We all have a pretty good idea of the major announcements that await us tomorrow. However, the surprises often come in the smaller details with Apple these days. Here are a few items that we may hear a little, or possibly even a lot about tomorrow.
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Will Apple show its neglected services and features any love tomorrow?

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There just aren’t that many secrets left for Apple keynotes and product announcements to uncover these days. The constantly churning rumor mill has put an end to the mystery. There is no more “one more thing.” Still, there are little nuggets of information and small surprises to think about. Will Apple announce an iPad Mini with a Retina display, or just a pedestrian refresh? Will the Apple TV make an appearance, or are will still waiting to see if Steve Jobs really nailed it like he said? Will Tim Cook be wearing a new watch on place of his familiar Nike Fuel Band?

Aside from all of the news on hardware and OS X Mavericks that we all know is coming, there are  a few items that Apple has either just touched on, or neglected completely. Who knows? Maybe one or more of these will show up somewhere in tomorrow’s presentation.

 

1. Maps

maps_ios7_ios_7Considering that the last mention we heard of Maps was to announce its inclusion as an app in Mavericks, there is a very high likelihood that it will get at least a nod tomorrow. However, when will we get more than this? When will Apple choose to discuss all of the things that they are doing to make Maps better? The project’s staff has grown exponentially, and there have been more acquisitions that seem destined to plug holes, such as public transportation information. It also seems like Apple has been putting all of that error reporting that we’ve been doing to good use over the last year.

There is a lot of anecdotal information that points to a gradual improvement in the quality and accuracy of the service. Considering that the launch of Maps is the biggest black eye Apple has taken in the last 15 years, why aren’t they talking about this yet? Is there something bigger to come? Is Apple waiting for all of these moves to gel into something more tangible first? If all we hear about tomorrow is the existence of Maps in Mavericks, then I guess we’ll have to wait a few more months to what Apple has in store for the future of the service. When ever it is, make no mistake. Apple will NOT abandon Maps. This project is too big and high profile to fail. They are going to stay at it until it works.

 

2. iCloud

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Like Maps in Mavericks, Apple also touched on iCloud during the WWDC Keynote. But just like Maps, it was just a cursory mention having to do with another product. They talked about the new iWork in the Cloud apps, and their inclusion in iCloud.com. It was clear that the Apple brass is very proud of these apps, and truth be told, they should be. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are all now available in full release, and they work brilliantly. They are some of the best web apps I have ever seen or used, all of Google’s products included.

While these new apps got stage time at WWDC, the rest of Cloud was conspicuously absent. Considering the issues with aspects of Apple’s wide-ranging set of web services, such as their well-documented problems with Core Data Database Sync, there is no doubt that fixing them has been a priority. We’ve heard bits and pieces about what went on in some of the breakout sessions at WWDC from developers, and the news is largely encouraging. Many feel like Apple is somewhere between making significant progress on the issues and completely fixing them.

Again, if this is the case, why not let clue the rest of us in on it? The entire tech community heard about the problems. If the solutions are here, doesn’t it make sense to announce it publicly? If work on issues like Core Data is as far along as some think, then I think there is a better chance we will hear about iCloud tomorrow than Maps. Then, there is also the mysterious disappearing act of iCloud Keychain from the release version of iOS 7. Many around the Apple community feel that it will re-appear after the release of Mavericks, but who knows? Maybe we all will tomorrow.

 

3. Game Controller Support

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This announcement was well down the list at WWDC, but definitely raised eyebrows among those who are watching the living room market, and waiting for Apple to unleash the gaming potential inside the Apple TV. It didn’t really surprise me that Apple skipped over this feature during the iPhone announcement, but tomorrow is different. The iPad is a gaming powerhouse, and the addition of controller support is a perfect fit. I don’t expect a stage demo, but I’ll bet this new feature gets detailed a bit more tomorrow.

 

4. Keyboard Support

Solar Keyboard Folio - Logitech

I’ve wanted Apple to add fully featured keyboard support to iOS since the first time I used one with my original iPad. If you really want to get things done on an iPad, forget typing on glass. A full-sized keyboard is where it’s at. But we’ve been stuck with the same old half-baked implementation for the last three years. It works for the basics, but there is SO much more that could be done.

The keyboard situation finally changed in iOS 7, but you wouldn’t know it from the WWDC Keynote. Like the iPad and the rest of its natural features, enhanced keyboard support was left for a later date (which is probably due to the fact that the iPad version of iOS 7 was, and in many ways, still is behind the iPhone).

That later date for keyboard support information should be tomorrow. While OS-wide keyboard enhancements and navigation support would have been preferable, at least giving developers the freedom to implement their own custom keyboard shortcuts and controls is a big improvement over what we had. Considering that keyboards are primarily used with iPads over smaller devices like the iPhone and iPod Touch, I would be very surprised to see this feature passed over tomorrow. I am actually expecting an on-stage demo of some sort.

 

These certainly aren’t the kinds of major announcements that make us all sit up and pay attention to Apple events. However, they all have something in common. These are all either problem areas that have been upgraded, or new features that have been added to very little or no fanfare from Apple. In each case, I’m sure the powers that be at Apple have their reasons for holding their collective tongues. However, all of these services and software features naturally tie into the products Apple should be discussing tomorrow.

I personally expect to learn at least a little more about each, and wouldn’t be surprised at all to see gaming controller and keyboard support to get more than just a mention. We’ll know soon enough. Until tomorrow, Apple fans. May all your announcement wishes come true.

 

 

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