The tagline for WWDC 2011, Apple’s annual developer’s conference held in San Francisco, offers a hit of what will (and won’t) be the shining star of the summer event. From June 6-10, Apple developers will be talking up “the future of iOS and Mac OS X,” indicating that new Apple hardware like the iPhone won’t be the centerpiece of Apple's 2011 keynote. That means Apple could be breaking from its traditional release cycle and holding back the next iPhone until the fall, when it could release alongside iOS 5.
In June, the spotlight will likely be on the next iteration of iOS and the final build of Mac OS Lion, which is scheduled for a summer release.
Multiple sources claim that iOS 5 won’t be ready for summer and is intended for a fall release, but that doesn't mean early software won't be hyped up at WWDC. The arrival of the next iPhone is less certain. While Apple’s focus seems to be on software for this year’s conference, it’s possible the phone could be announced several months ahead of the next iOS software upgrade. But a delay of several months could give those Verizon iPhone adopters a bit more time to prepare for an upgrade, and a report about the iPhone’s Chinese manufacturing process makes the case for a release after Apple’s 2011 fiscal year, which ends in September.
Apple will launch its next bajillion-selling phone when it’s good and ready. The details of iOS 5 are more tantalizing. Predictions claim an increased focus on the cloud, including a music locker service and unlimited re-downloads of songs. This may include a retooled MobileMe service with a social networking angle. Will Apple make use of NFC technology in the next phone and tie that into its powerful cloud storage? Hopefully we’ll hear more about the company’s plans at WWDC. There's even a chance iOS 5 will launch alongside a totally new iPad SKU in the fall.
Developers who want an up-close-and-personal look at whatever Apple unveils in June will have to pony up $1599 for the Worldwide Developers Conference. For that price you'd expect spa treatment and plush accommodations, but alas, that's simply the price paid to consort with the best and brightest of the Apple development community.