I've compiled some thoughts about both what I'd like to see out of next week's WWDC keynote, as well as what I think is plausible, likely, and definite.
TestFlight + Apple
In our fast-paced world, this seems like it happened a long time ago. But in fact it was only about 3 months ago that Apple acquired TestFlight through it's parent company, Burstly.
My hope is that Apple already had some projects in the works before the acquisition around better support for beta releases of iOS apps, and wanted the TestFlight guys on board to push things over the finish line.
If not, 3 months is quite a short time (even for Apple) to try to modify an assumedly antiquated developer portal codebase with TestFlight-style functionality.
Objective Without the 'C'
There have been some murmurs recently about the need for Apple to be working on a successor to the Objective-C programming language (or runtime depending which side of the semantic fence you fall on). While this would be a fascinating development, I'd be very surprised if Apple is quite ready for any transitions to begin here.
I find the conversation and ideas surrounding such a successor to be fascinating. I found John Siracusa's and Guy English's Debug episode about the topic very entertaining and I can't wait to see what eventually takes Objective-C's place.
However, with all the other changes (last year's iOS 7 soup-to-nuts reworking, and this year's overhaul of OS X), I simply don't know if Apple has enough free engineers to make such a shift possible.
Perhaps in the coming years, we'll see/hear more about such a possible successor, but I definitely wouldn't expect to next week.
Retina Macbook Airs would be neat, not my machine of choice, but more Retina for the world is awesome and the Macbook Air is a phenomenal computer.
4K displays seem like a given at this point, and I can't wait. I hope they find a way to keep the same price point.
The Mac mini hasn't gotten much love lately, would be neat to see them do something there, but if so, I don't expect anything revolutionary.
A Macbook Pro update of sort is up in the air in terms of likeliness, but I could see a spec bump and price adjustment. If so I could see them dropping the non-retina Macbook Pro entirely, which would be a welcome simplification of the lineup.
Very unlikely, but would be seriously awesome if it happened.
Overhauled Apple TV
I've been wishing for a non-hobby Apple TV product for years. I wrote a fairly in-depth piece a few years ago about what such a product could be like, so I won't rehash those thoughts here.
I will say that an Apple TV with an App Store baked-in would be an incredible product for game developers. Apple has had the Game Controller APIs out in the wild for a little while now, and I can't imagine a scenario where these stars don't align.
Will it be announced next week though? I'm not so sure.
On the one hand, if you're going to get developers jazzed up about a new platform, WWDC is the place to do it (and they'll have to wait another calendar year for another one to come around). On the other hand, there's some wisdom to be seen in wanting such a product to get it's own dedicated press cycle and event.
I think the tech-media has assumed a little too much on this one. I doubt Apple is going to come out with a huge line of devices, but I do think there's a ton of value in them providing some things.
Here's what I think (admittedly hope) will be announced:
Much like the Game Controllers API previously, Apple would provide a set of APIs, frameworks and most importantly constraints to third-party hardware developers. They'd essentially define some standards that everyone could develop against.
While it would be neat to give software people some toys here, I'm skeptical that third-party software developers would be given "hooks" to integrate into this system at first, I think Apple's focus will be all about getting as many of these devices into the market as fast and cheaply as possible.
Apple would then provide an app (maybe called iHome or something of the nature. Yes, SDI Technologies already owns that name, but that's never stopped Apple before). This app would organize all your connected devices into one manageable interface with sections like "Lights", "Temperature", "Security", "Appliances", etc.
I could see Apple defining some "types" of devices that manufactures could "register" their products as, and they'd appear in different sections and contexts within the app, like "Lighting", "Appliances", "Thermostat", etc.
Apple could provide one or two pieces of hardware to get the ball rolling, and to get users into the app.
For bonus points, Apple could provide a gallery of products within the app itself, and allow users to purchase directly from within the app.
Healthbook for iOS
With all the reports, I have to think this is happening for sure. It will be pretty neat, but until new hardware comes out to truly embrace it, it'll be appealing to mostly niche users.
Much like the Home Automation functionality, Apple will likely provide some APIs, Frameworks and again most importantly standards for how third-party device makers to get their data into your Healthbook.
