On Monday, Apple will gather the faithful in San Francisco for its 2012 Worldwide Developers' Conference – and if past experience is anything to go by, we can expect to see Cupertino's tech-wizards taking the wraps off something big – either a new piece of hardware like the much-anticipated iPhone 5 or Retina Display MacBooks, or a significant software upgrade like iOS 6. So what can we expect to see, based on past form? We take a look back over the star launches of WWDCs past.
WWDC 2011 – iOS 5
WWDC 2011 didn't bring any hardware launches – instead, the action was all happening in the software space, as Apple updated its mobile OS to iOS 5 – adding over 200 new features. Most notable were the new-look Notification Center, finally doing away with intrusive pop-up windows, the BlackBerry-baiting iMessage and the ability to dive straight into the Camera app from the lock screen.
WWDC 2011 – Mac OS X Lion
Apple also announced the latest iteration of its desktop OS, Lion, at WWDC 2011. Adding new multi-touch gestures, Mission Control and wireless p2p network AirDrop, Lion is the latest salvo in Apple's bid to converge its mobile and desktop operating systems.
WWDC 2011 – iCloud
Probably the biggest launch to come out of Apple's most recent WWDC was iCloud – Cupertino's riposte to the likes of Dropbox and Spotify. The iCloud service replaced Apple's existing MobileMe, giving iOS users app syncing, 5GB of free music storage and Photo Stream uploads, plus a paid iTunes Match service serving up legal streaming versions of all songs in your iTunes library.
WWDC 2010 – iPhone 4
2010 marked the most recent – to date, at least – appearance of a new iPhone at WWDC. The iPhone 4, lest we forget, introduced the current iPhone form factor, packing in an A4 processor and the infamous 326ppi Retina Display into its glass-and-aluminium frame.
The launch was marred somewhat by the "Antennagate" controversy, which saw some iPhone 4s reportedly dropping calls due to the external antenna design.
Also launched at WWDC 2010 were FaceTime on iOS - taking advantage of the iPhone 4's front-facing camera - and the iMovie app.
WWDC 2009 – iPhone 3GS
The "S" stands for "speed," said Apple – and they weren't kidding. Wooshing along at twice the speed of its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS marked the first of the incremental iPhone hardware upgrades that have since become standard procedure for Apple – adding a new 3MP camera, an optional 32GB of internal memory and a compass to the already solid base that was the iPhone 3G.
WWDC 2009 – 13in Macbook Pro
Apple's decision to add a 13in aluminium unibody MacBook Pro to its lineup may have been something of a fait accompli - it already had unibody MacBook Pros in 15in and 17in sizes, as well as a unibody 13in MacBook – but it established the MacBook Pro as its main laptop offering. It also signalled the slow death knell of the white MacBook, which limped on until 2012 before it was finally discontinued.
WWDC 2008 – iPhone 3G
2008's WWDC brought probably the single most significant upgrade in the iPhone's history, the iPhone 3G. The original iPhone was hobbled by its slow data connection – but by adding 3G connectivity, the iPhone became genuinely useful as a device for web browsing. Plus it heralded the arrival of the new App Store...
WWDC 2008 - App Store
The App Store was the other big launch of WWDC 2008 – one intimately tied to the launch of the iPhone 3G. Customers had been clamouring for the ability to customise their iPhones with third-party programmes – and the App Store's slick interface enabled Apple to steal a march on the iPhone's competitors, making it the dominant platform that it is today.
WWDC 2007 – OS X Leopard
WWDC 2007 brought the first look at OS X Leopard, adding (among a claimed 300+ features) a new dock featuring Stacks, Boot Camp, a new Finder with Cover Flow, Quick Look and the all-important Time Machine backup system.
WWCD 2006 – Mac Pro
In many ways, WWDC 2006 marked a transition for Apple; the last WWDC before the announcement of the iPhone also saw the launch of the last PowerPC-based Mac, the Mac Pro desktop computer. The Mac Pro packed an impressive (for the time) two 2.66GHz processors, 1GB RAM, and a 250GB hard drive. The arrival the following year of the iPhone would see Apple shift from being primarily a computer company to one built around mobile devices such as the iPhone - using Apple's own processors.
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