I’m acting a bit like a kid on Christmas Eve…bring on WWDC…but bring snacks
And now for something completely different
As I write, WWDC 2023 is but four days away.
To mark that point Apple today updated its events page. The image above gives you an idea – but it’s best described I guess as a morphing, glowing version of the company’s logo. I can hear the Easter Egg brigade now scouring over every pixel of the image and trying to work out what the heck it’s telling us – what’s it giving away? It’s the same every year – I’m sure Apple love sitting back and watching the clamour and free press.
But hey, I’m not going to knock it – secretly I love it. It adds to the build-up and anticipation and this year more than most I am so ready for it.
For sure it’s going to be jammed and today I thought we could have a little look at what we can likely expect.
I’ve just looked back at some recent WWDC events to get a measure of what the average duration is for these conferences. Last year’s at 1 hour 49 minutes was actually pretty brief and looking back, there wasn’t that much in it. I guess the headlines would have been the M2 MacBook Air and of course the Apple Watch Ultra.
WWDC 2019 was eeked out to 2 hours 19 minutes and 2017’s conference was almost to the minute the same length. So, it looks like it would be fair to say that around two hours is the average duration for Apple’s summer bun-fight in Cupertino.
But this year is anything but average and it could be memorable and record-breaking for many reasons.
I have a sneaky feeling that when we sit back on Monday at 6pm BST we could be there for a stretch – there’s heaps to get through. So line up the snacks, coffee and water and prepare to hunker down.
The elephant in the room
You may be aware of the name Marcus Kane.
I was lucky enough to come across him earlier this year and during the ensuing months, we’ve formed quite an alliance. He is a commercial renders artist by trade, an avid augmented reality fan and just a lovely bloke!
We were talking after recording the first of our headset-based videos that will be going out on my channel over the next few days. I mentioned to him when he thought that Apple would drop their headset bomb at WWDC – I suggested it could be right at the back end as one of Apple’s famous “and one more thing” moments.
Marcus disagreed and I see his point. The AR/VR mixed reality headset alone will need at least an hour to unpack and quite likely longer.
The enormity of what Tim Cook & Co is about to unveil this Monday cannot be underestimated. It represents more than simply Apple’s first dalliance into the AR/VR world – it could easily prove to be the moment that the next generation of computing and working changes forever. It’ll be a where were you when moment…
The device is expected to be loaded with tech the like of which we’ve never seen before – as many as fourteen cameras and sensors, bright, powerful backlit mini-LED display panels and pancake optics.
Although a controller will follow, at launch the headset will be controlled purely by gestures. So you get my point – this part of WWDC alone is massive. It has been a decade in the making and it deserves its moment in the sun. With Apple Car still deep in development, the headset could be Tim Cooks defining moment as CEO – this could and should be his iPhone moment.
Press release Tuesday
Apple’s press room is one of my go-to sites when I settle down at the desk to write every day.
It wasn’t ever thus, but again, this whole year has proven to be anything but normal. Think back to January when we got M2 Pro & Max MacBook Pros and Mac mini and the new HomePod on a Tuesday press release. Apple Music Classical was announced in a press release in March and then last month they used the same route to announce that Logic & Final Cut were both coming to iPad.
You won’t ever convince me that in any other year certainly, the last press release about FCP and Logic wouldn’t have had a big splash at WWDC. It’s been wanted for so long – and suddenly it was a case of there you go – have it.
All of this leads me to believe next Monday the decks are being wiped clear.
While still talking hardware it looks likely we are getting more Macs at WWDC as well.
A new 15-inch MacBook Air has been strongly rumoured to make an appearance next week but it will still only be running the M2 chip. No M3 chips will be making their way to Macs until later this year. News also broke this week that M2 Max and M2 Ultra chips will be coming to desktop Macs at this year’s WWDC.
With the MacBook Pros and Mac mini already having had their facelift in January what does that leave us? The iMac will most likely wait until the M3 chip is available later this year which just leaves the Mac Studio and the lamented Mac Pro.
Having waited this long to put Apple silicon in the Mac Pro though it would seem unlikely they would put an M2 chip in it with the M3 variation only a few months away. So my money would be on the Mac Studio getting the new M2 Max & Ultra chips as they have now been running the M1 Max & Ultra for over a year. Interestingly the Mac Studio (and M2 MacBook Air) have this week also been placed on Apple’s trade-in program…
And if my guesses are right on all this, assuming they don’t quietly retire the Mac Pro in the wake of the Mac Studio’s success then at least the Pro could have an M3 Ultra inside giving it s slight flex in the power stakes.
WWDC has always been thought of primarily as a software event, but this year it may be forced into taking a backseat.
xrOS will be rolled out as part of the Reality Pro presentation, but that still means that every other OS will still have to be mentioned and to some degree covered. macOS 14 is hugely important to the company and surely cannot be brushed aside. The same applies to iOS17. Although we think the upgrades will be fairly minor to iOS this year the iPhone is coming this fall and will need the latest OS to have been rolled out beforehand.
A few weeks back there were stories that watchOS is getting a huge makeover this year. If that’s the case Apple will surely want to show it off and talk about it. As for iPadOS, Home, and tvOS, I’d imagine they’ll be lucky to even get a look in. That is how busy this year’s WWDC is likely to be.
Everything will take a back seat to Reality Pro and xrOS at WWDC – we know, anticipate and expect that.
But equally, Reality Pro won’t actually be available until late this year or early 2024 and Apple’s tills need to be kept turning over. iPhone sales were worth around $200 billion to the company last year and it’s a given that iOS17 will be shown next week – it’s too important not to be.
But if the point that Marcus made to me is right, and I have a suspicion he is, then WWDC will need to kick off with Reality Pro and everything that goes with it. It is an entirely new platform, device and era. It’s all new and will need some upselling. With the first run of headsets running at around $3000, they’ll want as many of the rumoured 100,000 units to be snapped up on release.
For that to happen, we need to fully get a grasp of it and be left wanting more.
Apple is the master when it comes to making us want devices we never knew we even needed. The stakes on that count have never been higher.
So – bring on Monday and the snacks! Just don’t make any plans for a few hours though – it’s going to be long!
By the way, you can set your reminder to watch the event on Apple’s YouTube channel here.
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