Apple WWDC 2013: iOS 7, Retina MacBook Air …and definitely no iWatch

With four days left until Apple's annual developer conference, we do some informed crystal ball-gazing

Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference kicks off in San Francisco on Monday. In between talk of 'monetisation' and 'kernels', we should see some very exciting new kit indeed – but there are also a few rumoury bits and pieces circulating that simply ain't gonna happen. Here's what we're expecting, and why…

Apple WWDC 2013 – iOS 7 goes minimal

If there’s one thing we’re almost certain to see, it’s the first showing of iOS 7, the latest version of the operating system for the iPhone and iPad. With Jony Ive now at the reins (taking over from the cartographically challenged Scott Forstall), all the rumours point to iOS 7 sporting a very different set of clothes: gone will be the metal, leather, green baize and faux wood effects of previous editions, replaced with a cleaner, flatter and possibly black and white-dominated new look. Why? Because Ive apparently can't stand skeuomorphism.

Don’t expect the fundamentals to change too much, though – Apple has far too large a user base to risk upsetting them by chucking out, say, the iconic home screen or slide-to-unlock gesture. That leaves little room for live widgets, unless Ive has pulled an ingenious way of integrating them without compromising iOS' core layout from his enormous creative mind. Indeed, a recent purported leak shows a design that's more of a spit and polish of the current OS, with coloured icons and even a wooden bookshelf icon for Newsstand.

As is the custom with new operating systems, iOS 7 should also bring in a handful of new features. Among those expected are AirDrop quick file-sharing (already available on Macs), notifications with built-in interactivity (say, the ability to reply to texts inside the notification bar itself), Vimeo and Flickr integration for easier video and photo sharing and improvements to Siri’s voice recognition capabilities. [image credit: imjeanmarc]

As likely as... One more thing

Apple WWDC 2013 – MacBooks get Haswell, and the MacBook Air gets a Retina display

There's a new Intel chip in town and it's a no-brainer that Apple will build new MacBooks around them. The likelihood only increases when you consider how reliant Apple is on Intel's current Ivy Bridge line-up: the Air and some Pro models even rely solely on their integrated HD 4000 graphical capabilities, so Haswell's extra-strength HD 5000 and Iris GPUs open up exciting new possibilities.

Specifically? A MacBook Air with Retina display to stamp out upstarts such as Google's Chromebook Pixel and Toshiba's KiraBook is now entirely plausible thanks to Haswell's knockout combo of improved energy efficiency and graphical grunt. We would't expect a jump in battery life, as a higher-res screen will be more power-hungry – but we reckon it'll be worth sacrificing a couple of hours for a couple million extra pixels.

As likely as...  A handful of whoopers in the crowd

Apple WWDC 2013 – iRadio is Apple’s curiously old-fashioned answer to Spotify

It has long been rumoured that Apple is preparing a music streaming service, and WWDC 2013 would be the perfect place to announce it. With Google recently launching its own Play Music All Access service, it’s also the perfect time, at least if Apple doesn’t want to let its greatest rival steal too much of a march on it. Apple reportedly has Warner and Universal already signed up to provide music, and is close to getting Sony on board too. Rumoured to be called iRadio, the service reportedly won’t work in the same way as Spotify or Rdio, but will instead create a free, ad-supported “radio station” based on an artist, song or genre – a lot like US service Pandora. But while you don’t get to choose exactly which tracks play and in what order, iRadio may allow you to pause and even rewind songs.

As likely as... Another musician hitting the big time off the back of Apple's advertising

Apple WWDC 2013 – Mac OS X 10.9 will look a lot like iOS 7

Apple’s computer operating system is also in line for an update, and putting our prediction hat on, we’d say it’s going to be simplified in line with iOS 7 – not to an extent where it’s less flexible, but one where it’s more streamlined, less fussy and easier to use.

Basically, OS X will become more like iOS. That could mean we see Siri  bringing a real voice control option – or “virtual personal assistant” if you prefer – to Macs, plus an Apple Maps app, plus even perhaps a similar visual overhaul  with skeuomorphic textures ousted in favour of clean, flat colours. Sounds a bit like Windows 8 – but we trust Apple has learnt enough from Microsoft’s troubles and won't rush to create something a little too new and radical. [image: crackerpie.com]

As likely as... A cat-themed moniker (how about OS X Ocelot?)

Apple WWDC 2013 – Apple TV gets apps

The talk of Apple launching its own HDTV has petered out of late, and we’d be shocked and awed if the company unveils a TV-shaped product this week – a launch late this year or in early 2014 seems much more likely. That doesn’t mean telly addicts will be disappointed by WWDC though: with devices like the Xbox One turning up the living room heat, it’s high time that Apple TV was pushed to the next level, and we’d expect that to take the form of a much-improved OS for the tiny set-top box. We wouldn’t be surprised to see support for third-party apps added, for instance, meaning that WWDC would also see the announcement of an Apple TV SDK, allowing developers to get to work on creating some killer software (and maybe even games) for Apple TV.

As likely as... Netflix commissioning a sitcom based at Cupertino HQ

Apple WWDC 2013 – iPad Mini 2 with Retina display. Please

The iPad Mini was launched less than a year ago, but would we be surprised to see a followup introduced at WWDC? No, not really. Firstly, Apple has already set a precedent for quick updates of products (the iPad 3 was replaced by the iPad 4 after a mere six months). Secondly, the iPad Mini has definite room for improvement, particularly when it comes to the screen, which has a last-generation resolution bettered by everything from the Google Nexus 7 to the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. So were we to see the launch of a second generation Mini with a couple of notable improvements – a Retina display screen and processor with uprated graphics – we would not be at all shocked. That said, WWDC is traditionally more software focussed, so an iPad Mini 2 announcement might be saved for its own event later in the year (possibly in September).

As likely as... Your parents saying they can't tell the Retina difference

Apple WWDC 2013 – iPhone 5S and budget iPhone

The same goes for the next edition of the iPhone. Or perhaps that should be “editions” – because it may be that Apple has plans for not only a souped-up S version of the iPhone 5 but also a cheaper, plastic-bodied iPhone. Or perhaps merely the latter. With a June launch date rumoured for the bargain basement-priced iPhone (reportedly just £220), WWDC could at a push be the setting for its first public appearance.

As likely as... An iPhone phablet

Apple WWDC 2013 – iWatch? Not this time

We think it's more suited to its own dedicated launch event, given that it'd be a whole new and rather exciting product category for Apple, but the iWatch smartwatch could make for a knockout WWDC appearance. OK, so we don’t know for sure that it's even on Apple’s agenda, but with US heavyweights such as the Wall Street Journal suggesting it's a nailed-on fact and Tim Cook recently admitting that wearable tech is an area “ripe for exploration,” it’s certainly looking like a strong possibility. Of course, an iWatch would probably require its own, unique form of software too – so there is a developer-focused element that Apple could explore at WWDC. [image: myvouchercodes]

As likely as... Tim Cook wearing Google Glass

Apple WWDC 2013 – New Mac Pro. Oh, go on

There are some folks who still swear by Apple's desktop super-computer (fittingly, mostly pros) The Mac Pro desktop hasn’t changed its outward design in years, but we’ve been hearing talk since last year that Apple has been planning a major update of the range. Talk on just what form this update might take, or what features it’ll offer, has been in short supply. But with the current model lacking even a Thunderbolt port, we’d say that'd be a good place to start.

As likely as... Apple not presuming to know best