What to expect at Apple's WWDC 2018: iOS update focusing on stability and performance?

Apple unveiled software upgrades that would let older iPhones run faster, helps users manage how much time they spend with their devices, and make make it difficult for advertisers to track users of Apple devices.
The WWDC keynote announcements will set the software roadmap for Apple's present and future products in the year ahead.
The WWDC keynote announcements will set the software roadmap for Apple's present and future products in the year ahead.PHOTO: AFP

SAN JOSE - Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) will kick off on Monday (June 4, United States time) with a keynote address at the San Jose McEnery Convention Centre.

The WWDC keynote announcements will set the software roadmap for Apple's present and future products in the year ahead. There might be a chance of hardware announcements too.

Here's what we can expect at WWDC 2018.

SOFTWARE

The most definite thing about WWDC is that new software will be released. So, we may see the new iOS 12 for iPhones and iPads, macOS 10.14 for Mac computers, watchOS 5 for Apple Watches and tvOS 12 for Apple TVs.

- iOS 12

There are rumours from multiple sources that the upcoming iOS 12 will be focused on improving the stability and performance of the mobile operating system, rather than implementing more flashy features that users do not usually use.

But, interestingly, there are reports that Apple will introduce a feature called Digital Health, which lets users monitor their time spent using their iPhones and iPads, as well as offer parental controls.

In addition, iOS 12 is said to support multi-player augmented reality (AR). This might be great news for fans of the Pokemon Go AR game, who are still waiting for player-versus-player battle features.

Lastly, the Near Field Communications (NFC) feature in iPhones might be slightly expanded to include unlocking of hotel rooms. Currently, NFC can only be used for Apple Pay.

- macOS 10.14

The latest leaks online suggest that there will be a Dark Mode for the upcoming macOS 10.14, for users who prefer to work with a darker menu interface for the Mac computer operating system.

In addition, there will be an Apple News app (currently available in iOS 11) and a refreshed App Store with video previews.

The last few iterations of macOS have been named after places in California, like macOS 10.13 High Sierra. And there are indications that macOS 10.14 will called Mojave, after the Mojave desert in California.

With the latest macOS 10.13.5 update, we saw Messages introduced for iCloud, which lets you store messages with their attachments in iCloud, thus freeing up space on your Mac computer.


Apple's annual worldwide developer conference, or WWDC, will be held this year at the San Jose McEnery Convention Centre. ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

Earlier, Messages was rolled out for mobile devices with the iOS 11.4 update. Now, the Messages app is finally totally in sync for both iOS and macOS.

This development might be an indication of what's to come on the software front.

On top of that, with the many rumours that Apple might be using its own chips - instead of waiting for the Intel chip upgrade cycle - for their computers, macOS might be moving towards a tighter integration with its iOS mobile cousin, or even cross-platform compatibility.

If the universal app support rumours between Apple computer and mobile systems are true, developers will only need to write one app for both platforms instead of re-writing the code for another.

But, for now, these are only speculations and we will only know more when Apple announces the new macOS 10.14.

- watchOS 5 and tvOS 12

There are not many leaks about watchOS 5, except for a new watchface that is inspired by the pride movement.

However, if there are any new round watchfaces in the developer kit, we might get a glimpse of a future round Apple Watch.

Like the watchOS 5, there are very few rumours about the new tvOS. But the platform has not undergone any major changes since tvOS 10. Perhaps there might be some changes in the menu interface or performance improvements.

HARDWARE

There are various reports, including one from Bloomberg, saying that this year's WWDC will be "hardware-less".

Plenty of online chatter seems to suggest that there will be no new MacBook Pros or MacBook Air computers announced. And with the new entry-level iPad tablet already launched this March, it seems unlikely there will be any new hardware.

But there is some speculation that the Apple iPhone SE 2 might be unveiled. It could be the same small form factor as the iPhone SE, but with an "all-display" front and Face ID technology found in the iPhone X. It will be interesting if an iPhone SE 2 is launched.

Last year, Apple rolled out new iPads, iMacs and the HomePod during WWDC - its first hardware announcements in three WWDCs. So it will be no surprise if this year is another "hardware-less" WWDC.

You can watch the livestream of the WWDC 2018 keynote at https://www.apple.com/apple-events/june-2018/, which starts at 1am, June 5, Singapore time.