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Apples’ WWDC ’23 – finally the long wait is over – welcome to a brand new era

The speculation ends today – what will the day hold for us

WWDC 2023 - a new are for Apple with Reality Pro

Ready, set, go

Apple’s WWDC is in touching distance – and I am pacing myself – today could be a long one!

The event itself will start at 10 a.m. PT and I will be primed, ready and waiting. After all, it’s not every day that a whole new platform gets launched, and certainly not one as exciting as a mixed reality platform. This day has been nearly a decade in the making and I can only imagine what the anxiety levels are over in Apple Park right now.

But, although the Reality Pro headset is going to be the star of the show, there is plenty of other releases that they’ll need to get through. There’s a lot of speculation about how long this pre-recorded keynote speech will be, but I’d expect it to be around 2 hours and 20 minutes – much longer and they know viewers’ attention will start to drift.

So, far one last time, I am going to polish up the crystal ball and take a look into the future – just how will today play out?

First or last

One thing has just come to mind – somewhere in the world, the video file of the event already exists! Geez – that’s just blown my mind…anyway, back to the speculation…

Will Apple bring out the Reality Pro headset first or last? I still think last so they can stick with the famed “and one more thing’ moment and a nod to their heritage. But today, as I was prepping to write this piece a wicked, sinister thought crossed my mind…

What if, after all the hype Apple simply announced it’s coming, spoke about the OS, features and apps, but only semi-reveal the headset onstage? All smoke & mirrors as it were. Just a thought! Even if that were the case, I imagine a very limited number of physical units already exist and will be at Apple Park for developers to get some limited time with in the pop-up event stage that Apple has built for the event.

Developers really will need to get their hands on the hardware if they are to make any meaningful progress with app development. Possibly Apple will make available a mixture of actual headsets and some kind of simulators. As the event winds down later this week though Apple will need to have in place a system that will allow for developers to remain hands-on. A few days at Apple Park just ain’t going to cut it. They’ll need extended day-in-day-out use to get dedicated apps ready for Reality Pro’s full, public release (whenever that will be).

The headsets will only be available in very limited numbers come launch anyway as Sony simply can’t produce the high-end panels in the high volumes that I dare say Apple would ideally want. The hardware is reportedly ready so my speculation of shipping out some sets to developers this summer holds – even if the OS is not yet finished.

Another couple of points have just crossed my mind too. Considering there are externally sourced materials such as the panels, Apple has done an amazing job at keeping everything under wraps – no leaks whatsoever – pretty impressive right? Every year we get iPhone leaks from case suppliers and the like, but on this, the biggest release since the first iPhone – nothing! Just goes to prove what Apple can do if they really want to keep everything locked down. And also, if developers do get some dev kits this summer, can you imagine the NDAs they’d have to sign?

First impressions

Although we have been talking nothing but Reality Pro in our tech-sphere, the mass population is probably not aware of what is about to break. That though will change later today. Once the event has been streamed, all the main news stations will be carrying the story, so the first impressions that Apple sets today matter.

I’d guess that Apple will focus on describing the ecosystem and their overall vision for xrOS later today rather than trying to give exact, and precise details – much as they did with Apple Watch on its debut.

Precisely what they will focus on will be interesting to note. As I said, this is not purely about the Apple & tech brigade, but rather the public at large. Will they drive home the gaming side, health or work benefits? Or they could decide that pushing home its more widespread appeal of media consumption or as an out-and-out wearable computer may be the way to go. Apple is in the enviable position of having all these resources available to them which is why they are perfectly positioned to make this leap into an AR future work.

Mums the word

This device has had one mantra for the longest while.

It has not been built to a price but instead to show off just what is currently possible at the highest end of the mixed reality world. The reason that AR/VR hasn’t caught on so far with other attempts from other manufacturers is that it hasn’t dazzled.

If Apple can manage to get the headlines tomorrow on mainstream media that convinces people they want this headset, then WWDC will have done its job. That is why they have gone high-end and premium. There have been other bodged attempts to build a budget AR headset – but Apple knows that to drive this platform home, they have to show it off at its best.

That is also why I don’t expect them to lock down on an exact price but rather either go the to be confirmed route or a from ballpark figure instead. As there will be no immediate launch why ruin the party by putting a monetary figure on it? Apple will want the publics breath to be taken away for all the right reasons.

And all this will have to be done in around 40 minutes as there are so many other things that Apple will need to talk about later today in Cupertino.

Apple Watch

It took a good few years after the launch of iPhone to get its first meaningful OS overhaul, and it looks as if the same is about to be the case for Apple Watch.

After nine years we’ve seen watchOS grow and change but now would seem the right moment to give it a total refresh. An updated version of Glances is expected and widgets are to be better integrated into watchOS 10 helping you access core information quicker without having to launch apps. Apple will drive this new OS towards focusing on what Apple Watch does best.

Macs

There has been much chat over the past week that more than one Mac may make its way to the WWDC stage today. I’m in two minds over that though.

I’m not for one moment taking away Mark Gurman’s awesome intel, but considering that Apple will be launching the headset today, would they really bury the news of new Macs on the same day? Wouldn’t that be some kind of marketing abyss? No matter how good the Macs are, they would just be buried and get no column inches.

A 15-inch M2 MacBook Air makes some sense as it would be a quick story to tell and would also then mean it’s available for the lucrative back-to-school market later this summer. That Mac would be pretty much the same as the current 13-inch model, just with a bigger panel – easy and affordable and would require little explanation. It kind of speaks for itself.

Where I am more sceptical is over the high-end Macs. The Mac Pro surely won’t be coming today – and for all we know at this point, ever! Not only would unveiling a new Mac Pro today be poor timing from a marketing point of view, but also form a logical standpoint too. The M2 chip is just about at the backend of its development cycle, so even if they put a bunch of M2 Ultra’s in there it would soon be outdated.

If they do continue to peddle a Mac Pro would they now not wait for M3 to come along? Again, much like the headset, they would want the Mac Pro to dazzle, shine and shock and awe. It’s always been a niche machine anyway and that core crowd deserve to be impressed.

If anything a new model variation of the Mac Studio is more likely. Much like the MacBook Air, it would be quick and easy to talk about and would tick the boxes of keeping the Mac Studio relevant and current – and also buy them some more time for the Mac Pro too.

Lastly

The mainstay of WWDC in normal years is to reveal the latest operating systems such as macOS, iOS and iPadOS.

Although they will clearly be covered this year, apart from watchOS we are expecting the updates to be fairly minor across the other device platforms. That’s partly because there simply has not been enough manpower available at Apple this year to fully develop the operating systems – all available hands have been used to get Reality Pro ready for its big day.

Wrapping up

As I started by writing, today is going to be a busy one. Writing this was the first part of my day.

Next will be the live stream I am doing with Marcus on YouTube from 6pm covering the event in real-time and then straight after that I will be with MacRumors as a speaker on Twitter Spaces throwing my two-bobs worth in.

Today will be over in a flash. I am beyond excited. And of course, I will be back here tomorrow going over what happened the night before.

Enjoy WWDC folks!

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