I could see Apple having a supported list of data point "types" like Weight, Blood Pressure, Distance Travelled, etc. and exposing methods in a system-wide API to such data into a user's Healthbook with a simple "couple lines of code".
Siri Improvements and Third-Party Support
Better Inter-app Operability Support
Whether or not it involves "true" XPC is still up in the air for me, but I have to believe that Apple will improve upon this situation somehow this year.
The time feels right, with iOS 7 out the door, and all of those giant changes shipped, to finally knock down the walls between apps in a big way.
Even if we don't get full, true cross-process communication, the most likely candidate for this would be apps being able to register system-level
UIActivity's somehow, providing a
UIActivityCategory to indicate when the activity should be presented.
If they have chosen to go that route for now, I certainly hope they improve the default
UIActivityViewController UI, as scrolling horizontally for days through tons of (all fairly similar looking) activity icons isn't a great experience (and adding this new functionality would only exacerbate the problem).
Notification Center Overhaul
We'll see the removal of the "Missed" tab for sure, but I also expect some doubling-down on the limited "Google Now" type functionality that was added in iOS 7 to the "Today" tab of Notification Center.
This sort of thing hasn't been Apple's strong-suit in the past, this would be a great chance for them to throw out another "Can't innovate anymore my ass!"
Beyond that, I'd love to see Apple attempt a drastic re-thinking Notification Center. Notifications have become such a big part of all of our lives, and I think everyone agrees that they've become barely usable for most novice and even most experienced users.
Seriously, after I interact with a notification, it's gone forever, lost into the black hole of my device. At the same time, many users don't want an overwhelming list of thousands of temporal notifications that they can't hide. It's a very difficult usability problem to solve, but I think Apple is up for the challenge.
iOS UI Improvements
Would be really neat if they tackled the shift-key madness head on with some really awesome text-entry improvements. It's been a while since Apple has "touched" the keyboard UI in a significant way, and there's a ton they could do there.
Use Multiple Apps at once on iPad
I have a good feeling this has been played with internally at Apple. Whether or not this makes it into a public release is a tough question.
There's a good number of UI challenges such a thing would present, not the least of which would be coming up with some non-contrived example use-cases.
Pressing the Home button should always bring the user back to the Home screen immediately, so if Apple has done something here, I'm confident they'll preserve that "safety eject button" feel to the Home button.
Also of note is the likely opt-in nature of such a feature. Apple has been really, really pressing all of their third-party developers to adopt Auto Layout, top to bottom (pun intended). I could see this being an example of one of the benefits of such widespread adoption. (Of course there's also that fabled larger-screen iPhone 6 hanging out on the horizon, which could also likely benefit from lots of Auto Layout-enabled apps).
All of that being said, on a personal note: I'd love to see a situation where I can watch a video in YouTube, Netflix, etc. on one side, and have an iPhone-width pane of Tweetbot running on the left side of the screen.
OS X 10.10
Like Jesper said, we're not going to call it "ten ten ten".
My most likely marketing names for the new OS X (which will inevitably look laughably wrong come next week):
The "how it looks" will be shockingly different. Some of the "how it works" will tweaked a bit, but nothing too crazy. A similar upgrade to what iOS got in iOS 7 last year.
This one is the biggest wildcard for me, since the rulebook was clearly thrown in terms of what's "fair game" for changing last year with iOS 7.
All I can say is, I'm sure it's going to be awesome, and I'm sure everyone is going to hate it for one reason or another.
Note to self: take time to evaluate and process the changes in depth before reaching for the pitchforks, unless they take away my Lucida Grande. You can have my inner shadows, and contoured toolbars, but you'll never take my Lucida Grande.
Also I hope they don't convert all the buttons to little blue links.
Yesterday morning Apple announced (a week in advance) that they'll be live-streaming the keynote. From what I can tell, Apple seems confident that they're going to blow a few minds.
As usual, expect the echo chamber of "Apple is doomed", "they didn't even really announce anything new", and "they still haven't fixed X" to be running full steam ahead during and after the keynote.
Just remember to keep calm, judge things for yourself, and enjoy the show!