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Apple is gearing up for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, set to kick off with a keynote presentation next Monday where the company is expected to announce a number of new products, including the next generations of its iOS and OS X platforms, as well as an all-new Apple TV set-top box.
Update: A report from The New York Times published on Wednesday claims Apple is not ready to reveal new Apple TV hardware at WWDC.
Historically, Apple's announcements on tap for a upcoming keynote are widely known before the actual event. Even last September's unveiling of the Apple Watch was widely anticipated, though the design and features of the hardware itself remained shrouded in mystery.
The same could be said this time for the new Apple TV, which is expected to see a major hardware upgrade with an A8 processor, dedicated App Store, and Siri voice controls. The Apple TV remote is also expected to see an upgrade with a new touch pad for input, reports have said.
What remains unknown, however, is exactly what these devices might look like. For example, it's not been said whether the new Apple TV will maintain the same diminutive "puck" shape of the last two generations, or if Apple will give its set-top streamer a new form factor.
Particularly with Siri support, it's unknown exactly where Apple might integrate microphones to hear a user's voice. The company could have audio input via the box itself, with a connected accessory like Microsoft's Xbox Kinect, or integrate it into the remote control such as Amazon's Fire TV.
With new hardware and a new App Store is also likely to come a redesign of the Apple TV interface. In particular, Apple will likely want to make it easier to launch applications and games, and to be able to quickly discover them through the dedicated App Store.
Here again, how exactly an anticipated new look for the Apple TV software might appear remains unknown ahead of Monday's keynote presentation.
iOS 9 and OS X 10.11
Apple has already said in its WWDC announcement that it will show off the next generation versions of iOS and OS X. Presumably, these will be new point-zero releases dubbed iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, expected to arrive in the fall.
Both iOS and OS X have received major visual overhauls in recent years, so it's unlikely that there will be any changes on that front. However, the latest iOS 8 betas have shown a redesigned Music app, which is almost assuredly to also be a part of iOS 9, along with a new subscription music service (more on that later).
A likely continuing trend would be tighter integration between Apple's platforms, including the Apple Watch. Apple has worked over the last few years to make its different operating systems work together as seamlessly as possible, and this year's upgrades are likely to continue in that direction.
Another area that's expected to be upgraded this year is Apple's mapping service, found on both iOS and OS X. Apple Maps still lacks public transit data, even though Apple has made a number of acquisitions in that area, so the inclusion of transit data would not be a surprise.
The company has also made acquisitions related to indoor positioning, which would hint that Apple could add maps and location data for the insides of buildings, such as stores and malls.
Finally, Apple-owned mapping vans have been spotted around the U.S., suggesting that improved Flyover "street view" data could be in the works for a Maps upgrade. Expect to see a lot of attention paid to Maps at Monday's keynote.
Subscription music service, but no TV service
Appearing in new versions of iOS and OS X will presumably be Apple's widely anticipated subscription music service. Akin to Beats Music and Spotify, the new on-demand music streaming service is rumored to cost $10 per month.
It's a virtual lock that this new music service will come baked into iOS 9's new Music app. But with future iOS 8 releases on the way before a presumed fall launch for iOS 9, it's highly likely that Apple's subscription music service, whatever it's called, will be found in the iOS Music app before then.
Along those same lines, an update to iTunes on OS X and Windows, adding support for Apple's streaming service, would also be a logical announcement.
Not expected to appear at Monday's keynote, however, is the company's rumored subscription TV service. Reports have suggested it's more likely to debut in the fall, or potentially even next year if Apple can't secure the necessary contracts.
Apple Watch and HomeKit
Apple has already revealed that these two topics will be getting attention at WWDC, which should come as no surprise. Specifically, the company is set to show off future versions of its Watch OS which will add greater functionality to the wearable Apple Watch.
Apple has said that an update to the Apple Watch will arrive this fall allowing applications to run natively on the device. Developers will need time to build those apps, and beta tools to test them are likely to be unveiled on Monday.
In addition, the first HomeKit compatible smart home appliances began to hit the market this week, with support for devices running iOS 8.1 or later. Expect HomeKit accessories to be in the limelight at the WWDC 2015 keynote.
Apple's MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and iMac lineups all recently saw updates. Barring the debut of a 21.5-inch iMac with Retina display, it's unlikely that any of those product lines will be revisited on Monday.
The Mac Pro and Mac mini are due for updates, but there have been no indications that either will be refreshed anytime soon.
Apple has plenty of other aging devices that could be tapped for upgrades, such as bringing 802.11ac to the AirPort Express, or debuting a possible Thunderbolt Retina display. But those, too, seem like longshots at Apple's developer-focused show.
Apple's WWDC 2015 keynote will begin Monday at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. AppleInsider will be in San Francisco covering it live, and will provide up-to-the-second coverage of the event.