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WWDC 2012: What to expect

Michael deAgonia | June 11, 2012
This year's Worldwide Developers Conference looks to be unlike any of its predecessors in scope and scale, with Apple CEO Tim Cook likely to talk about everything from iOS 6 to OS X Mountain Lion to new hardware.

Also expected, and welcome, will be deeper Facebook integration in iOS 6 -- much as Apple did with Twitter in iOS 5. Love it or hate it, Facebook is a reality, and Apple would be smart to make it even easier for iPhone/iPad users to post status updates, share photos and communicate with Facebook friends in as many ways and from as many apps as possible. Expect iOS 6 to get more social.

Something else you can almost certainly count on is a move by Apple away from Google services. After years of having Google provide the backend for many important iOS functions, like the Maps app and as the default web search provider, Apple is pulling back on it's reliance on Google and going its own way. It's already happened in iPhoto for iOS, when Apple engineers switched to their own in-house maps backend, and it'll happen here.

Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, has said he doesn't think the change will have much effect on Google, but I disagree. Nearly half of all U.S. users of Google's map service come from iOS. That's a lot of user data Google can collect and sell, most of which will be gone the moment the Maps backend is replaced with Apple's own solution. (There's a reason Google had its own Maps event last week to talk up its services: IT was looking to get ahead of the bad news at WWDC.

True, Google will still have apps available in Apple's App Store, allowing customer choice. But many iPhone/iPad users tend to stick with the default apps offered on their devices and won't bother to check the Store for alternatives. A bolstered Siri working in concert with an Apple-run Maps backend will certainly hit Google where it hurts.

A new iPhone?

So we'll see the new iOS at WWDC. But will we see a new iPhone? There's been a continuous gusher of rumors about an upcoming iPhone with a 4-in. screen. I initially ignored them but a recent video of some supposedly leaked parts look really convincing. From the taller dimensions and smaller dock connector to the relocated speaker jack (whose new location, like the iPod touch, is on the bottom right), the details are starting to add up.

Will Cook really unveil a new iPhone now? If recent history is any indicator, the next iPhone will be unveiled at an event this fall, along with a new iPod and iPod touch. A new iPhone hasn't been announced at WWDC since the iPhone 4 arrived two years ago, but there's no better place to give your developers a head start on updating their apps to support a new resolution then to announce it at WWDC.


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