The ever critical Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off today at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, and as usual the tech world will be eyeing this event closely. Apple has tended to focus on software announcements at this conference over the last few years, but there is always the possibility of a hardware surprise as well. At the very least, it always provides an insight into the future direction of Apple hardware policy.

Apple WWDC 2017

Watching Apple’s WWDC 2017

First things first, many Apple fans will be hoping to tune into the live broadcast of the events. Online streaming of conferences of this nature is becoming increasingly significant, and there are many ways to watch the WWDC event unfold.

Firstly, those consumers who possess the most recent version of Apple TV can download the Apple Events app from the App Store. Older Apple TV models will also enable the WWDC event to be viewed, simply by turning on the device. The Cupertino based company has created an Apple Events channel in order to allow its customers to watch the event.

Watching the Worldwide Developers Conference online is also relatively straightforward. The event will be streamed on the Apple website, via the Apple Events section. This video feed only works in Safari and Microsoft Edge, but the Cupertino based company has made the conference more accessible to desktop users over the years, and thus macOS, iOS and Windows 10 are all supported.

Keynote speech

The centerpiece of the WWDC events will be a keynote speech from the CEO Tim Cook. This will be seen as particularly critical this year, as Apple is expected to release a revolutionary iPhone 8 in order to mark the tenth anniversary of the iconic smartphone. While tomorrow is highly unlikely to see the iPhone 8 officially acknowledged in any way, the unveiling of iOS 11 will provide us with some excellent clues regarding the makeup of this device.

As Apple attempts to generate buzz regarding the conference, some announcements have already been made ahead of the event. The consumer electronics giant has already cast light on the efforts of Swift Playgrounds to enable developers to tinker with the likes of Lego Mindstorms, Parrot drones and Sphero toys. Cupertino based company was also keen to point out that developers have generated $70 billion from the App Store; succinctly illustrating the importance of WWDC 2017.

This does suggest that Apple may be making space for some particularly significant announcements at the Worldwide Developers Conference, which would make it an even more important event than usual.

iOS 11

The next generation iOS 11 operating system is an absolute certainty for this conference. It is believed that augmented reality functionality will be included in the code this year, and this is expected to be a major focus of the forthcoming iPhone 8. A ‘dark mode’ switch in the user interface has also been tipped for this software, assisting with the battery life cycle of the unit.

Improved Apple Pencil integration is also anticipated, while Cupertino based company will additionally outline a new range of apps for the smartphone. Streaming video is expected to be a big focus, with the Californian corporation having announced major ‘Carpool Karaoke’ and ‘Planet of the Apps’ features to debut this fall.

macOS update

The operating system for the Mac range will also be updated, although changes here will be relatively minimal in comparison to the mobile operating system. macOS will attempt to accommodate the new chip technology in order to retain stability, while updates to the software will focus on more cloud-based activities. We can also expect upgrades to Siri and more Touch Bar functionality to be delivered. But this will be relatively low-key in comparison to iOS 11.

tvOS and watchOS

The operating systems for the Apple TV and Apple Watch are still relative newcomers, so there is significant room for progress here. It is particularly expected that the watchOS system will benefit from improved health and fitness applications, after Apple agreed a patent settlement with Nokia. tvOS should benefit from frameworks for new venture and content related to the TV hardware.

Siri

Siri has been something of a jewel in the Apple Crown recently, and WWDC 2017 should see new updates to the software announced. It will, of course, feature heavily in software upgrades across the four hardware platforms for which Apple is renowned, but an intriguing digital AI speaker system is also anticipated. This would rival similar work already produced by Amazon and Google.

Thus, there have been reports suggesting that the Siri Speaker is already in production, and could be unveiled during the Worldwide Developers Conference.

Latest MacBook

While hardware talk is likely to be thin on the ground at WWDC 2017, some announcements regarding the MacBook laptop range are possible. With Windows 10 machines having recently switched to the revolutionary seventh-generation Kaby Lake chipset, it is believed that the Cupertino based company may follow suit with the MacBook range, while the MacBook Pro, MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and the MacBook may all receive spec upgrades.

Analysts have also suggested that a Touch Bar fitted with a wireless keyboard is likely, which will open up the user interface to more customers. There have also been murmurings that iPhone-maker will abandon the MacBook Air range, making the standard MacBook the entry-level machine for Apple laptop users.

Other hardware

It is possible that Apple could also reveal a new iPad Pro as well, with whispers about a 10.5-inch model that fits in the same physical footprint as the current 9.7-inch screen rife. This would, of course, shadow the trend for wraparound displays in the smartphone marketplace, with Apple expected to unveil a design of this nature when the iPhone 8 hits the stores.

Speaking of Apple’s most recognizable device, the iPhone 8 will almost certainly be kept under wraps until September. Possibly an update to the iPhone SE can be considered a rank outside possibility for this conference. But regardless of this, there will still be plenty for Apple fans to get their teeth into at WWDC 2017.