WWDC 2014 Preview: iOS 8, OS X v10.10, and the Much-Awaited New Product Line?

WWDC 2014 Preview: iOS 8, OS X v10.10, and the Much-Awaited New Product Line?

It's almost time for Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, and that means CEO Tim Cook will be getting up on stage to talk about the company's progress and potentially reveal details of new products and software. Apple's policy of keeping future products secret has become legendary, and it's no overstatement to say that people around the world are already salivating in anticipation of what might be announced.

Thanks to dozens of leaks and even a few teasers from Apple itself - Senior Vice President Eddy Cue has boasted that the products coming later this year are the best he's seen in 25 years - we have a fairly good idea of what to expect at WWDC 2014. Here's a quick recap of everything we know so far:

Hardware
One of the most tantalising rumours suggests that we'll see new iMac and MacBook models. The iMac is said to be more affordable than existing models, which would help Apple strengthen its position in emerging markets and attract orders from educational institutions where it has traditionally had a strong footprint. Current iMac models are more expensive than the ones they replaced and are also less repairable and upgradeable, thanks to a super slim chassis and increasing integration of core components.

The new MacBook, which could be the basis for a new or revamped product line, is said to be a 12-inch model. It might replace the current MacBook Air lineup, but would come with the same kind of Retina Display that defines the current MacBook Pro models.

A far more ambitious claim that somewhat dovetails with the iMac and MacBook rumour is that Apple will reveal a new lineup of low-cost, low-powered devices based on the same ARM architecture that powers its iPhones and iPads. While the specifics of actual products might not be discussed yet, Apple could announce its intentions in order for developers to have time to port applications to the new architecture, and would have to share details about an ARM-ported version of OS X.

Even more recent leaks suggest that Apple has something entirely different in mind - a home automation platform. After Google's recent acquisition of Nest, Apple might be trying to make sure its competitor isn't able to entrench people in an ecosystem spanning every part of their lives.

Apple has also been allegedly working on wearable devices for several years, and with Samsung, Google and other companies jumping into the battle with all guns blazing, now would be the time to act. We might see a smartwatch iPhone accessory, or perhaps some kind of fitness tracker. Other accessories such as new earphones could also be on the cards.

The Apple TV is long overdue for an update, but if it's addressed at all, it will be a minor refresh. A more radical overhaul will come later, with fresh software and content made possible thanks to the recent acquisition of Beats and its team. Apple will certainly acknowledge the team, especially Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine on stage, and could discuss what it's planning for the hugely popular Beats line of headphones.

Apple might provide hints about its next iPhone and iPad releases, but only to the extent that developers need to know in order to get apps ready for the expected launch of those devices in the August-October time frame.

Software
It's pretty certain that OS X v10.10 will be previewed, but it also might be that Apple dedicates a significant portion of WWDC to its desktop OS, which has been overshadowed by iOS in recent years. iOS got a radical makeover last year, with an all-new look and a number of major features. That aesthetic is widely expected to be carried over to OS X this year. All remaining leather, felt and canvas textures will be excised in favour of sharp lines, stark colours and frosted translucent overlays. OS X v10.10 could also feature improved interoperation with iCloud and iOS.

There have also been plenty of leaks regarding iOS 8, although it now seems as though not all planned features will be available at the time of launch. There have been strong indications that Apple will update its Maps app with better imagery and more helpful directions, split the iTunes Radio feature off into its own app, allow Siri to recognise songs, and introduce mobile equivalents of the OS X Preview and TextEdit apps. Perhaps the most significant update could be Healthbook, a new app designed to tie in to potential new health tracking hardware, and track information such as heart rate, sleep patterns, food intake, physical activity, hydration, and much more. iPad users might be able to use two apps side by side if another rumour of split-screen functionality and improved inter-app communication proves to be accurate.

It's also high time the iWork and iLife apps received some attention - Apple changed Pages, Numbers and Keynote significantly in an attempt to simplify them and allow documents to be created and edited on Macs and iOS devices, but alienated many users in the process. Many features were dropped, but Apple has promised to reintroduce many of them.

Developers would also love to hear about improvements to iCloud, hopefully including better file sharing, version control and collaborative editing. iCloud would also have to be a major part of the rumoured home automation platform, so that's another potential topic of discussion.

Stay tuned to NDTV Gadgets for live updates from WWDC 2014 and coverage of all Apple's announcements.

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