Here are my predictions for what is going to be announced in the keynote, ranked roughly in order of significance, not likelihood. My gut feeling is that this is going to be a big one.
New User Interface Theme to Replace Aqua in 10.5 — The Aqua theme is now 6 years old, which is a longer lifespan than that of the Platinum theme from Mac OS 8 and 9. I expect to see big changes, not the sort of refinements we’ve seen in previous major Mac OS X updates. At a technical level, the new UI will be resolution independent. At a design level, it will elicit both a lot of love and a lot of hate, just like Aqua did in 10.0. The subtext will be to make Windows Vista look dated before it even ships to consumers.
iPod Mobile Phone — Even just a few days ago, I did not expect to see Apple announce a phone this week. But over the weekend I flip-flopped, and I now think it’s more likely than not. Not a VOIP phone that depends on Wi-Fi or anything like that, but an honest-to-god mobile phone. It seems like there has to be some sort of “Wow, I thought maybe Apple would announce a phone but I didn’t think they’d do it like this!” factor, but damned if anyone knows what it is. My wild unlikely-but-wouldn’t-it-be-cool-as-shit guess: that it’s not an iPod phone, but rather the introduction of a new mobile device OS.
New MacBook Pro Form Factor — Good-bye, anodized Aluminum, hello something new that plays off the design cues of the new Mac OS X user interface mentioned above. The red/yellow/green/blue candy-colored transparent elements of Aqua resemble the hardware from the old G3 iMacs and Power Macs. The aluminum PowerBooks (and, now, MacBook Pros) are the hardware counterpart to good old Brushed Metal windows. Apple’s new machines are going to be designed to look best running the new user interface.
New Sub-Compact MacBook — It’s currently a gaping hole in their notebook line-up. Look for it to be a “pro” model, in terms of both price and industrial design (i.e. looking like a smaller sibling to the afore-predicted new MacBook Pros, not the MacBooks.) Could be the “One More Thing”.
Absolutely Nothing That Involves the Word ‘Tablet’
iTV, Along With Apple-Branded Flat Screen TVs With iTV Built-In — Why settle for selling a $299 TV peripheral when you can sell two- or three-thousand-dollar TVs with iTV built-in? Also, my guess is that the guts of iTV consist of a Mac Mini-like computer running a specialized version of Mac OS X. I say this despite agreeing with Steven Frank’s rule of thumb that rumors which contain the phrase “stripped-down version of Mac OS X” are almost certainly false.
Dual Quad-Core Mac Pros — Now that Intel has officially announced their Core 2 Quad processors, this one almost seems like a gimme, but I called for it last week, too.
Demo of Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta — Running sickeningly fast on a new eight-core Mac Pro. Maybe demos of other heretofore unseen Adobe CS3 apps, too.
Roz Ho From Microsoft’s Mac BU — She’ll tell us how well the new universal binary versions of the Office apps are coming along, but no demo.
’07 Updates to the iWork and iLife suites. It’d be more surprising if either suite weren’t updated. I called for a spreadsheet for iWork last year, and I’ll do the same this year.
Higher-Speed AirPort Based on 802.11n — Also seems like a gimme, but included here for the sake of completeness. I expect to see 802.11n Wi-Fi in all Macs and in the iTV.
Absolutely Nothing That Involves the Phrase ‘Stock Options Backdating’