Today at 10AM Pacific, Tim Cook will take the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco for Apple’s annual WWDC keynote, and if the rumor mill is to be believed, he’ll be hard pressed to fit everything Cupertino is ready to announce into its 90 minute presentation. We’re looking at massive upgrades to the entire Mac line, the official unveiling of iOS 6, loads of new apps, and maybe possibly even our first glimpse of the iPhone 5 and Apple HDTV.
Here’s what we think Apple will (and won’t) announce today, ranked in order of likelihood.
Almost Definitely Happening
New Ivy Bridge Macs: It looks almost certain that almost every Mac out there will see at least a minor update at WWDC. Intel has finally released its next-generation Ivy Bridge chips, and there’s a chip that is perfect for almost every Mac model, from the venerable iMac to the MacBook Air.
New, Slimmer MacBook Pros: Expect Apple’s MacBook Pro line to undergo a major revision, ditching their antiquated optical drives in favor of a slimmer form factor and better battery life.
USB 3.0 Coming To Macs: Steve Jobs may have been skeptical that USB 3.0 would ever take off, but the new Ivy Bridge processors Apple is using will finally support the protocol. It’s a given the new Macs will be updated accordingly.
iOS 6 Unveiled: See our guide on what we expect from iOS 6 for more details, but in short: Apple will ditch Google Maps, rebuilt most of the core apps from the ground up, slap on a new silver coat of paint, add Facebook integration, and upgrade Siri, amongst other improvements.
Mountain Lion Release Date: The next version of OS X, Mountain Lion, has already been scheduled to release in late summer. Expect Apple to name an actual date.
The Resurrection Of The Mac Pro: The Mac Pro line hasn’t been updated for two years, but Apple’s not going to kill it. They know they need it: losing the Mac Pro means losing the video, audio and graphic professionals who helped establish OS X to begin with. It topples a domino that could reverberate through the entire Mac line. Apple will finally update the Mac Pros, but don’t expect Ivy Bridge. They will use Sandy Bridge Xeon E5 series processors because of voltage and yield problems in the Ivy Bridge server class line. In addition, the new Mac Pros will feature SATA III/SAS compatibility, and will be upgraded to Thunderbolt and USB 3.0.
Retina Display Macs: OS X has supported ultra high-resolutions for a while now, but it’s widely believed that at WWDC 2012, the Mac line will get ultra high-res displays, similar to the iPhone and iPad. Many predict that ppi in the Mac line will double across the board, but Apple doesn’t need to update their Macs nearly that drastically to achieve Retina resolutions in its Mac line.
Entry-Level MacBook Pro: The MacBook Pro is definitely getting updated, but what if you just can’t live without an optical drive. It looks like Apple might still sell a slightly beefed up version of the existing 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Retina Display Thunderbolt Display: If Apple’s releasing Retina display Macs at all, they need to offer the ability for Mac minis and Mac Pros. Here’s where an updated, Retina-capable Thunderbolt display comes in.
Thunderbolt / USB 3.0 External Optical Drives: Apple will need to sell an external optical drive if the new MacBook Pros lose theirs, and it makes sense these would end up supporting either Thunderbolt or USB 3.0.
iCloud Upgrade: Apple unveiled iCloud exactly a year ago, and reports from the Wall Street Journal indicate that iCloud will, at the very least, get an upgrade to its video and photo syncing abilities. You’ll be able to share photos and albums outside of Photostream, get comments on video, and videos will start syncing with Photostream (or its equivalent, Videostream).
Apple TV Gets Supercharged: We’ve heard murmurs that the Apple TV will get the ability to run apps, and this will be announced at WWDC 2012. The idea here is that this is a bridge move to get apps ready for the rumored Apple HDTV set, which could be unveiled as early as later this year. The remote might also be supercharged to allow other entertainment devices to use the same remote (and Remote.app) as Apple’s.
iPhone 5 Unveiled: Consider this a big maybe. We don’t really expect the iPhone 5 to be unveiled until late September or early October, but if Apple is, as some expect, going to change the screen dimensions of the iPhone to accomodate a longer, 4-inch display, they may give developers a heads up at WWDC so they can prepare their apps in time.
No iPhone 5, But Apple Still Tells Devs To Get Ready For Larger Displays: John Gruber at Daring Fireball has some great thoughts on how Apple could signal to developers they need to make their apps vertically flexible (ostensibly to better accomodate Notifications) without actually saying anything about the iPhone 5.
Almost Definitely Not Happening
Apple HDTV Unveiled: Some analysts like Peter Misek have suggested we’ll see the Apple HDTV unveiled at WWDC, to go on sale later this year, but there’s zero rumblings of this outside of analyst speculation. If production were ramping up, we’d be hearing things from the supply chain at this point, and anyway, the HDTV industry tends to release all of their TVs earlier in the year. We think we won’t hear word of the Apple HDTV until late 2012 or early 2013.
iPad Mini: There’s been a lot of empty talk about an iPad mini, and we’ve even seen a couple of laughable “leaked” components, but frankly, we’re really skeptical Apple even plans this, let alone plans on unveiling it at WWDC. Not only did Steve Jobs hate 7-inch tablets, but there’s pretty much zero market for them. They just aren’t biting into Apple’s market share.
Did we miss anything? Agree or disagree with the way we placed anything on our list? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned for Cult of Mac’s all-day coverage of WWDC 2012 next week, including our keynote liveblog.