Apple's WWDC likely to focus on software rather than gadgetry

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) often focuses on hardware as the company uses its spotlight to showcase its latest new gadgets. But this year's event, which kicks off Monday, will almost surely center on software and services.

Siri may be in the headlines of Monday's event as Apple touts improvements to its high-profile intelligent personal assistant. The company may unveil plans to open Siri up to third-party developers, as The Information reported last month, perhaps even announcing a software development kit (SDK) enabling app creators to make their offerings Siri-compatible.

App developers would surely embrace Siri in a big way, enabling them to allow users to access their wares through a single app and simple voice commands, making it easier to multitask. And there's a chance that the company may tease a standalone device with a speaker and microphone similar to Amazon's Echo, which would let users access Siri and supported apps without an iPhone or iPad.

Apple also may extend Siri support to the Mac for the first time, as 9to5Mac reported a few months ago.

CEO Tim Cook is also expected to announce some significant changes to its App Store. The company will almost surely discuss a new revenue-split policy for developers of subscription-based apps, allowing them to take a larger cut after they've maintained a subscription with a customer for more than a year. Apple reportedly is opening its subscription model to all app genres as well, expanding it beyond the news, cloud, dating and streaming apps it is currently limited to.

Other expected (or at least anticipated) announcements include improvements to Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. And one recent rumor has Apple announcing iMessage will be available to Android users, as MacDailyNews reported earlier this week.

The company may also unveil updates to Apple TV and the Apple Watch, which reportedly has seen lukewarm demand in an uncertain market for wearables.

But while WWDC is always highly anticipated, expectations are somewhat tempered for this year's event. Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster said this week that WWDC is "a warm up to more meaningful announcements in the fall including iPhone 7 and an updated Apple Watch," as Barron's reported. Monday may not bring any groundbreaking news from Apple, but the company will face increasing pressure later this year when it trots out a new flagship handset amid flagging worldwide iPhone sales.

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