Apple will be kicking off its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) on Monday (10 June 2013) at around 19:00 SA time, and as always the diligent workers manning the rumour mill have been working overtime leading up to the big day.
“iRadio”: the iTunes music streaming service
The big rumour for this year’s WWDC is that Apple could be introducing its own free music streaming service, which media have dubbed “iRadio”.
According to reports by Bloomberg and AdAge, Apple plans to support the service with advertisements, including interstitial audio ads.
The company has reportedly tried to negotiate lower rates and more flexibility than offered to services such as Pandora, as iRadio is expected to drive more song downloads than its competitors.
It is further rumoured that iRadio won’t let users search for and play a specific song on-demand.
New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, have reported that Apple has signed an agreement with both the Warner and Universal Music Groups, and that the company is in talks with Sony Music Entertainment.
AllThingsD reported on Friday (7 June 2013) that “a person familiar with negotiations between the two companies” told them that Sony Music and Apple inked a deal for iRadio.
With the three major labels on board (if the rumours are to be believed), the stage appears set for CEO Tim Cook to announce Apple’s new streaming music service.
South Africa was among the 50-odd countries to get access to the iTunes music store in December 2012, so there is some hope that iRadio would also eventually launch here where it would compete with the likes of Simfy, Rara, and Deezer.
iOS 7: leaving skeuomorphism behind?
The next two rumours seem to be foregone conclusions at this stage: new versions of iOS and Mac OS X are to be unveiled at WWDC. It’s being reported that banners featuring a large “7” have gone up in the Moscone centre in San Francisco where WWDC is to be held.
There’s talk of Mac OS X getting a rebrand to “iOS for Mac” along with a number of iOS features such as Siri, iBooks, and Apple Maps rumoured to make an appearance on the desktop OS.
9to5Mac also reported that OS X 10.9 would focus on various enhancements for power users, including a tabbed interface in Mac’s file manager application “Finder”, and multi-monitor support for full screen apps.
iOS 7 will bring an overhaul in the design of Apple’s mobile apps, according to another report from 9to5Mac.
With Jony Ive taking over software design following the departure of Scott Forstall, rumour has it that the next version of iOS will move away from app design that tries to mimic something in the real world, or skeuomorphic design.
Apps like Calendar and Contacts on Mac look are modelled after a real planner and book, for example, while the iBooks app on iOS looks like a bookshelf and the Notes app like a yellow notepad.
The new iOS will reportedly feature a “flatter” design, and Apple is apparently testing ways to better make information available “at a glance”.
Apple is also expected to unveil a refreshed line of PC hardware at WWDC, with the most recent rumours from 9to5Mac suggesting that new MacBook Airs featuring Intel’s Haswell chips are most likely on the cards.
Other rumoured upgrades includes a dual-microphone system and support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
The Retina MacBook Pro is rumoured to get a slimmer design and a new full HD (2 megapixel) “FaceTime” camera.
Big (albeit unspecific) changes are rumoured for the Mac Pro, according to a story picked up by MacRumors. The Mac Pro only received a minor refresh last year which excluded support for Apple’s new Thunderbolt port standard.
iWatch, iTV, iCloud
In addition to improving iCloud for both users and developers, rumours around the so-called “iWatch” and Apple’s big play into the television space continue to swirl.
Recent comments from Tim Cook at AllThingsD’s D11 conference suggest that Apple won’t be announcing anything at WWDC in this regard, however.
In the course of the interview, Cook was willing to say that Apple considers TVs and wearables “interesting” segments, but didn’t want to provide more detail than that.
On the topic of TVs, Cook declined to answer the specific questions he was pelted with at D11, saying that he didn’t “want to give anybody else ideas they don’t already have.”
He said that there was a “very grand vision” for Apple’s take on the television experience, but in a humorous exchange with his interviewers, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, declined to elaborate further.
Asked for details on Apple’s interest in wearable computing, Cook also declined to answer specific questions about Apple’s plans, but offered his take on the product category:
“I wear glasses because I have to. I don’t know a lot of people that wear them that don’t have to,” Cook said. “I think the wrist is interesting… it’s somewhat natural. For something to work [on your wrist] you first have to convince people it’s so incredible that they want to wear it.”