It’s time again for Apple to hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which showcases the latest version of the operating system 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, even—dare I say—VR headsets? We combed through the rumors to find out what to expect when Apple’s keynote premieres on June 6 at 1PM ET/10AM PT, and here are our findings:
iOS and iPadOS 16 may get new coatings and better notifications
Prominent Apple rumor reporter Mark Gurman has predicted that iOS 16 will feature “all-new Apple apps,” although it’s unclear if that means new apps from Apple or a new look for existing apps. Gurman also predicted “new ways to interact” with iOS – which I hope is a reference to interactive widgets.
For iPadOS 16, he specifically pointed to improvements in multitasking that could make the lineup a better laptop replacement.
Apple is also likely to overhaul the notification system, which could mean the company is building out the focus mode it introduced in iOS 15.
While Apple will almost certainly not comment on the iPhone 14, the software features and APIs the company talked about at WWDC usually provide at least some hints about what its future hardware might look like. If Apple starts telling developers to prepare for a dynamic status bar, it will be a very strong hint that the rumors about the iPhone 14 Pro dropping the notch are true.
Gurman also said that iOS 16 could bring an always-on lock screen. This also feels like something that might be locked into the next iPhone, but there will be hints in the code and API. If his prediction that the lock screen is getting “widget-like functionality” is correct, I’d consider this a very strong indicator that the iPhone 14 has an always-on display. (In theory, the iPhone 13 Pro’s LTPO screen could also work for that particular feature, but Gurman predicts it will be exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro.)
One thing to watch is which devices iOS 16 supports — the iPhone 6S has been updated six times, but that’s sure to come to an end at some point. Also, keep an eye out for any mentions of Apple’s recently announced accessibility updates. While they’re already pretty detailed, they’ll probably get at least a mention, maybe even a demo. (It would be nice to see someone actually using real-time captions or gate detection.)
New versions of watchOS and macOS
As usual, there aren’t many rumors about watchOS, but Apple is pretty consistent with what it adds to the Apple Watch every year: some new fitness/health features, new workouts that can be tracked, and new watch faces. 9to5Mac It has also been reported that there could be an iPhone-like low-power mode that offers more usability than the current power reserve mode (which basically just shows the time).
We might see accessibility features that Apple previewed earlier this month, including expanded assistive touch gestures that let you move your finger to do things like end a call, take a photo, and control media or exercise. Apple also showed off a mirroring mode that lets you view and control the watch’s screen from your phone. Apple says these features will arrive in this year’s software update, which seems to mean they could be in watchOS 9.
As for what the next version of macOS will bring, there are few rumors. There’s speculation that it could get the iPhone’s Focus Mode feature, and it could be called macOS Mammoth. Beyond that, the only thing we’re really looking forward to seeing is support…
Two new Macs
The current rumor (also from Mark Gurman) is that Apple will launch at least two new computers “around the middle of the year.” The prediction comes with a slew of computers Apple is reportedly working on, including a new Mac Pro, a completely refreshed lineup of laptops, and a Mac Mini or two.
Rumors of a redesigned MacBook Air have been floating around for a while now, and Apple has promised a Mac Pro with an Apple chip. The latter seems ripe for WWDC announcements. It’s a conference where Apple gathers a large group of professionals and enthusiasts (for example, people who love the Mac Pro), and it would be strange if it teased the hardware at one event and didn’t announce it the next.
As one of Apple’s most popular computers, the Air wouldn’t be out of place. But then again, neither will the Mac Mini, especially given the rumors that Apple wants to equip it with an M2 Pro processor.
Oh yeah, about that…
M2 may debut
In a report detailing what may be in the works for Mac, Bloomberg It also said they may use Apple’s next-generation chips. While there aren’t many details on what kind of improvements the M2 will bring, what better way to know all the technical details than at a developer conference?
While Apple continues to roll out new versions of its chips, they’re all extensions of the M1 design announced a year and a half ago. The company says it has already launched a new M1 chip, so it seems likely that new computers will have to be equipped with a new generation of chips (though well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the new Air may still have an M1 chip).
Apple may announce its long-rumored AR/VR headset
Okay, so maybe you shouldn’t exactly “expect” this – it’s more of a “don’t be surprised if it shows up” option. Almost every year, Apple is predicted to reveal a headset, which is currently rumored to be capable of virtual and augmented reality, with an array of cameras (for streaming real-world video), a chip that does the same thing as a Mac and a device called Dedicated software for RealityOS.
It never actually happened, but Apple is rumored to be about to announce one after years of reported chaotic developments. According to this report from a few weeks ago, Apple’s board recently started trialing the headset, which historically happened shortly before consumers saw it.
Apple plans to unveil the headset at WWDC, but there could be a delay, the report said. Apple can always make fun of it, though — and some suspect it has done so, since it has added a man with glasses to the show’s Memoji icon.
At the very least, you should expect Apple to talk a lot about AR and VR. That’s clearly the company’s focus, even if it’s not quite ready to show off the hardware. Who knows? Maybe 2022 will be another story.