Like the lead-up to any big, annual Apple event, the weeks and months ahead of this year's WWDC brought the usual wash of rumors about new hardware, software, and online services.
The biggest unknown was not so much on the hardware side--as we all knew there was a new iPhone on the way (even what it looked like and whose fault that was), but the software and online services portion remained a mystery. This is typically the chunk of the WWDC keynote where Steve Jobs and company go into detail about the latest operating system tweaks and new software offerings.
There were rumors on both sides of the spectrum ranging from paid services like MobileMe going free and iTunes getting a streaming component to a fancy new wireless trackpad. Read on to get the details.
1. OS X 10.7
Apple's preview of OS X 10.6, nicknamed Snow Leopard, happened at 2008's WWDC. 10.5 was unveiled during 2006's keynote, and 10.4 in 2004's. Following that logic, 2010's show would bring a preview, or at least an acknowledgment that Apple had 10.7 in the oven. Though given the focus on Apple's iOS, and the shiny new device that will run on it, it's not all that surprising we didn't hear a peep.
An OS update, especially for the desktop, would have likely filled an hour or two on its own. Yet, the downside of this omission is that the eventual preview of that update will likely be shelved until next year's show, since WWDC is Apple's only big developer event of the year.
2. A developer preview for the iPad's iOS 4
When introducing OS 4 at a preview event back in April, Jobs said we'd be seeing a public release of it for the iPad sometime this fall. Again, logic would dictate that developers would get their hands on a build of the iPad 4.0 SDK at Apple's big developer event, alongside the first beta of the firmware for testing on real devices.
So why the no-show? Apple has likely had its hands full getting the iPhone and iPod Touch version of OS 4 ready to go in time for the iPhone 4 launch in two weeks. And developers only got their hands on the gold master candidate version of that late Monday. Maybe the delay was to include some new OS features being baked into the next batch of iPods this fall.
3. A Steve Ballmer appearance
In a note to investors, Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry claimed that Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer would be giving a seven-minute presentation of Visual Studio 2010 during the WWDC keynote. This was vehemently denied by Microsoft reps, then later retracted by Chowdhry, though many large news outlets (including us) picked up the story and ran with it.
There was some semblance of truth to the rumor of Microsoft having a presence at the keynote, in the form of Jobs announcing that Microsoft's Bing was now a search option in Safari, both on portable devices and on the desktop software.
4. iTunes streaming service
Like Apple's annual "buy a Mac, get a free iPod" promotion, which always manages to end just a few days before the company announces a new model, it seemed just a little too convenient music-streaming service Lala, which Apple bought back in December of last year, was being shut down just a week before WWDC.
Prior to Apple picking up the company, sources had told CNET that Apple was planning to purchase the company primarily for its music streaming technology and engineering talents. It seemed fair then (given the timing), that Apple would fill in the gap Lala.com's closure had left with something similar built right into iTunes, though that never came to fruition during Monday's keynote. Then again, given Apple's propensity for having its "music" events in September, we might just have to wait three months.
Another good thing that is likely to keep such a service coming is pressure from Google, which just a few weeks prior had demoed its free music streaming service, which uses technology from SimplifyMedia--a company Google had quietly acquired back in March.
5. Free MobileMe
Everyone loves a free lunch, and in the case of Apple's MobileMe--that was the rumor de jour. 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman spotted some interesting wording in the preferences pane of MobileMe that changed the name of the account type from "individual" or "family plan" to "full member," which lead to speculation that Apple would be offering a free service.
The evidence a little thin you say? That's a fair assessment, however keep in mind the number of services Apple has added to MobileMe (formerly .Mac) over the years has grown substantially. That, and large chunks of it like the Web mail, photo hosting, and calendar tools are offered free (with advertising) by competitors. There's nothing to say Apple wouldn't offer some basic parts of it for free, and charge to upgrade to the more advanced features. After all, it's done that with its QuickTime software for years.
6. iLife '10
The steady march of iLife updates has consistently taken place every January since 2003 with the exception of iLife '08, which debuted during a special presentation in early August of 2007. And of course this year, where Apple's pull out of the Macworld Expo, which began in earnest at 2010's show, meant that the company's iLife software suite was a no show too.
The biggest question since then has simply been when Apple will release its big update. With 2010 already halfway over, it's not too outlandish that Apple will simply skip on to iLife '11, or bundle that news together with this year's iPod event.
