Folks, prepare for an epic WWDC. Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off on June 5 at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, is typically the stage for Apple’s numerous software platforms to shine. We’re very likely to see new versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. But this year, Apple is widely expected to also feature a whole new product category, starting with a mixed reality headset, likely named the Reality Pro, and the accompanying, new xrOS. Oh, and if that’s not enough, there are rumors about a new MacBook Air, too. Nothing is official at this point, but we’ve gone through all of the rumors and reports we could find to assemble a list of things we might see at this year’s WWDC. Let’s dive in.
Reality Pro and xrOS
This one has been a long time coming. In fact, there were credible reports that Apple will launch the mixed reality headset at last year’s WWDC, but the company was completely silent on the matter. This time, however, will (probably) be different. Reality Pro is the likely name for Apple’s mixed reality (or virtual/augmented reality, take your pick) headset. But from what we’ve heard, it’s going to be very different from Apple’s typical product launches. First, it will be expensive (think $3,000) and primarily aimed at developers. And reports say it won’t be as sleek as we’ve used to from Apple products; it’ll be lightweight and comfy but it will have to tether to an external battery via a cable. But the new headset will be powerful. It will probably be powered by an M2-level chip and feature 4K OLED displays, and more than a dozen cameras (both inside and outside) for eye movement and hand gesture tracking. As for the accompanying xrOS, reports say that it will have the same feel as Apple’s other operating systems, but in a vastly different setting: One in which it combines tracking your eye movements with hand gestures to perform various tasks. It should also have its own App Store, and the ability to run iPhone and iPad apps. It’s all very exciting; despite the numerous virtual reality systems such as the Meta Quest and Sony PlayStation VR, as well as augmented reality attempts such as Google (now discontinued) Google Glass, we’ve never really seen Apple attempt anything like this. By the way, rumors say that this is merely the first in line of several AR/VR/MR products Apple is working on, but the others aren’t very close to launch right now.
MacBook Air 15
This is a big one, both figuratively and literally. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims Apple will launch a 15-inch MacBook Air at WWDC, the first time Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptop has gotten a bigger display than 13.3 inches. The possible existence of a 15-inch Air is a bit of an oxymoron, as the very core of that device has always been that it’s extremely portable, which a 15-inch laptop typically is not. Excuse us if we’re a bit sceptical on this one, but if it does happen, we’re very eager to see how Apple has put it together. It’s worth noting that Apple refreshed its MacBook Air line at last year’s WWDC, which gives more credibility to the idea that new Air is coming, whatever its display size may be. In terms of specs, the new MacBook Air will likely feature Apple’s M2 chip and 8GB of RAM at the minimum, and a display with the same resolution as Apple’s 14-inch MacBook Pro (that’s 3,024 x 1,964 pixels). While we’re on the topic of Macs, it’s possible that Apple will launch a refreshed Mac Pro and a new iMac, though the possibility of that happening is small. Apple is also working on the new M3 chip, but it’s probably coming later this year.
Unlike the gadgets mentioned above, the advent of a new iOS is something we’re quite certain about. The WWDC being a conference aimed at developers, it’s the place where Apple typically unveils the new versions of platforms for them to play with. The most important of those is the one that powers the iPhone, though this year the updates may seem a little underwhelming. That’s partially because of the headset; reports say that a big part of what’s Apple is doing with iOS revolves around integration with the upcoming mixed reality headset. The iOS 17 will also likely support the new, immersive CarPlay experiences which are coming later this year. Other improvements we’ve heard about include upgrades to Control Center as well as new features for the Dynamic Island, though those obviously pertain only to owners of the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 14 Pro Max. We might also see a new journaling app with a cool codename – Jurassic. It would offer users the ability to log down their habits and activities, with a focus on mental health. Apple Maps might also get an upgrade that will let users get trip directions on their lock screens. Catering to Europe’s regulations, Apple might finally start offering sideloading, which means installing apps from places that aren’t Apple’s App Store. Rumors aside, we do actually know quite a bit about Apple’s upcoming accessibility features, which will very likely be a part of iOS 17. These include Live Speech, Assistive Access, and Personal Voice; you can read more about these here.
Apple also spilled the beans on the iPad versions of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, which have been redesigned to play nice with a touchscreen and Apple Pencil for the first time. These are coming a few weeks ahead of WWDC, so Apple likely has a lot more in store for the actual announcement of iPadOS 17 on June 5. The iPadOS is closely tied to iOS, so we’re likely see many of the same improvements in both operating systems. Oh, and the Health app, which has so far only been available on the iPhone, is reportedly coming to the iPad as well.
We don’t know what it’ll be called, exactly, but we can assume that macOS 14 will be named after a famous California landmark, just like many of its predecessors. Apple did trademark a lot of California place names, so you can take your pick from the list below. Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) We’re betting it won’t be macOS Mammoth, though. That’s because Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims that macOS 14 will be a fairly minor update, with most of the work being done under the hood to ensure that various apps and features work similarly on Apple’s phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
We have very little to report on the new tvOS, though a new version is certainly coming. It typically gets very little time in Apple’s WWDC announcements, with improvements mostly being minor.
Interestingly, Gurman claims that watchOS 10 will receive the most significant update ever, which might make this version the most interesting yet. Apple will reportedly refocus on widgets and make them a “central” part of the watchOS interface. The easiest way to imagine this is to check out the Siri watch face, which is available on Apple Watch now. It features a list of cards which you can scroll through by using the Watch’s crown, each one corresponding to a specific app or a feature within that app. If Gurman is right, the new Watch interface will be similar to that, though the old app-centric version may stay as an option.
When, where, and how to watch the WWDC 2023 keynote
Knowing what to expect from an Apple conference is nice, but seeing it unfold live is a lot more exciting. To tune in, direct your browser to Apple’s website on June 5. The starting time is 10 a.m. PT (that’s 1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST, 7 p.m. CEST, or 1 a.m. AWST on the next day). Our personal browser of choice for streaming Apple keynotes is Safari, but you can do it on other browsers and platforms; for example, Apple typically has a YouTube stream as well, as well as a stream in its Apple TV app.