Apple’s WWDC 2012: Expect MacBook refreshes, Siri update

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is set to kick off this week in San Francisco, with expectations ranging from a new iOS maps app to a MacBook Pro and Air refresh. There might be some news around Siri (but not Facebook) as well.

Lots of speculation surfaced last week at AllThingsD’s D10 Conference after comments made by Tim Cook. “The juices are flowing, and we have some incredible things coming out,” said the soft-spoken Apple CEO.

Last month, AllThingsD and the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple will be delivering an in-house iOS mapping solution to possibly replace the native Google maps app. Of course, this isn’t surprising given that Apple has acquired three mapping companies in the past three years.

One of those companies, C3 Technologies, has photorealistic 3-D mapping. If this makes its way into iPhones and iPads, expect to see 3-D cities.

Does Cook have something cooking with Facebook? If you want to share something on an iPhone or iPad, you can tap the share button (i.e. rectangle with the arrow coming out of it) that’s built-in to iOS. You can email, Tweet and even print but not share on Facebook.

While Apple will need to work closer with Facebook down the road, probably nothing will be announced next week. Mossberg pressed Cook about this issue, and Cook responded somewhat dismissively and without a whole lot of enthusiasm: “Just stay tuned on this one.”

The odds are better for a Siri upgrade. While Siri has been a big reason for the iPhone 4S success, the voice-based artificial intelligence service, which requires a connection to Apple servers, often cannot fulfill requests. Mossberg pointed out to Cook that Siri is spotty, which is unusual coming from Apple.

“It’s a beta,” Mossberg said.

Cook responded: “There’s more that it can do. We have a lot of people working on this, and I think you’ll be really pleased with some of the things that you’ll see over the coming months… I’d put [Siri] on the profound list… We’re doubling down on it.”

When discussing Siri’s future, Cook twice used the word “broader.”

Perhaps the best bet at the WWDC is a refresh of the MacBook Pro and Air. The reason is that they are due for it, especially the MacBook Air, which hasn’t had a refresh since last summer. The MacBook Pro should be slimmer and boast a higher resolution. It’s not clear what a MacBook Air refresh might look like.

Lastly, it’s a sure thing that the conference will be packed. Tickets for the five-day event-priced at $1,599-sell out quickly. In fact, this year Apple barred ticket resale to stop scalpers from profiting on eBay and Craigslist.

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