What to expect at Apple's WWDC 2019: Dark Mode in iOS, app porting for Macs and new Mac Pro

The San Jose McEnery Convention Centre's facade has been decorated with Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) motifs. WWDC 2019 will kick off on Monday (June 3, United States time) with a keynote address here.
The San Jose McEnery Convention Centre's facade has been decorated with Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) motifs. WWDC 2019 will kick off on Monday (June 3, United States time) with a keynote address here. ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN
Leaked images of what Dark Mode will look like in iOS 13. Apps such as Music will have a black background when Dark Mode is activated.
Leaked images of what Dark Mode will look like in iOS 13. Apps such as Music will have a black background when Dark Mode is activated.PHOTO: 9TO5MAC

SAN JOSE - What's next for the operating system (OS) that powers iPhones? And what software improvements are in store for Mac users?

These questions will likely be answered at Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) which will kick off on Monday (June 3, 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 hardware announcements too.

Here's what you can expect from WWDC 2019.

SOFTWARE

Since WWDC is a developer conference, the most definite thing that will be unveiled at the event is new Apple software. So, we will see iOS 13 for iPhones and iPad tablets, macOS 10.15 for Mac computers, watchOS 6 for Apple Watches and tvOS 13 for Apple TVs.

iOS 13

The new mobile OS powering iPhones and iPads is expected to run faster, add new features and eradicate many bugs.

One of the most sought-after features by iPhone users that is believed to be available in iOS 13 is Dark mode. When turned on, it makes the iOS interface darker across the board. So, instead of having a white background, supported apps could have a black background, which is easier on the eye in dim conditions like at night.

Another benefit is that Dark mode could extend a mobile device's battery life, as fewer display pixels need to be lit up.

Apple's messaging app, iMessage, is expected to get an upgrade in iOS 13 that allows users to set a profile picture and a display name. This is something WhatsApp and Telegram have been doing for years.

There are also rumours that Apple might be adding swipe support for its virtual keyboard for typing. Again, this feature is already available on Android as well as third-party iOS apps like the SwiftKey.

Apple is expected to combine its Find My Friends and Find My iPhone services into a single app. In fact, there are even murmurs that Apple will launch a device that acts like a physical beacon that will work with this new tracking app.

On the iPad side of things, a feature highly expected in iOS 13 is multiple windows. This is an improvement from the current split-screen that restricts multi-tasking to only two apps. In other words, you would be able to see three or four apps on the same screen at the same time.

And then there are rumours that iOS 13 for the iPad will add a feature allowing it to be used as a second screen when connected to a Mac, which allows you to control some Mac functions using an iPad. There are already apps, such as Duet Display, that are able to do so.

macOS 10.15

For the upcoming macOS 10.15 for Mac, the biggest highlight has to be the ability for developers to port their existing iPad apps to the Mac. This technology is internally known as Marzipan, but Apple has never used the term in public.

Apple brought some of its iOS apps, such as News and Home, to the current macOS 10.14 last year. And it is expected that more of Apple's own apps will make the leap to the Mac.


macOS 10.14 on the 2018 Apple MacBook Air. PHOTO: APPLE

For instance, the bloated iTunes app for Mac computers might finally be broken up to Music, Podcasts and TV apps in the new macOS. These all-new apps will closely follow the interface and feel of their iOS cousins for easier navigation and use.

The Books app is expected to undergo a major revamp with an all-new interface too. The new design is said to include a new sidebar with dedicated tabs for Library, Store and Audiobook Store.

Finally, Siri Shortcuts might be supported in macOS 10.15. Available in iOS 12, Siri Shortcuts allow users to create a customised voice assistant shortcut for a specific action or task with compatible apps. Expect the same on the new macOS.

watchOS 6 and tvOS 13

For the new watchOS 6, it is believed it will have its own App Store so users can download apps directly to the Apple Watch instead of having to do so through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone.

In addition, there will be more watch faces for users to choose from as well as new complications, or visual elements, to show more data.


Apple's watchOS 5 PHOTO: APPLE

New watchOS-dedicated apps are expected to be unveiled. These include a Voice Memo app which allows you to record conversations on the fly. A new Calculator app lets you do some arithmetic without whipping out your iPhone.

Information about tvOS 13 is scarce. But it is said that it will have some sort of backup capability for apps and movies. Also, with Apple's own streaming service TV Plus coming up, it might get more air time during this year's keynote.

HARDWARE

While last year's WWDC didn't have any hardware announcements, WWDC 2017 had a slew of them, including the iMac Pro, HomePod smart speaker and iPads.

However, Apple said back in 2017 that it will launch the new Mac Pro this year. So during this WWDC, we might finally see the unveiling of Apple's flagship modular desktop computer.


Apple's cylindrical Mac Pro from 2013. PHOTO: APPLE

WWDC would also be the perfect setting to showcase the Mac Pro to a target customer group of the product - developers. Its design is still mostly unknown, but it is said that its modular nature will make it much easier for users to upgrade in the future, compared to the current cylindrical-shaped Mac Pro.

Furthermore, it is expected that Apple will announce a 31.6-inch 6K professional display to go with the new Mac Pro.

You can watch the livestream of the WWDC 2019 keynote at https://www.apple.com/apple-events, which starts at 1am, June 4, Singapore time.