Apple kicks off its annual developer conference WWDC with a keynote presentation on Monday. Like last year, WWDC will be online only, but don’t be fooled: we think this is going to be an eventful keynote. Expect several exciting announcements for users who live in or follow the Apple ecosystem of hardware, software, and services.
WWDC’s focus is almost always on Apple’s software, and with good reason. This is an event primarily designed to engage with developers and encourage them to create new software experiences for Apple’s various platforms.
For that reason, we can of course expect detailed information about the new versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS.
But this event also marks one half of Apple’s two-year roadmap to transition the entire Mac product line from Intel’s CPUs to Apple’s proprietary, custom-designed silicon. There’s good reason to believe this event will focus on the transition – a focus that may include new Mac hardware announcements.
Before the show starts next week, let’s see what we know and expect at this point. Rest assured, we’ll also be covering the action as it unfolds in our live blog on Monday, so stay tuned to Ars to catch up on the news as it happens.
iOS and iPadOS
New versions of iOS and iPadOS will certainly be a major focus of the WWDC 2021 keynote.
Last year, thanks to numerous leaks, we knew a lot about the new software for iPhones and iPads leading up to WWDC. This year? Not nearly as much.
As was the case for a slew of leaks last year (and many this year too), what we do know comes from Bloomberg, who cited sources familiar with Apple’s plans to claim that iOS 15 will overhaul notifications, allowing users to set different rules about what types of notifications you should receive (or block) depending on factors such as time of day and location.
Bloomberg sources also said new privacy features will be coming, such as a place where users can view a list of apps that are collecting their data. Further, Apple plans to make changes to iMessage to make it “more of a social network,” though it’s unclear exactly what that means.
Below: The 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Apple’s M1.
iPadOS will get the same home screen customization features as it did on iPhones late last year, but not iPads, including widgets that you can place on any home screen page and the app library.
There have been other reports of upcoming features like food tracking in the Health app, but the sources weren’t quite as solid, so we’d recommend taking those with a grain of salt.
Other than that, we don’t know much about iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, so expect at least a few surprises.
macOS, watchOS, tvOS and… homeOS?
Apple will also announce new versions of macOS for the Mac, watchOS for the Apple Watch, and tvOS (or something new related to tvOS) for the Apple TV.
We know even less what to expect from Apple’s other operating systems. macOS will likely be called macOS 12, completely dropping the “10.x” nomenclature after Apple graduated the platform from macOS 10 to macOS 11 with the launch of Big Sur last year.
Bloomberg sources in the aforementioned piece called the upcoming changes to macOS “minor”, and we haven’t seen any reliable reports on what to expect from macOS in any case. More privacy features seem like a safe bet, and this is just speculation, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple tries to address the criticism that iOS and iPadOS apps running under macOS aren’t very pleasant to use. But the truth is that the next version of macOS remains a mystery.
The same goes for watchOS. Apple has been adding health-related features with gusto in recent years, so more of that seems like a safe bet, but there haven’t been many reports.
Perhaps the most interesting leak of recent times was the apparently accidental inclusion of the term “homeOS” in an Apple job listing. The term appeared to have been replaced by “HomePod” and “tvOS” in the two places it appeared, suggesting that Apple plans to use the unnamed HomePod software (which is already a variant of tvOS) and the TV’s software. streaming box to create a unified smart home operating system.
That said, we don’t know anything for sure on that front, so we’ll have to wait and see on Monday.