WWDC 2012 rumor scorecard: The hits and the misses

Apple unleashed a mess of product news this week, yet a lot of them we knew about ahead of time. CNET breaks down the good, the bad, and the ugly.

James Martin/CNET

Another year, another WWDC keynote in the bag.

In case you missed it, Apple this week refreshed its notebook lineup, priced OS X Mountain Lion, and took the wraps off iOS 6, which will be released in the fall. There were other things , of course, but those three were the biggies .

Now that the dust has cleared, it's a good time to look back at the top rumors that made the rounds ahead of the event, and see how they panned out.

Hardware

Apple's Retina Display.
Apple's Retina Display. Apple

Rumor: MacBooks with "Retina" displays
The so-called Retina Display is a marketing term for a display where the pixels are at such a density that the human eye can't see them. Apple started adding the technology to its mobile devices beginning with the iPhone 4, later adding it to the iPod Touch and iPad.

The inkling that Retina Display was headed to the Mac came with the discovery of an "HiDPI" mode in an early version of OS X Lion. This special feature lets users with very high-resolution displays view apps at the same physical size as on smaller panels.

A few months later, in December, DigiTimes said Apple was at work on a MacBook Pro update that would add a 2,880 by 1,800 pixel screen to the mix. A firmer clue came from a beta of the Messages app for Mac, which included icons and other artwork at twice the resolution. Similarly, other system applications in more recent developer betas of Mountain Lion suggested the time for such a feature was just around the corner.

Outcome: Yep. This turned out to be the case, but only for one of Apple's notebooks: the top of the line MacBook Pro. DigiTimes hit the nail right on the head with the 2,880 by 1,800 resolution, a number that was echoed by NPD Displaysearch in an interview with CNET last month.

The big question is when we'll see the 13-inch Retina Display panels, which run at a 2,560 by 1,600 resolution and will presumably end up in the 13-inch MacBook Pro and perhaps, eventually the Air.

Rumor: USB 3.0 headed to Macs
This one came from a pair of leaked product spec stickers, one from a 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the other from the 15-inch model. Both had USB 3.0 listed, amid other hardware details. There was also the fact that USB 3.0 support came out of the box with Intel's latest chips, which were a shoe-in for any Mac updates.

Outcome: Yep. Apple's entire notebook line has been upgraded to USB 3.0 ports.

Sir, is that a 17-inch notebook you're holding?
Sir, is that a 17-inch notebook you're holding? CNET

Rumor: 17-inch MacBook Pro to be killed off
In a research note in April, KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo casually mentioned that Apple was likely to kill off the 17-inch version of the MacBook Pro.

"While adding new products, Apple is likely to stop making the 17-inch MacBook Pro this year due to falling shipments, in order to maintain a lean product line strategy," Kuo wrote.

How anemic were those shipments? Kuo suggested Apple sold about 50,000 of them during the first quarter of 2012.

Outcome: Yes, Apple ended up killing off the 17-inch version of its Pro notebook.

Rumor: $799 MacBook Air
Citing sources in the "upstream supply chain," DigiTimes says Apple plans to run with a $799 MacBook Air to take a bite out of the latest wave of ultrabooks.

Outcome: Nope. The MacBook Air still starts at $999. That said, with the introduction of the new MacBook Air models, you can pick up a refurbished, 11-inch MacBook Air -- circa October 2010 -- for $719 in Apple's online store.

Liquidmetal.
Liquidmetal. Liquidmetal Technologies

Rumor: Liquidmetal iPhone at WWDC
Citing unnamed industry sources, Korean news site ETnews in April said that Apple would use Liquidmetal technology for the next iPhone, which would be unveiled at WWDC.

That same report said that Apple rival Samsung planned to use ceramics for its Galaxy S III smartphone, which it didn't.

Outcome: No iPhone at WWDC, and with the "fall" release of iOS 6, it's safe to say it won't come out until then.

Rumor: Mac Pro getting an overhaul, or being killed off
This rumor went one way or the other: either Apple was going to roll out a major new version of the Mac Pro tower, or kill it off entirely.

Apple's Mac Pro.
Apple's Mac Pro. Apple

In the major redesign camp was 9to5Mac, suggesting last week that we'd be getting at least "a new Mac Pro" at WWDC. However, the outlet wasn't sure if it would sport the rumored design that could be stacked, or racked like servers -- something Apple used to have with its now-defunct server line .

In the "Apple will kill it off" camp, was Apple Insider. In a report last October, the outlet said that sales for the machine had fallen to the point of no longer being profitable to make, and that the company's "sales executives" were leery of its long-term survival. That said, the site did not revisit those claims when highlighting a mention by The Loop's Jim Dalrymple that Apple would be unlikely to get rid of the product.

Of course, what was missing from either of these was any claim of timing. Then again, with a new OS around the corner, and new Intel chips out the door, not doing anything to the machine at the show would have been odd.

Outcome: Here's where things get weird. The Mac Pro lives on, and got updated at the show, but the tweaks were tiny . The chips got a slight speed bump, but the machine is missing numerous touches provided to Apple's notebooks, including Thunderbolt and USB 3.0.

Complicating things further was acknowledgment from Apple after the keynote that it was, in fact, planning some sort of revival of the product. An e-mail from Apple CEO Tim Cook to a customer (which Apple has since confirmed is legit), later added even more curiosity to the situation, saying that the company was "working on something really great for later next year."