7. A Verizon iPhone
Will the iPhone be available in the U.S. on another carrier besides AT&T? Certainly. The real question is when and which carrier.
The rumors that Apple was striking up a deal with Verizon have been simmering for years. One big one came from 9to5Mac in 2008, which claimed an iPhone would be coming to Verizon at the end of the year, maybe even at Macworld in January 2009, however that obviously turned out not to be the case. Fast forward to March of this year and there was a Wall Street Journal story with a source that claimed one of Apple's contract manufacturers was building CDMA-compatible (read: Sprint and Verizon) iPhones.
While this didn't quite shake out with the announcement of the iPhone 4 at WWDC, the possibility of the iPhone landing on another U.S. carrier is inevitable.
8. The Mystery Multitouch trackpad
Meet the rumor that seemingly came out of nowhere. Engadget snagged photos of a largish, multitouch track pad peripheral, basically the same ones you find on Apple's notebooks, but wireless and usable on a desktop machine.
Little was known about the device, and still is, besides the fact it uses Bluetooth, is silver, slightly shiny, and remains unannounced.
9. A $99 AppleTV
The AppleTV has been Apple's most curious product in the last few years. Unlike the vast majority of the company's hardware efforts, it has remained largely unchanged since its introduction at an Apple event in late 2006. Apple has pushed out two major system software reinventions and bumped the built-in storage, but otherwise it's the same machine.
Reports that Apple was working on a cheaper and more capable version of the hardware surfaced late last month. Blog Engadget had a source that claimed Apple was readying a version that made use both of Apple's in-house A4 processor and that ran a modified version of the iOS. Such a device could still surface later this year if, or rather when Apple hosts its annual iPod event. Though if it is in fact running the iOS, Apple likely would have wanted to get developers on board so they could get a head start on building apps for it.
10. A Mac Mini refresh
The Mac Mini is another piece of long-outdated hardware. In fact, its last big update was in late October when Apple gave it a modest bump in processing power and doubled up on the RAM. Still, its graphics card has lagged behind what has been available on Apple's notebooks. Both the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines now feature a beefier Nvidia GeForce 320M chip, which MacBook Pro users can bump up to the 330M version, which packs twice the memory.
More importantly, two separate reports from AppleInsider pointed to Apple adding an HDMI port to the Mac Mini instead of the DVI connector that exists there now. Given the no-show of the Apple TV, maybe there's more to that delay than meets the eye. AppleInsider had also received reports from sources that supply of the machine was drying up both from Apple and third-party resellers, which is usually a good sign that a refresh is on the way.
11. A new MacBook Air
Apple's ultraslim laptop, which was launched by Apple in January 2008, has remained largely unchanged short of some slight adjustments to things like the trackpad, the internals, and the video-out jack. In fact, it hasn't had an update since this time last year, which in the world of electronics means either a very large update is due, or it's time to put it on deathwatch.
The third option, and one that makes more sense, is that Apple has quietly replaced the Air with the iPad. In fact, that much was said to CNET's David Carnoy at his local Apple Store, where he was attempting to purchase an Air in place of an iPad that was out of stock.
12. An iPod Touch with camera
A version of the iPod Touch with a camera has been expected since last year. Three months before last September's launch of the (still) latest generation iPod Touch, TechCrunch reported on a large order of the same camera modules used on the iPhone 3GS. These later ended up being the camera modules that ended up in the iPod Nano instead.
To make matters more interesting, photos and videos of an iPod Touch with a built-in camera popped up less than a month before Apple unveiled new versions of the device last year. But, the final devices shipped by Apple had no such camera. Teardown site iFixit later took the latest-generation Touch apart and discovered that the insides still had room for it in the exact same spot.
Before WWDC, the rumors of an iPod Touch with a built-in camera were revived when another development iPod Touch with a camera in the same spot showed up on eBay. Then, a few weeks later, Vietnamese site Tinhte (the same folks who acquired an iPhone 4 ahead of its announcement) scored a similarly spec'd iPod Touch, which was later discovered to be as old as the one from the year before. In any case, it would be unsurprising to see Apple roll out a camera-ready Touch this year given the new FaceTime video chat service.
See also: What we didn't hear about iPhone 4