Monday is kickoff for WWDC. I don’t dare make any predictions. There’s too much out there. But here’s the thing: this is a developers conference. You will not see anything that can’t be programmed at some level. What you will see is the first cut at iOS 8 and Mac OS X 10.10, which means things that can run on existing hardware. Which is why you didn’t see Siri in the iOS 5 reveal in 2011; it depended on the 4S hardware. But everything else was in there: the notification center, the Twitter integration, et cetera. Similarly, the iOS 7 beta showed off all the bits and bobs of the new UI, but not the TouchID or the 64-bit processor. So if your vision for the future couldn’t run on an existing iPhone 5S or MacBook Air, don’t expect to see too much about it Monday.
The one place this could go awry is with new hardware – a new AppleTV, some sort of wearable device, some hardware that simply hasn’t existed before and needs to integrate somehow with these new operating systems. Something like that is plausible, especially if launched with an availability date a month out or so. But don’t think for a second you’re going to have new iPhone hardware announced; ever since the iPhone 3G, there’s always been an iOS event three to four months before new iPhones themselves. That’s just how it works. New phone means new OS, and new OS doesn’t go out the door until it’s gotten a beta, the end.
My wish list for iOS 8 is one item long, as always: a way to identify with granularity how much battery life any individual app is costing you. Turning off Background App Refresh and making sure Twitter and Facebook are deleted has more or less gotten me to a viable phone again, although using it in the fashion to which I am accustomed usually means 40% battery remaining by 5 PM. Not dreadful unless you actually have plans in the evening, but the sort of thing that makes me want to have the iPad for personal use and the iPod Shuffle handy for non-podcast audio listening.
And my concern with any future iPhone is the same as with the existence of Background App Refresh in the first place: what is this going to do to the battery life? I don’t mind plugging in my phone every night, but I don’t want to have to think about it until I get home. And inasmuch as a larger screen means more battery used, I’m not crazy about the prospect. But an iOS phone with iOS battery life that has a 4.7” display and a 2200 mAh battery would be just about right, I think…please Cupertino don’t screw this up.