What will Apple, the world's most valuable company (and maybe most closely observed), reveal about its future products this week?
The pace of rumours has increased from steady to furious in the lead-up to CEO Tim Cook's Monday keynote address at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Below we rank and group the rumours (none of which Apple ever comments on, even to deny) in order below.
OS X Mountain Lion: We've known since February the company's desktop operating system is getting updated, but there will no doubt be some surprises for the hungry crowd.
iOS 6: As was reported on Friday, banners showing the logos for iOS 6 were spotted being hung at the Moscone Center. What the new software does is less certain.
It's widely believed Apple will ditch Google as the mapping tool on iOS devices in favour of its own new system. AllThingsD and The Wall Street Journal did the initial reporting, but other websites say users will still be able to use Google's updated maps, but these won't be woven into Apple's mobile software.
Facebook integration: When Twitter was integrated into core iOS functions (allowing you to tweet links from Safari and photos from the Camera app among other things) there was speculation Facebook was being snubbed. Based primarily on a two-word quote "Stay tuned" by Tim Cook at D10, tech writers are convinced we'll see Facebook added to iOS 6 in a similar manner.
Developer access to Siri, iCloud: Since it was unveiled app-makers have been wondering when they would be allowed to build apps that interact with Siri, Apple's seemingly orphaned voice-controlled iPhone assistant. APIs (application program interface) for the chatty know-it-all, and also for iCloud are much speculated on but may be held back for the time being. More likely we'll see Siri in fuller implementation on iPad before we see APIs.
Tracking tools: As reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday, Apple may roll out a system that will allow app developers to track how users are accessing their services. There are serious privacy worries in this area, as recent scandals involving mobile device monitoring software shook the industry after it was shown that the collected data could be matched to individual users. The WSJ sources hinted at a system that would help present a picture of how apps are used, while retaining users' anonymity.
New Macs. The lead speculator in this area is the 9to5Mac site, predicting not just new MacBooks (thinner, with ultra-sharp Retina displays like on the new iPad) but possibly redesigns to the iMac (last substantially updated in 2009) and either the Mac Pro, or Mac Mini.
Apple TV updates: We already have the puck-like device that connects to your iTunes library and iOS device via AirPlay, we know the Mountain Lion desktop OS will also add some of those features, and we may see some new features at WWDC (maybe app support?). What Apple fans really want is a 40- or 50-inch smart TV with Apple's logo on it, but we're not expecting to see one yet. The Apple TV product "is an area of intense interest for us," Mr. Cook said recently, but just what will result from "pulling the string" remains to be seen.
New iPhone, with a 4-inch screen: Components allegedly belonging to an Apple iPhone have turned up in the secondary parts market, and videos posted show a larger case, which would sync with earlier rumours that a new iPhone screen would stretch from its current 3.5-inch standard. But despite these hints, this week's show is not the place to launch that device.