Apple is about to hold its Worldwide Developers Conference, a major live event where it will update all of its platforms.
The event is usually notable for bringing new software updates to all Apple products, including the latest versions of major operating systems like the iPhone’s.
But this year, it is expected to be most significant not for updates platforms but entirely new ones. Apple is due to show off its headset at the event, after years of waiting.
But that won’t be all. Here’s everything you need to know about what might be coming when Apple kicks off the conference on Monday.
The headset is likely to be the star of the show. There’s still lots we don’t know about it – but it seems fairly clear that it is going to be announced, in some form, during the WWDC keynote.
Nominally, WWDC is intended as a software event. But hardware is sometimes released during it – and it tends to be the kinds of professionally-focused, high-end hardware that developers like to see.
This time around that’s rumoured to be new Macs. And potentially lots of them.
Reports have suggested thatApple is working on a brand new 15-inch MacBook Air, as well as updated versions of the Mac Studio and 13-inch MacBook Air and Pro. All of them are likely to get new Apple Silicon chips, presumably versions of the M2.
One final Mac might be conspicuous in its absence: the Mac Pro. Apple has committed to update that computer with its own Apple Silicon processors, but it is yet to arrive; it might have been written off entirely, had Apple not hinted that it was still on its way.
There are no rumours to suggest that it is coming this time around, either. But WWDC would be a good opportunity to surprise people with one, especially given that developers are probably going to need powerful computers to develop all those mixed reality apps.
The new version of iOS is usually the headline star of WWDC, though it is likely to be upstaged by the headset this year. Nonetheless, a number of big changes are expected this year.
Chief among them may be changes to the Lock Screen, which follow similar additions such as widgets last year. One of the most intriguing is a report from Bloomberg that the phone will be able to turn into a smart home display when it is laid on its side, and you can read more about that here.
The Wallet and Control Centre are also likely to get their own big upgrades, according to various reports. But it’s not clear what exactly those changes might be.
The new update is also rumoured to be bringing new mental wellbeing features, in the form of a journal and mood tracking tools that will integrate with the Health app. The Health app itself might also launch on the iPad.
Apple will probably make the new update available to developers straight after the event, and then release it for a public beta a few weeks after that. It will then come to everyone around the time of the release of the iPhone, in September.
(All of the other updates detailed below will probably arrive on much the same schedule, though MacOS sometimes takes a little longer.)
The Apple Watch is also rumoured to be getting some significant upgrades, which could quite fundamentally change it actually works, according to a number of rumours.
The headline part of that is rumoured to be a new focus on widgets, of the kind that are already on the iPhone, according to reliable Apple reporter Mark Gurman. They will become the “central part” of the Apple Watch’s interface, he said.
That will presumably mean moving away from standalone apps. That in itself might not be so much Apple’s choice: while apps for the Watch were a key part of the marketing early on, reports suggest that users are a lot less interest in downloading new applications for their watch than they are for bigger platforms such as the iPhone.
But the change should also make it easier to flick between information from various apps more quickly, too. You’ll be able to see information quickly, at a glance. (Something like this was available on the first version of the Watch, and it was actually called Glances.)
It will also mean that there may be more services available on the iPhone. Apple is likely to use the same frameworks for Apple Watch widgets as those on the iPhone – meaning that developers will be able to port them over without much extra work.
The Watch could also benefit from some of the same health features that are coming to the iPhone. Those tend to work in concert, and are likely to do the same this time around: so that users can track their wellbeing on their watch and have it sync with their phone, for instance.
All of this is notable in part because the Apple Watch’s hardware is expected not to change much, with the exception of the first upgrade to its performance in a number of years. Last year saw the introduction of the Apple Watch Ultra and other upgrades – but this year it seems to be the software that is bringing fresh updates to the Apple Watch line.
... and other software updates
Every Apple product always gets its own operating system update at WWDC: expect everything from the Mac, to the TV and even the HomePod to get software updates.
But little has been leaked about what we should expect on those systems. And in recent years, those updates have been modest, at least on some platforms; tvOS’s update last year only really added support for game controllers, for instance.
This time around, much of the work is presumably happening on the headset, and engineers may have been redirected to that. That might mean two things: there could be relatively few updates given the lack of resources, and those updates that do come might be focused on building compatibility with the headset.
WWDC usually packs time for a few surprises, even if they are small or not especially significant. This time around, the scope for surprises is probably lower – Apple will probably have its hands full explaining the headset – but there is always the chance that something unexpected and un-leaked will be announced.