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Apple's developer conference to focus on AI, souped-up software

Bringing more artificial intelligence to Apple Inc.'s devices and souped-up operating systems will be at the center of the company's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, which will be held in San Jose, Calif., from June 3-7.

WWDC is Apple's annual event for developers who write applications for the company's iPhone, Mac, iPad and Watch devices. It usually serves as a launching pad for new software like iOS for mobile devices and MacOS for personal computers.

WWDC's focus will be on "creating new experiences in areas including machine learning, augmented reality, health and fitness, and more," Apple said in a statement. Apple declined to provide further comment on what to expect at WWDC.

SNL ImageApple CEO Tim Cook at WWDC
Source: Apple Inc.

Apple has been putting many artificial intelligence tools in its devices, and WWDC could be the launchpad for many intelligent video-, voice- and data-based services, said Bob O'Donnell, chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research.

"There's a whole lot of things that are possibilities, particularly as we see a lot of folks talk about AI," O'Donnell said.

For one, Apple will be looking to improve its Siri virtual assistant, which started off hot but then lost ground to competitive services from companies like Google LLC, O'Donnell said.

Apple is relying more on boosting revenue via services, especially with the slowdown in iPhone shipments. AI-based services in the mold of Siri will be a big deal in adding revenue, O'Donnell said. For a further revenue boost, Apple will have to expand services outside its closed ecosystem and onto devices with operating systems like Google's Android.

WWDC will be a continued evolution of a few things Apple has already set in motion, especially in augmented reality, said Anshel Sag, associate analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, a global technology analyst and advisory firm.

Apple will push developers harder to write programs based on ARKit, which is a software tool used to write augmented reality applications.

"I believe that Apple will primarily showcase the iPad as the premiere ARKit device because of its screen size and [graphics processing unit] performance. These are all baby steps to enabling an AR headset with full ARKit app capabilities," Sag said.

Also, the analyst expects Apple to try to bridge the distance between its operating system for mobile devices and Mac computers.

"I think we'll see more similarities between iOS and MacOS and the acceleration of moving low-end MacOS devices into Apple silicon thanks to the simplification of the development environments," Sag said.