Apple's big annual conference starts next week: Here's what you can expect

Apple’s big annual conference starts next week: Here’s what you can expect

Apple CEO Tim Cook will present the latest versions of Apple’s software for iPhones, iPads, Mac, Watch and TV on Monday to kick off WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference.

The new “bits”, as participants often call the updates, are the biggest Apple software release of the year and set the public strategy for Apple’s platform for the next 12 months. For example, iOS 16, which Apple is expected to call the new software for iPhones and iPads, may include improved notifications, a redesigned lock screen and updates to the Messages and Health apps, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

But Apple’s long-reported mixed-reality headset is unlikely to make its debut next week.

WWDC, which stands for Worldwide Developers Conference, and has the nickname “Dub Dub”, is strategically important to Apple even if the company does not announce any new hardware.

Apple’s financial performance depends on the support of third-party developers such as those who attend WWDC. Without a robust selection of up-to-date quality applications, the value of Apple’s consumer and user platforms would likely decrease, which would eventually hurt sales. Apple also generates as much as $ 20 billion a year from software sales on its App Store.

Software for Apple platforms, such as iOS apps, typically uses different tools or programming frameworks than other major platforms such as Microsofts Windows, Googles Android, or the web. Apple gets programmers enthusiastic about these technologies through a hype-filled keynote to kick-start the conference, a more tech-oriented presentation called “Platforms State of the Union” later that day, and then a week of class-like sessions and one-on-one meetings where developers can get feedback and guidance from Apple engineers.

The biggest difference this year for WWDC is that it will include a personal component after two years of being completely virtual. The change is subtle – the main presentation with new product announcements will still be pre-recorded, and developers around the world can still practically attend conference sessions.

But this year, Apple has invited a few hundred software developers, press members and students to its headquarters in Cupertino, California, to watch the video presentation, get on-campus tours and talk in person with some of the people who built the software. It’s nothing like the 6,000 participants who traveled to San Jose for the WWDC before the pandemic, but it’s another sign that things are returning 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 work, mainly from home during the Covid pandemic.

Holding WWDC in person this month sets the stage for an fall launch where Apple will showcase new phones, and perhaps even a high-end mixed reality headset, to a live audience to get instant hands-on feedback from the press and partners. Just like in the past.

New software is coming

Apple sometimes reveals new hardware at WWDC, but the products are usually expensive, powerful and aimed at programmers – usually Macs, which are required to build apps for the iPhone.

The last time Apple announced hardware products at WWDC was in 2019 when they released $ 6,000 Mac Pro and a $ 5,000 monitor. Prior to that, it announced updates for Macs and Laptops in 2017.

Apple can reveal the successor to the M1 processor at WWDC. It teased at a product release event earlier that an advanced model called Mac Pro with an Apple-designed chip was on its way. “M2”, as it could be called, would be the next generation Mac processor and could come in a redesigned MacBook Air, according to Bloomberg.

At the very least, discussions about advances in Apple’s processors would be a good fit for the developer-centric conference. Apple originally announced its switch to its own processors at WWDC 2020.

Apple’s next major product category, augmented or mixed reality hardware, is unlikely to emerge.

Apple may 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 program, ARKit, at WWDC. (Augmented reality shows computer-generated images on top of transparent lenses that let users see the real world, while mixed reality is an immersive experience as virtual reality, but with external cameras that show images of the real world outside.)

But new product categories usually get their own launch events rather than being loaded into WWDC and the headset reportedly has not entered mass production yet.

Bigger software updates are a better bet. In previous years, Apple announced the new version of its iOS software at WWDC in June, releasing a public beta for early users and testers later in the month, and then released the final version of the software along with new iPhones in September.

While the iPhone has the most users and the main App Store, the updates for Apple’s other software platforms, including the iPad, Watch and TV, often receive the same amount of attention at WWDC.

Especially iPads can make big changes. iPadOS 16 customer reportedly includes the ability to resize windows in one go that would make the device more attractive to advanced users who like to multitask. Currently, users can run two apps side by side, but the ability to customize floating windows would make it more like MacOS.

Apple’s TV 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. Apple Watch got new hardware last year with a physically larger screen, and its software is underway for an update that includes new dials to take advantage of the larger screen.

An 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 to developers and the media included graphics with a large Swift logo and one of the slogans for the conference is “Fast approaching one.”

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