WWDC 2022 preview: How to watch and what to expect

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicks off on Monday, June 6, and except for a small in-person contingent invited to Apple Park for that first day (including the all-important keynote), the event remains online again this year. 

The weeklong event offers developers a deep dive into the forthcoming operating system updates for all of Apple’s devices. This should include macOS 13, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9 and tvOS 16. Sessions throughout the week will give us additional insight into each one, but the keynote offers a glimpse at all of the software highlights — and rumors are pointing to a potential hardware announcement.

Here’s how to watch WWDC and what we are expecting to see at the event.

WWDC 2022: How to watch the keynote 

The Apple Keynote will kick everything off as per usual; it starts on June 6 at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) and will be live-streamed from Apple Park. As always, this is open for anyone to watch. You can tune in from Apple’s website, the Apple Developer app, the Apple TV app, or YouTube. If you can’t watch along, follow our WWDC live blog, which will kick off early Monday morning and cover all of the event’s highlights. 

Next up is the Platforms State of the Union, which will start at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT). As the name suggests, it delves into Apple’s upcoming plans for each of its platforms. This event, and the rest of the streamed engineering sessions, are limited to registered Apple developers who paid the $99 annual fee. We’ll bring you any exciting news that comes out of these events as well.

WWDC 2022: New hardware? 

While WWDC is a software event, we do occasionally get a new piece of hardware and this could be one of those years. The rumor mill has been churning at full speed on the potential announcement of a new MacBook Air with an M2 processor at WWDC. While the timing would be unusual, the current MacBook Air with M1 launched on November 17, 2020, so its replacement is certainly overdue. Apple would no doubt love to have its successor ready for the fast-approaching college laptop buying season.

Beyond whatever the M2 chip delivers in terms of performance enhancements, there are a number of rumored design changes. Like the MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 last year, the new MacBook Air is rumored to, once again, feature MagSafe charging. It should also sport a pair of USB 4 ports and a headphone/mic combo jack. Not the portstravaganza that its Pro counterparts now offer, but not bad considering the other major rumor is that the Air will get dramatically slimmer and lighter thanks to a reduction in its bezels.

That’s the lone hardware rumor that drew fairly unanimous support from reliable leakers, but there’s one more that feels like an obvious choice. Keeping it in the Mac family, Apple closed the Mac section of its March 8 event by saying the transition to Apple Silicon is “nearly complete, with just one more product to go…Mac Pro. But that is for another day.” It’s hard to imagine a more fitting day than WWDC to announce the last piece of the Apple Silicon puzzle falling into place. 

(Image credit: Ian Zelbo)

There haven’t been considerable rumors regarding the Mac Pro update, but that could be because the belief is that the design will remain largely the same as the 2019 model. Performance is certainly the larger question and it seems like Apple will once again simply remix what it already has with leaker Majin Bu, indicating it will combine two M1 Ultra chips to create an “M1 Extreme.” (No word on whether it will actually feature Mountain Dew-based cooling to earn that ludicrous name.) There’s some disagreement on this point with others like developer Hector Martin expressing a belief that an M2 configuration might be needed, but he conceded after a leaked schematic revealed that it might be possible with the existing M1 Ultras. Suffice to say this will be a remarkably powerful and exceedingly expensive desktop. 

Moving into the less likely, we have Apple’s AR/VR headset. Rumors have suggested it may go into production as soon as August or September, but even if Apple is looking at a 2023 launch, it needs to give developers time to work on apps. What that could mean is Apple reveals some of the specs for the headset and details on what it may call “realityOS” without giving us a glimpse at the actual hardware.

Finally, the AirPods Pro 2 have become a perennial addition to the bingo card for any Apple event as we have seen rumors about the update to the 2019 AirPods Pro for over a year now. This would be an exceedingly odd time for Apple to announce them and there’s an argument that Apple should wait to release them anyway, but it would feel wrong not to include them here. 

