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The business has a reputation for keeping prospective product launches extremely under wraps.
But for information on what to look forward to for Apple’s biannual hardware event in the fall, we can always rely on the annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which is focused on new software capabilities throughout Apple’s whole product range. On Monday, June 5, at 10 a.m. Pacific, the keynote address for this year’s WWDC will begin.
The majority of the new features mentioned in the rumors prior to the event for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS turn out to be genuine. Although Apple often gives some operating systems a bit more love than others, the list of new features coming to these platforms in 2023 looks fairly short. It almost seems as though Apple has been putting all of its attention on something else, perhaps a whole different product category.
If you’ve been following Apple rumors, you’ve probably seen a lot of headlines regarding the company’s first mixed-reality headset for experiences in augmented reality and virtual reality. After years of rumors and whispers, it appears that Apple will finally unveil the eagerly awaited smartphone at WWDC. Since it is said to feature a completely new operating system called xrOS that has been designed just for the headgear and should be able to run a few essential apps at launch, we might also get to see it in action during the conference.
Of course, all of this is conjecture. The mixed-reality headgear was something we were hoping to see at WWDC 2017 as well. One thing is certain, regardless of whether the company decides to delay the announcement yet another time: We’ll undoubtedly see some new software capabilities for current devices. According to rumors, Apple may even make some new Mac hardware announcements.
On WIRED, where we’ll be running a liveblog and compiling the major revelations, we’ll be keeping up with all the news. Here is a summary of what to expect at this year’s WWDC to get you up to speed before the show. I’ll also let you know how to access Monday’s keynote.
Apple made it possible to add widgets to the home screen of iOS 16 so that information like the weather, activity rings, and social network feeds could be displayed. A new smart-home display option may be included to iOS 17 as a result of this functionality, according to a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Similar to Google’s Nest Hub or Amazon’s Echo Show, the functionality will activate whenever the iPhone is locked and held horizontally, enabling you to view notifications, weather information, calendar events, and other information. It will employ bright lettering on a dark background to make it simpler to read quickly.
Gurman claims that Apple is reported to release a new journaling app, the ability to sideload programs in order to comply with European Union rules, a mood-tracking tool within the Health app, and upgrades to its location services, among other updates. According to a MacRumors story, Dynamic Island, the pill-shaped cutout on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max that functions as a sort of secondary display, will get more features, including Siri integration, to make it less noticeable on the main display.
Additionally, we look forward to future accessibility features. The business declared in May that it would be releasing software accessibility features for voice, vision, and cognition “later this year.” Point and Speak in Magnifier, which makes it simpler for those with vision impairments to interact with physical objects that contain text labels, and Live Speech, which allows users to enter messages to be spoken aloud during phone and FaceTime chats, are two of the features on the list.
Like usual, iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 are likely to have many of the same features, such as the aforementioned smart-home display mode, journaling app, and sideloading of apps. It’s possible that the Health app, replete with the mood-tracking feature, will finally appear on the iPad.
The most significant upgrade seems to be focused on Apple’s current Stage Manager feature. The multitasking capability, which debuted with iPadOS 16 last year, simulates the functionality of a desktop computer. You may group, resize, and overlap windows as well as arrange apps for quick viewing. However, it’s not the most understandable feature. Apple may add more features to enhance the user experience, according to 9to5mac, including webcam compatibility for an external monitor, an iPad display sleep mode while the external display is still on, and a resizable dock (through the external display).
In his Power On newsletter, Gurman also asserted that the operating system for tablets will “lay the software groundwork for revamped iPad Pro models coming next year with OLED displays.” According to a tweet from @analyst941 that was discovered by 9to5Mac (the account has since been removed after one of its sources for leaks was exposed by Apple), the iPad may get the same iOS 16 Lock Screen customizations as the iPhone, including the ability to move the clock. What does this all ultimately mean? This customisation, as suggested by MacWorld, may indicate that the forthcoming OLED iPad models would have an Always-On display similar to the iPhone 14 Pro range.
MacOS 14 and Mac Hardware
It is still unclear what macOS 14’s official name will be. Product manager at Vox Media Parker Ortolani tweeted a list of 15 unregistered names that Apple has reportedly trademarked. Mammoth, which was hotly tipped for MacOS 13 last year, is on the list. Since Ventura was chosen instead, it’s probable that Mammoth won’t be used this year.
According to Tom’s Guide, Gurman was interviewed on the MacRumors Show about new features. Gurman claimed there that he had not “heard anything remarkable about macOS.” He doesn’t anticipate any substantial tvOS updates either, which appears to be the same for tvOS 17 as it is for macOS. The organization also introduced the new Apple TV in October.
Apple appears to be putting more effort into improving iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS before adding support for similar capabilities in macOS as part of a continuity drive. With the M1 chip, we’ve already caught a peek of this. Apple emphasized that its first in-house chip, due out in 2020, behaves more like an iPhone and iPad and lets you download iOS apps directly to your Macbook.
