WWDC 2016 preview
Lewis Painter reveals what we’re expecting at WWDC 2016
WWDC, or the Worldwide Developers’ Conference, is a highlight of Apple’s yearly calendar. Due to run from 13 to 17 June, the annual get-together for the company’s software partners (not to mention representatives of the world’s media) always sees Apple unveil a range of new products. This year we’re expecting the latest versions of its operating systems, updates to Siri and Apple Music, and potentially new laptops.
According to Bloomberg, one of Apple’s focuses at WWDC 2016 will be its music-streaming service, Apple Music, which launched at WWDC 2015 and has received mixed reviews ever since.
As we approach its first anniversary, most analysts would agree it has been a qualified success. Apple has established a solid subscriber base, passing 10 million paying users earlier this year, and its small but growing Services revenue, the nonitemised section of its earnings that includes Apple Music as well as the App Store and other paid-for software products, was one of the few highlights of its Q2 2016 report. Yet complaints remain about the service’s interface and sometimes sketchy integration with users’ personal music libraries, and Spotify continues to prosper and grow.
Bloomberg, citing “people familiar with the product who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public”, predicts that WWDC 2016 will see Apple unveil an updated and more intuitive user interface for Apple Music, and announce plans to improve integration between the company’s streaming and download businesses.
9to5Mac, a reliable source of pre-release Apple leaks, offers more detail about the updated version of Apple Music. The current interface is visually busy, with translucency effects and a colour scheme that changes to match the album artwork. The new interface will retain the artwork – indeed, this will be given ‘huge’ prominence, in a look that a source calls “bolder, yet simpler” – but the rest of the interface will be graphically stripped back and remain black and white regardless of the album. Menu text will be
larger and bolder, in a style that is reportedly more appropriate to Apple’s San Francisco font, which itself will be rolled out to a wider array of services and products this summer.
There will be new features, too: 3D Touch shortcuts; automatically integrated lyrics; and the New tab will be replaced by a better-organised section called Browse.
Apple’s WWDC 2016 announcement has convinced us that Siri is about to get a big update. Asking it “When is WWDC?” resulted in the answer below.
The invite itself is themed around the Swift coding language used in iOS apps (see page 4), and references popular apps including Snapchat, Tinder, Crossy Road, Instagram and more, so there’s not much to be garnered there as it is a developers conference after all.
But it does make us think that Siri and third-party apps are about to get a lot more friendly. Siri could be about to open up to developers, who’ll be able to integrate the voice assistant into their apps for iOS and watchOS to take things to the next level.
Siri could also be on its way to Mac if rumours are to be believed. (See page 10 for further details.)
Apple historically announces the next generation of iOS software at its WWDC events in June, and this year doesn’t look to be any different, although some rumours suggest otherwise.
Our colleagues at Macworld US, for example, believe that iOS 9 is the first in a new iOS life cycle at Apple, with the company concentrating on more important ‘point’ updates rather than a completely new version of iOS. iOS 9.3 is a good example of this – iOS 9.3 came with a number of new features including Night Shift mode (see page 61), which many believe is more of a ‘flagship’ software feature that should be announced with a completely new iOS update. iOS 9.3 also went through a rigorous public beta testing period too, something (generally) exclusive to new iterations of Apple’s mobile operating system.
However, if they aren’t correct (sorry guys) then what could we see from iOS 10? One key feature of the software, according to current rumours, is that users will finally have the option to hide unwanted preinstalled apps. That means you can wave goodbye to default apps such as Stocks and Compass, two apps that we can honestly say we’ve never used on our iPhones. Other significant software rumours include iCloud Voicemail where Siri handles all unwanted calls, and possibly some kind of ‘Contact availability status’ where your phone will tell you if your contact is available to speak at that time.