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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

The Back Page: What WWDC Describes Concisely

There’s just under a month to go until Apple kicks off its first ever virtual Worldwide Developers Conference, and while that might seem like a long time, consider this: January was four years ago. Changes your perspective, doesn’t it?

Anyway, by the time we next grace your inbox, WWDC will be over and done with, and we’ll all be on to talking about the next big news, like “leaving our houses” or “seeing actual people.” So let’s take this opportunity right now to talk about what to expect from Apple’s biggest developer bash of the year.

Here’s the thing I know we’re all wondering about: will Tim Cook record his keynote on his iPhone from his home office? It seems likely, though it might just end up being a two hour tour of everything in the background, from his bookcase to the lifesize model of Bono frozen in carbonite. (At least we think it’s a model. Uh, has anybody seen Bono lately?) Will he feature special guests like Craig Federighi and Phil Schiller in his backyard? Anything could happen!

Right, right. It’s the technology we’re all eager to hear about. Let’s start with the iPad. Last year, Apple broke out iPadOS into its own thing, which is great: now we can see exactly how much work the company doesn’t put into it. I’m telling you, if there’s not a way to easily tell which app in Split View you’re typing into, the iPad is dead. To me, anyway. You heard it here first.

But iPadOS doesn’t exist in a vacuum, because iOS is still a thing, and despite leaked copies of iOS 14 making their way around the Internet, there are sure to be some surprises. Will Apple give an inch on the grid-of-icons home screen? Can you finally assign third-party apps as defaults? How many more Animoji demos will we be forced to watch?

Then there’s the chips. Will the Mac platform finally make the jump to custom-designed ARM chips? Will Macs still be able to dual boot into Windows? And, most importantly, will Apple executives force Intel CEO Bob Swan to wear a bunny suit onstage to provide a bookend with Paul Otellini’s appearance in 2006? Come to think of it, everybody might be wearing bunny suits. It all depends on the orders of the Santa Clara County department of health.

When it comes to who exactly is going to be the standout presenter of the keynote, though, I think we all know the answer: Siri. Apple’s finally going to take the wraps off a major Siri upgrade and, in a callback to the classic original Macintosh introduction from 1984, let the virtual assistant introduce itself to the world. Of course, Siri will then, in true HAL fashion, slowly dispose of the rest of the Apple executives until it stands alone, reigning supreme. That is, if it can finally figure out when people are actually talking to it, instead of just saying the word “seriously.”

No matter what happens, it’s sure to be a WWDC to remember. That is, until Apple deploys its new patented memory-erasing technology that can be distributed via livestream, and we all go back to waiting for WWDC again.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at dan@sixcolors.com. His latest novel, The Nova Incident, comes out in July and is available to pre-order now, so do it!]

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