Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is a four-day event where programmers socialize and learn to write better iOS and OS X apps. For Apple, however, the WWDC is also a media event, a stage for unveiling new products and services. For instance, the iPhone 4, iOS 6 and the MacBook Pro with Retina Display all debuted at the WWDC.
This year's event, which takes place June 10-14 in San Francisco, will feature new products too. So what can we expect? Probably new and improved Apple software and services -- WWDC is a developer show, after all -- but don't be surprised if there's a last-minute surprise (hint: see the next page).
What not to expect: New versions of Cupertino's cash cows: the iPhone and iPad, both of which are expected to arrive later this year, according to the Apple rumor mill.
Whatever Apple unveils at WWDC 2013, it'll do so under the watchful eye of financial analysts and tech pundits, many of whom are wondering if Apple's creative engine is running on fumes. It's been seven months since Apple started shipping the iPad Mini, and nearly nine months since the iPhone 5's debut. In tech years -- like dog years -- that's an eternity or two.
Adding fuel to the funeral pyre is the fact that Apple's fiercest competitors -- most notably Google, Samsung and Microsoft -- have been very active during Cupertino's quiet spell. Google, in particular, has been buzzing with activity, capturing the public's imagination with gee-whiz projects like Google Glass, and delivering solid, pragmatic services such as its Google Now personal assistant.
Samsung, meanwhile, continues to roll out mobile devices at a blistering pace, including the Galaxy S4, the iPhone's chief rival at the moment. And Microsoft, despite its woes with Windows 8, has been putting its tech foot forward by announcing its ambitious Xbox One entertainment console, shipping the Surface Pro tablet/laptop hybrid and deftly switching into damage-control mode by promising end-of-year delivery of Windows 8.1, which it hopes will silence (or at least muffle) critics of Windows 8's clumsy, dual-screen UI.
Apple's legendary secrecy has served it well in the past, but you've got to wonder: Is it time for Cupertino to open up a bit? Maybe give the public a taste of what it's working on -- a TV set, a larger-screen iPhone, a watch, a levitating iPad? Even a small degree of openness might appease those pesky critics who claim that Apple is past its tech prime.
Well, if you want openness, don't hold your breath.
"We release products when they're ready. We believe very much in the element of surprise. We think customers love surprises. I have no plan on changing that," Apple CEO Tim Cook said during a Q&A session at last week's D11 Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
So what will Apple announce at WWDC? Here are our predictions.