When I started covering Apple in 2006, there was the Mac, Mac OS X, and the iPod. For services, you had the iTunes Store and good old .Mac—nothing too fancy, and while these pieces all worked together, Apple was free to update them on whatever schedules worked best for each product.
Today that couldn’t be further from the case. Apple has more products and it’s integrating them more tightly all the time. But with more moving pieces, it’s harder than ever to keep them moving in lock step. HomeKit was announced with iOS 8, but nothing was ready to ship for a full year. Health was announced for iOS 8 but didn’t appear until later thanks to a bug. And now the New York Times reports that its sources are saying the next-generation Apple TV won’t be announced at WWDC.
Apple is working on a streaming TV bundle—and that’s not just a rumor. CBS head Les Moonves publicly acknowledged it on stage at the Code Conference, and said CBS would “probably” participate. But later reports claim it’s also been pulled from Monday’s presentation. The developers conference probably isn’t the most natural setting to announce a consumer-focused product like a streaming TV service, so this might not seem like a big deal—unless that announcement came with an SDK for developers to write apps for the Apple TV. (Apple used to hold an iPod/iTunes/Apple TV-centric press event in the fall, so perhaps we’ll see that event back in the rotation this fall, or the Apple TV could be rolled out alongside the iPhone in September or the iPad in October, or perhaps we won’t see it until 2016.)
And what about HomeKit? Apple confirmed that the Apple TV will be the hub of the system, acting as the always-on, always-connected gateway to let you command your devices when you’re outside your home network. This isn’t dependent on new Apple TV hardware—Apple’s support page says that the current third-generation model will work. But the Apple TV doesn’t currently have Siri, which is a big part of what will make HomeKit so convenient.
Tighter integration between iOS and OS X hasn’t come without growing pains, either. iCloud Drive launched with iOS 8 but broke syncing with your Mac unless it had Yosemite…which wasn’t out yet. Handoff worked fine between two devices running iOS 8, but the real magic didn’t happen until Yosemite let you hand off tasks between your iOS device and your Mac. (Well, when it worked, anyway.)
We rejoiced when we heard that iOS 9 might be light on new features, so Apple can instead focus on optimizing the performance of features introduced in iOS 8. When Apple put both iOS and OS X on a yearly release schedule, the rollouts got a little hairy, and it’s probably a good idea to slow down a bit and make sure everything works like it’s supposed to before piling on a bunch of new features and integrations.
I really wanted a new Apple TV next week—mostly because I’m anxious for HomeKit to finally become a robust ecosystem instead of just a word with a capital K in the middle. Maybe my lesson is to pay less attention to the rumor mill and just wait until Apple announces things when they’re good and ready. Maybe Apple’s lesson is to clamp down on leaks to avoid a public perception that things are being delayed when they really aren’t. The WWDC 2015 logo reads “The epicenter of change” over a shape that looks exactly like an Apple TV. I don’t want Apple to sell any wine before its time, but if the Apple TV doesn’t appear in this year’s keynote, it’ll leave an awfully big hole.