On Monday, you can expect Tim Cook, Phil Schiller among other Apple executives taking the stage at WWDC. From a mobile perspective, the focus will be squarely focused on software. Despite recent rumors and part leaks, there will be no new iPhone 5 or 7-inch iPad mini making their debut. The new iPhone is all but a sure thing for this fall, perhaps as early as September, but almost a certainty by October. The 7-inch iPad must shed its unicorn roots before it debuts. Monday will bring the next major update to Apple’s operating system when we see what new features will be unveiled in iOS 6.

iOS 6

Image credit: CNET

The Apple hype machine always runs in overdrive during the weeks and days before any major event. WWDC is major, but it’s not Apple directly driving that hype. All they’ve done is announce the dates for their annual developer conference. Those driving the hype don’t necessarily know the entirety of what will be introduced in iOS 6. This leaves plenty of room for proselytizing iOS 6 wishlists and a general overreach of what might actually come with this update.

Last year around this time, we saw the introduction of iOS 5. With it, iOS users saw over 200 new features. Many of these were incremental improvements that helped continue the maturation process of the operating system. The most notable was the handling of notifications, which many could argue is still woefully deficient. iMessage was Apple’s BBM of sorts, allowing for free messages to any iOS 5 device and more recently to Macs using the beta desktop app. Newstand did little but bring all of our magazine and newspaper subscriptions into one non-removable folder. Utilizing the sync prowess of iCloud, the Reminders app instantly became a notable alternative to a good crop of to-do lists available in the App Store. Instead of selecting Facebook, it was Twitter that forged a relationship that now allowed us to tweet from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube, or Maps. These were some of the key updates, but the list continued with GameCenter, AirPlay Mirroring, Multitasking Gestures for iPad, GameCenter, WiFi Syncing and more.

iOS 5 features

The other major announcement was iCloud, changing how we sync our music, apps across our iOS devices and Macs. With it, saw services like iTunes Match enabling storage of music in iCloud, providing access to all of your music anytime.

Regardless of how you use your iPhone or iPad, there were certainly welcome features that improved your experience. Ultimately, that’s what we’ve come to expect from announcements at WWDC. The continuous layering of features and improvements.

What’s Next?
Google’s last minute event to remind us of the utility of Google Maps pretty much cemented the end of Google powering the Maps application in iOS. There is no love lost between Google and Apple. Not a week goes by that we don’t see some sort of news regarding Apple’s claim that Google’s Android OS has violated one of their patents. When Apple started purchasing multiple mapping companies, the writing was on the wall. When Apple finds a way to provide a solution that was either on par or improved when compared to Google’s mapping, then it would find its way into iOS. When you consider the vast number of third party apps that integrate with the Maps application, the scope of this move will have a major affect on how we interact with our iPhones. Now that we have iCloud syncing, perhaps we find ourselves mapping a destination on using a new iCloud Maps app that would auto-sync with the iPhone.

iOS 6 could finally bring deep operating system integration with Facebook. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently called the social networking giant “a great company”, saying “their relationship was solid”. If that’s the case, then it would not be a stretch for developers to use the existing iOS 5, Twitter hooks to bring Facebook integration to iOS. As of May 2012, there were 900 million Facebook users. Making it easier to share photos and content via the largest social network certainly makes a bucketload of sense.

Like most of you, I’ll get my first preview of iOS 6 on Monday. Based on pure speculation on my part, I don’t see this being a major rewrite that will bring drastic changes. Instead I suspect we’ll see hundreds of improvements that are part of Apple’s methodical approach to continuing building out iOS. iOS 4 brought over 100 new features. iOS 5 brought over 200 new features. Apple will continue to tweak, revise and improve upon the experience. iOS works. People love it. Naturally, we all have great expectations for iOS 6. What are yours?