Update: The Apple WWDC keynote is today, and there's more evidence suggests the change from OS X to MacOS while the MacBook Pro may be getting an OLED touch bar. Read on to find out more!
WWDC is Apple's annual Moses moment: it's when developers gather to see what Tim Cook's got on his tablet, and that gathering starts today.
Specifically the WWDC keynote begins at 10AM PST (1PM EST, 6PM BST), and it promises to be one of the more interesting ones for the Cupertino company.
Not only will we likely see new versions of Apple's OSes, but we're expected to be treated to important new hardware refreshes. Here's what we expect to see at WWDC 2016.
MacBook Pro 2016
The most obvious update for the MacBook Pro 2016 is to use Intel's Skylake processors, which are already in PC rivals. The move to Skylake is more dramatic than the move to Broadwell processors, which were mainly about improved battery life; Skylake delivers significant speed improvements, plus support for WiGig and WiDi wireless data transfer and wireless charging, although we don't expect to see those features this year.
A redesign might be on the cards too - the design hasn't changed much in eight years - although many Pro users are rather keen on their expansion ports so we might not see a razor-thin MacBook-style Pro just yet (although the rumored metal injection molded hinges should cut down on the size). Thinner with USB-C ports and an OLED touch bar, yes. Razor-thin with just one port, probably not.
MacBook Air 2016
The MacBook Air is overdue an update: it's still on Broadwell processors while rivals run faster, more efficient Skylakes, so the announcement of a MacBook Air 2016 is likely.
Multiple reports late last year predicted a "significant refresh" of the Airs in mid-2016 with Retina displays, USB-C, Skylake processors and the end of the 11-inch model, but there's a great deal of uncertainty over the Air's future: does Apple really need to make the Air when it has a range of super-portable Retina MacBooks alongside refreshed MacBook Pros?
We're hearing conflicting reports on this: some say a refresh, the end of the 11-inch and the introduction of a 15-inch Air; others say that the Air is going to be grounded.
Apple Watch 2
A new version of Watch OS is inevitable, but leaks suggest that a new, thinner Apple Watch 2 is on the cards as well. That makes sense, as a June announcement would give developers several months to work on apps for an Autumn release.
We don't expect it to look significantly different - there's already an ecosystem of screen protectors, stands and expensive straps, and it's a bit early for Apple to junk that in favor of a new design - but the internals are expected to be significantly improved. The most tantalizing rumor comes via the Wall Street Journal, which says that the Apple Watch 2 will have its own cellular modem.
If true, that means the Watch will become approximately eleventy billion times more useful. We already know that Apple wants all third party apps to run natively on the Watch rather than on the iPhone, something that should make apps run significantly faster; giving those apps a phone-free data connection too would significantly boost their powers.
It's also been rumored that Apple will base its Watch 2 processor on the ARM Cortex A32, which is 25% faster than the current ARM-based processor and offers vastly improved battery life, addressing one of the Watch's biggest issues. The current Apple Watch uses a System on a Chip (SoC) based on the ARMv7 architecture, but the Cortex A32 is based on ARMv8 and was designed specifically for wearable devices.
The Apple Watch 2 may get an improved set of sensors too. Apple has been busily hiring health experts and medical sensor engineers, although Tim Cook has specifically ruled out an FDA-approved Apple Watch. He hasn't ruled out an FDA-approved Apple Watch strap, however, and both patents and rumors say Apple has been working on the idea of sensor-packed Watch straps for greatly improved health monitoring.
The big question over the Apple Watch is whether Apple will release a brand new, significantly improved version this year, or if it'll do an iPhone and release a slightly improved S version - possibly with a FaceTime camera - as a stopgap before a more exciting new model next year. With so many Watch owners getting them as Christmas presents just a few months ago, it may be too soon for Apple to launch a dramatically different model.rt
iOS 10 will get the usual WWDC launch, late Summer beta and Autumn release, and we'd expect it to drop support for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, not least because we thought they'd get the bullet last year.
Rumored new features include iCloud Voicemail, where Siri can handle incoming calls and apologise if you can't take them; 3D Touch in a refreshed, customizable Control Center; a Health-style Home app for HomeKit; and possibly multi-user support for iPads.
