In late May, we reported that Apple was working on a new category of hardware with a Siri-powered smart home speaker. It would be similar to the Amazon’s Echo. According to a new report by Bloomberg, the rumored Siri-powered device is currently undergoing prototype testing.
The rumors indicated the device would have the same functions as the Echo, but be much smarter. It would be capable of controlling your home’s functions like the Home app does on the iPhone and iPad. It will also have a camera which detects who is speaking and their emotional state using facial recognition technology. The speaker will this information to select the person’s preferences like their playlists or enhance the tone of the room. Finally, it will be activated with “Hey Siri.” Hopefully Apple will enhance Siri to be similar in functionality to Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa.
It is that time of year again; a couple of days before Apple’s next special media event where we expect the company to reveal a plethora of new products. The Worldwide Developer’s Conference kicks off on Monday at 10am PDT with a keynote from Tim Cook and company about the latest software updates for iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and Mac. Based on what we have heard so far, here are our expectations.
The tenth generation operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch is practically guaranteed to be announced next week. The major software update will bring many new features with a slightly refreshed user interface. For general updates we will see tweaks to icon designs, more colorful notifications, and the San Francisco font in every app. The Music app will be overhauled with more black and white colors, prominent album artwork, updated menu tabs, and 3D Touch shortcuts for the iPhone 6s/6s Plus. The Photos app will receive enhancements with more professional editing tools and Markup functionality. Siri will also be coming to third-party apps with a specially designed Siri SDK. Finally, the software will have a new encryption and security features to protect the data on it.
The iOS 10 update will be released to developers on Monday, to those in the public beta program in July, and to the general public in September.
watch OS and tvOS
The next software update for the Apple Watch (watchOS) and the Apple TV (tvOS) is practically guaranteed to be announced too; however, there have been no rumors about what the software will bring. Since the Apple TV (4th generation) and Apple Watch are relatively new products, we will likely see an update for both that polishes their systems. I hope that the Apple Watch will, at the very least, get an update in speed for looking at Glances and opening some apps.
The watchOS and tvOS updates will be released to developers on Monday and to the general public in September.
The next generation operating system for Mac is underway with the biggest features being around the new branding and Siri. Apple has accidentally leaked several times that they will be changing the name from “OS X” to “macOS” or “MacOS.” They have used both names on their website. The actual name for the software is currently unknown, but it will likely be something from Yosemite National Park. This falls in line with other previous OS names, like “Yosemite” and “El Capitan.” Additionally, Siri will be coming to the Mac with the same capabilities she currently has on the iPhone.
The macOS (or MacOS) update will be announced and released to developers on Monday, released to those in the public beta in July, and then available for download for everyone else in the fall.
Apple is steadily bringing new banks and credit unions to their quick payment system. In the United States, we usually see support from twenty to sixty new financial institutions every month. Recently KFC has announced that it will now accept Apple Pay as payment. The next step of Apple is to further incorporate this into their apps like Safari and Messages. In Safari, users will be able to pay for purchases online with Apple Pay instead of entering in their credit card information. Additionally, the Messages app may be updated with person-to-person payments. Both of these have been rumored to be a part of the Apple Pay update, but they may not be announced on Monday.
Apple Smart Speaker (name?)
Apple Speaker concept, credit: @JRESHOW on YouTube
Apple is rumored to be working on their own version of Amazon’s Echo smart home speaker to be used with Siri. It will control many of your home’s functions, like adjusting the lighting, with HomeKit-compatible hardware and software. It may also house a camera that will detect who is in the room around it using facial recognition and use this information to select the person’s preferences like favorite music or playlists. Rumors originally suggested that it would be announced at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference with a release either in late 2016 or early 2017, but many sources have confirmed it will not be at the event.
Apple Watch 2
Apple Watch 2 concept, credit: Eric Huissman
The second generation Apple Watch is currently in development and is planning to be announced/released this year. We are expecting a watch that is not dependent on the iPhone for functionality, a 20% to 40% thinner design, a front camera, and models made of new materials (perhaps tungsten or platinum.) Rumors have also suggested that it will have a cellular chip or a Wi-Fi chip inside so it would not need the iPhone for connecting to the Internet.
iPhone 7 concept, credit: Martin Hajek
The next generation iPhone is expected to be announced this year with the same overall design as its predecessor, the iPhone 6s. The phone will have less antenna lines on the back with no headphone jack and a thinner Lightning port. Additionally, the camera module will further differentiate the smaller, 4.7″ iPhone, from the larger, 5.5″ iPhone. The smaller phone will have a single camera and the larger phone will have a dual camera. Both phones will be powered by the A10 processor, have more RAM, and a higher starting storage capacity of 32GB.
Apple TV Internet Streaming Service
The Internet TV streaming service was expected to be announced alongside the Apple TV 4th generation in September 2015, but it was not ready yet. The service was rumored to be available for $30-$40 per month and come with about twenty-five channels from major networks. Nearly a year after the expected announcement date, the streaming service has not been announced but it is still rumored to come eventually. While it is not likely we will see it on Monday, I wanted to briefly mention it since it was also a part of our WWDC 2015 keynote expectations.
The Worldwide Developer’s Conference will kick off at 10am PDT, or 1pm EST, in California and it will be live-streamed for all to watch. To add it to your calendar and watch it, click here.
The Worldwide Developer’s Conference in June is normally all about software, but a new report by The Information suggests they will be announcing a new category of hardware. Their new device will be a voice-activated smart home speaker powered by Siri and be a direct competitor to Amazon’s Echo.
Apple’s new category of hardware will take on the Amazon Echo, via PCMag
The speaker will have the same functions as the Echo, but also be a lot smarter. It will control many of your home’s functions, like adjusting the lighting, with Homekit-compatible hardware and software. It will also house a camera which will detect who is in the room around it using facial recognition technology. The device will use this information to select the person’s preferences like their playlists or favorite music. It will also be activated with special keywords, similar to the iPhone 6s responding to “Hey Siri.”
Apple is expected to have a strategy for announcing and releasing the device similar to they did with the Apple Watch. The smart speaker will likely be announced at some point in 2016, rumored to be at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference, and then released the following year in 2017. The plans for releasing an Echo-like speaker are not yet solid though so the entire project may be postponed or cancelled.
The company is expected to allow Siri to be used in third-party apps with a new software developer kit (SDK) being announced at their conference. While Apple does have deals with some major developers already that integrate Siri into their software, they will open it up to all developers in the future. Right now users can ask Siri to reserve a table for two at a local restaurant and Siri will connect to the OpenTable app. She will then use information from the app to reserve the table. Siri will also display reviews from Yelp, showing integration with that app.