It's that time of the year. Tech giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is scheduled for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week. As usual, Apple will kick off the week with a keynote, featuring the company's latest software and possibly some new products.
Last year, Apple's WWDC was jam-packed with announcements, including software updates, a sneak peak of the all-new iMac Pro, the introduction of the HomePod, a redesigned App Store, a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and more. But what's in store for WWDC this year?
Here's what to look for on Monday.
Since the main focus of WWDC is software, investors can expect previews of new versions of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who is generally very reliable when it comes to Apple rumors, says some of the software features beyond Apple's usual operating system updates may include digital health tools designed to help users keep track of the time they spend using their smartphones and apps; an updated augmented reality (AR) development platform, presumably called ARKit 2; and improved features for snoozing notifications.
What about Siri?
iMore's Rene Ritchie thinks Siri and artificial intelligence (AI) will also play an important role in the event. It's no secret that Apple appears to be falling behind in smart assistants. Fueled by their efforts in smart speakers, both Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) have significantly ramped up their efforts in voice-assisted technology and AI, but both companies have doubled-down on voice assistants well beyond smart speakers. Both Amazon's Alexa and Alphabet's Google Assistant have become integral to both companies' devices. Further, Alexa has spread to third-party devices, quickly expanding Amazon's AI ecosystem, and Alphabet has increased integrations with third-party apps and services.
Highlighting how Apple has fallen behind in voice assistants and AI, a recent study by Stone Temple ranked Siri behind Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana, and Alphabet's Google Assistant based on how the voice assistants responded to 4,942 queries. Further, reportedly underwhelming sales of Apple's HomePod -- the company's first foray into smart speakers -- also illustrates the company's weakness in AI.
Siri is in desperate need of a major update. Unfortunately, though, Gurman believes that "significant changes will take time." Any update to Siri, therefore, may only be incremental, failing to live up to the overhaul Siri needs.
New hardware? Don't get your hopes up.
Unlike like the heavy emphasis hardware received in last year's WWDC, this year's conference is unlikely to feature as many hardware announcements -- if any at all. Apple has been working on updated versions of its MacBook Pro devices, a new low-cost laptop, and a redesigned iPad Pro lineup, according to Gurman. But he said these products likely won't be ready until later this year.
Of course, investors shouldn't rule out the possibility of a surprise. Apple has pulled off surprises before at WWDC, with its most recent major surprise being the launch of an entirely new programming language called Swift in 2014.
Apple's keynote for this year's WWDC starts at 10 a.m. PDT. Investors can watch the event live on Apple's website or on Apple TV.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten is an employee of LinkedIn and is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A and C shares), Amazon, and Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.