WWDC 2022: macOS 13 

On to the software, the actual star of the show for the developers. The next update to macOS could be called macOS Mammoth, but despite the name, the number of actual updates to the operating system could be fairly small.

In his May “Power On” newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman indicated that the System Preferences app will be redesigned to more closely mirror the iOS Settings app with settings organized by app. Other default apps like Mail, Messages, Notes, Podcasts, Music, Safari, etc. will be getting a makeover as well. He did not offer any hints as to the design tweaks for those other apps.

Gurman’s other big macOS prediction extends beyond macOS and that is Messages taking on more of a social networking feature set including enhanced audio messaging. 

🔴EXCLUSIVE: iOS 16.Be prepared for interactive widgets! Apple is now working on these “big widgets” internally named InfoShack.Will tell you more about them soon. pic.twitter.com/GZF9zYjOswJanuary 26, 2022

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WWDC 2022: iOS 16 

While iOS 16 isn’t likely to be a massive overhaul of the operating system, turning again to Mark Gurman, he claims there will be “fairly significant enhancements across the board.” This could include new heath-tracking features and a much-needed update to notifications. The health tracking is going to tie into the watchOS 9 features that we’ll address in a later section.

The notification update may extend the current “Quick Actions” feature from the notification shade to the lock screen. Specific apps could get updates to their notification handling as well, like Files, Reminders and Mail. Apple may be updating Focus mode, which was introduced in iOS 15 to help you customize Do Not Disturb for different settings and activities. In iOS 16, you might be able to get even more granular with these controls, a potentially crucial feature for users that are inundated with notifications.

Another leak suggests that iOS may be getting more interactive widgets. Apple’s widgets were solid out of the gate in iOS 14, but haven’t seen much attention since then.

Tying back into the rumored hardware announcements, Gurman also believes that iOS 16 could include some insights into Apple’s AR/VR headset. 

In less exciting news for older iPhone owners, the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus and original iPhone SE may not be eligible for the iOS 16 update according to iDropNews. While disappointing for those users, it represents seven years and six years of support, respectively, which outstrips any of its competitors. 

(Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)WWDC 2022: iPadOS 16 

While they are distinct, the majority of the new features for iPadOS 16 are the same features from iOS 16 making their way to the bigger display.

The one major rumored exclusive update for iPadOS this year is a new multitasking interface. After our recent look at using an iPad vs. a Chromebook for work, we can definitely say it’s a huge deficit for the platform at the moment, particularly for the M1-powered iPad Pros and iPad Air. These devices are more than capable of a full multitasking experience and we hope this one is accurate. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)WWDC 2022: watchOS 9 

The highlight for watchOS 9 could be a battery-saving low power mode that is an enhancement to the current Power Reserve mode for Apple Watch. Anything that would let you push beyond the roughly one day of battery life for the Apple Watch Series 7, or any Apple Watch, would be welcome as long as you don’t have to sacrifice too many features.

A Bloomberg report suggests that workout tracking is also due for some upgrades with new supported workout types and additional metrics for workouts. Sleep tracking may also improve, which again hopefully means battery life gains as your Apple Watch can’t track your sleep if it’s dead. The report adds that Apple is planning to offer new women’s health features.

While third-party watch faces remain a dream, the Bloomberg report also indicated that Apple will be refreshing its built-in faces, including some that will leverage the larger display introduced on the Apple Watch Series 7.

(Image credit: Apple TV+)WWDC 2022: tvOS 16 

There’s no question that Apple is going to update tvOS 16 in some way, after all, it won’t want to pass up the chance to mention Apple TV+ and its Oscar victory, but there are no meaningful rumors or leaks about it with just days to go before the keynote.

There’s speculation about improved Apple Fitness+ support, additional smart home integration and general improvements to the TV app, but none of it amounts to anything earth-shattering. We’ll just have to tune in on June 6 at 1 p.m. ET to find out what Apple has in store for tvOS 16.

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