Apples World Wide Developers Conference kicks off tomorrow and Steve Jobs is set to woo the world once more with a keynote speech worthy of song. While he will inevitably announcing the not so secret iPhone 4G set possibly for a very quick release, it got me me thinking about other things I'd like to see announced. So here are my top 5...
#1 OSX (10.7) :
I get that the new platform war is mobile and with Google, Microsoft, Palm/HP, Nokia and Rim all releasing compelling products, the iPhone has never seen so much competition, so of course Apples focus is there. However there are still a lot of Macs being sold and recently all the focus has been shifted away from, what has always been the crown jewel of Apple, The Mac OS.
Unlike 10.3 which brought Expose and fast user switching, 10.4 which brought Spotlight and Dashboard and10.5 which brought Spaces, Stacks and the amazing Time Machine plus hundreds of other features. With 10.6 Apple did a lot of under the hood improvements, did away with PPC and reclaimed some HDD space, however to the end user there were little differences to the experience.
As I discussed before with Windows 7, Microsoft released the first OS that I think I would be ok using at home, as like never before the differentiation between the platforms was marginal.
So back to the point, I'd love to see Apple announce OSX 10.7 and bring with it some real innovation in this very stale area. Whether they can incorporate hardware supported multitouch with inertia scrolling, take the best from iPhone and put it in a grown up OS, redesign the desktop paradigm dispelling the need for a mouse, or just making our eyes bleed at the sight of all the 'insanely great' features it will bring, I want the focus back on Mac.
One thing I do not want to see, is the mac becoming locked down like iPhone with an App store, this would be my crisis moment to which i would set sale for Redmond and lose my soul to Ballmer.
Microsoft CEO: Steve Ballmer
Chance we'll see it: 5/10
#2 iPhone Family:
I think the time is right for some differentiation beyond memory capacity in the iPhone. Sure you get the iPhone 3G as an option, but I mean real differentiation. When the iPod Mini was released in 2004 the market exploded, making it by far Apples most popular MP3 player, a success that has continued with the nano. The smaller form factor and different colours provided customers a range of choices, still providing core functionality and more importantly at a cheaper price.
Of course it is easier to shrink down the experience on an MP3 player. With iPhone there is the consideration of all those Apps on the App store that are designed for a specific resolution and device form factor, the challenges over surfing the internet on an even smaller screen and keeping the UI pleasant at the same time. However, since the new iPhone is certainly going to have a higher resolution screen than it's predecessor, not to mention a little thing called the iPad making developers redesign the way they look at their apps, resolution seems to be an issue already out there.
All you need to do is look at Palm's Pixi as a proof of concept. The Pixi while generally deemed to be a little slow and not cheap enough, is still proof that Apple could have a smaller form factor with last years components and still make it a useable product at a cheaper price. The only barriers I see for this is Apple not wanting to dilute the brand with a less than 'magical' product, however i think they have proven they have the engineering skill and vision to make something like this a success.
A little tweaking to the App store providing clear iPad, iPhone and iPhone nano sections as well as in-device automatic device detection for app choices, coupled with some easy conversion tools for developers and we have a hit.
There is also the potential for further differentiation at the top end of iPhone. A friend of mine who works for T-mobile recently referred to the iPhone that was on its way this year as the iPhone 4GS AND the iPhone HD. When I asked him about this I got no reply.
I am quite sure he is just taking advantage of my over active imagination and desire for a genuine 'scoop' however it is entirely possible Apple could launch a couple of versions within the existing size.
Come tomorrow I would like to see a revamped App store catering to the new family of phones.
'Say hello to the new family of iPhones, iPhone Nano, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4GS and iPhone HD'
Chance we'll see it: 6/10
#3 Safari 5:
While the mobile platform war is raging on, the second coming of the browser wars are here too. I'm pretty sure this will make an appearance at WWDC especially given Apples major role in Webkit development and recent improvements from the competition.
The Windows version is generally considered 'gimped' and needs to be fixed so that there is consistency independent of platform.
Like OSX 10.7 I'd like to see some more innovation and not just catching up with the competition.
The problem I see with Safari, is for all the features Apple could add to make it faster and nice to use, it seems almost impossible to think that they will provide an extensions platform for the browser. His royal Steveness has already stated that the number one cause for Macs and browsers crashing is 3rd party plugins to the browser. Unless Apple can solve this issue I can't see them adding it. Sure nobody likes their browser crashing, but you know what, I'll take the chance if it means I get the choice to customise my browser to my needs.
Chance we'll see it: 9/10
#4 Apple TV:
Given Steve's recent comments 'no one wants to buy a box' it seems almost absurd that Apple TV will make an appearance at tomorrows conference, however the rumour mill says otherwise. The report from Engadget speculated the new Apple TV would have cloud storage, run iPhone OS and cost just $99. I do believe however that if it does make an appearance, it wont be much more than what Engadget reports. Given Steves comments at D8 it seems Apple isn't trying to revolutionise that industry (like Google) as by design it is almost unfixable due to the lack of common standards or common market leaders. However I can see them continuing the Apple TV 'hobby' by leveraging the iPhone OS to another market by providing apps on your TV, as well as itunes content for $99 if for no other reason than as a big F$%k you to Google.
Unless of course that was just a big front designed to make out tiny brains think we didn't need a Google/Apple TV then tomorrow, 'Boom' the industry is shaken.....Just a thought....
Chance we'll see it: 5/10
#5 "One more thing"
It seems like too long since we've had a truly surprising 'One more thing' moment. In fact it seems like ages since we've been surprised at all by an Apple launch. While the specifics of the products tend to remain secret, the 'thing' itself is always heavily rumoured. I hope for a genuine surprise tomorrow, something nobody saw coming. It doesn't have to change the world and the way go about our lives forever, it could just be a whole new iTunes that doesn't suck, or an update to an existing product line that isn't just incremental. I wan't surprise in my life damn it!
Chance we'll see it: 1/10
So after writing all of that I'm super hyped about the pending announcements and can't wait to hear what Apple has in store. However recently I have found myself very disappointed following Apples announcements, which never seem to live up to the hype that follows Apple events. So I am preparing myself in advance dear reader, for a by the book introduction of the new iPhone (that everyone has seen) a recap on the main features of iPhone OS4 (which everyone has seen) and some facts and figures about how awesome Apple are at selling things.
Chances we'll see it: 9.5/10