The seven things to look out for at Apple WWDC

Lynsey Barber
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There'll be no new iPhone just yet (Source: Getty)

Apple's already launched a phone this year, but there's more to come from the tech titan, and some of that will be revealed at its developer conference next week.

Don't expect the iPhone 7 yet though, this will be all about software and services rather than devices.

Last year, we had a bumper one that introduced Apple Music and Apple Pay, two major moves for the company. This year, there may be fewer flashier announcements and more incremental updates to existing features.

Read more: The iPhone SE is "meh", but maybe that's the point

"This year Apple is up against a growing discontent in its software experiences, versus the hardware running them, which continues to amaze," said Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch.

Here's what to look out for at Monday's event

1. Macbook and macOS

While WWDC is certainly not an iPhone launch standard crowd pleaser, there is usually one crowd pleaser, according to CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood, and ths year he expects that to be all about the MacBook.

"These will likely be incremental updates with the latest Intel processors, better performance, enhanced displays and perhaps something completely new such as a fingerprint sensor to support Apple’s Touch ID," he said. "This could open the door to a number of innovations around authenticating online payments or obviating the need for passwords on certain websites," he added.

An updated operating system is expected to be called macOS, bucking the convention of OS X. By far the biggest thing related to that will be....

2. Siri for Mac

Bringing the voice assistant to another one of its platforms make sense in terms of the competition from Google and Amazon in the world of voice assistants.

Meanwhile, Siri could be opened up to developers, letting them use it within their apps. Imagine ordering an Uber with Siri? Or, er, playing Angry Birds with your voice?

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3. App store overhaul and subscriptions push

Discovering apps on the App Store has always been an issue for Apple. Unless you specifically know about an app, or it becomes one of the rare ones chosen to be promoted, there's little hope of any App publisher being able discover it on the store alone.

As Edison analyst Richard Windsor notes, it's been untouched (some might say unloved) for a long time.

"Apps are now a multi-billion dollar business and the app store so big that more sophisticated discovery is needed such that users are able to discover apps and services that they are willing to pay for," he said.

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Better discovery means more downloads, generating more revenue for app makers and Apple, which takes a cut.

"This is why we suspect that Apple has been hard at work making changes to how apps are discovered and may even be about to add a paid search function. This would allow app developers to have their apps feature at the top of search results in a vein similar to Google. However, we think that this will make life even harder for the smaller developers who can’t afford to pay to have their apps positioned more prominently," said Windsor.

He also notes that the changes - which include removing apps you already have from appearing in the featured section and adding paid for ads to search - should help level the playing field between the small developers and the WhatsApps and Snapchats of the world.

"We hope that the other changes that Apple makes to the App Store will help level the playing field as it is often the smaller developers that come up with the novel and innovative ways to use the smartphone that drive the industry forward," he said.

That cut Apple takes is about to change too. One of Apple's top executives, Phil Schiller, revealed this week that developers who get users subscribed for a year with their app will get 85 per cent of revenue and Apple 15 per cent. That's a change to the standard 70/30 split.

With Apple Music a good tester, subscriptions are increasingly looking like an area Apple might want to rely on in the face of slowing smartphones which have reached saturation point across the board, offering recurring revenue rather than the one-off bump of a device.

4. Apple Music

Talking about Apple Music, buoyed by that subscription success, it may well want to boast about numbers. Last time we heard, that stood at a not too shabby 13m and that rate of growth indicated it was on course for 20m by the end of the year. An update would indicate whether that's on track and closing in on rival Spotify's 30m.

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"More importantly we’d expect Apple to make some enhancements to the app itself drawing on the feedback it has had now Apple has millions of users subscribed to the Apple Music service," said Wood.

5. Tick tock... Watch

Who can forget this glorious gif of the new Apple Watch straps it introduced earlier this year.

That was a bit to surface and no substance for some at the time, but it is after all marketed as a fashion item more than any other Apple product. There may be more to come on that fashion side with Wood not ruling out new partnerships with brands, "particularly for associated accessories such as straps."

The Watch OS will be the main thing to look out for, however, with owners cooling on the device in recent times as the novelty wears off.

"There appears to be growing fatigue towards smartwatches so Apple really could do with adding a new 'wow' factor to the capabilities of the Apple Watches already in the market as well as giving consumers who don’t have one a reason to go and make a purchase. Stand alone apps (which work without being tethered to the phone) are certainly something to watch given Apple has put a lot of focus on this approach to making its Watch more autonomous," said Wood.

6. iOS 10 (or 9.4?)

There will likely be updates to the iPhone operating system in addition to the Mac.

For the smartphone, that's either going to be slight changes to iOS 9, jumping from the current iOS 9.3 to 9.4, or iOS 10 with any major changes.

One change could be that the look of the iPhone will have a darker option rather than the light background that's currently across the iPhone interface. Something else iPhone users may welcome is the potential ability to hide some of the apps that come as standard.

Read more: Are Apple's glory days over?

7. One more thing...

The classic Apple line could very well be uttered, much to everyone's surprise.

"Apple’s culture of secrecy means that it would be foolish just to rely on the unsubstantiated leaks that have appeared in recent weeks – Apple may yet surprise us with something no one is expecting," notes Wood.

The Apple WWDC keynote by boss Tim Cook will kick off at 6pm London time on 13 June.

Apple's WWDC 2016: Everything you need to know

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