Everything Apple Plans to Show at WWDC: XR Headset, iOS 17 and More
Company is set to announce its first major new product in nearly a decade.
Apple Inc.'s most significant product launch event in nearly a decade kicks off Monday, when the company will introduce its first major new product category since the Apple Watch alongside multiple new Macs and software upgrades across its platforms.
The event starts from the company's Cupertino, California campus on Monday, June 5th at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET.
The highlight of the event will be a mixed-reality headset, likely to be dubbed either the Reality Pro or XR Pro, along with a new xrOS operating system for the device. Also likely to be present are new Mac laptops and desktops and software updates including watchOS 10, iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and macOS 14. The company will also highlight updates to services on its platforms related to fitness, health and finance and further meld its devices to work better together and keep people within the Apple ecosystem.
Over the past several months, Bloomberg News has reported on Apple's plans for the new products coming at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Here is what to expect from each, based on those reports as well as people familiar with Apple's plans:
Mixed-Reality Headset and xrOS:
- Apple's first headset will be an ultra-premium device made of glass, carbon fiber and aluminum. It looks like a high-tech pair of ski goggles, features a new magnetic charger for power, has a curved front with an external screen to show a wearer's facial expressions and eyes, and several external cameras to enable video pass-through, depth sensing and hand control.
- The main use cases will be communication, video consumption, wellness, gaming and productivity. One person who worked on the device called it part “status symbol” and part “future of the computer.”
- The product blends augmented and virtual reality. The VR features will be powered by a pair of bright, 4K screens inside the headset, while the AR functionality will be enabled by the video pass-through mode. The headset has a Digital Crown like the Apple Watch for users to toggle between AR and VR. When in VR, the user is fully immersed. When AR is toggled, content and applications fade back slightly and mix with the real environment surrounding the wearer.
- The headset will be powered by an M2 chip with 16GB of memory, or RAM, and use an external battery pack that looks like a larger version of the MagSafe Battery Pack for the iPhone. The pack will connect over a wire to the headset. The circular power adapter will attach via magnet and with a clockwise twist to lock it in so it doesn't fall out during use. The power requirements of the headset mean it will likely only last about two hours per charge.
- Users will operate the headset using eye and hand control so they can look at an item to highlight it and then pinch their fingers to select it. It will also have Siri onboard. The headset has an array of microphones as well as speakers mounted near the user's temples, but it will rely on AirPods for enhanced spatial audio.
- The device will cost around $3,000 and Apple isn't planning to make much money from it. It could be one of the few Apple products to not provide a big margin as Apple doesn't want to completely price itself out of the market. Apple has also discussed initially selling the device in the US and expects it will sell about 900,000 units in the first year. The company believes sales will begin slow but that the device provides an Apple Watch-sized opportunity. It's also a reputation-risking endeavor given the high price and lack of established market.
- While the headset will debut on Monday, it won't go on sale for several more months. Internally, the company has discussed release dates ranging from after the iPhone 15 launch to December to early 2024. It has trademarked names suggesting brands ranging from Reality Pro or Reality One to XR Pro, while the operating system itself will be dubbed xrOS.
- Apple has built a large structure on the Apple Park campus to provide controlled hands-on demos of the device to some attendees and media at the conference. The company has set up an area at the basketball courts near its employee fitness center. Apple is also planning future demos through the summer. When it shows off the device, it's planning to focus on immersive FaceTime in VR, Apple TV content and gaming.
- A snap-in prescription lens system will play a significant role in the headset's introduction, demos and sales process, as the device is too slim to support the wearing of normal glasses beneath it.
- Apple is also discussing notifying potential customers with certain conditions that they should not buy or use the device due to the impact AR and VR may have on their health. That includes people with Meniere's Disease, past traumatic brain injuries, post-concussion syndrome, migraines and vertigo.
- Some testers have also found the product, which is nearing a development stage called DVT — or Design Validation Testing — to overheat.
