WWDC Non-Predictions

So, WWDC 2020 is coming up in three days, and a lot of people in my neck of the tech industry are interested to see what exotic treats, unusual surprises/rare unguents it will bring. Rather than throw my two cents into the ring on the thrilling stuff that will bring (i.e., ARM transition etc) I thought I’d instead jot down the things that I think should make an appearance (but that absolutely will not do so).

• Face ID for Macs would be nice, and I think it’s absolutely doable, but probably not with current Mac hardware. I mean, it seems like a logical move – we already have Touch ID and the T2 chip to handle the grunt work of authorization, but when the current, brand spankin’ new portables line is rocking pretty lousy front-facing cameras and no sensors for doing the kind of mapping required to make Face ID work then it’s hard to make an argument for this coming any time soon.

• Xcode for iOS is also something that I’d love to see but that I’d be fabulously surprised would make the cut. Yes, we have Playgrounds (which is very decent and really nice for people like me who enjoy a healthy refresher on the very basic blocks of programming), but that’s not the same as the full IDE. And that’s a shame, because the iPad Pro is a very capable machine power-wise and also has a huge market footprint – being able to write iOS applications on an iOS device would be great for a lot of people but I don’t see it coming soon. Plus, there’s a pleasing symmetry in the idea that where you currently need a Mac to write iOS applications, you might be able to use an iOS device to write Mac applications.

• While we’re on the subject, I’d like an actual, Apple-approved or Apple-branded Terminal application for iOS. It’d be a niche product, sure, but for the folks who’d use that functionality it would be extraordinary to suddenly have a raft of tools available that they wouldn’t otherwise keep to hand. Still, that raises the idea of being able to execute code on the iPad that isn’t Apple-approved, and it’d have to be rigidly sandboxed as an environment for them to even consider the idea. I’m sure that there’s some internal math where the balance between the cost benefit of dealing with licensing open source tools for iOS would be weighed against the actual number of losers, and my gut says that even with nobody putting their thumb on the scale it won’t be worth pursuing. And this makes me sad because that would be pretty incredible.

• USB 4/Thunderbolt 4 introduction on the Mac/iOS. It seems clear that those two technologies are destined to converge, but it’s too early in the game for Apple to widely start supporting and implementing them. This time next year, maybe.

• Wildly experimental new hardware products/technologies. Apple tends not to intro new hardware at WWDC, preferring to go with special events for those because they like to keep their focus and message tight on product introductions. And that’s very smart. I don’t think there’ll be any introductions of significant hardware products for any of their platforms. There’s a lot of talk about Apple AR glasses being a thing, and that’s an interesting idea, but my hunch is that Apple probably has a bunch of things going at any one time and a lot of them never see the light of day. Remember the kerfuffle about how Apple Is Doing A Car? And yet no cars have appeared, and I suspect none are likely to do so.

Now, it’s worth noting that my batting average on predictions is… well, it’s pretty dreadful. I guess we’ll find out How Wrong I Am on Monday the 22nd…

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