Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is one of its biggest events on the calendar. This year’s show is due to run from June 7-11 and will be entirely online (much like many of Apple’s recent events).
What can you expect to see at the show? Will there be any exciting new hardware reveals and software features? We have all the answers you need right here, with a rundown of everything we expect to see at WWDC 2021.
iOS 15 and iPadOS 15
Two of Apple’s most important platforms are those that run on the iPhone and the iPad. The company always uses WWDC to shed new light on upcoming versions of these operating systems, and this year will be no different.
Details surrounding these new versions (iOS 15 and iPadOS 15) are thin on the ground, but we can make some educated guesses. For one thing, we expect Apple will continue its trend of allowing more freedom when changing default apps. You can change the standard web, mail, and music apps right now, and we are hoping that will expand to cover things like the calendar, reminders, camera, and more.
One of the biggest changes in iOS 14 was the introduction of widgets. In iOS 15, we expect Apple will further refine these, perhaps by adding more widget options for its own apps, more functionality, and more sizes.
The next version of MacOS
MacOS 11 Big Sur first saw the light of day at WWDC 2020, and it turned out to be one of the best MacOS upgrades in years. Apple will want to keep that momentum going this year with the new version, which according to 9to5Mac will be dubbed MacOS 12 (rather than MacOS 11.1).
It is likely we will see a refinement of some of the features that made Big Sur so good. For starters, that means more widgets and more customization of the Control Center, which is already one of the best features of MacOS Big Sur.
We would also love to see the introduction of Shortcuts on MacOS. The Shortcuts app is a handy tool on iOS that lets you quickly launch complex tasks that are activated with a touch or your voice. Bringing that to the Mac would be an excellent way to boost your productivity and save you time.
Other operating system updates
While iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS are the big ones, Apple’s other operating systems are expected to get some love too. For instance, while we do not know many details about the next update coming to tvOS, it will surely get some tweaks and new features given Apple’s continuing focus on services like Apple TV+.
The Apple Watch’s operating system will also tick over to WatchOS 8. Rumors indicate we could get new Health, Battery, and Hiking apps from Apple as well as a relaxation of the requirement to always be online in certain cases (such as when using some Siri features).
It is rare for a WWDC event to focus exclusively on software, and this year could be no different. Heaps of hardware products are rumored, but many will probably launch before WWDC 2021 at Apple’s spring event, so what we see in June is largely contingent on what does not launch in the spring. Among those unlikely to show at WWDC are AirTags and a redesigned iMac, as they are widely expected to appear sooner.
That still leaves plenty on the table, though. For one thing, there could be updates to the Mac Pro based on how many related rumors and leaks have appeared of late. Not only could we see updates to Apple’s most all-out, all-powerful Mac, but there are strong rumors that Apple is also working on a half-size Mac Pro with an Apple Silicon chip inside. Previewing this high-end device to a crowd of tech-savvy developers at WWDC makes a lot of sense.
If Apple decides to stick with the pro theme, there might also be time for the company to outline the next versions of the iPad Pro and AirPods Pro. The former is expected to have a new A14X chip that is on par with the MacBook Pro’s M1, a Thunderbolt 3-enabled port, and a dazzling mini-LED display. As for the latter, not much is known about the updated AirPods Pro yet, but we expect to learn more as the event approaches.
The future of Apple Silicon
Unfortunately, it is unlikely Apple will show off any new MacBooks at WWDC. According to Nikkei Asia, Apple has delayed the production of two MacBook Pro models until later in the year, making an October or November reveal more likely.
However, there is a good chance Apple will discuss the tech powering its Macs — namely, new Apple Silicon chips and the future of its transition away from Intel. A clue might be found in the WWDC invitation, which features a Memoji character looking at a half-open MacBook in much the same way Craig Federighi did while talking about Apple Silicon at last year’s event.
We know Apple is working on a raft of updates to its chip platform, including processors with 32, 16, 12, and 8 high-performance cores (alongside four high-efficiency cores). It is unlikely Apple will talk about these in any great detail at WWDC 2021, but it might shed some light on a few things it has up its sleeve.
Apple mixed-reality headset
We mentioned clues in the WWDC invitation above. There is another possibility that some people have suggested: That it hints at an Apple-designed mixed-reality headset. We think this is very unlikely, though.
The suggestion revolves around the app reflections in the Memoji character’s glasses. The standard interpretation is that these are simply reflecting off the MacBook screen. However, some people have claimed that it might in fact be a depiction of augmented reality apps projected on the glasses’ lenses.
Apple is rumored to be working on augmented reality glasses, but these are not expected to launch until 2023 at the earliest, making WWDC 2021 a suspiciously premature date for the reveal.
But could the invitation be a reference to Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset rather than its AR glasses? That is doubtful too. Reporter Mark Gurman, who has an excellent track record when it comes to Apple rumors, believes Apple will announce its headset at an in-person event this year, yet WWDC 2021 is going to be online-only, seemingly putting the headset out of the running. We hate to be spoilsports, but at this point, it seems the mixed reality glasses clue is simply a case of wishful thinking. That doesn’t mean they won’t give us a preview, but we’ll have to wait and see.