So What Can Apple Talk About?

Apparently, Apple won’t be discussing a new AppleTV or a new TV streaming service. They likely won’t be talking about updates to any notebook or desktop computers. Phones and iPads are generally in the fall. We haven’t seen an update for the iPod Touch, though. But what could Apple talk about on Monday?

Software, Streaming, Payment

The biggest news will likely be iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, along with updates to the Watch SDK. Even though these are supposedly going to focus on stability (please, please, please focus on stability), they will probably include a bunch of new components for features we didn’t realize we needed (and will likely realize we don’t need after they appear). Frankly, I wish both releases were purely bug fix releases, with zero new features. Of course, that would make the announcement for iOS and OS X take about 45 seconds (10 seconds of “we fixed a bunch of stuff” and 35 for the usual hyperbole). Both iOS and OS have started to verge into “about as reliable as Windows Vista” territory, and that is not a good thing.

Apple may also talk about a new music streaming service (since iTunes Radio basically flopped, and they still haven’t figured out what to do with Beats Music). That isn’t something I particularly care about. I have copies of all the music I care about locally (try listening to streaming music in the middle of the Rockies with no data service). But that’s me. I still listen to albums (and in track order).

I expect to hear an update on Apple Pay, possibly announcing that it is coming to Canada, China and/or the UK. It has exploded in the US, making Google Wallet look like a sad science experiment. The appeal in Canada and the UK might be the convenience factor more than the security, given that we’ve had chip & PIN for some time now. It certainly has some appeal to me.

Just One More Thing?

Now maybe, just maybe, Apple will let slip something new. Talking about an OS release, and one that is supposed to focus on fixes not features, won’t exactly set the world on fire. Taking yet another kick at streaming music seems so 2008. Seriously, Apple needs to either buy someone with a real service or find another way to do this. Whatever they keep doing just isn’t making a dent.

Yes, it is a developer conference, and maybe Apple is going to try to shift the focus to topics related directly to developers. That might be refreshing, in a way, but on the other hand, not doing a major product announcement at WWDC is a bit of let down for the “faithful” that try for tickets to the conference. It is the one announcement where the developers feel like part of the show.

Frankly, Apple needs to move one of their main hardware product launch announcements into June as a regular thing. The iPhone took the stage a couple of times. The MacBook Air was the star as well. Announcing one core (not software) product in front of developers should be a regular thing. Maybe Apple will surprise us. The WWDC crowd deserves something more than just another batch of OS updates.

We need another “one more thing” moment again. That hasn’t happened in some time. And the “one more thing” has to be something that rocks our world, not “oh, hey, streaming music” like they tried to do with iTunes Radio. Seriously, it wasn’t all that new. It wasn’t exciting. It was a me-too product that was 5 years late. How about a radically new, substantially slimmer MacBook Pro? Maybe including a 17″ model? How about a new MacBook with Retina with a big performance bump and a couple of extra ports (and in 12″ and 14″ sizes)? A new Mac Mini that is about one-quarter the size of the current one? An iOS or Mac-based machine similar to a Raspberry Pi or Arduino, suitable for embedded use? A port of iOS to Raspberry Pi (like Microsoft is doing with Windows 10)? A “one more thing” announcement needs to be exciting, not “hmm, interesting”.

I’m not expecting anything really big. The current Apple Playbook is to let the hardware bits stand apart somewhat. The “mega announcement” that happens in the fall (where iPhone, iPad, MacBook and Mac all get updates all at once) seems to be what they are shooting for. It’s time to break that up again. I hope they do it this year. I’m not betting they will.