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WWDC 08 predictions

Okay, so there'll be a keynote tomorrow, and lots of rumours are floating around. Which ones do I think will happen? And do you even want the opinion on this from a guy who thought the Intel switch wouldn't happen?

Well, let's see:

  • iPhone: The 3G iPhone seems like a given to me, and now would be a good time, as they're out of stock with the old ones apparently, and contracts for new carriers in Europe would benefit from 3G. Also, there have been news reports of 3G features in the iPhone 2.0 software, which, if true, would reinforce that. Though I'm not sure when larger numbers will be available. I hope it'll be by the time my current mobile contract runs out, which would place it in the next couple months. ;-)
  • Tablet: Not sure about the tablet rumour. Some make it a big iPhone, others make it a tiny Mac -- it's not impossible by any means, but people have been rumouring a tablet Mac for ages, statistics say Apple is bound to eventually release something that sort-of matches. At this point, I don't think it'll happen.
  • 10.6: I think there will be 10.6 at WWDC. I don't think it'll be called Snow Leopard, but we will probably get a bit of information on the next major OS X release. Maybe more NDA, though, not like 2006, where only a few APIs were unreleased. Also, we might already get a vague timeframe, 'in 2009' or so.
  • OS X integration: No news is the rumour that Apple will integrate OSX branches for the Apple TV, the iPhone and the Mac under the hood, but that's something they've been doing and announcing all the time ("uses the same stable OS X foundation as the Mac..."). The only way to make that revolutionary is if they ship a Mac with Cocoa Touch application support, which sounds unlikely. Mac and iPhone will converge, but they're different products, for different uses. I do think they'll clean up the naming and branding a bit this year, though.
  • 64-bit only: I don't think we'll go 64-bit only in the software. Only 2 years ago, Apple still shipped Core Solo Macs, and it's just too early to lock those out. Also, there are still too many gaps in the 64-bit frameworks, too many rich media apps (QuickTime) would be left in the dust. In addition, it wouldn't gain them much. Especially for the embedded devices (i.e. aforementioned iPhones and also the AppleTV), it's good to have 32-bit support in the OS and frameworks. 32-bit CPUs are cheaper and fully sufficient for those kinds of machines. Not to mention traditional 32-bit Intel instructions are a nice thing to have support for in case Intel's mobile chips take off. And the hardware has been 64-bit only across the whole Mac line for a while now. I do think Apple will push more for 64-bit software now to capitalize on that, though.
  • No New Features: I don't think it will be an OS update with "no new features". While I'm sure Apple could pull it off (and if anyone can, it's Apple marketing), doing such an update would be tantamount to admitting that OS X has bugs that are bad enough to warrant a feature freeze.
  • No more PPC: I'm not sure on dropping PowerPC. It doesn't seem impossible, and we've been dragging along dual CPU support for long enough, and it'd probably free up resources, but the last G5 is still a powerful machine, and still shipped 2 years ago. I think it could happen, but it's more likely that Apple will still lug PPC around one more major version. Freescale's PPC is big in the embedded business (chips in cars etc.), so even if they officially EOLed PowerPC, my guess is they'd keep it working, like they did with Intel, for the benefit of future Apple TVs and iPhones, where they are much more free to completely change the hardware. And if they do that, they might as well lug along PPC on Mac for one more round to get one last batch of happy G5 users.
  • No more Carbon: Similarly, I think Carbon will still be in 10.6. Likely no new features, and maybe they'll even give us a deadline for our Carbon code (I'd guess it might be the last Carbon-supporting Mac OS), but considering 10.6 is probably gonna be scheduled for '09, dropping Carbon right now would probably not go down well with Adobe and Microsoft. They still need that bit more of time. There will probably be a lot of work going into more Cocoa APIs, though. QTKit is still way behind the classic "Carbon" QuickTime APIs, for example.
  • Resolution Independence: I'm kinda wondering what happened to resolution independence ("HiDPI"). That was supposed to be a big feature, and it's been dragged along for two Mac OS X releases now... The public session plans don't even mention it. I guess the hardware isn't quite there yet. Otherwise, new Apple screens with iSights and HiDPI would be my guess.
  • New MacBooks: Not sure about significantly changed MacBooks... They were only recently bumped, and MBP got the new touch pad (which is very convenient, BTW), so I'm not too sure. OTOH, the new touch-pad seems to be a stop-gap measure on a greater scale, common wisdom expects them to move to touch screens. Then again, who wants to work with awkwardly raised arms on a vertical surface? Outlook Hazy, try again.

Okay, I've talked enough un-researched, unqualified nonsense for today. Opinions?

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
Anonymous writes:
Can Apple reasonably remove Carbon any time soon? I don't think so. People don't buy OS upgrades and new hardware without backwards compatibility. (This is why they sing the binary compatibility song.) We had Classic for a very long time, and without Rosetta there would have been no Intel transition. By dropping Carbon, they have a very confusing compatibility story. Some of your old univeral apps will work, others won't. Which ones? Hard to say from the consumer's POV. Office? No. Adobe Suite? No. Filemaker? No. What about my games? Probably not.
Uli Kusterer replies:
Well, with the announcement it'd be going away in '06 and then increasing pressure on people to move off of it, Apple can probably get rid of it in a couple years. I don't think it will be now, unless there's some good break-off point, like a new device with a different CPU or so, but then it won't be across the board. While Carbon is a hard beast to describe in a user-comprehensible way, especially since there are calls that may be going away that are also used in Cocoa apps, I don't think it's as much of an issue as you believe: There have traditionally been apps that broke on a major system update, and that wasn't predictable in any way either. But a no-Carbon update would need to be very compelling if it were to happen sooner rather than later to prevent the adoption issues Vista had. Though one thing to keep in mind is that, even if Apple officially removed Carbon, that wouldn't mean they couldn't keep using it for their own stuff. The resources they spend supporting third parties with Carbon DTS incidents, Carbon bug fixes etc. could be used elsewhere if the only people still using Carbon were a couple hundred guys inside Apple working on a comparatively limited range of products.
Ahruman writes:
Since you�re asking for opinions, I will opine that Futura is nice for titles and labels, but makes a truly awful body font. ;-)
Uli Kusterer replies:
@Ahruman: Don't get me started on fonts ... I've been trying for years to find another font, but of the ones available on Macs these days, and those available to most web browsers on any OS, I haven't found a single one that looked decent, so I just kept Futura. I don't know what happened, they must have changed all fonts under the hood while I wasnt watching.
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