Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicks off June 6, starting a four-day blitz of news and updates for all things Apple. It’s a chance for developers to learn the latest news about Apple’s underlying software and to connect with engineers and product designers to discover the best ways to tailor their creations to the products those apps will run on.
But it’s also Apple’s biggest stage of the year. While the Cupertino-based tech giant has several announcement events throughout the year, this is arguably its most important, giving Apple a chance to speak directly to the most devoted users—the people making the software. That makes WWDC an important forum for introducing everything from new software features and creation tools to new hardware products and more.
Apple is famously tight-lipped about what exactly will be announced during the show, but the rumor mill has been working overtime to ferret out what might be coming. Here’s what we’re expecting from WWDC next week, as well as how to watch and join in yourself.
What Is WWDC?
Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference, shortened to WWDC—sometimes called Dub-dub, for extra short—is a four-day trade show that’s all about Apple. From Apple software to the Macs and other devices that run it, it’s Apple’s chance to provide detailed guidance to the army of developers making apps and tools for everything from iPad to Apple Watch.
(Photo: Steven Winkelman)
The conference includes overarching events for broad consumption, such as its keynote (which generally includes major product announcements) and Platforms State of the Union, but the bulk of the show is intended for the developer community, with breakout sessions and panels addressing the sort of software specifics that won’t mean much to folks who aren’t actively working on app development.
Since the start of COVID-19 lockdowns, WWDC has been an online-only affair, and the 2022 show will also be held virtually. A small number of developers and media have been invited to attend an in-person screening of the WWDC keynote and Platforms State of the Union at Apple’s campus in Cupertino.
When Is WWDC 2022? Events, Dates, and Times
WWDC runs between June 6 and 10. Monday’s opening events will be accessible to the general public online, but most of the conference events will be shared only with developers through the Apple Developer website(Opens in a new window), or directly through the Apple Developer app(Opens in a new window) for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV.
The conference kicks off on day one with a keynote event the morning of June 6, at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, which is likely to include the major announcements from the conference. New OS versions and the latest hardware can all get time during this event, so we’ll be covering it live as it’s broadcast.
Apple’s Platforms State of the Union is the second major event of the day, held June 6 at 1 p.m. Pacific Time. This event offers a deeper dive into the different Apple platforms, looking at the latest tools and technologies available to developers across all of Apple’s platforms, from Apple TV and Apple Watch to iPhone and Mac.
(Photo: Angela Moscaritolo)
The last public event of WWDC is the Apple Design Awards, which highlights select apps and games from across the many Apple platforms. The list of finalists(Opens in a new window) has already been posted, with the awards to be revealed as part of the first day of WWDC. The public can watch the video broadcast on June 6 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
Much of the remaining WWDC 2022 schedule has yet to be announced, but Apple does promise that participants will “get a first look at Apple’s latest platforms and technologies” during breakout sessions and digital lounges. One-on-one labs, held with Apple engineers, designers, and experts, will also be held, giving developers a chance to ask direct questions about new technologies and features. These sessions are free, but available by request only.
How to Watch the WWDC 2022 Keynote
The most anticipated event of WWDC22 is the opening keynote, which will be available for anyone to watch for free through Apple.com(Opens in a new window) and YouTube(Opens in a new window). Other events, such as the Platforms State of the Union, the Apple Design Awards, and the topical sessions will be available through the Apple Developer app(Opens in a new window) and website(Opens in a new window). Users in China can view the streamed events via Tencent, iQIYI, Bilibili, and Youku.
What’s Coming: iOS 16 and iPadOS 16
The biggest software offering at WWDC will surely be iOS, with millions of iPhone users looking forward to the latest features to be supported by a new version of Apple’s smartphone software. We expect to see iOS 16 announced during the WWDC keynote, with a developer beta to be released the same day. Public beta testing will open up a few weeks later, with the final version likely to come this fall—late September, if past versions are any guide.
We expect iOS 16 to include a number of new features, with some stylistic changes to existing software, as well. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman thinks that we’ll see major changes, ranging from health-tracking features to a revamped lock screen(Opens in a new window). And on Twitter, LeaksApplePro(Opens in a new window) reports that iOS 16 will include a new approach to widgets that includes a larger interface and interactive elements.
Alongside the smartphone software, we can expect similar changes to come to iPadOS, plus updates that bring the tablet operating system even closer to the familiar Mac experience. First, rumors are circulating that iPads will get a new desktop mode, with app developer Steve Troughton-Smith spotting hints of an unreleased multitasking mode(Opens in a new window), and leaker Majin Bu reporting new window resizing options(Opens in a new window) coming to iPad.
Adding credibility to these reports, Patently Apple(Opens in a new window) spotted a patent for a hinged keyboard accessory that would turn an iPad into a laptop-like device, much like many detachable 2-in-1 laptops we’ve reviewed. When connected, the iPad would switch to a macOS-like environment better suited to a mouse and keyboard.
Could this be the year that an iPad can actually replace a MacBook?
What’s in Store for Mac: macOS 13
The current version of Apple’s Mac operating system, macOS Monterey, was announced a year ago at WWDC 2021, following the annual release cycle that’s been established since OS X Lion back in 2011. If the pattern holds, we’ll get a shiny new update to macOS—the only mystery is what specifics will be included, and what California-based codename will be chosen.
WatchOS 9: Health and Safety Updates
Last year’s watchOS update added overnight respiration tracking, new mindfulness features, the Portraits watch face, and GIFs. This year, rumors about what’s coming to Apple’s smartwatch-based OS are thin.