Software

Apple's current Apple TV interface.
Apple's current Apple TV interface. CNET

Rumor: Apple TV software development kit to debut
Since the release of Walter Isaacson's biography on Steve Jobs last October, there's been a never-ending search for clues about an Apple TV set. That stemmed from Jobs' mention to Isaacson that he had "finally cracked" a way to make TV sets more user-friendly.

While an actual TV set might still be a ways off ( years, in fact, say some analysts ), a more recent pair of rumors said Apple would get things going by first adding some additional features to its Apple TV set-top box.

The big two came from tech news site Boy Genius Report, which said Apple was at work on tools for third-party manufacturers to better communicate with the box. The outlet followed last week with the claim that the company would debut a full software development kit (SDK) for developers to build full apps for the set-top box, and that the upgraded OS would be the same one that ends up in other TV sets.

Outcome: Nope. Despite the Apple TV set-top box being demoed for Mountain Lion's new AirPlay feature, the box didn't get any airtime of its own -- let alone the introduction of a software development kit.

A leaked screenshot of the new maps app, a few days ahead of the show.
A leaked screenshot of the new maps app, a few days ahead of the show. Boy Genius Report

Rumor: Overhauled, 3D Maps app
Apple did something unusual last year. Amid a controversy about how it was using location data collected on the iPhone and other iOS devices, the company posted an explanatory article saying what it was doing with that data then, and what it planned to do in the future.

What threw people was an extra detail: Apple said it was working on its own "crowd-sourced traffic database," for iPhone users in "the next couple of years." The struck most as unusual, considering Apple was already getting that data, and the rest of its mapping tech from Google.

Apple proceeded to quietly buy a small 3D mapping company . Then, when introducing iPhoto for iOS earlier this year, the built-in maps viewer was using map tiles not from Google , but from the open-source mapping project, OpenStreetMap instead.

Last month, 9to5Mac added fuel to the fire, citing "trusted" sources as saying that Apple was going one step beyond the OpenStreetMap effort, and swapping fully to its own mapping technology in the built-in Maps app in iOS. All Things Digital then added that it too had heard Apple was working on a Maps app revamp with a new feature that will "blow your head off."

Then came photos of the service in action -- or at least certain segments of the screen -- from tech blog Boy Genius Report. A few days later came a story in The Wall Street Journal, noting that Apple has been cooking up its maps switcheroo for years, and has already been using some of its own technology for determining a user's location since last fall.

Outcome: Yep. Apple did, in fact, introduce a new Maps app with new maps tiles and 3D technology. While the company made efforts to say that everything was done in-house, it's since been garnered from the pre-release version of iOS 6 that Apple's using technology from Waze, TomTom, MapData Sciences, and others.

Apple's new 3D mode called "flyover."
Apple's new 3D mode called "flyover." Apple

Rumor: Facebook baked into iOS 6
Facebook has been rumored to be an add-in to iOS in years past, though it never panned out. However, a pair of rumors earlier this month suggested the time had come.

The first was from TechCrunch , predicting that Apple was adding system-level integration with the popular social network, adding a way for app makers to let users log-in with their Facebook account without having to jump away to Facebook's iOS app.

A report from 9to5Mac a week later added to TechCrunch's claims, saying Apple was adding a way to share items like photos and Web pages to Facebook, as well as "liking" apps on the App Store.

Outcome: Yep, Facebook is a part of iOS 6. Apple's integrated sharing from within its own apps, as well as through Siri and in Notification Center. There's even syncing contacts and calendars from the social network. Facebook integration is also headed to Apple's desktop OS in the fall.

Siri debuts on the iPad this fall.
Siri debuts on the iPad this fall. James Martin/CNET

Rumor: Siri headed to iPads
Siri, Apple's sassy voice assistant, spent the past eight months as an exclusive feature for the iPhone 4S. And that didn't change, even when Apple rolled out another major version of the iPad in March.

A report from 9to5Mac last month suggested that would change, saying Apple planned to bring a version of it to the iPad with iOS 6. The only hitch, the report said, was that it might only be for third-generation iPad owners and not those on older models.

Outcome: Yep, Siri comes to the iPad this fall as part of iOS 6. But it's only for third-generation iPad owners, as the original report suggested.

Rumor: Apple to add extra media sharing features to iCloud
A report from The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) last month suggested Apple would make a pair of tweaks to iCloud to make media flow better between devices.

The first of those changes was said to be social, with Apple adding a way to publish entire albums snapped on an iOS device, as well as providing a way for people to comment on them.

The other rumored feature was a way to sync video captured on iOS devices between one another using iCloud. The report made it unclear if this was just going to be an extension of the existing Photo Stream feature, or something new .

Outcome: Mixed bag. There is, in fact, a new way to share Photo Streams (or at least parts of them) with other users, whether they're using an iOS device or not. What didn't come to fruition -- at least yet -- is video sync. That's the feature that would ferry over videos the same way iCloud currently handles photos.

Apple

Rumor: New user tracking tool for apps
In a report last week, The Wall Street Journal said Apple had a new tool in the works for developers to track users between apps.

The tool was said to be an official replacement for unique device identifier numbers, which Apple got rid of with iOS 5 last year. These numbers let developers track a user from app to app, which served all kinds of uses though was primarily a boon for advertisers. While "depreciating" the UDID feature, Apple also noted that it would not allow apps though its approval process that still tried to track users with this information, however that wasn't always enforced.

The original story noted that the tool was still in the works, and could be announced at WWDC, or at a later date.

Outcome: That tool was not introduced at WWDC.

Any big ones we missed? Leave it in the comments.

 

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