s event, Apple announced the Vision Pro.

Because that was such a scene-stealer it’s easy to overlook the fact that we also got the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air and the most powerful Apple silicon chip yet – the M2 Ultra which was used in the new and overdue Mac Pro. Thinking back, it was quite an event, wasn’t it?

But this year it’s hard to see what, if any hardware we might get. If you’d asked me a week or so back I’d have hedged a bet that we would get an M3 Mac mini – but that now seems a no-no.

The latest rumours regarding the next Mac mini are that it will miss the M3 merry-go-round and instead wait until later this year and get an M4 & M4 Pro chip instead.

With the MacBook Air range already having been refreshed this year, the M3 iMac and M3 MacBooks are not yet a year old and with iPads due ahead of WWDC you’d have to think the chances of any meaningful hardware are unlikely at WWDC this June.

It looks to me as if this WWDC will very much get back to its routes and be an OS software-driven event and give us a taste and glimpse of the future.

Hardware is always exciting I know, but if this is the event that we start to see what Apple’s roadmap is for AI then you’d have to say that WWDC 2024 could be equally as memorable as the Vision Pro event last year.

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