It’s time again for Apple to hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, where it shows off 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 maybe, or even – may I say – a VR headset? We’ve scoured the rumors to get an idea of what to expect at Apple’s keynote will premiere on June 6th at 1:00 PM ET / 10:00 AM PT, and here’s what we found:
iOS and iPadOS 16 could get a fresh coat of paint and better notifications
Noted Apple rumor reporter Mark Gurman has predicted that iOS 16 will come with “new Apple apps,” although it’s a little unclear whether that means new apps from Apple or a new look for existing apps. Gurman also predicts “new ways of interacting” with iOS – I hope this is a reference to interactive widgets.
For iPad OS 16″ he specifically pointed to improvements in multitasking that could make the lineup a little better as a laptop replacement.
It’s also possible that Apple will revise its notification system, which could mean building on the… Focus modes it introduced with iOS 15†
While Apple will almost certainly not say anything about the iPhone 14, the software features and APIs the company talks about at WWDC usually offer at least some hint of what the future hardware might look like. If Apple starts telling developers to get ready for a dynamic status bar, that would be a very strong rumored hint the iPhone 14 Pro does away with the notch are correct.
Gurman has also said that iOS 16 could bring an always-on lock screen. That also feels like something that may be locked on the next-gen iPhone, but there will be hints about it in the code and APIs. If his predictions that the lock screen will have “widget-like capabilities” are correct, I’d see that as a pretty strong indicator that the iPhone 14 has an always-on screen. (In theory, the The LTPO screen of the iPhone 13 Pro might also be good for that particular feature, but Gurman predicts it will be an iPhone 14 Pro exclusive.)
One thing worth checking out is which devices are supported by iOS 16 – the iPhone 6S has received six updates, but that will definitely come to an end at some point. Also note any mentions of the accessibility updates Apple recently announced it. While they’re already pretty detailed, they’ll likely get at least a mention and possibly even a demo. (It would be great to see someone actually use live captioning or door detection.)
New versions of watchOS and macOS
As usual, there aren’t many rumors about watchOS, but Apple is pretty consistent with what it’s adding to the Apple Watch every year: some new fitness/health features, new workouts to track, and new watch faces. 9to5Mac also reports that there could be an iPhone-like power-saving mode that would offer more usability than the current one power reserve mode (which really only shows the time).
We could potentially see the accessibility features Apple viewed earlier this month, including extensive Assistive Touch gestures that let you move your fingers to end a call, take a photo, and control media or workouts, for example. Apple also showed a mirror mode that allows you to see and control your watch’s screen from your phone. Apple said these features will come in software updates this year, and it seems likely they’ll be in watchOS 9.
As for what the next version of macOS will bring, there have been very few rumors. There is speculation that it could get the iPhone’s Focus Mode feature and it could be called macOS Mammoth. Other than that, the only thing we really expect to see is support for…
Two new Macs
The current rumor (also from Mark Gurman) is that Apple will introduce at least two new computers “around the middle of the year”. That prediction came alongside a slew of computers Apple is reportedly working on, including a new Mac Pro, an all-new laptop lineup, and a Mac Mini or two.
There have been rumors of a redesigned MacBook Air been floating around for a while, and Apple has promised to introduce a Mac Pro with Apple silicone. The latter certainly seems ripe for a WWDC announcement. It’s the conference where Apple gathers a lot of its pros and enthusiasts (for example, the folks who love a Mac Pro), and it would be weird if it teased the hardware at one event and didn’t announce it at the next.
As one of Apple’s most popular computers, the Air wouldn’t look out of place either. But then again, neither is a Mac Mini, especially given the rumors that Apple wants to equip it with an M2 Pro processor.
Oh yeah, about that…
The M2 could make its debut
In the report detailing the potentially running Macs, Bloomberg also said they will likely include Apple’s next-generation silicon. While there aren’t many details about what kind of improvements the M2 will bring, where better to discuss all the technical details than at a developer conference?
While Apple went on to: pump out new variations of his chipsthey have all been extensions of the M1 design it announced over a year and a half ago† The company said it has finished introducing new M1 chips, so it seems possible that new computers may have to come with a new generation of chips (although noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that the new Air can still have an M1 chip†
Apple could announce its long-rumored AR/VR headset
Okay, so maybe you shouldn’t exactly “expect” this one – it’s more of a “don’t be surprised if it shows up” choice. Almost every year, people predict that Apple will show off a headset, currently rumored to be capable of virtual and augmented reality, with an array of cameras (for transmitting video from the real world), a chip roughly powerful like a Mac and special software called RealityOS.
It never actually happened, but there are rumors that Apple is about to announce one after years of reportedly chaotic development† According to this report from a few weeks ago, Apple’s board of directors recently must try the headsetsomething that historically happens shortly before the consumer sees it.
That report stated that Apple planned to introduce the headset at WWDC, but that there may have been delays that would prevent that. However, Apple could always tease it — some people suspect it’s already been done by including a person wearing glasses in the memoji iconography for the show.
You can at least expect Apple to talk a lot about AR and VR. It’s clearly a focus for the company, even if it’s not ready to show off the hardware. And who knows? Maybe 2022 will be another year of One More Thing.
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