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Seven things Apple needs to unveil at WWDC 2018

Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off June 4, and it's one of the ways we get a deep insight into the path that the company is on.
iOS 12 with a focus on performance and stability
1 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

iOS 12 with a focus on performance and stability

Have you noticed how iOS has become buggier and less polished in recent years? Apple has noticed too, and is putting in place a plan to make things better.

Apple is going to slow the pace at which it crams new features into iOS in favor of pushing out more polished releases, claims a Bloomberg report.

According to the report, the "renewed focus on quality is designed to make sure the company can fulfil promises made each summer at the annual developers conference and that new features work reliably and as advertised."

You know, like back in the day, when Apple cared enough to ship stuff that worked.

I think that there are two issues that have been putting a pressure on iOS development. The first is the aggressive yearly upgrade cycle, where Apple wants to "wow" developers with new features at WWDC every June. The other is that iOS development has to keep in lockstep with the launch of new iPhone hardware, and there's no wriggle room. New iOS releases have to be available to load onto new hardware before it ships.

It's a special kind of hell that Apple has created for itself through its own aggressive upgrade cycle and immense success.

This shift in focus isn't to say that iOS 12 won't ship with new features. The following features are rumored to be coming to iOS:

    - A revamped Stocks app

    - Updated version of Do Not Disturb

    - A more deeply integrate Siri into the iPhone's search view

    - A redesign of the interface used to import photos into the iPad

    - Improvements that allow two people to play augmented reality games simultaneously

      Smarter Siri
      2 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

      Smarter Siri

      Siri is a cornerstone to all of Apple's hardware ecosystem, from the Mac to the Apple Watch to HomePod.

      In the face of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, Siri feels increasingly dumb and useless. It wasn't until I started using all the assistants together that I realized just how lagging Siri is.

      While I'm conscious of the fact that the majority of "Alexa Skills" out there are a total wasteland, I can't help but feel that this is an area that Siri could benefit from hugely, especially if it could be combined with something like Workflow, an app Apple acquired a year ago. The combination of Workflow and Siri would open the way for some really cool voice-activated automation.

      Apps that work across iOS and macOS
      3 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

      Apps that work across iOS and macOS

      I'm convinced this announcement would get a standing ovation from devs!

      Apple is constantly trying to position the iPad as a replacement for a laptop, so bridging the gulf between iOS and macOS makes a great deal of sense.

      Not only would this bridge streamline things for users - reducing the shock of shifting between platforms - but it would also make things easier for developers (a move that Microsoft has already taken by letting devs build universal programs that work across devices).

      HomePod mini
      4 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

      HomePod mini

      The HomePod doesn't seem to have been the roaring success that pundits initially thought it would be. It's a product that seems to have been hindered by high price, limited functionality, and lack of clear differentiation from the competition.

      This has stirred up rumors that Apple has a cheaper HomePod mini in the works, which would go some way to address the high price tag. Also, smaller HomePods could be sold in pairs or better fit into smaller spaces (think of the difference between the Echo and Echo Dot).

      New AirPods
      5 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

      New AirPods

      WWDC isn't a venue where Apple traditionally unveils new hardware, but that's not a hard and fast rule.

      Unveiling updated AirPods - which have been rumored for a while now and reports suggest will offer hands-free access to Siri, as well as increased water resistance - would be a great way for Apple to generate some buzz around its voice assistant.

      Mac Pro teaser
      6 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

      Mac Pro teaser

      We know that there's a new Mac Pro in the pipeline. Apple's been talking about it for a year.

      And it won't land until next year.

      But it might be good if Apple threw the pros that are eagerly awaiting its release a bone and offered up a teaser at WWDC (much as Apple did for the iMac Pro at last year's WWDC gathering).

      Coffee Lake powered Macs
      7 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

      Coffee Lake powered Macs

      Again, WWDC isn't a venue for unveiling hardware, but this hasn't stopped Apple doing this in the past.

      Last year saw Apple refresh Macs by upgrading to Kaby Lake Intel processors. Now that Coffee Lake chips are out, this gives Apple an opportunity to rejuvenate the MacBook line, and push those upgrades at the folks that would benefit from them the most - developers.

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