First of all, WWDC is an event for developers. Hell, it’s right there in the title (Worldwide Developers Conference). Like I/O, Build, and others, the show has traditionally been a place where a whole bunch of software developers get together under one roof to discuss the intricacies of the company’s various platforms. Of course, part of the “roof” has changed a bit during the pandemic, but the essence of the show has remained the same.
The company’s operating systems will be in the spotlight this week, starting with a keynote at Monday, June 6 at 10:00 AM PT.. This means that we will almost certainly hear the latest news about iOS/iPad, macOS and watchOS, as well as some wildcards like tvOS.
Historically, WWDC hasn’t been a big hardware event, but we used to be surprised. After all, it’s conveniently located between the company’s spring and fall events, making it the perfect venue to announce new products.
With all of that in mind, here’s what we know, what we think we know, and some wild speculation thrown in for good measure.
As always, we start simple here. We will definitely take a look at the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. The first look at iOS 16 is likely to arrive with an early developer beta – meaning if you have an Apple dev account, you can access shortly after the keynote (download at your own risk, of course).
Sarah recently wrote about some early rumors originally published by Bloomberg. According to the early versions of the operating system, which were released under the code name “Sydney”, a rather large update is expected here after significant changes compared to iOS 14 and 15. The biggest changes seem to be expected for the lock screen, notifications, messages. and Health.
As we’ve noted, Apple hasn’t fully utilized the lock screen in previous updates. It’s really just a datetime domain. This update may bring some widgets to the real estate in the Today view, including key pieces of information such as weather, calendar entries, and shortcuts to favorite apps, in addition to the existing camera and flashlight buttons. Sara notes:
This change may be beneficial for developers of widget-enabled applications, as it gives them another chance to capture user attention in an important area. In addition, it will give developers of home screen customization apps an opportunity to expand their offerings. That is, users could now download full theme packs with widget sets designed for both the lock screen and the home screen, as well as matching wallpapers and icon themes.
These features appear to set the stage for the always-on display version of the iPhone 14 currently offered on the Apple Watch and select Android phones. Of course, you’ll have to wait until the fall event to take a look at these devices.
The new version of the Messages app is said to be getting more social features as well as new audio messaging features. The iPhone Health app is also reportedly getting some new features, though they are still subject to revision as of this writing.
In the meantime, iPadOS may get multitasking improvements designed to make the tablet operating system more competitive with laptops. This could include improving how the iPad handles app windows for a more desktop-like experience, which could further separate the OS fork from its mobile counterpart. This could end up being a big year for iPadOS, which has basically served as sort of a big-screen version of iOS since the company split them for the first time exactly three years ago tomorrow.
Now that the iPad Pro and Air use the same M1 chip introduced for Mac, it’s time to unlock the potential of tablets even more. While some have already switched from laptop to tablet, the iPad currently leaves a lot to be desired as an everyday device. However, if Apple stops expanding device capabilities on this front, the question remains how blurry the line between iPadOS and macOS will become in the future.
We’re working with an extremely funny potential name, Mammoth. The potential name for the lucky macOS 13 is among those for which Apple applied for a trademark several years ago. In addition to being an extinct elephant, the Mammoth is also the Sierra Nevada region, which is consistent with the last few versions of macOS. Early rumors of a new OS aren’t the most exciting in the world, but will include a much-anticipated update to the Settings app, as well as updates to some of Apple’s key apps.
This second point makes sense as the company is further blurring the lines between iOS and macOS for developers and users alike. The list potentially includes older fallback apps like Mail, Safari, Podcasts, and Notes.
watchOS 9 and tvOS 16
This is where things get even thinner. watchOS is expected to get some key features such as new faces for a larger display as well as an improved low power mode. Frankly, this second is important. The battery is still a big issue for the Apple Watch compared to the competition. Hopefully the software improvements, combined with a bigger battery, will help make the device more competitive on that front when the Series 6 arrives.
tvOS remains a big question mark, especially after the operating system received little to no acclaim at last year’s event other than adding spatial audio. We likely won’t see the long-rumored homeOS debut, but tvOS is likely to get some key home automation updates nonetheless.
This is where things get (even more) more fun. With the move to proprietary silicon, the new Macs have taken off in the last couple of years. Since the release of the M1 and its (many, many) subsequent iterations, rumors have swirled that a new, more powerful M2 chip is just around the corner. If it does, it will almost certainly bring in new hardware. There are rumors of a new MacBook Air, as well as a long-awaited camera upgrade stuck in a MacBook Air-style screen cutout. It’s funny if less-substantiated rumors point to iMac-style colors for Apple’s thin and light.
The new Mac Pro isn’t on the list, but that would be interesting, especially considering what Apple would have to do on the front of the chip to really stand out from the pack. The same for the new version of the departed iMac Pro.
If Apple really wants to make a splash, it will offer a look at its long-rumored headset. BUT trademark application for reality, the OS seems to suggest that a combined AR/VR wearable could be announced sooner rather than later. There are also rumors that the company is demonstrating the system to shareholders. However, all signs point to a 2023 release, which will mean – at best – nothing more than a “one more thing” look at what’s to come.
As always, TechCrunch will update you with news as it becomes available.
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