WWDC 2013 preview: what Apple developers expect from iOS 7

It's no great secret: all eyes in the technology world are fixed on Apple's WWDC 2013 keynote today. What Cupertino's special one has up its sleeve is still very much a mystery, though the WWDC 2013 rumour mill has offered up everything from an iWatch unveil to the launch of a refreshed MacBook line sporting Intel's new Haswell processors. But whether or not Apple actually has a product announcement or two in the oven remains to be seen. What is certain is that Tim Cook and the gang will break cover with its latest mobile operating system, iOS 7. To get an idea of some of the cool things that could arrive as part of Apple's iOS 7 package later on, we caught up with Ben Reed, head of iOS at app specialist Mubaloo. What's on Ben's iOS 7 wishlist? No words are better than his own, so without further ado...

Siri SDK access

"We've wanted this since Siri was first released. For apps that are about information or inputting data, Siri has so much potential. On the [iPhone] 4S it was a beta, on the 5 it became more intelligent, but opening it up to third parties will allow developers to do some truly innovative work. The way that you can use Siri on the Apple Store app to check prices and shop for products are early indicators of this. We're also hoping to see Siri become more contextual. For example, if it can use third party applications, it could use your calendar, weather and travel information to know when to wake you up and, rather than speaking to it, Siri could wake you up and give you an overview of your day intelligently."

Business and personal split

"iPhones and iPads are everywhere at work. The problem is that they are also at home and being used by children. As the enterprise market has shifted to iOS in recent years, there is a real demand to keep personal and business apps separate. It's a feature we are especially hoping to see."

Location-based profiles

"This is currently one of the user experiences that lags behind other platforms. For many people, when they get into the office, they may be connecting their iPad to a Bluetooth keyboard, secure network and require a different sound setting. All of this requires going into various menus to set up. What we're hoping to see is the ability for users to be able to set geo-fences around set locations so that they can customise the settings on their devices."

Live app icons 

"The weather is not always 23 degrees and sunny. This has been something that we've been wanting to be included for a long time. Being able to quickly display top level information from apps will fill a gap that has been long missing from iOS. With the rumours of iWatch, it could also signal how information will be displayed through wearable technology."

App communication

"The ability for apps to talk to each other has long been on the developer wishlist. This is partly a wish for users to set which default apps they want to open files (i.e. not the stock Apple apps) but also for apps to share information between each other. This has been hinted at by Apple, so we're eager to see what will be possible."

AirDrop on iOS

"The ability to easily share files with colleagues or friends would be a killer feature for iOS 7. It is an underutilised part of OS X which could receive a big boost if enabled on iOS devices, especially considering the popularity of iPad in business."

The executive view

From Mark Mason, Mubaloo's CEO: "Everyone in the office is looking forward to seeing the new design, even our Android developers. If Jonathan Ive can do to the software what he's done with the hardware it will recapture the imagination of the public. It is hard to fault iOS on its usability but its design is now looking slightly dated. We've seen what is possible from a design point from third party apps, so seeing the refreshed iOS interface should reinvigorate some of Apple's Think Different attitude."

Our verdict

Company CEO Tim Cook has previously hinted that Apple's main priority in 2013 is progressing its platforms, not the aggressive pursuit of new product launches. In other words, it's entirely likely that Apple's 'next big thing' will be software-based, so we expect the new iOS to come with some fairly radical tweaks and new features. Of course, the only way to be sure of what the next-generation platform looks like is to stay tuned to this evening's big Apple 'Be-In.' To keep things simple, that means pinning yourself to ITProPortal, because we're live blogging all the action from WWDC 2013 - it's set to go down at San Francisco's Moscone West conference centre at 18:00 BST (10:00 PST). Like you, we wait with baited breath.