WWDC 2012 Predictions

I make a few predictions about the upcoming WWDC announcements from Apple...

Update, 6/11/2012: Apparently, I’m slipping. All of my negative predictions were correct (4 out of 4) but I was only 4 for 5 on my predictions, since I got only partial credit for two of them. Still, though… 8 out of 9 is a pretty good record for an Apple predictions list.

I gave myself partial credit instead of full credit for the MacBook Pro prediction because of a single word: "wedge." I expected them to do a teardrop/wedge shape like the MacBook Air, but instead it’s more like a thinner version of the existing design– they used that space to increase the size of the battery rather than taper the front. Good decision. I want one.

The other item I got partial credit for was the Mac Pro. I’m positively stunned by the trivial (and bizzarre) update that the Mac Pro received– a minor processor bump with no Thunderbolt. I’m hearing rumors that it will get updated in the next 6 months or so with something a bit more reasonable. None of the long shots came through, though I do get partial credit for the AirPort express. (I had speculated they might update the AirPort Extreme/Time Capsule as well.)

Not a bad showing in all, but not as good as previous prediction posts. There was just so much going on this time around!

As usual, I wanted to get these on the record before the event. I’m batting around .900 since my iPad Announcement Predictions and my iPhone announcement predictions from last year, so I figured I’d go out on a limb and try to read the tea leaves once again in advance of Apple’s big World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) tomorrow. (No, I’m not attending… even though it’s in SF and it would be easy for me to drop in for the day, I wasn’t one of the people dedicated enough to get up at like 5am Pacific to score $1600 tickets that sold out in a couple hours.)

Without further ado, my predictions:

The Gimme

  • iOS version 6 announced and demonstrated Update: Full Credit.

OK, OK… I don’t really get full credit for this one. Not only is it obvious, but some sneaky folks have shown posted photos of the inside of the conference center showing signs with iOS6 emblazened on them… so it’s a gimme in much the same way the retina display was for the iPad announcement.

The Predictions

  • 3D mapping in iOS based on Apple’s acquisitions, abandoning Google in the Maps app. (Way too much smoke for there not to be a fire here.) Update: Full Credit.
  • New Mac Pro with Sandy Bridge chips and USB 3 - yep, they aren’t dropping the Pro like many have said. There will be a new one. Update: Partial credit… the Pro did get updated, but not with the Sandy Bridge chips and updated I/O.
  • New MacBook Pro with USB 3 and a slim, MacBook Air influenced wedge design. Update: Partial credit… yes to new MBP and USB3, no to the wedge.
  • New Siri functionality, likely including turn-by-turn navigation. Let’s hope they remove the “beta” moniker. Update: Full Credit.
  • Facebook integration in iOS 6, similar to the way Twitter is integrated today. Update: Full Credit.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting they are dropping Thunderbolt– they won’t. However, I DO expect them to leverage the USB 3.0 capabilities of the chipsets they are working with rather than going out of their way to disable it to force people to choose between USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt as a way of kickstarting lackliuster uptake of the latter. USB 3.0 devices are common and bordering on ubiquity, and Apple doesn’t want Mac users to be left in the lurch.

Long Shots / Extra Credit

  • Siri API for third party applications Update: Nope… opening apps by name does not an API make.
  • T-Mobile gets the iPhone Update: Nope… I’m actually kind of surprised by this, will likely accompany iPhone 5 announcement if it happens at all.
  • Apps for the AppleTV… I just can’t make a call on this. I think it’s 55/45 in favor of it happening, but I’m not confident enough to call it for tomorrow’s event, call it an “extra credit” prediction. Update: Nope. I’m confident they will do this at some point, but they would need to educate developers… so wait until 2013 if at all.
  • New AirPort/TimeCapsule devices with 802.11ac support Update: Partial credit since they updated the AirPort Express but not the AirPort Extreme and TimeCapsule. 

Too Close to Call

  • New iMac/Mac Mini/MacBook Air… all are close to being due for replacement, and could benefit from USB 3.0 goodness, but I’m not sure that Apple wants to crowd out their big news and/or not generate the buzz that updating these would justify… 50/50 that they announce updates to these at the show vs. waiting a few weeks for staggered updates. Update: Didn’t happen.
  • Siri for the iPad 3… it’s been rumored, but I’m not sure Apple will see it as worth confusing the marketplace. Another 50/50 I’m not willing to call. Update: Yep, they did provide it for the iPad 3 and the iPad 3 alone.

Not Gunna Happen

  • No new iPhone– it will be announced in the fall (though I fully expect it to look like the current rumors indicate, with a 4” 16x9 screen.) Update: Full credit.
  • No Apple television - I’m not discounting that they are considering this, but I don’t think it’s happening just yet. Update: Full credit.
  • No major new features announced for Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion… this OS is pretty much baked, they’ll demo, announce a release date, and be done with it with no major new features beyond what they’ve already shownUpdate: Full credit.

In Summary…

Many of these are relatively easy calls, but the trick is choosing which rumors are going to come through and which ones won’t. Despite being the loudest rumors, I’m going out on a limb and saying Apple will not launch the iPhone 5 or a television set. I do these prediction posts because it bugs me that rumor sites post ALL of the rumors, and then take credit for the ones that come true but conveniently forget about the 80% that don’t. I’m saying specifically what I think will and won’t happen. Note that this is the first time that I’ve had a “too close to call” section– there are so many rumors right now that I couldn’t confidently draw a conclusion on these two.