Mac OS X 10.6, due in early 2009, will be the first major upgrade of the OS in about a year and a half.
My gut feeling is that, despite Apple's protests that all the improvements in Snow Leopard will be under the hood, we'll see a couple of new features and capabilities for end-users. Apple likes surprise announcements.
Those are the announcements we're nearly certain to see at Macworld. The next batch are possible, but nowhere near certain. They're believable predictions from usually reliable blogs and news sites, but they lack the widespread sourcing that make them seem likely.
Possible: Media Server, iWork Goes Into The Cloud, And The Perennial Mac Tablet Rumor
Apple plans to introduce a hardware media server (hmmm, maybe I should hold off on buying that Mac Mini), giving users access from anywhere on the Internet to all their music, video, and photos, from devices including the iPod, iPhone Touch, and Apple TV, according to 9to5Mac. The device will connect to MobileMe with a system called Dynamic DNS, so each server would have its own subdomain on me.com -- for example, if Steve Jobs names his media server after himself, it would be at SteveJobs.me.com. The server will be based on the current Time Machine backup server, which includes the ARM processor, not the more expensive Intel/Leopard server configuration. The machine will offer built-in networking connectivity to cable modems or DSL, power-saving features like turning off hard drives when not in use, and multiple hard drive configurations for RAID 5 redundancy.
iWork, Apple's suite of office software, will become a cloud app suite, competing with Google Docs and office suites from Microsoft and Zoho, says 9to5Mac, which goes on to wonder whether the apps will run on the iPhone and iPod Touch, and whether they'll have traditional apps to provide offline support, or whether offline support be handled entirely in the browser.
And it wouldn't be winter without the rumor that Apple is getting ready to introduce a tablet PC. (It wouldn't be spring, summer, or fall, either). The latest incarnation of this rumor: Apple will introduce an iPod touch in the fall of '09 with a 7- or 9-inch screen, according to TechCrunch, which adds that it's talked to someone who's seen and handled prototypes.
"Apple has been experimenting internally with large-form tablet devices for years, one source says, but there was concern that users wouldn't like the device," TechCrunch says. "The difference now is the iTunes app store, which has thousands of games and other applications that are perfect for a touch-screen device with an accelerometer. Apple says more than 300 million applications have been downloaded since the App Store launched in July 2008. Combine the App Store, iTunes, and a browser and you have one heck of a device."
It's inevitable that Apple will introduce something like a big-screen iPhone or Touch in the next few years. It just makes sense. If you predict a wide-screen Touch every year, eventually you'll be right.
In a short time -- Tuesday at 9 a.m. Pacific time -- Schiller will take the stage for the keynote and deliver Apple's announcements for Macworld 2009, putting an end to rumors and speculation. For a short time. The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference is the other traditional venue for big Apple announcements. That's in the spring. Anybody got any ideas what Apple's planning there?