Apple WWDC 2021: iOS 15, new MacBook Pros and what else to expect

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Apple’s annual developer extravaganza, the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), is coming up and kicking off with the keynote presentation on June 7 at 1 p.m. ET. Like last year, WWDC will be an all-digital and online-only event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the keynote, that means we can probably expect another tightly-produced video highlighting everything Apple has in store.

While we don’t expect any announcements at the level of Apple’s shift to custom silicon in its computers, which was the big news of WWDC 2020, Apple is likely to have some notable changes in the works for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and its other operating systems. And if the current rumors come true, we could also see brand new MacBook Pros with the return of some long-missed features, such as MagSafe charging.

Read on to find out everything we can expect from the big show. And don’t be surprised if Apple also has a few surprises in store.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

iOS 15 may bring improvements to notifications and iMessage

We haven’t heard much about what might be coming to Apple’s next version of its mobile operating system, which will presumably be called iOS 15, but we could see big changes in notifications and possibly iMessage, according to Bloomberg.

For notifications, you may be able to have different notification settings for situations like driving, working, sleeping, or even a custom category, and you can enable them as needed. You may also be able to set up automatic replies based on the notification setting you’re currently using, such as what you can do now with Do Not Disturb in Driving Mode. Personally, I hope iOS 15 allows me to allow notifications from a select few people while silencing just about everything else.

As for iMessages, Apple is apparently working on features to make it act as “more of a social network” to compete with Facebook’s WhatsApp, Bloomberg said, but those features are still “early in development” and may be announced at a later date.

Apple is also planning to add a feature that lets you see apps that are quietly collecting data about you, continuing the company’s trend of adding privacy-focused updates to its operating systems.

For iPadOS 15, you can apparently expect a major update to the home screen, including the ability to place widgets anywhere you want. And now that Apple has just introduced the new M1-powered iPad Pros, we hope to see some new upgrades to take advantage of the new chip.

In May, Apple also announced a host of new accessibility features for Apple’s operating systems, such as iOS enhancements to VoiceOver, support for bi-directional hearing aids, a built-in background noise player, and new Memoji enhancements such as cochlear implants. Apple said these features would appear “later this year,” suggesting they’ll be included in iOS 15.

We don’t know much about macOS, watchOS 8 and tvOS 15 – but we could see a new “homeOS”

We haven’t heard much about upcoming software updates for the Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, so we’ll have to wait and see what Apple has in store. A little something: macOS could be a “more minor” update, Bloomberg says. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given that the macOS operating system got a major overhaul with Big Sur last year.

However, we could see the introduction of a brand new operating system called “homeOS”, which was recently mentioned in and later removed from an Apple vacancy. While it’s unclear exactly what devices this operating system is intended for, it may work on Apple’s home-facing products, such as the Apple TV and HomePod Mini.

Photo by Alexander Kramer for The Verge

New, redesigned MacBook Pros and a new Apple CPU could be announced

Apple doesn’t always introduce new hardware at WWDC, but new MacBook Pros seem like a possibility this year. In a report dated May 18 Bloomberg said that new MacBook Pros could arrive “as early as this summer,” suggesting an announcement at WWDC.

These new laptops would have new Apple-designed processors that would “significantly exceed the performance and capabilities of current M1 chips,” according to the report. Bloomberg. The M1 is already pretty good, so it sounds like these new chips could be even more impressive.

Apple apparently plans to release it two chips for the new Pros. Both should have eight high-performance cores and two energy-efficient cores, while you can choose between 16 or 32 graphics cores. (For comparison, the M1’s CPU has four high-performance and four low-power cores, while the GPU is offered with seven or eight cores.) You can probably also specify the laptops with a whopping 64GB of memory, up to 16GB on M1. equipped computers.

The new laptops should be offered with 14-inch or 16-inch displays, and those displays could have “brighter, higher-contrast” displays, according to one Bloomberg January report. The laptops may also have a new design with flat edges like the iPhone 12, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in January:. I’m curious what that design will look like in practice – I’m afraid the hard edges could be uncomfortable with the laptop on your lap.

Best rumored, the new design could also mark the return of some of the ports and features taken away with the now infamous 2016 MacBook Pro redesign, including a MagSafe charger, HDMI port, and SD card slot. , Bloomberg according to its May report. And according to Kuo, the OLED Touch Bar currently found on Intel-based MacBook Pros will apparently be removed in favor of physical function keys.

We could see at least one other new Mac

While it may seem like MacBook Pros are the only new hardware we’ll see at WWDC this year, that hasn’t stopped other Mac rumors of late, and there’s always a chance Apple could announce more on its big screen. event. according to BloombergApple also has “a revamped MacBook Air, a new low-end MacBook Pro, and an all-new Mac Pro workstation” in the works, as well as a “high-end Mac Mini desktop and larger iMac,” all powered by Apple’s custom silicon.

The new Mac Mini may have the same chip as the new MacBook Pros. The new Mac Pro could be a beast, with processors “two or four times as powerful as the new high-end MacBook Pro chip.”

And the redesigned “high-end” MacBook Air could arrive as early as the end of this year. Frankly, I hope the refreshed Air arrives even later. Just bought the M1-equipped Air and it’s one of the best computers I’ve ever used, but I have a bad feeling I’ll be first in line to get a redesigned and more capable Air to buy. (Especially if it gets the MagSafe charger that is allegedly used for the new Pros.)

Apple may have hinted at its AR/VR headset

Apple has long been rumored to have a mixed reality headset in the works, and recently we’ve heard a few more possible details about it. The headset may be: whole expensive — about $3,000, according to one report — though it could be packed with 8K displays, more than a dozen cameras to track hand movements and capture footage, and perhaps weigh less than an iPhone, too.

While the headset may be a way out, as it’s expected to ship in 2022 at the earliest, there are a few suspicious details in Apple’s WWDC promotional images May hint at some sort of reveal of Apple’s upcoming headset or the software it runs on.

Check out this image below (which I also used at the top of this post), which Apple released along with the WWDC announcement in March. Notice the way the app icons are reflected in the goggles – I can imagine some sort of mixed reality headset that shows icons in front of your eyes in a similar way.

Those icons are definitely reflected in an interesting place.
Image: Apple

Apple continued that reflection motif with new images released in May – you can see things from the laptop screens reflected in all the eyes of the Memojis.

Look at those reflections.
Image: Apple

Now these reflections may just be Apple’s artists bending their design chops. And if I had to guess, given how far along a rumored mixed reality headset is, I don’t think we’ll be seeing anything about it at WWDC this year.

But Apple has surprised us in the past, and perhaps these images are an indication of something else Apple has in store for WWDC.