Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers the keynote address at the 2020 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California on June 22, 2020.
Brooks Kraft | Apple, Inc. | via Reuters
Apple CEO Tim Cook will showcase the latest versions of Apple’s software for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Watch and TV on Monday to kick off WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference.
The new “bits,” as attendees often call the updates, are Apple’s biggest software announcement of the year and define Apple’s public platform strategy over the next 12 months. For example, iOS 16, as Apple is expected to call the new software for iPhone and iPad, could include improved notifications, a redesigned Lock screen, and updates to the Messages and Health apps, according to a Bloomberg News report.
But Apple’s mixed reality headset is unlikely to debut next week.
WWDC, which stands for Worldwide Developers Conference, and is dubbed “Dub Dub,” is strategically important to Apple even though the company isn’t announcing any new hardware.
Apple’s financial performance depends on the support of third-party software developers like those who attend WWDC. Without a solid selection of updated, quality apps, the value of Apple’s platforms to consumers and users would likely decline, ultimately hurting sales. Apple also generates up to $20 billion a year from software sales on its App Store.
Software for Apple platforms, like iOS apps, typically uses different programming tools or frameworks than other major platforms like Microsoft’s Windows, Google’s Android, or the web. Apple is getting programmers excited about these technologies with a hype-filled keynote to kick off the conference, a more technical presentation called “Platforms State of the Union” later that day, and then a week of class and individual sessions. one meetings where developers can get feedback and advice from Apple engineers.
The biggest difference this year for WWDC is that it will include an in-person component after two years of being entirely virtual. The change is subtle – the main presentation with new product announcements will still be pre-recorded, and developers around the world can still attend the conference sessions virtually.
But this year, Apple invited a few hundred software developers, members of the press and students to its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., to watch the video presentation, take campus tours and speak in person with some people. who built the software. This has nothing to do with the 6,000 attendees who traveled to San Jose for WWDC before the pandemic, but it’s another sign that things are getting back to normal after two years of virtual product announcements. Apple employees had to start returning to the office this spring after nearly two years of working mostly from home during the Covid pandemic.
Holding WWDC in person this month sets the stage for a fall launch where Apple will show off new phones, and maybe even a high-end mixed reality headset, in front of a live crowd to get some feedback. immediate practical comments from the press and partners. Like the good old times.
New software coming soon
Apple sometimes reveals new hardware at WWDC, but the products are usually expensive, powerful, and aimed at programmers — usually Macs, which are needed to create apps for the iPhone.
The last time Apple announced hardware products at WWDC was in 2019, when it released the $6,000 Mac Pro and a $5,000 monitor. Before that, it announced updates to Mac desktops and laptops in 2017.
Apple could unveil the successor to the M1 processor at WWDC. He teased at an earlier product release event that a high-end model called Mac Pro with an Apple-designed chip was coming. The “M2,” as it might be called, would be the next-generation Mac processor and could come in a redesigned MacBook Air, according to Bloomberg.
At the very least, discussing Apple’s processor advancements would be a perfect fit for the developer-focused conference. Apple originally announced its move to its own processors at WWDC in 2020.
Apple’s next big product category, augmented or mixed reality hardware, is unlikely to make an appearance.
Apple could be talking about new apps and software that lay the groundwork for a mixed reality headset or a pair of augmented reality glasses, and it often announces updates to its augmented reality development software, ARKit, at WWDC. (Augmented reality displays computer-generated images above transparent lenses that allow users to see the real world, while mixed reality is a fully immersive experience like virtual reality, but with external cameras showing images of the real world outside.)
But new product categories usually get their own launch events rather than being dragged into WWDC, and the headset would have has not yet entered mass production.
Major software updates are a better bet. In previous years, Apple announced the new version of its iOS software during WWDC in June, released a public beta for early adopters and testers later in the month, then released the final version of the software alongside new iPhones in September.
While the iPhone has the most users and the App Store the largest, updates to Apple’s other software platforms, including the iPad, Watch, and TV, often draw as much attention. Watch out for WWDC.
iPads in particular could receive big changes. iPadOS 16 could include the ability to resize windows in one motion that would make the device more appealing to power users who enjoy multitasking. Currently, users can run two apps side by side, but the ability to customize floating windows would make it more macOS-like.
Apple’s set-top box, Apple TV, could get an update that would make it more useful as the heart of a smart home, according to Bloomberg. The Apple Watch received new hardware last year with a physically larger screen, and its software is due for an update that includes new watch faces to take advantage of the larger screen.
One Apple product that will get a lot of attention next week is Swift, the company’s open-source programming language that was introduced in 2014. Invitations sent out to developers and media included a graphic with a large Swift logo and l one of the slogans for the conference is fast approaching.