Apple’s first major event of 2017 is right around the corner. WWDC will deliver our first previews of the next big upgrades to its software platforms, with the possibility of new hardware thrown in for good measure.
But with three months left to wait for the iPhone 8, will the event really be all that exciting? Will Apple’s improvements to iOS and macOS be all that significant? And is anyone actually looking forward to a 10.5-inch iPad Pro?
Join us in this week’s Friday Night Fight as we discuss whether WWDC 2017 will be worth watching.
Killian Bell: I just don’t feel all that excited about WWDC this year. I’m interested to see what Apple brings to iOS 11 — though I don’t think we’ll see anything groundbreaking — but I won’t be using it unless the iPhone 8 gives me a compelling reason to give up my Galaxy S8.
It’s unlikely there will be any significant changes to macOS or watchOS, and I’m still not interested in Apple TV. I’m hoping Apple will deliver the rumored 10.5-inch iPad Pro, but again, I don’t think it will bring anything we haven’t already seen.
I’m just finding it really difficult to be enthusiastic about Apple’s pipeline for the foreseeable future. Like a lot of fans, I’m beginning to get bored of what it has to offer, and I want to see something really new. I don’t think we’re going to get that anytime soon.
Maybe Apple will surprise me and we’ll see big changes to its software that we weren’t expecting. I will certainly be watching — and covering — its WWDC keynote on Monday, but I don’t have high hopes for anything spectacular. How do you feel about it?
Luke Dormehl: Actually pretty darn excited, as it happens! For the first time in a few years, it seems like this year’s WWDC is going to feature some hardware to go with the usual software updates. While the idea of a new iPad, with a tweaked form factor with a thinner bezel is exciting, I think you’re sleeping on the really big piece of technology Apple could unveil: the standalone Siri.
You and I have disagreed on smart speakers before, with you viewing them as not overly exciting pieces of technology, and me raving about the possibility of products like the Amazon Echo. If Apple brings its A-game, this could be the most tantalizing new product line Apple has unveiled in years — and I’m including the Apple Watch in that. A smart Siri speaker with built-in camera and touchscreen (if rumors are to be believed) could be superb, and in itself justifies my WWDC buzz.
I’m also hyped for the iOS update. This year is the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone unveiling. In the fall, Apple will show off its most significant refresh of the iPhone since the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus back in 2014. With a rumored graphical overhaul, I’m excited to see what Apple is going to do on the software side to match up to its most important iPhone in years.
Killian: Yeah… I don’t really care for a Siri speaker. I rarely used Siri on my iPhone 7 because I found it easier and more efficient to just carry out tasks by hand. I gave up trying to do anything but set timers while cooking. I admit it could be good, but it won’t be as powerful as rivals like the Amazon Echo and Google Home because it will come with Apple’s usual restrictions. If it has a built-in camera that can be used to monitor my home remotely, maybe I’ll get one for that.
I hope you’re right about iOS 11. I’d really like to see big changes that make me excited about the iPhone again. I didn’t switch to the Galaxy S8 because I didn’t like the iPhone; I just got bored. I would certainly be willing to switch back if Apple could change that. I’m just skeptical the update will be all that significant. I’m expecting more incremental changes, with the customary FU to features we’ve all been asking for for years — like the ability to choose our own default apps for web browsing and email, and Home screen widgets.
When I think about what makes Microsoft so exciting at the moment, it’s the innovative things it is doing with notebooks and desktops. Devices like the Surface Book and Surface Studio are incredibly interesting at a time when our desire for computers is falling dramatically. I’d be falling over myself for a 2-in-1 MacBook with a detachable iPad display, but Apple won’t make it.
Luke: That’s definitely something I’d be interested in, too, although I’m not holding my breath for it to happen.
I really do think you’re missing out by not giving smart speakers a chance, though. I rarely use Siri for more than the kind of use cases you’ve talked about, but I use my Amazon Echo all the time. With Apple’s recent push into deep learning technology and hiring of AI experts, I think the company really has a chance to impress with a standalone Siri speaker. One thing that really interests me is the fact that Apple — as per usual — is reportedly aiming this at the high-end of the market. Given that devices like Google Home and the various Amazon Echo products are relatively cheap, it will be fascinating to see what Apple can bring to the table to justify a higher price point. Beyond just its logo, I mean.
The one other thing that makes me strangely excited about WWDC is just how little of it we know for sure. The last few non-WWDC keynotes have been so predictable due to the leaks. As excited as I am about the iPhone 8 this fall, we’ve heard so much about that device, that I’m really not expecting Apple to surprise me at the event. But this year’s WWDC is still an unknown commodity. We know barely anything about macOS or iOS 11. It’s nice going into one of these things without feeling like you’ve already read all the spoilers.
Killian: It’s not that I won’t give smart speakers a chance. I used an Amazon Echo for a few weeks, and I did enjoy it. I just don’t feel it dramatically improved anything, and I decided I could live just fine without it. I don’t want to go out of my way to use something I don’t really need in the hope that it will make my life easier; I want to feel like I need it because life would be harder without it. I just can’t see that being the case with any Siri device for a long time.
I’m certainly more intrigued due to the lack of leaks. I’m really hoping Apple has doubled down on secrecy because it has major changes up its sleeve — and that’s why we’ve heard very little about iOS 11 or anything else. I just don’t want to get my hopes up.
There’s a very real possibility that iOS 11 will be an insignificant upgrade, with Apple counting on the redesigned iPhone 8, rather than software changes, to boost demand. It’s also possible the new iPad Pro will be saved for a dedicated event, and it sounds like we could be waiting a lot longer for the Siri speaker. If that’s the case, there’s not a great deal to look forward to.
I know I sound like an Apple hater who wants too much, but that’s really not the case. I don’t need a complete overhaul of iOS; I just want features that improve the user experience and make me want to use it again. The two changes I previously mentioned would likely be enough to do that.
Luke: Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But, speaking as someone who has voiced a fair bit of criticism about Apple in recent times, I think this could be an event to remember. We’ve got upgraded versions of macOS and iOS guaranteed. Then there is watchOS and tvOS, both of which could get significant updates. There are new Macs, a new iPad, and an entire new product line that are all expected, too. If there’s an Apple keynote to watch and be excited by in 2017, I think WWDC could be it!
But let’s turn things over to the readers. Are you psyched about Monday’s Apple keynote? What are your most looking forward to? Make sure to leave your comments below. And have a great weekend!
Friday Night Fights is a series of weekly death matches between two no-mercy brawlers who will fight to the death — or at least agree to disagree — about which is better: Apple or Google, iOS or Android?