Apple is playing catch up.
Six years ago, it was the first major tech company with a voice assistant. Now Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home smart speakers are finally making the assistants mainstream, while Apple’s Siri flounders.
Next week at WWDC, Apple may try to get back in the game by announcing a Siri smart speaker.
CEO Tim Cook and other Apple executives will show previews of the next iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV operating systems during a Monday keynote address in San Jose, California. There are also rumors the company will announce a new smart speaker and updates to its Mac and iPad lines.
WWDC stands for World Wide Developer Conference, though some Apple fans insist on calling it “dub dub.” The annual three day event is an opportunity for software developers to come and learn more about making apps for Apple products.
Here’s a taste of what we can expect on Monday.
Updates for iOS and macOS
This is when Apple traditionally gives everyone a sneak peak at the next operating systems for iPads, iPhones and Macs. It gives developers time to make programs before fall’s big iPhone releases.
This is the iPhone’s 10 year anniversary. In addition to releasing a special iPhone update later this year, a bigger than usual iOS update would also make sense. Beyond a visual overhaul, Apple could include updates to Apple Music and some core apps like Maps. Last year it tried to make Messages young and hip. The Snapchat-ification of iOS could continue, with more sharing features.
Look for some iPad Pro specific updates, like expanded Apple stylus powers that would allow doodling and annotating in more apps.
Rumors are thin for the recently renamed macOS, but fixing iTunes would be a real crowd pleaser. Siri came to the Mac last year. Apple could add more features and third-party integrations to the voice assistant, possibly part of a larger Siri overhaul. New crossover features could make it easier to bounce back between iOS and macOS, similar to what Microsoft and Google are doing with their own operating systems.
Apple’s own Siri smart speaker
The biggest buzz this year is for an all new type of hardware, the first since the Apple Watch.
A Siri smart speaker could be announced on Monday, though likely not available until later in the year. Like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, an Apple speaker would use always-listening technology to make Siri omnipresent in the home.
Apple has been stingy about opening Siri up to third-party developers, and the assistant has suffered because of it.
At the very least, Apple does excel at beautiful design. The company could turn out something more striking than Amazon’s utilitarian black tube or Google’s air freshener.
A bigger iPad Pro
Apple is rumored to be working on a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, with a screen that inches even closer to the edges of the device. It’s a minor bump, but could be a hit with iPad Pro fans.
Software updates for Apple Watch and TV
The younger siblings of the Apple hardware world, the Apple TV and Apple Watch are also due for some software updates. In the past, these updates have been solid improvements to the products, if a little lacking in flash.
Apple hasn’t forgotten about its laptops. The company is expected to upgrade the MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook Air with new, faster processors. The MacBook Air has been neglected by the company in recent years, but an affordable update to the smallest member of the MacBook family could help Apple with its push to reclaim the education market.