- Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off Monday
- Observers expect a new mobile operating system and refreshed MacBooks
- A rumored smart watch and a possible Apple TV set remain longshots for now
- Apple's keynote begins Monday at 1 p.m. ET in San Francisco
All the tech world's eyes will be on Apple Monday, when the computing giant's 24th annual Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off in San Francisco.
As its name suggests, the weeklong gathering lets Apple host presentations and workshops for the people who make a living writing the apps and other software that run on its products.
But its opening keynote almost always makes news. The conference has been the launching pad for two phones (the iPhone 3GS in 2009 and the iPhone 4 in 2010) and several new, or updated, Macs.
This year, the former seems highly unlikely. The latter? Maybe not so much.
Fans are clamoring for some excitement, because Apple hasn't introduced a major new product since the iPad Mini last October. And with growing competition from such rivals as Amazon and Samsung, there's always the chance that the secretive folks from Cupertino are cooking up something big.
So here's a look at what to expect from WWDC 2013. Apple's keynote begins Monday at 1 p.m. ET.
A new iOS
The safest bet for WWDC is that Apple will introduce iOS 7 to the world.
For the first time, Apple vice president Jonny Ive is responsible for the update, and reports have suggested the mobile operating system will be "black, white and flat all over."
Unnamed Apple sources have popped up on the Web, saying that much of the color, gloss and shine will be removed from the look of iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch screens in favor of a simpler black-and-white theme.
Style aside, there will almost certainly be a host of new features to announce as well.
Reports have centered on improved in-car support for Maps and Siri, along with new integration for third-party (and non-Google-owned) apps like video site Vimeo and photo site Flickr.
The update also could bring Airdrop, which allows easy Wi-Fi sharing between Apple devices, to mobile.
The MacBook and MacBook Air laptops are both due to be updated, according to Apple's once-a-year pattern. And the timing is right: Intel just announced a more powerful processing chip.
It will be a challenge for Apple to shrink the already ultra-slim MacBook Air much further. But if the rumors are true, the beefier MacBook Pro may give way to a new, sleeker version of itself.
Apple also could introduce a refreshed Mac Pro desktop tower for those deep-pocketed office managers who prefer to order the freshest machines.
A streaming-music service?
It seems like only a matter of time before Apple leaps into the increasingly crowded streaming-music market led by Pandora, Spotify and others.
Apple's been making deals with record labels such as Universal Music and Warner Music Group, which would allow them to stream songs to users as part of a free or paid-subscription service.
Observers expect such a platform, possibly called iRadio, would exist apart from iTunes, Apple's digital-media service, and focus on mobile devices.
Sure, there are realistic expectations. Then there are the really fun ones.
Hope springs eternal in the fanboy's breast, so we won't be the ones to shoot down hopes for a big, "one more thing" surprise.
And, hey -- CEO Tim Cook has already teased "exciting new product categories" this year.
According to observers, an Apple TV set has been on the verge of being released for years now. (Experts are just sure the company is going to roll out a TV set. Eventually.)
A little over a year ago, there was a bizarrely specific Best Buy survey asking loyal customers about the "concept" of an Apple TV. It seems like too much of a real thing to never happen. But will it happen next week? Not likely.
Joining the mythical "iTV" is an Apple watch -- another product everybody is sure is coming, despite Apple having said no such thing.
A watch feels slightly more likely than a TV, but not by much. This fall, just in time for holiday shopping, seems a more likely release date for one or both. And, quite possibly, for a new iPhone.
There have been some rumblings about a possible new iPad. It has been a little more than seven months since the iPad Mini was unveiled, though, and only four months since Apple offered a 128GB version of its bigger counterpart. So a new model would be a surprise.
What do you want to see from Apple? Let us know in the comments.