What to expect from WWDC 2015

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New titles and responsibilities in management could reshape Apple.
The countdown to WWDC 2015's big revelations begins.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

With the Worldwide Developers Conference less than a week away, we’ve already got a pretty good idea about what Apple will reveal at this year’s conference.

The company focuses on developer-related products at the conference, but there are plenty of goodies that normals will go crazy for too, like the bevy of improvements coming to iOS 9, a new Apple TV and maybe even a new music streaming service.

Here’s what to expect from WWDC 2015, which runs June 8 to 12 at Moscone Center in San Francisco. (Cult of Mac will be liveblogging the Apple keynote, which starts at 10 a.m. Pacific next Monday, so be sure to check back then for news and instant analysis.)

iOS 9

WWDC just wouldn’t be the same without an unveiling of all the new software coming to iPhones and iPads later this year. Rumor has it that iOS 9 will focus mostly on performance improvements, but there could be a few major new features as well, such as public transportation directions in Apple Maps.

The Apple Watch could exert influence on iOS 9 by bringing its San Francisco font to the iPhone. iOS 9 also could include a new addition to Spotlight that gives it Google Now-like contextual powers. And this might finally be the year a software update brings split-screen apps and a few other features to the iPad.

OS X 10.11

If Apple continues with its traditional numbering scheme, we should see OS X 10.11 during this year’s keynote at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It’s anybody’s guess what the new name will be to follow Yosemite — Apple has filed trademarks for a bunch of famous California landmarks like Mammoth, Big Sur, Tiburon, Monterey and Sonoma.

The list of new features coming to OS X 10.11 isn’t expected to be earth-shattering. Like iOS 9, the next version of the Mac operating system is expected to focus on bug fixes and optimizations, although a few big features like Siri, Control Center, improved Spotlight, a rootless security system, expanded Continuity and other upgrades could be in store.

Apple TV and App Store

As the official digital hub of the smart home, Apple TV is ready for some huge upgrades. We already know Apple’s web TV service won’t premiere at WWDC, but that doesn’t mean Apple can’t roll out hardware and software improvements to its little TV box.

Apple TV’s UI is long overdue for an overhaul and it’s desperately in need of third-party apps. A developer SDK could be unveiled next week to go with new hardware features like 4K TV support, extra storage and a new remote (possibly with a trackpad). But we’ll have to wait and see if Apple keeps it all under wraps until its long-rumored TV service is finally ready to launch.

Update: The New York Times reports that while Apple planned to use WWDC to spotlight the Apple TV, plans to unveil the device have been postponed. No new black hokey puck, remote, or Apple TV app store will be presented.

We're ready for our Apple Watch update.
We’re ready for our Apple Watch update.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch

Apps on the Apple Watch have been ridiculously slow ever since the wearable launched in April, but Jeff Williams, Apple’s operations chief, already revealed that support for native apps is on the way. That should bring a much-needed speed boost to Apple Watch apps and access to all the wearable’s sensors.

While we seriously doubt there will be any Apple Watch hardware improvements announced at WWDC — the first-gen device still hasn’t hit store shelves, after all — we’ll likely see the first big Watch OS update. Apple also could delight the world by announcing immediate availability for select units at Apple Stores.

HomeKit

Since unveiling HomeKit amid a flurry of ambitious announcements at WWDC 2014, Apple has kept fairly quiet about its home-automation platform. However, HomeKit could play a much larger role at this year’s conference.

There probably won’t be any Apple-made HomeKit hardware, but we think we’ll get a more in-depth explanation about how everything works with Apple TV and the recently announced HomeKit hardware, like smart light bulbs, thermostats and door locks. We’re still waiting for HomeKit’s killer app — maybe we’ll hear about it next week.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay has taken off faster than we ever expected, but with Google announcing Android Pay last week, Apple’s mobile wallet could use an upgrade to give it an extra boost. The addition of a loyalty program to reward Apple Pay users could drive further adoption — and make merchants happier.

We might not see Apple Pay 2.0 until this year’s fall iPhone announcement, but an expanded rollout is definitely possible. U.K. banks have reportedly had ongoing negotiations with Apple, with the amount of personal information being shared a supposed a sticking point. Hopefully everything’s been ironed out in time for an Apple Pay rollout to Europe and Canada this summer.

Beats by Apple

Apple’s long-awaited successor to Beats Music will grab the spotlight during WWDC 2015. The music streaming service is expected to cost $10 per month and could feature celebrity DJs like Drake, Pharrell Williams and maybe even Apple employee Dr. Dre.

It’s unclear what innovative features Apple has up its sleeve to help its offering compete with Spotify and the others, but after taking years to jump into the streaming music wars, the company can’t afford to not release anything this year.

Wild cards

  • Mac Pro: The last time Apple updated its workhorse PC was 2013, so an update could be on the horizon — even if it’s just a spec bump rather than a total remake.
  • iMac: The 5K iMac was released last October, but a spec upgrade could be in the works.
  • iPad Pro: Nope, not going to happen.
  • iCar: Keep dreaming, Apple fans. But we might get some CarPlay news to hold us over until we find out the true extent of Apple’s automotive ambitions.

Don’t miss Cult of Mac’s liveblog

All the new Apple products and details will be announced June 8 starting at 10 a.m. Pacific. Apple will stream the keynote live on Apple TV and Safari, and as always, Cult of Mac will be liveblogging all the action so you don’t miss a beat.