The expected Mac hardware also seems to be anything from unimpressive, despite the somewhat meager software developments. An M2-powered 15-inch MacBook Air with two core options has been predicted by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, comparable to the 13-inch MacBook Air from the previous year, which is available with either an 8-core or 10-core CPU. Regarding other Macs, it’s also possible that the M2 Max and a brand-new M2 Ultra processor will be found in the Mac Studio of the future.
We anticipate watchOS to receive a larger update than the rest of Apple’s forthcoming operating systems, which will reportedly contain “a new focus on widgets and fundamental changes to how the device works,” according to Mark Gurman once more. According to reports, the new user interface would merge the iOS 14-style widgets with “the old watchOS Glances system,” enabling users to scroll among different widgets (weather, activity tracking, calendar appointments), rather than having to manually launch each program.
On watchOS, it’s probable that widget stacks, which allow you to collect several widgets to scroll through, will also be available. Apple may alter the actions of some of the watch’s buttons to go with the updated user interface. For instance, for now, hitting the Digital Crown brings up the home screen, but in the future, users might be able to open widgets instead.
From the number of stories that have come out of Cupertino over the years, it seems likely that Apple is working on its own mixed-reality headset. What the headset will be like at this time is not as important as when it will launch. According to reports and rumors, Monday is the day.
Amanda Hoover, a staff writer for WIRED, wrote yesterday that with less than a week until WWDC, other companies are rushing to bring out their own headsets because people are so excited about Apple’s. Lenovo released the $1,299 ThinkReality VRX headset, Meta showed off the $500 Meta Quest 3, and Magic Leap has been having media events to show what the Magic Leap 2 can do.
Apple’s headgear, thought to be called the Reality Pro or Reality One, is expected to cost $3,000, according to reports. Given its expensive cost, the first-generation version probably targets experts and developers rather than the general public. Both high-end and mid-priced models of the second generation could be offered, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as reported by MacRumors.
Kuo says that the headgear will also have two M2-based processors, two 4K micro-OLED screens, 12 optical cameras for tracking hand movements, and a power source outside of the headgear. These details back up tweets from a reliable leaker, Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, who also said the headset would have a peak brightness of 5,000 nits, which is very bright. The Magic Leap 2 can get as bright as 2,000 nits, while Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 can only get as bright as 100 nits.
According to a Bloomberg article, because the headset mixes augmented reality and virtual reality, the VR capabilities will be made available via the internal displays while the AR functionality will operate through a video pass-through mode. You may change between modes—from an entirely immersive experience to apps that blend into the surroundings—using the built-in Digital Crown on the headset (similar to the dial on the Apple Watch).
Additionally, it appears that Apple will call the operating system for its headgear “xrOS”. The news was first brought to light by Gurman last year, then Parker Ortolani discovered Apple had trademarked the name in New Zealand via a shell company last month.
According to Gurman, it will include a home screen that looks like an iPad’s and allow users to run many programs simultaneously in space. Apps can be installed in a specific physical location, such a living room, so that when a user returns there, their prior workspace will be restored. Along with current third-party iPad apps, it will be able to run practically all of Apple’s current iPad apps, including Messages, Music, Photos, Books, FaceTime, Maps, and Weather. Users will be able to sync the gadget with their current Apple account info using either their iPhone or iCloud.
An extensive list of new features was included in Gurman’s Power On newsletter back in April, including a Wellness app for meditation, a portal for watching sports in virtual reality, new tools in the Freeform app, such as virtual whiteboards, a VR version of the Fitness+ app for exercising while wearing the headset, the ability to videoconference with “realistic avatars,” and a feature that lets you use the headset as an external monitor when connected to a Mac.
When compared to products already on the market, Apple’s mixed-reality headset doesn’t necessarily provide ground-breaking functionality. Like other VR headsets, this one will probably allow you to wear it while working, exercising, playing games, and unwinding—it will be positioned as a tool that can fit into any facet of your life. This has all been done before, and it has kind of caught on.
In the US, there are currently 68.5 million VR users (about 15% of the population) and 110.1 million AR users, according to a research report from Zippia. However, sales of VR headsets fell by 2% in the US in 2022 compared to the previous year, and shipments of VR and AR equipment fell by 12% internationally.
The numerous drawbacks of utilizing AR or VR gadgets contribute to the lack of interest. It’s easy to understand why these devices haven’t caught on with regular users—from learning how to calibrate your area to putting all the wires into the appropriate ports before strapping in a bulky headgear and downloading the necessary software.
However, Apple’s reputation of constant software updates and seamless connectivity throughout its whole network of devices may be just what mixed reality needs to take off. Maybe consumers won’t feel as frightened to embrace a totally new product into their lifestyle if using its new headgear is as simple as using an iPhone.
Let’s hope Apple finally announces the headset at WWDC. We can only hope that, unlike the original iPhone, it won’t be displayed to attendees behind a glass case.
How to Watch the Keynote?
On Monday, June 5, beginning at 1 pm Eastern, 10 am Pacific, the Apple WWDC 2023 keynote will be livestreamed. On Apple’s website or on its own YouTube channel, you may view it. To follow along with our live coverage of the keynote, make sure to check WIRED one hour before it begins.