9to5Mac(Opens in a new window), citing Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, says the update could include expanded atrial fibrillation (Afib) detection capabilities, a new power-saving option, and satellite connectivity for contacting emergency services without cellular service. New sleep-monitoring, women’s health, and medication-tracking features could also be on tap. Fresh watch faces and workout-tracking options are also likely, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Regularly Scheduled Programming: tvOS 16
Apple TV announcements usually center around new shows and content—we expect to hear about the streaming-first Academy Award for CODA during the show, and probably a trailer for Ted Lasso‘s third season—but WWDC isn’t about the shows. Last year’s updates included support for controlling Apple TV with a HomePod or HomePod Mini, but no rumors have circulated for this year’s tvOS announcements.
A Search Engine for Siri?
One unexpected new development is the rumored launch of an Apple search engine. According to Robert Scoble(Opens in a new window), the new search tool is intended for use with Siri, and no mention has been made about a separate consumer-facing search engine for the web. Though Apple pays Google handsomely to answer users’ questions, the Siri platform also pulls a lot of responses from Apple’s own data, and Apple has never been shy about competing directly with the search giant.
A New Reality: realityOS
As part of a push to develop an Apple augmented reality headset, there’s a new member of the OS family rumored to be coming, called realityOS, or rOS for short. While this move has been speculated for years, Bloomberg reports that the hardware is being demoed internally, and trademarks for “realityOS” began being filed last December.
If a new product category is on the horizon, it stands to reason that Apple would use WWDC as the opportunity to announce it, giving developers some lead time before the product lands to start making apps and finding new uses for the technology.
Hardware Horizons: M2 Macs and (Maybe) AR
While WWDC is a software-focused event, Apple’s software and hardware are so tightly intertwined that it’s inevitable that there will be some new products and product features announced during the conference.
The most anticipated hardware announcement isn’t a Mac, it’s the processor inside. Since the introduction of the ARM-based M1 processor in 2020, Apple has been expanding the lineup of first-generation Apple Silicon CPUs, first with the M1, followed by the M1 Pro and M1 Max in late 2021, and finally the M1 Ultra earlier this year. With the first generation of the M series appearing to be fully fleshed out, Apple fans are eagerly awaiting a potential follow up.
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According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims(Opens in a new window) that Apple “is testing at least nine new Macs with four different M2-based chips” including so-called M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. That all suggests an announcement could be soon.
If Apple introduces a new line of processors, all Mac products are on the table for an upgrade. From the Mac mini and MacBook Air to the MacBook Pro and Mac Studio, every model of laptop and desktop is likely to receive a new model with some version of the M2 hardware inside.
(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)
If these next-generation processors are announced next week, one likely place to start is the MacBook Air. In fact, an older note from Ming-Chi Kuo, reported last year by 9to5Mac(Opens in a new window), suggests that a new Air laptop is coming for mid-2022. And Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says big things are coming(Opens in a new window) for the slim laptop, reporting that the new model will get the “biggest MacBook Air redesign in the product’s history.”
In addition to the expected move to a new processor, this report anticipates a move to mini-LED and the introduction of multiple color options, matching the rainbow of color options offered on the iMac and iPad.
Apple’s little Mac mini may not be the most exciting member of the macOS family, but it was the first to get Apple’s M1 chip, showing up as a developer preview of the new Apple Silicon hardware at WWDC 2020, and then launching with the M1 processor alongside the MacBook Air. If there’s a new CPU in the works, there’s a good chance that the Mac mini will get it first.
But an M2-powered Mac mini isn’t the only option for the tiny desktop. There’s still an Intel-powered Mac mini that seems ripe for replacing with a more powerful M1 Pro processor. And a new Mac mini that borrows the refined design (and hopefully the expanded port selection) of the Mac Studio could give the iconic design just the sort of subtle sprucing up that Apple has been giving other Macs over the last few years.
Perhaps the most likely product to be announced at WWDC is a new Mac Pro. With the release of the Mac Studio in March, the Mac Pro now has serious in-house competition. During the Mac Studio’s launch, Apple specifically compared its performance to the aging 16- and 28-core Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro models.
And John Ternus, Apple VP of Hardware Engineering, specifically name-checked the premium desktop during the announcement(Opens in a new window), noting that the Mac Studio and Studio Display “…join the rest of our incredible Mac lineup with Apple silicon, making our transition nearly complete, with just one more product to go, Mac Pro, but that is for another day.” That other day just might be next week.
Pro Display XDR
The Apple Studio Display was introduced alongside the Mac Studio, giving Apple users a 27-inch 5K display for use with any M1-powered Mac. It boasts an Apple A13 Bionic processor, spatial sound and an impressive 12-megapixel webcam with Center Stage.
Apple’s top-dog display, the Pro Display XDR, doesn’t offer these same features, despite delivering a mix of a larger 32-inch screen, higher 6,016-by-3,384-pixel resolution, and XDR (Extreme Dynamic Range), which ramps HDR performance up for 1,600 nits of peak brightness. If Apple wants to do the Pro Display XDR one better, the idea of merging the premium display technology with the Studio Display’s feature set and integrated processing would be a smart path forward.
An Apple AR/VR Headset
Last, it’s highly anticipated that WWDC will include the first official news of an entirely new product and product category for Apple: an Apple augmented-reality headset. In May, Bloomberg reported that Apple executives were getting demonstrations(Opens in a new window) of the new mixed-reality headset, suggesting a new product release in the coming year.
We don’t expect Apple to launch the headset at WWDC, but the software underpinnings of realityOS may come next week, and we should be able to glean some new information about the hardware that’s coming.