We are looking forward to WWDC or the Worldwide Developers Conference, scheduled to begin June 4 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA. Each year, the event gets better and more elaborate, with detailed sessions. You can follow along with the WWWDC app.
WWDC kicks off in just a little over three months with an opening keynote each year where leading Apple engineers and executives preview the latest software versions of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.
Some updates that we can expect include:
iOS 12 release
upgraded Siri and mobile automation
HomePod integration with Apple TV
possible new hardware from iPad Pros to A11X processors
iOS 12 Release
As in prior years, Apple is expected to release the next level of its operating system iOS 12 with a beta release available for download for developers earlier on and the full product release by September. Within the new system, mobile automation is expected along with more integrations and options for Siri via the Home app and HomePod.
Upgraded Siri and Mobile Automation
Siri lags behind other voice-activated artificial intelligence (AI) software services available to the public such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Alex in both recognizing voices and in executing commands. Improvements to Siri's voice assistant and automation services can be expected as they definitely need an upgrade. WWDC has always offered a platform for innovation and collaboration. Apple has also been working with IBM since 2014 on enterprise services and now has expanded to using IBM’s Watson to improve its AI functionality. This can be expected to positively impact Siri's performance overall.
One important aspect that has been overlooked in the news for a while now when comparing these different products that offer different services as well, is privacy. Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Alexa both use information provided by their users to update their AI software, thus increasing their AI capabilities at a much faster rate. Their AI softwares are able to respond faster and more intelligently because their massive data engines are more informed. However, the big question that has not been adequately addressed here is privacy. To get their AI software to learn the nuances of language and speech faster, conversations in your private home are becoming mineable data in these vast engines.
Apple has maintained a level of privacy that is not available via these other services, ranging from its entire OS ecosystem to now Apple News and its developing AI. This does allow you to feel more comfortable in the confidentiality of what you are sharing.
The question then is how can Apple improve Siri without drawing upon private consumer information to teach its AI? That's where IBM's Watson comes into play and will hopefully be very helpful in accelerating Siri's understanding and response rate to voices and being able to deliver on what you ask Siri to do.
Another aspect that can help in this process is Workflow, the innovative company that Apple acquired last year. Workflow also won an Apple Design award. In a nutshell, Workflow essentially provides a graphical version of what Siri could do. You define 'actions' and then you trigger them with a 'touch' using an Apple device (includes Apple Watch). The touch in turn, triggers a complex action to be executed. By using Workflow's capabilities, Siri developers can build out functions that users can just launch with their voices or through simple touch on iOS devices.
HomePod integration with Apple TV
We also expect HomePod integration with Apple TV where you can ask HomePod to play specific shows. This will enable developers to build new apps and games that respond to commands viaHomePod’s microphones.
Possible new Hardware from iPad Pros to A11X Processors
Apple may also announce new hardware at WWDC such as iPad Pros with TrueDepth cameras, possible replacement for the MacBook Air, new eight-core A11X processors and perhaps an updated iPhone SE 2. Apple already announced a budget iPad with A10 processor and Apple Pencil support at its March 27 press event at a Chicago school.
You can see highlights from last year's event that we reported on here - Part 1, 2 and 3.