Editor’s Desk: The Mostly Positive WWDC Weekends

This year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) has concluded and the event offered something for everyone, both software and hardware. Perhaps even better, it has set the table for what will likely be an incredible fall, which could be the starting point for perhaps a record number of new devices. So here’s a look back at a busy week in the Apple world!

WWDC hardware

Apple doesn’t always introduce new hardware at WWDC. This year, however, it unveiled next-generation versions of the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro† The first, Apple’s best-selling Mac, is where all the excitement fell, which wasn’t unexpected.

The long rumor 2022 MacBook Air looks a lot like last year’s 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models and offers similar features, including the return of MagSafe 3 and a new 1080p FaceTime HD camera. It also has a larger screen, 13.6 inches. Like the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, this model is also the first Apple product with an M2 chip.

With a starting price of $200 higher than the model it replaced, the 2022 MacBook Air is also the first Apple laptop to be available in Starlight and Midnight Blue.

And the 13-inch MacBook Pro? Aside from the M2 chip and more memory choices, it’s essentially the same as the 2020 model it replaced, down to the only Apple product with Touch Bar.

WWDC software

Since WWDC is a software-based conference, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Monday’s keynote address was mainly software-focused once you get past the two new laptops and the introduction of the M2 chip. Out of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13 Ventura, and watchOS 9, iPadOS 16 is probably the most popular, but in some ways for all the wrong reasons.

iPad OS 16

The biggest new feature for iPad, as well as M1-based Macs, was Stage Manager. This feature offers a new way to organize windows and apps and brings iPadOS and macOS closer together, although not nearly as much as some pre-WWDC rumors suggested.

In addition to Stage Manager, iPadOS 16 offers a nice laundry list of new and unexpected features, such as an improved Focus mode, Live Text, Visual Search, and a major update to Spotlight and Siri.

Unfortunately for iPad users, not every iPadOS 16 feature comes to every supported iPad. Instead, some are exclusive to iPad Pro models (2021 versions, not 2020 models) or this year’s iPad Air (but not last year’s iPad mini). This news doesn’t pass so well, especially with iMore’s Luke Filipowicz

But at least all supported iPads get the native Weather app!

iOS 16

For a change, iOS wasn’t the star of this year’s WWDC keynote, as iOS 16 focused mainly on software improvements. Still, some promising new features were announced, including new background and notification checks. Christine Chan calls iOS 16 the biggest iOS update since iOS14.

macOS 13 Ventura

My daily beat, macOS received great new updates and features in macOS 13 Ventura. In addition to Stage Manager (my favorite new feature), I’m also excited about Continuity Camera, Passkeys, and much more.

watchOS 9

Cupertino has added significant improvements to Apple Watch’s fitness and health tools in watchOS 9 that should make runners and everyday users happy. These include comprehensive stats, workout improvements, Fitness+ updates, and AFib history. There are also sleep stages in the Sleep app, a Medicine app, and another round of new watch faces.

tvOS 16

For the first time in tvOS history, Apple did not mention the software for Apple TV at WWDC. What this means for the entertainment device (and app) is unknown. The omission could mean that the company still has big announcements and decided to wait until the fall (and the launch of a new device?) to make them. Or perhaps nothing is scheduled for Apple TV this year.

Looking forward

Rumors before and after WWDC suggest that Apple could be preparing many new hardware announcements for the fall. Based on the rumors and what normally happens every fall, here’s what could be coming in the coming months:

  • four new iPhone 14 series of handsets
  • Next generation regular iPad
  • Apple Watch Series 8, SE 2, Explorer Edition
  • Two new iPad Pro models in 2022; larger versions added early 2023
  • Updates for the 14- and 26-inch MacBook Pro models
  • An Apple silicone-based Mac Pro
  • New AirPods (AirPods 4, AirPods Pro 2, AirPods Max 2)
  • Movement on the HomePod front
  • At least a preview of Apple’s long-rumored VR headset
  • Refresh for iMac mini, maybe iMac (Pro?)
  • Cheaper Apple TV? An Apple TV Stick?

It can be busy months, can’t it?

WWDC Final Thoughts

Summarizing Apple events and identifying their pros and cons is a subjective exercise. Anyway, here are my favorite WWDC announcements and moments for 2022:

My favorites

While I’m still annoyed that Apple has yet to revive the unique “MacBook” name for a laptop, its continued success and focus on the MacBook Air continues to impress. This year’s model, with two new color choices, an M1 chip, MagSafe and more, will no doubt put the MacBook Air at the top of our list of the dear Macs on the market. Plus, despite the controversy over the exclusion of certain iPads from all its features, iPad OS 16 still a significant step forward for the sometimes-maligned operating system. Prediction: 2022 iPad Pro models will wash away most of the criticism.

Apple Watch is already the best-selling smartwatch in the world, and it would make sense for Apple to take a year off in terms of software improvements. And yet that’s not what happened at WWDC. Instead, the watchOS 9 update is an exciting one and should bring even more people into the Apple Watch’s orbit.

Finally I want to know what is Apple’s Craig Federighi eat for these keynotes, recorded and otherwise. He is a showman who exudes excitement that is never duplicated by anyone else on stage. Well done.

The big “ugg”

the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro was the first Apple silicone device in my house and I will remember it fondly. However, the continued form factor has no place in the MacBook lineup in 2022, especially with the much more popular MacBook Air sticking around (and now with a bigger screen!). Excessive supply is the best guess as to why Apple is keeping the 13-inch MacBook Pro for another generation. It probably has too many Touch Bars and other parts that are exclusive to that model. So most likely, despite the update, the 13-inch MacBook Pro as we know it will quietly retire in 2023 when bigger (and maybe smaller) Pro models are coming.

Finally, it’s a shame Apple couldn’t even name it tvOS during the WWDC keynote. Of course, the streaming side of the business isn’t fit for a developer conference. However, the same cannot be said about gaming. Despite great new titles coming in every week, Apple’s premium Arcade service doesn’t seem to get much attention from Apple, which is a shame. Maybe it’s time for Apple to hold an Apple TV-specific media event every year to highlight where Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade are heading. Where’s the love, Apple?

What were your favorite moments from WWDC? What did you not like?

Thank you for reading,

Bryan


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