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Apple WWDC Supercharges Steve Jobs Watch

Expectations include the release of an updated iPhone, since the current iPhone 3G was announced a year ago at last year's developer fest.

Apple this week released the dates for its Worldwide Developers Conference, marking the beginning of what's sure to build into a flood of rumors and speculation on the product announcements that typically open the annual event.

The conference, scheduled to run from June 8-12 at the Moscone West in San Francisco, has become even more significant given that Apple announced this year that it will no longer participate in Macworld, another major annual event that Apple traditionally used to launch new products.

Among the major questions heading into this year's WWDC is whether co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs will open the conference. Jobs, who is suffering from complications stemming from a 2004 operation for pancreatic cancer, is on a six-month medical leave announced in January.

On the product side, industry expectations include the release of an updated iPhone, since the current iPhone 3G was announced a year ago at last year's WWDC. Apple has said it would release its iPhone 3.0 operating system this summer, so the company is expected to use this year's WWDC to offer lots of tips for building applications on the OS.

Developers are sure to hear more about Snow Leopard, the next iteration of the Mac OS X operating system that's scheduled to ship this year.

The next developer build of Snow Leopard will reportedly include some of the biggest changes to the OS, including a user interface overhaul.

On Jobs, the Silicon Alley Insider reports that WWDC could see the retirement of the iconic CEO. Jobs in January said he would take six months off, but Apple won't say when he will return. As a matter of company policy, Apple also declines comment on future products.

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