WWDC 2016 Predictions
April 20, 2016
I am excited to see this year's WWDC announced. I have some predictions for this year's announcements.
I think the iPad will be a huge focus of this year's iOS announcements, even more so than it was last year. The introduction of the iPad Pro models demonstrates that Apple is committed to the iPad despite its declining sales. Apple is still presenting the iPad as the future of personal computing.
I think the most overlooked reason that the iPad does not replace the Mac or PC for many is that there is no comfortable way to touch the iPad's display when using it with a hardware keyboard. Some changes in iOS 9 help, but they do not eliminate the need to touch an iPad screen while using a hardware keyboard. In September I wrote that I expect Apple to address this using the focus engine that it uses in tvOS. I still expect that. The focus engine could allow iOS to be navigated with arrow keys or with a trackpad.
I also believe that Apple has been working on developing Xcode for iPad. Porting an app as complex as Xcode must be a huge undertaking, but one I imagine Apple has been working on since the iPad's introduction. If it is ready, this would be a good time to release it.
Perhaps Apple will also allow iOS apps to be downloaded from outside the App Store. This is more of a hope than a prediction, but I think the inability to easily distribute apps outside of the App Store is holding back the iPad.
OS X (or MacOS?)
It is likely that Apple has OS X running on their own ARM processors. I think Macs powered by ARM chips are inevitable. They will be more power efficient, they will eliminate Apple's dependency on Intel, and they will probably make Macs cheaper for Apple to build. We may be very close to a time when ARM chips can outperform Intel chips. This could be the year that Apple announces ARM support for OS X.
I also expect big changes to the Mac App Store. Phil Schiller was put in charge of the App Store in December, shortly after a Mac App Store certificate debacle. Whether the solution is to shut down the Mac App Store or to focus on it at least as much as Apple focuses on its iOS and tvOS counterparts, I expect Apple to make big changes to the Mac App Store.
After its legal battle with the FBI, I imagine that Apple is putting more resources into securing iCloud data. Specifically, I believe Apple is working hard to encrypt iCloud server-side data in a such a way that Apple itself cannot decrypt without customer consent. A good starting point would be to encrypt iCloud backups of iOS devices with a customer-held key. That key could be based on the device passcode or a key that the customer is allowed to enter and is required to store seperately.