Our favorite rumor is that in iOS 10 we'll finally be able to remove the stock Apple apps that everybody keeps in a junk folder. The App Store is also getting a revamp to make decent apps easier to find.
iOS 10 could be bad news for jailbreakers and the FBI: Redmond Pie reports that the OS has a new "rootless" security system that will make iPhones and iPads impossible to jailbreak. Apple is also working on stronger iCloud security and encryption and bringing as much as possible of its cloud infrastructure in-house.
Of all the Apple products at WWDC 2016, iOS 10 will be the one getting the most attention: Apple watchers will be checking iOS 10's tea leaves for signs of what's coming in the iPhone 7.
macOS / OS X 10.12
Are we seeing the end of the OS X name? Apple has trademarked lots of Californian place names so it isn't short of successors to El Capitan, but code buried deep inside a file that's been in OS X's System folder since 2015 refers not to OS X, but to macOS - the name Apple used to use for its operating system.
It seems to be more than a retro flashback; OS X doesn't fit with the current Apple OS convention that spans watchOS, tvOS and iOS, and Apple's latest update to its environmental page described MacOS, not OS X. Not only that, but Apple referenced macOS a second time on a developer FAQ page, albeit this time having the moniker begin with a lowercase 'm'.
Whatever it's called, Siri on the desktop is the most likely headline feature in OS X 10.12, with the personal assistant getting a Spotlight-style button on the menu bar and his or her own preference pane. Photos may be getting a revamp too, but most of the changes are under the hood, with Apple focusing once again on performance and battery life.
As with iOS 10 we'd expect Apple to announce OS X 10.12 at WWDC 2016, make it available as a public beta shortly afterwards and release it in the Autumn.
Apple's long-rumored streaming TV service might actually be ready for prime time this year, with Apple doing a Netflix and making some of its own programs.
The service is expected to be available across Apple TV and iOS devices, with an announcement at WWDC 2016 and a launch in September. tvOS isn't due any dramatic updates, although bringing Siri Remote to the iOS app is likely.
Hands up who wants more Beats radio stations? Apple has trademarked Beats 2 through 5, although as ever with trademarks that doesn't mean it has any plans to use them. Some non-music programming would be interesting, though: we quite fancy an audio equivalent of Apple's News app.
Apple Pay has been doing some big numbers, and Apple is keen to expand its allure. A person-to-person payment option is apparently in development, and Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo have been working on Apple Pay support in their ATMs. That's potentially huge, because Apple Pay is more secure than a PIN and can't be captured by card skimmers.
iMessage on Android
It may sound insane, but there are Android and iPhone users in this world who are friends and talk with each other. But because iMessage isn't compatible on Google's platform, problems arise. Messages go unseen, group chatter vanishes out of thin air.
During Tim Cook's recent interview on CNBC, he focused on the importance of Apple's popular services for part of the talk, one of which is Apple Music. To take on the other, well-established music streaming services, like Spotify and Google Play Music, it had to try something new: create an Android version.
There's no word on how well the app has performed, but it was certainly a good test bed for future Android applications to come.
Currently, there are over 60 Google-made apps on the App Store and only three made by Apple on the Google Play Store. Maybe, come WWDC, that number will increase ever so slightly with iMessage.
Remember Darth Vader's dustbin, the inimitable Mac Pro? It's been two years since the last update, and it's looking as if Apple doesn't love it any more. For many people the iMac with Retina 5K display is more than adequate, and much cheaper than a Mac Pro plus a third-party 5K display.
However, the Mac Pro remains Apple's most powerful computer, and for the professionals whose apps can use its horsepower a speed bump courtesy of new, Skylake Xeons would be welcome. We're hoping that the lack of Mac Pro updates is because Apple's working on a really amazing new one, not losing interest in it altogether.
New iPads, new iPhones and the Apple Car
Nope. Apple has just launched the iPhone SE and the iPad Pro 9.7, and while Apple's Project Titan car is the worst kept secret in tech its car plans are targeting a launch date of 2018/19 at the earliest: while Tim Cook has promised amazing innovation from Apple this year, we don't think that means he'll come screaming onto the stage in an Apple Car, pulling handbrake turns and speaking like Jeremy Clarkson. Although it'd be funny if he did.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article