We’re in that hushed lull before a hell of a storm right now, but come June early it could all be very different!
Dreaming the dream
It’s been an odd year for Apple so far.
Over the past few years, we had kind of settled into a pattern of what to expect. We get the spring event, WWDC, the iPhone event and possibly another couple of events later in the year too. It’s written in stone right – that’s what we get from Apple without fail!
Well this year, they have thrown us off the scent. We had a late Christmas in January with an unexpected armful of booty, and then no spring event. After the window for that event passed the invites landed for the annual developers’ bun-fight in June.
So, with all our eyes now focused on the Steve Jobs theatre for Monday 5th June, what can we realistically expect?
Although WWDC has, and still is generally considered to be a software-focused event, they are not afraid to sprinkle in some timely hardware releases as well.
For the past two decades, Apple has previewed their latest OS dating back to 1989 and System 7 (yup I’m that old). Over time, iOS, watch OS, tvOS and the beleaguered iPadOS have all come to the party as well.
But, when they are feeling super-kind to us they have launched some pretty exciting hardware at WWDC as well – the original HomePod, iPhone 4 and last year the redesigned MacBook Air.
With the spring event cancelled, and with so many products apparently in the pipelines, there must be a very high chance of hardware coming in seven weeks.
Here is what I reckon to be some of the most likely stars that will grace the Cupertino stage this summer.
Reality Pro headset
It’s been a case of on/off and will they/won’t they, but the smart money now seems to be landing on that Apple will finally show off their wildly expensive and highly anticipated headset at WWDC.
As recently as late last month, execs were still not convinced about the headset and the fact it doesn’t have the wow factor to be another ‘iPhone’ moment.
But in last week’s Power On newsletter from the ever-reliable Mark Gurman, he double-downed on his belief that it will be unveiled at WWDC. According to him the mixed reality headset will be the star of the show and Apple will have a clear story to tell developers of what they will be working with. Apple will give those developers present multiple sessions during the week-long conference to get hands-on with it and get to understand the new xrOS better too.
Although it seems likely it will be seen at the event when it will finally go on sale is less certain. Some are saying ongoing delays mean it may not go on sale until early next year, while others think a pre-Christmas drop this year would make more sense.
Most importantly though, being such a new territory for Apple, the most important thing is to get the headset out to developers so that when it is finally bought to market an ecosystem is waiting for it.
There is only one Mac left that runs on Intel – and that ironically is Apple’s flagship Mac – the Mac Pro.
The release of this Mac has been postponed and delayed numerous times and it seems the main reason is that Apple silicon doesn’t fit in with the modular aspect of the Mac Pro.
Apple managed to buy themselves some time last year by launching the Mac Studio. Although widely loved, well received and mighty powerful, it simply does not hold the kudos of the Mac Pro heritage.
An odd truism is that every Mac Pro has been unveiled at a WWDC event. The original model in 2006, the ‘trash-can’ in 2013 and the current Mac Pro – all first seen at the summer developers conference.
Similar to the headset though, and following the tradition of the other Mac Pros, even if it is paraded at WWDC, it probably won’t ship until later in the year.
A 15-inch MacBook Air looks odds-on to be launched at the event.
All the indications point that way for sure. Ross Young has tweeted that panel production was ramped up last month and Gurman has thrown his weight behind the Air rumours too.
To get the new 15-inch MacBook Air and updates to the existing 13-inch models out for June though, the trade-off will be that they’ll ship with M2 chips, not 3nm M3 chips.
Reports of a developer log surfaced last week with signs that the 15-inch MacBook Air does exist but the chip specs exactly matched those of the current M2. We may also see an update to the 13-inch MacBook Pro as well which would be consistent with Apple’s past M1 and M2 MacBook reveals.
iOS 17 & iPadOS 17
If there is one thing we do know for certain, it’s that both new OS will be shown at WWDC ready for public release a few weeks later.
Often the new iOS is what everyone is waiting for at WWDC but with the likelihood of so much exciting hardware being at the conference, it may for once have to take a backseat.
We know that resources have been slim over recent months due to the development of xrOS – the new operating system for the headset. As a result, it may be that iOS 17 is a fairly minor housekeeping and performance improvement type of upgrade.
I did hear a story that they may, at last, improve the UI for the Control Centre, making it more customisable and even allowing for widgets to be added. Of course, the one other story that they will have to cover with the release of iOS and iPad OS 17 is that of side loading. Yup, you’ll finally be able to download and install apps that are outside of the Apple App Store. Developers will benefit for sure as it will save them the 15%-30% Apple tax that they’ve had to pay until now.
With no major updates or refreshes coming to Apple Watch this year, Apple is putting all their watch love into the OS.
Rumours are rife that watchOS is about to get a radical overhaul. Leaks making their way out of Cupertino have not specified what exactly to expect, except that it is going to be the biggest make-over the hugely popular watch has seen. The only other substantive upgrade to watchOS was in 2016 when Apple Watch got the Dock and Control Centre.
If all this were to come true at this summer’s WWDC not only will it be a mind-blowing event, but also long! It could easily be a three-hour presentation. I made a YouTube short yesterday and I started off by saying it could be one of those ‘I know where I was when’ moments.
If the Reality Pro turns out to be the beginning of the post-iPhone era, then it truly will be a historic event. No one could have predicted the impact that iPhone has had on society when Steve Jobs revealed that all those years back.
It would be a brave or silly person that would stand up to say the same may not be true of Reality Pro. But not only are getting that we could finally see the Apple silicon Mac Pro and a new MacBook Air.
I think the blog the day after WWDC could take some writing. Wish me luck!
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