Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

#WWDC23 is just around the corner and shaping up to be an absolute doozie. We’re expecting not only the obligatory new versions of software for all Apple’s platforms but also multiple new Macs AND the first look at Apple’s headset that’s been rumoured for years! So let’s talk about exactly what we’re expecting, why, and what we shouldn’t get our hopes up for. It can’t ALL be good news, can it?

Also, I’ll be live streaming later tonight so set your reminder and come get hyped with me then!

First, the event will go on for a while, apparently clocking in at more than two hours due to the sheer weight of AWESOME that Apple unleashes on Monday. That’s according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who may go down as the GOAT in Apple leak terms. I’m just lucky he’s a writer, not a YouTuber. He’s going to be a recurring character in this video. Be warned.

Bear in mind what Apple has announced in the past few weeks, stuff overflowing from WWDC because it was too full, including Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad, which people have been begging for years. Also, in 15 minutes or so of reading, the potentially life-changing Personal Voice will be able to virtualise your voice for future use, so those with medical conditions that affect their speech can continue communicating verbally. And just yesterday, only not quite a year since it was announced, No Man’s Sky came to the Mac with an Apple silicon native version (you can play it on Intel Macs too, but why would you?). Reading between the lines of the announcement tweets, though, there may be a version ready for Apple’s Reality Pro headset too.

On the software side, we’re expecting iOS 17 to bring a handful of new features, including a new landscape lock screen that could show home kit controls or just make a pretty excellent bedside table or “nightstand” display. You’re welcome, America. There are also dark rumours of changes to the Apple Wallet and Health Apps, and possibly even customisation options system-wide for colours and icons.

If it’s lucky, iPadOS 17 will most likely get all the stuff iOS got last year, but after adding a native Weather app last year, can we dream of a day when Apple finds a way to port that elusive calculator app to the big screen? Fingers crossed, the M2 chip can handle it.

tvOS will get… I don’t know, something, hopefully. The recent years have focused on home kit cameras and the like, but honestly, I could see them barely mentioning this platform, if at all. WatchOS is rumoured to get some of the most significant changes with a switch to a more widget-oriented interface in a massive shift to what we’ve had for the past eight years.

MacOS 14 has seen very little on the rumour front this year, with barely any talk of new names, so I guess we can do a Craig and make some up – leave me your guesses in the comments, and if you’re right, I’ll reach out and send you a prize.

At this point, I’m very much torn, we could get M2, as most rumours say, or we could get an M3 which simply looks like an M2 in the testing Apple and their teams have put it through using 3rd party Apps. It’s rare for App developers to see the next version of Apple’s chips in their developer logs on the phone, so I guess hiding it if the core counts are the same is pretty trivial for Apple’s engineers. If that is the case, however, there’s a decent chance it’s actually on the same N4 production node as A16, which it will borrow core designs from, and not the 3nm node we’re hoping for, which would mean the performance jump isn’t what people have expected. While that would be a bummer, there’s also a decent chance that Apple’s engineers have managed to resolve their issues in the GPU of A16 to support Ray Tracing, which might be excellent for a headset.

In terms of the Macs we’re expecting, the most likely, and by that I mean people will be shocked if it doesn’t arrive, is the MacBook Air 15″. The largest MacBook Air ever, though not the first time Apple has offered a couple of sizes. In the early days, Apple produced a 13.3″ model as well as an 11.6″ variant, which was my first ever Mac. Inside, everyone expected M3, then M2, and then some crazy people said maybe M2 Pro, but they’re crazy because you don’t just chuck a pro chip in a fanless body and hope for the best. That would be a bad day at the office, especially when Max Tech goes and throws four streams of 8k raw at it to transcode and looks surprised when it melts.

Next up, we’ve all been expecting the Mac Pro, and based on the latest from the Terminator, that’s not happening now, but based on code numbers of Macs in testing, he’s now suggesting that there could be an update to the Mac Studio that he said wouldn’t get an update. M2 Ultra, happy days. It sounds like a pretty good place to start developing for, say, a mixed-reality headset.

And with that Linus sponsor-level segue, we’re on to what can only be described as the main event. The “One More Thing”, if you will. Though I think if they try to pretend it isn’t what everyone is there to see after they invited a bunch of VR publications, we’ll all giggle. The headset, which some have dubbed the Reality Pro, will get its first reveal, at least to some degree. I’m not convinced we’ll see final hardware, but maybe something in development – think of it more like a concept car. There may be some visual changes before you see it in the natural or mixed reality. And I’m sure it won’t be going on sale. And I doubt the Reality Pro name. EyePod would be amazing, though it feels like a Craig Federighi dad joke.

What we DO know, however, is a little more about the components – a pair of Sony-built 4k MicroOLED displays for your eyes. Super high resolution and with a peak brightness of 5000 nits. 5000. The pro display XDR peaks at 1600. Could you just think about that? Five thousand nits are about half the brightness of the brightest sunny day you’ve ever experienced. Add a third display on the exterior showing your eyes to the outside world, making it look more like a clear set of goggles; 12 or more cameras on the inside and outside of the headset to let you blend the real world with augmented reality and a 2-hour battery pack that’s connected via cable to separate the weight from the headset. It’s rumoured that the headset could be as light as 150g, potentially more of an aspirational aim. Still, reports say that Apple uses carbon fibre as one of the primary materials in the chassis, so weight is an important goal here.

The more exciting part is what the headset will be for, especially as software is complicated to find leaks in the supply chain. All we’ve seen is a couple of ribbon cables, but the interface, the use cases and the killer apps will make this genuinely different from what is out there already. FaceTime that is photo-realistic and in fully immersive 3D? Perhaps. We’ve also heard that the No-Mans Sky and Beat Sabre people will likely be there, so that gaming could be a focus.

Regardless, this is a massive leap for Apple. It’s what Apple is betting the farm on being the next big thing, so I think it’s only polite that we listen to what Timmy has to say. Let me know what you’re most excited about at WWDC and why it’s the headset down in the comments.