One has to assume that the workers at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco didnt get the memo to keep the iOS 6 banners under wraps until June 11. But because they didnt get that memo the site of the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) does, in fact, have a number of banners heralding the arrival of iOS 6.
So its a safe bet that the announcement of the next update of the operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch will arrive on Monday, June 11, the first day of the conference. One thing thats also a virtual certainty is that the iPhone 5 wont be arriving then. Chances are the new iPhone will make its appearance in the fall, just as the iPhone 4S did in 2011. Its also a sure thing that there wont be a new iPad since the latest version came out in March.
The other big news is probably going to be an announcement for several new additions to the Macintosh line. Its been a while since new Macs came out, and there are plenty of new chips for Apple to take advantage of. Intels Sandy Bridge Xeon processors could give a new line of Macs some added oomph.
However, much of the WWDC will be focused on iOS and OS X Mountain Lion, according to Apples announcement regarding the conference. Most of the attention will be on the Monday morning keynote speech by Apples Tim Cook. Cook will tell the assembled Apple developers that iOS 6 will ship in late summer or early fall and that the iPad version will finally deliver the Siri voice response system to eager users.
Right now, its not clear exactly what form Siri will take on the iPad, although theres plenty of speculation. Chances are that its not going to be the big microphone that currently appears on the iPhone when Siri is active. There have also been many rumors that Apple will introduce Siri APIs to allow developers to hook into Siri, to some extent at least. Perhaps one of the first applications developed for Siri will be a data use monitor, considering how much Siri depends on cloud-based speech analysis to work.
There are also a series of rumors that Apple will be offering its own mapping program in competition with Google Maps. Perhaps this is true, although Google has just announced a new 3D mapping application. It may also be that Apple is somehow adding its own spin to Googles basic program.
Debate Continues on What Features Will Show Up in iOS 6
Its hard to see how Apple could have assembled the necessary data to release such an application without the fleets of cars Google sent out to spy through windows, suck up personal WiFi information and catch people in compromising situations. Theres been no sign of Apple spy cars, at least not yet.
The lack of Apple spy (or mapping if you prefer) cars could mean several things. Apple is really going to keep using Googles data after all, or that Apple is going to be satisfied with public mapping databases, or possibly, that Apple has developed stealth spy car technology. Im betting wed have heard about that last one, though.
Other things that might show up on a new version of iOS 6 include a better mail app, more complete Facebook integration and multiple user accounts. While its unlikely that multiple user accounts will be very useful on the iPhone, this is something that has been needed on the iPad since Day One. Unlike the iPhone and to some extent the iPod Touch, which are very personal devices, in many organizations the iPad is a device used by more than one person.
But multiple user accounts arent the same thing as multitasking. While the iPad can do limited multitasking in that it can play music while doing something else, thats pretty much it. I dont see true multitasking coming to the iOS world, at least not now.
Other things that arent going to show up are the smaller version of the iPad, which some people are calling the iPad Mini. Theres been a great deal of speculation about a smaller iPad that could compete with devices such as the Kindle Fire. That may happen, but not nowand perhaps not ever.
Apple is still selling the iPad 2, and its lower $399 price is putting real pressure on the lower end of the tablet market, forcing companies selling those devices to lower their prices even more. The idea in the market, apparently, is why buy something smaller and with fewer capabilities when you can get a real iPad for a relatively low price.
Beyond that, everything is pure speculation. Live icons? Who cares. Tabs across devices? Yawn. But Siri, now thats something that would be worth having if only for the weird and bizarre Siri commercials Apple has been running lately.