Top 5 things Apple did not announce at WWDC 2012

Top 5 things Apple did not announce at WWDC 2012

Summary: Here are five features Apple could have announced this week at WWDC, but didn't.


At WWDC, Apple introduced its newest iOS 6. (Credit: James Martin/CNET)

At WWDC, Apple introduced its newest iOS 6. (Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Are you tired of WWDC coverage yet? New MacBooks, a new version of iOS, new maps, and more: there is a lot to talk about. But let's look at what Apple did not announce. These were all rumored before the conference, but for one reason or another did not make the cut. If you're an Apple fan or developer, then you'll have to keep waiting. Maybe next year.

1. Siri API

Siri is Apple's voice activated personal assistant. Want to know the weather? Stock quotes? Football scores? Siri can do that for you. One thing I like about Siri is that it doesn't take itself too "seriously". Insult it, complement it, or ask it for off the wall advice, and Siri has a quick comeback. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it's fun and useful.

The big thing that Siri lacks, however, is any kind of extensibility. Right now, Apple is the only one who can add, for example, Yelp, Sports, and app launching integration. In fact Apple did add those at WWDC. Imagine what Siri could do if Apple would open up the interface officially and let developers plug in new functionality themselves. Some enterprising developers have already hacked Siri to control your TV, start your car, and more. Apple should support and encourage that kind of innovation.

2. Apple TV SDK

If you've never used Apple TV, you owe it to yourself to try it at a store or friend's house. The user interface is as good as or better than anything you'll find on a cable set to box, Roku, Media Center, Google TV, or even Tivo. The star of the show is the content: iTunes, Netflix, Vimeo, and more with no restrictions. The price is right, too. So what is it missing? Apps.

Apps are what made the iPhone and iPad platform so popular. Developers would like to do the same thing for the Apple TV box, but so far Apple is keeping out all but a few.

3. Apple Maps API (updated)

You've probably heard Apple is throwing Google Maps off the island, replacing them with an in-house maps solution. It looks nice in the demo, but there's one important part missing: an API.

Web developers and mobile developers use the extensive API provided by Google Maps to take the platform in new directions. Mashups that overlay taxi service, store location, even sexual predator warnings show the power of an open API. Apple needs to let Maps be embedded in third party apps and extended by a programming interface in order to reach its full potential. To really stick it to Google, they should make Apple maps available on the web too, including an AJAX web API.

Updated: Apple's API on top of Google Maps, called Map Kit, was introduced in 2010. According to sources at WWDC, in iOS6 apps that are coded to use Map Kit will automatically start showing embedded Apple Maps instead of Google Maps. So Map Kit will become the API for Apple Maps. No web version is planned.

4. Apple Search engine

Except possibly in China, Apple is sticking with Google search for now. In practical terms, they only have 3 options for search: build their own, switch to Bing, or stay with Google. Building a good search engine is a massive undertaking, and there haven't been any acquisitions of search engine technology telegraphing such an effort. Apple's decision to stick with Google indicates they are more wary of Microsoft right now than Google.

5. Widgets and live wallpapers

Widgets are non-full-screen apps that are displayed in your home screen along side your application icons and other decorations. A live wallpaper is a full screen app that is displayed in the background of your home screen. Despite being a very popular feature of competing operating systems for several years, neither will be appearing in iOS6.

One of the best selling programs in the Apple App store is Pimp Your Screen from Apalon. It provides static wallpaper that looks like shelves, so it looks like your icons are sitting on a bookshelf. Dynamic wallpaper and widgets would open up a new and lucrative niche for iOS developers. But instead, Apple chooses to retain control of the home screen and notification area to enforce a simple and easy to understand interface. There are arguments on both sides of the issue (battery life, stability, UI consistency, etc.) but why not give the users the choice?

What else were you looking for that Apple left out? Let us know in the talkback section below.

See also:

Topic: Apple

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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  • Interesting pattern with the complaints

    Most of these complaints boil down to: Apple developers have far more rights in iOS than 3rd party developers.

    Interesting to see how many Apple fanbois commented negatively about WinRT and the fact that MS developers have far more rights in WinRT than 3rd party developers.
    • It wasn't the Apple fanbois

      that complained about Windows RT as much as it was the hordes of Linux fanbois... They've been on a roll against Windows 8 since it was announced by SJVN that Windows 8 machines were not going to allow dual booting of any other OS. Not that there weren't the usual ABMer Mac fanbois whining but it was more the Linux ones.
      • Are you whining again

        Still threatened by that 1%, huh..

