Apple's annual developer event is known for its big consumer announcements, but it has implications for businesses, too. Here are the things to watch.
On June 13, Apple fans from around the world will make their annual pilgrimage to San Francisco for the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The conference has seen its fair share of updates to game-changing, consumer products such as the iPhone and the iPad
However, being that WWDC is technically a developer conference, it also brings quite a few announcements that affect business tech users. While all potential announcements are simply rumor and speculation at this point, it is important that professional Apple users prepare themselves for the changes that could come at this year's event.
SEE: How to stream the Apple WWDC 2016 keynote (TechRepublic)
Here are five trends and potential WWDC announcements that could affect enterprise IT.
1. AI and Siri
When Apple bought the company behind Siri back in 2010, it set the stage for what many users would begin to expect from a personal assistant and the early inklings of consumer AI. However, recently Google and Amazon have surpassed Apple in the space with their home products and innovations in AI.
It's clear Apple needs to do something, and WWDC is probably where they will. In order to show off new features, it's rumored that Siri will play a major role in moving the presentations forward and used to control text, music, and maybe perform other demos. Siri is also rumored to be coming to Mac and a Siri SDK will could be released for iOS developers.
2. MacBook Pro updates and product name changes
Of all the Apple product lines, the MacBook Pro is the most in need of a refresh. At WWDC, we could see a new MacBook Pro line, following the design cues of the new MacBook, with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports. Other features to expect are Touch ID and an OLED touch screen by the keyboard, potentially to replace the function keys.
This could also mark a shift in the branding of Apple's core product lines as well. Just as Apple brought back the standard MacBook, it could be setting up its core line to each have a standard and pro version, with the pro version being marketed toward business customers. We've seen this already with the iPad and iPad Pro, and the five-inch iPhone SE could be the standard iPhone with the iPhone + becoming the Pro model. If Apple moves in this direction, it will likely phase out the MacBook Air line in favor of the MacBook.
3. iOS 10
Of course, one big thing to always look for at an Apple event is an OS update, and this WWDC is no exception. So far, iOS 10 is rumored to have iOS a design refresh with more colors and changes in the notification system. In terms of design, many outlets have reported that iOS 10 may get a dark mode, where the primary colors are dark and accent colors are light, opposite of what it is now. This has the potential to help preserve battery and is easier on the eyes for some users.
Apple is known for its in iOS, but after the recent cracking of an iPhone by the FBI, it's expected that Apple will up its security even further. One of the ways this could take shape would be through a new security system called "Rootless" that could make it impossible to jailbreak iOS devices. Additionally, users may get the ability to hide native Apple apps from their home screens.
4. Apple TV
Due to its ease of use and ability to eliminate a bunch of dongles and cords from a conference room, many businesses are using the Apple TV in their offices. Apple TV got a new OS only a few months ago, so we likely won't see an overhaul of the system, but it will probably get some software updates.
A more intriguing rumor is the idea that Apple could replace the Apple TV line with a standalone home hub speaker to rival the Amazon Echo and Google Home. However, it's difficult to say whether or not Apple would actually move in this direction.
5. Apple Watch 2
Smartwatches have their fair share of critics, but they have won over some professionals. At WWDC, Apple could be slated to release a new version of its Apple Watch, with a slimmer design and new features.
SEE: My conclusions on Apple Watch vs. Android Wear, a one-month comparison (TechRepublic)
The last update the smartwatch ecosystem got from Apple was an update to the OS (Watch OS 2) and some new bands, meaning the time would be ripe for some new hardware. However, it could simply be Watch OS 3 that is announced with more Siri support, while the Apple Watch 2 shows up in September.
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