- When a user turns on the headset, they'll be able to sync their existing Apple account data from an iPhone or download it from iCloud. The device will feature an iPad-like home screen of icons and widgets and users will be able to operate multiple apps at once in space. Apps can be placed in a particular physical space — such as a living room — and when a user re-enters that room their previous workspace will re-appear.
- The headset will feature many of the same apps as the iPad and iPhone, including Books, Camera, Contacts, FaceTime, Files, Freeform, Home, Mail, Maps, Messages, Music, Notes, Photos, Reminders, Safari, Stocks, TV and Weather. A new Wellness app with a focus on meditation and a sports watching portal are also coming. The company is also working on a Fitness workout app for the device.
- The headset will run the hundreds of thousands of existing third-party iPad apps from the App Store with either no extra work or minimal modifications. Apple will provide a software development kit and a Mac-based simulator for developers to build optimized apps.
- The device will have advanced videoconferencing and virtual meeting rooms with realistic avatars, ideally making users feel like they're interacting in the same place, and new collaboration tools via the Freeform app that let users work on virtual whiteboards and go over material together. There are also features to tie into existing Apple devices, such as using the headset as an external monitor.
New Macs and macOS 14:
- Apple is planning to spend a notable amount of time on the Mac at WWDC 2023, following last year when it introduced the revamped 13-inch MacBook Air at the developer conference.
- Apple has been planning to introduce a new 15-inch MacBook Air as early as at the conference. The new model will look similar to the current MacBook Air, in a larger size. Apple had initially intended to launch this machine last year alongside the smaller version.
- Apple is also nearing the debut of an updated Mac Studio line in new M2 Max and M2 Ultra configurations — codenamed Mac 14,13 and Mac 14,14 or J475 — to replace last year's M1 Max and M1 Ultra models. The new machines and their chips recently were spotted in testing. The M2 Max chip is the same as the one found in the latest 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, while the M2 Ultra will be entirely new.
- The M2 Ultra chip will include 24 CPU cores (16 high-performance and 8 efficiency cores) and offer up to 76 graphics cores. The company is also planning 64GB, 128GB and 192GB RAM options.
- That M2 Ultra chip could also find its way into the Mac Pro after Apple nixed work on an even more powerful chip that would sit at the high-end of its chip line by doubling the performance of the Ultra component.
- While these machines are unlikely to be discussed, the company is also working on M3 versions of the MacBook Air, entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, high-end MacBook Pros and iMac.
- The new Mac operating system, codenamed Sunburst, is unlikely to have major changes this year and instead bring on compatibility for new features launching in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.
iOS 17 and iPadOS 17:
- iOS 17, codenamed Dawn, will bring a new smart display-like mode for the iPhone when the device is locked and placed in landscape mode. This feature will include an interface for showing upcoming calendar appointments and other snippets of information, in addition to notifications.
- A journaling app to take notes and update your friends on activities such as a bike ride. The app will let people keep a log of their mood and emotions, and it should tap deeply into location services on the iPhone.
- The Wallet app will get an upgrade as the company pushes deeper into financial services. That could include the app tying deeper into third-party credit cards to show balance information, mirroring the experience of the Apple Card.
- SharePlay will get enhancements related to the Apple headset. And AirPlay will make it easier to beam content to TVs and speakers you don't own, such as in hotels.
- Updates in the Health app include options for logging moods and managing vision problems. The app will also come to the iPad for the first time.
- Apple also has already unveiled a slew of new accessibility features for iOS 17, including a new interface with larger controls and an AI feature for replicating your voice. And, as usual, there will be performance enhancements and bug fixes across the board.
- Apple is bringing widgets back to the Apple Watch and will make them a key part of the new operating system. The widgets will look similar to those on the iOS and iPadOS home screen and allow users to scroll through weather, stock tickers, upcoming calendar appointments and more.
- Apple is changing some of the button behavior on the Apple Watch, including changing the Digital Crown to open the new widgets interface instead of the standard home screen app array.
- Apple is revamping all of the core apps on the Apple Watch with new designs to take advantage of the larger displays on the Apple Watch Ultra and larger standard watches.