    • LOL!

      I'm back beotches! Looks like Microsoft is saying 'waaaa' again because they can't copy something Apple has. Want Siri to be open? LOL! You all beothced about Siri when it came out and now you want a SDK for it! You make me laugh until I puke!~
      The Danger is Microsoft
  • I will never understand why Apple doesn't allow widgets

    I'm a die-hard android user... but not becaues I think iOS isn't a good smartphone... it's a great one and fully featured as well... but one thing I HATE is a screen full of icons.... I like widgets... widgets are useful and powerful tools and, if you take the time to find good ones they make the phone so much more useful.

    As long as iOS doesn't support widgets there's no way I'll switch to it. My daughter has an iPhone and she loves it but I've tried it out and having to deal with all those icons is just painful. I far prefer my very sleek interface on my android... I spent a lot of time finding widgets I liked that fit with the them I wanted and it's sleek, intuitive and most of the information I need I can get at a glance... not so for iPhone and as long as that functionality is missing I'll continue to consider it a 2nd rate mobile OS.
    • Jailbreaking

      takes care of a lot of the "limitations" of the stock iOS. The notification system added to iOS with iOS4 adds the functionality of some of those widgets without taking up screen real estate - and again jailbreaking takes that even further.
      • One should not have to

        Jailbreaking is not something common users will do. These features he mentioned are there in Android without jailbreaking, as they should on iOS.
      • @lepoete73

        True... also with many Android devices one has to root to get rid of carrier crapware and run the latest version of the OS.
      • Root and Android Update

        You do not need to root an Android device to update the OS.
        Rooting simply gives you superuser access when you use the OS.
        Updating the OS is a level above rooting and doesn't depend on having superuser access at all.
      • @lepoete73

        True that they shouldn't have to jailbreak but I have to ask, why is it that is the answer when jailbreaking is brought up but when there is a benefit to root an Android device we don't hear the same thing?
  • Apple TV

    I've looked into both Apple TV and Roku as an alternative to FiOS TV and honestly I'm looking at the Roku 2 XS instead. As far as having apps on my TV I'm good with not having them - FiOS comes with some but it's far easier to use the apps on my smartphones and tablet.
  • Because iOS is still not allowing true multitasking

    To run more than one widget, or app, or wallpaper, they would have to allow true multitasking, and for whatever reason (probably battery savings) they do not. Face it Apple, the tight control over the interface is letting Android get farther and farther ahead in the interface feature set. iOS is just getting to look sort of dated and certainly unexciting.
    • Really?

      My Android handset is junk - from the UI to the poor battery life to the sluggish performance and the overall junkiness of the experience.

      So I'll welcome Apple's tight control if it doesn't end up like the mess of junk Android has become.
      • But last week you wrote

        My WP7 handset is junk - from the UI to the poor battery life to the sluggish performance and the overall junkiness of the experience.

        William Farrel
      • @William Farrell It is junk

        Windows phones are like fat like them but you don't want anyone to see you with them.

        Like your wife.
      • LOL, SB.., er, Pete&Pete

        If you saw my wife, you'd do anything to have her, not that you would interest her

        (Though at that point, if I was your wife, I'd sleep with one eye open, and a gun under the bed. No telling what you would do to "get her out of the way") :)
        William Farrel
      • Not all Androids are created equal

        Get a decent Android phone or learn to mod your Android and you won't even bother with Apple.
      • @warboat

        You are absolutely right, they are not all create equal. Yet you would be one of the first to lump them all together in on class when talking about market share.
    • iOS does allow true third party multitasking

      and has since iOS 4x. So yes I can play Angry Birds while listening to Pandora or I can check my email and listen to streaming music via Google music.
      • Not "true" multitasking

        I think they mean like Windows, OS X or Android. Where programs can actually run, fully functioning, in the background. Apple has APIs that allow portions of apps to continue to serve functionality through push updates or streaming, such as the music apps. They combine this with fast app switching or fast rehydration to give the feel that there is "true" multitasking.

        That said you won't find me complaining about that as I used to. I used to hate that they had that limitation. Then I owned an Android phone and was reminded of the issues multitasking caused on Windows Mobile 5 and 6. It drains battery and kills performance. Both are things that are true of the current Android platform. I'd hate to say it but Apple nailed this one and I'm happy MS is following suit with WinRT and Windows Phone.