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WWDC: It’s all about the Four Ps — performance, parity, platforms, and partnership

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WWDC speculation has begun, and while much of this focuses on iPhone enhancements and Apple’s plans for AR, pro users will be looking at performance, parity, and partnership, as well as platforms.

Here’s what I expect.

Performance

Apple will announce new operating systems for all its hardware at WWDC. The final iterations will ship this fall, alongside new hardware that won’t likely be announced until then. We’re expecting M2 Macs, new iPhones, and updated iPad Pros.

Apple already knows most everything about its new hardware. It’s been building toward the release of it for at least the last couple of years. (Building, in this case, means tweaking the software to optimize performance on the hardware, right down to the processor architecture used across every device the company plans — iPhone, iPad, Mac, and maybe Apple Glass.)

The operating system updates will be designed to deliver great results on existing equipment and even better performance on the hardware it has been designed for. We’ll see evidence of this across all the releases, but with Apple’s highest-end Mac Pro almost certainly scheduled for introduction at WWDC, marking two years since the transition began, it’s macOS (Mammoth?) that should interest pro users most.

How will Apple optimize macOS to address huge quantities of onboard memory, and fast potentially multi-M1 Ultra processors? And what kinds of graphics, video, and machine learning enhancements will be baked into the OS to optimize creative tasks?

The next step forward will be watching what this software is capable of when running on the M2 processors looming on the horizon. My feeling is that M2 Macs won’t appear before Apple ships the next macOS.

Parity

Those M1 chips don’t just live inside Macs. They also live inside iPad Pros and the iPad Air. Are they doing enough in there? That’s arguable, but I can’t help thinking about iDropNews, which recently claimed iPads with M1 chips will become capable of running Mac apps, such as Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, and Xcode.

I imagine that means iPad versions of those apps, and performance will inevitably be limited — you’ll still need a Mac for the most demanding work — but if you’re a musician on a tour bus trying to work on a track, or a journalist in Central Europe working on a video report showing the events taking place there, an iPad may sometimes be the most convenient computer to carry.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also anticipates a “new iPadOS multitasking interface,” which could mean almost anything; I suspect it may indicate more consistency between multitasking on iPads and other devices. I’d also quite like iPad-like widgets on my Mac’s Desktop, but that could be unique to me.

Partnership

OK, I was searching for a word beginning with “P,” but iCloud integration on iOS devices remains better than it is on the Mac. There are reasons for this, not least that Macs use different tools to work with online storage services such as OneDrive, Box, and Dropbox. But in don’t ignore that Microsoft, Box, and Dropbox have all moved to adopt Apple’s File Provider extensions this year.

What this should mean is much improved integration between those services and all Apple hardware, including  iCloud. Hopefully, however, Apple will recognize that for many pro users, the very notion of saving all your work to the cloud is far from desirable and give them an option to save to the local drive, an external drive, or elsewhere.

And at the same time, if this is indeed the plan, it’s also reasonable to anticipate additional improvements to the Files app, with collaboration between different services (as well as colleagues) and more sophisticated storage tools to give Files more parity with other similar services.

The idea will be that you can begin working on a Mac, finish it on an iPad, and then tweak the final results on your iPhone before committing it to your Slack group for input.

Platform

Most pro users will also be interested in whether Apple does show us a little more of its forthcoming AR platform. Gurman doesn’t believe Apple will launch the AR glasses we all think we know it has been developing for years, but he agrees that it is possible it may demonstrate the headset’s Reality OS.

That means it’s quite likely to want to discuss how the two 1.4-in. 8K displays and a dozen or so external proximity cameras work together with the M1 processor on the device, and what kind of tools developers can use to build experiences for these systems.

 Foveal imaging, which changes display resolution for where your eyes are focused, is also going to be something of a big deal, I imagine.

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