Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, will begin on June 4, the company recently announced.
WWDC is one of Apple’s biggest events of the year, giving it a chance to preview what’s in store for gadgets from the iPhone to the Mac and beyond.
The headlining news is usually a look at the next version of Apple’s iPhone and iPad software, called iOS. Apple typically uses WWDC to show off the new features coming to the iPhone and iPad in the following months. But Apple may take a different approach this year, focusing less on flashy new features and more on performance upgrades.
Here’s look at what to expect from Apple’s WWDC 2018.
Apps that work across iPhone and Mac
Apple may introduce a way for developers to create apps that will work across both its iOS and Mac OS devices, according to a 2017 report from Bloomberg. If Apple is planning to make such an announcement, WWDC certainly seems like the appropriate venue, with thousands of app creators in attendance. Such apps would be compatible with a touchscreen as well as a trackpad and mouse depending on the device they’re running on, says the report.
The multi-platform app approach would make sense for Apple, which has been positioning the iPad as more of a laptop replacement in recent years, particularly since the iPad Pro launched in 2015. Last year’s iOS 11 update, for example, was all about bringing new productivity-focused features to the iPad, such as a bigger dock at the bottom of the home screen and a file manager app. Allowing developers to create apps that work seamlessly on the Mac and a mobile device like the iPad Pro is a natural next step in that direction.
Apple would also be taking a page from Microsoft, which already lets app creators develop universal programs that are compatible across all devices that run on its Windows software.
iOS 12 and more
Apple always previews the new features coming to iPhones and iPads during WWDC, and this year’s conference will probably be no different. What is likely to change, however, is the content of those updates.
Apple is said to be taking a new direction with its next mobile software update, presumably called iOS 12, that will concentrate more on performance and reliability than new features, according to Axios. The move would come after Apple has been criticized following a slew of software-related issues in recent months. One iPhone bug autocorrected the letter “i” to “A,” another caused some iPhones to crash once the clock hit 12:15 a.m. on Dec. 2. More seriously, a Mac vulnerability made it possible for intruders to potentially gain system administrator access without typing in a password. And who could forget the controversy that ensued after Apple revealed that it adjusted performance on older iPhones to prevent devices with aging batteries from shutting down?
That’s not to say iPhone owners shouldn’t expect any new features at all. Apple may make some announcements around augmented reality, digital health, and parental controls, according to Axios. It seems especially likely that Apple will devote some time to ARKit during its WWDC presentation, considering the augmented reality platform is still relatively new and the company will want to encourage developer enthusiasm. Other potential features, like updates to core apps and a refreshed home screen, may be pushed to 2019, according to the report.
There’s a strong chance Apple will also talk about what’s new for the Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV and other devices, as it typically does. Considering the past several macOS updates have centered on making it easier to share content across all Apple devices and refining core apps like Mail and Photos, there’s a chance we’ll see Apple continue with that approach this year. Critically, Apple could use WWDC as an opportunity to get developers excited about Siri and its functionality on the HomePod, especially since early reviews indicated Apple’s virtual assistant had lagged behind the competition in certain areas.
Apple doesn’t usually announce new hardware products at its developer conference, but last year’s HomePod introduction proved to be an exception. Since Apple is rumored to be developing refreshed AirPods that include the company’s newer wireless chip, it’s possible we’ll see them debut at WWDC.
The new AirPods, which Bloomberg reported on in February, may be released sometime this year and could make it possible for wearers to access Apple’s digital assistant hands-free by saying “Hey Siri.” If Apple does plan to generate excitement around Siri at this year’s WWDC, it may be an opportune moment to unveil these rumored AirPods.
That same report also says Apple is planning to release new water-resistant AirPods next year, while Bloomberg separately reported that Apple may be designing new high-end headphones intended to rival those made by brands like Bose. But the latter two products seem farther off, making their appearance at WWDC seem less likely.