It’s time again for Apple to hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, where it showcases the latest versions of its operating systems for iPhones, Macs, watches, tablets, and TVs.
But what new features will Apple’s new software bring, and is the company planning any big surprises? Hardware, perhaps, or even – dare I say it – a VR headset? We combed through the rumors to get an idea of what to expect at Apple’s keynote premieres June 6 at 1:00 p.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. PT, and here’s what we found:
iOS and iPadOS 16 could get a fresh coat of paint and better notifications
Apple rumor reporter Mark Gurman noted predicted that iOS 16 will come with “new Apple apps”, although it’s a bit unclear whether that means new apps from Apple or a new look for existing apps. Gurman also predicts “new ways to interact” with iOS – hopefully that’s a reference to interactive widgets.
For iPadOS 16 he specifically pointed out the multitasking improvements it might make the range a little better for replacing a laptop.
It’s also possible that Apple is overhauling the notifications system, which could mean the company relies on the Focus modes introduced with iOS 15.
While Apple almost certainly isn’t saying anything about the iPhone 14, the software features and APIs the company talks about at WWDC usually offer at least a hint of what its future hardware might look like. If Apple starts telling developers to prepare for a dynamic status bar, that would be a very strong clue that rumors about iPhone 14 Pro ditches the notch are correct.
Gurman also said that iOS 16 might bring an always-on lock screen. It also looks like something that may be locked to the next-gen iPhone, but there will be hints in the code and APIs. If his predictions that the lock screen is getting “widget-like capabilities” are correct, I’d see that as a pretty strong indicator that the iPhone 14 has an always-on display. (In theory, the The LTPO screen of the iPhone 13 Pro might also fit this particular feature, but Gurman predicts it will be exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro.)
One thing worth watching is which devices are supported by iOS 16 – the iPhone 6S has received six updates, but that should end at some point. Also be on the lookout for any mention of accessibility updates Apple recently announced. Although they have already been quite detailed, they will probably get at least a mention and maybe even a demo. (It would be great to see someone use live captioning or door detection.)
New versions of watchOS and macOS
As usual, there aren’t a ton of watchOS rumors, but Apple is pretty consistent with what it adds to the Apple Watch every year: new fitness/health features, new workouts you can track and new watch faces. 9to5Mac also reports that there could be an iPhone-like low-power mode that would offer more usability than the current one power reserve mode (which simply shows the time).
We could potentially see accessibility features that Apple preview earlier this month, including expanded Assistive Touch gestures that will let you move your fingers around to do things like end a call, take a photo, and control media or workouts. Apple also introduced a mirror mode that lets you see and control your watch screen from your phone. Apple has said these features will come in software updates this year, and it seems likely that means they’ll be in watchOS 9.
As for what the next version of macOS will bring, rumors have been very rare. There is speculation that it might get the focus mode feature from the iPhone and it might be called macOS Mammoth. Other than that, the one thing we’re really waiting to see is support for…
Two new Macs
The current rumor (also coming from Mark Gurman) is that Apple will introduce at least two new computers “by the middle of the year”. Along with that prediction came a whole slate of computers Apple would be working on, including a new Mac Pro, a completely refreshed line of laptops, and a Mac Mini or two.
There have been rumors of a Redesigned MacBook Air floating around for a while, and Apple promised to introduce a Mac Pro with Apple silicon. The latter definitely looks ripe for a WWDC announcement. This is the conference where Apple gathers a lot of its pros and enthusiasts (e.g. people who would like a Mac Pro), and it would be weird if it teased the hardware at an event and didn’t announce it next .
As one of Apple’s most popular computers, the Air wouldn’t be out of place either. But then again, neither would a Mac Mini, especially given the rumors that Apple is looking to equip it with an M2 Pro processor.
Oh yeah, about that…
The M2 could make its entrance
In the report detailing potentially running Macs, Bloomberg also said they will likely include Apple’s next-generation silicon. While there aren’t a ton of details on what kind of improvements the M2 will bring, what better way to go over all the technical details than at a developer conference?
As Apple continued to pump new variations of his chipsthey were all extensions of the M1 design announced over a year and a half ago. The company said it was done introducing new M1 chips, so it seems possible that new computers will come with a new generation of chips (although renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that the new Air might still have an M1 chip).
Apple could announce its long-talked-about AR/VR headset
Alright, so maybe you shouldn’t exactly “wait” for this one – it’s more of a “don’t be surprised if it appears” choice. Almost every year, people predict that Apple will introduce a headset, which is currently said to be capable of virtual and augmented reality, that has a set of cameras (for getting through real-world video), a chip about as powerful as a Mac and dedicated software called RealityOS.
It never happened, but rumors are circulating that Apple is about to announce one after years of seemingly chaotic development. According this report a few weeks ago, Apple’s board of directors recently must try the helmetsomething that historically happens shortly before consumers can see it.
This report stated that Apple was planning to showcase the headset at WWDC, but there may have been delays that would prevent that. Apple could still tease it, though – some people suspect it’s already done so by including a person wearing glasses in its Memoji iconography for the show.
At the very least, you should expect Apple to talk a lot about AR and VR. It’s clearly a goal for the company, even if it’s not ready to show off the hardware. And who knows? Maybe 2022 will be another One More Thing year.
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