What to expect at WWDC 2021: iOS 15, watchOS 8, and more

We're officially just days away from Apple's Global Developer Conference. WWDC 2021 will be a virtual event this year, and we expect Apple to unveil iOS 15, watchOS 8, and more. Read on as we recap everything Apple could announce at the event this year.

Update: last minute rumors


Update June 6, 2021: A new report from Bloomberg shed some light on what to expect from this year's software updates. Mark Gurman reports that the iPadOS 15 will include new multitasking features and support for home screen widgets. iOS 15 would include more stringent privacy controls.

Meanwhile, Apple appears to have falsely revealed new apps coming to Apple Watch with watchOS 8, including Tips, Mind, and Contacts.

Finally, Apple has scheduled a separate Apple Music event for immediately following the special event keynote. The Apple Music Special Event, which will focus on Spatial Audio, is scheduled for June 7 at 12:00 p.m. PT / 15:00 p.m. ET.


Update June 4, 2021: Here are some last minute rumors around WWDC, as well as other things to read here on 9to5Mac:

WWDC is all online

This year, WWDC will kick off on Monday, June 7. This is a throwback to the normal start day of the event, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced Apple to postpone WWDC until the end of June last year. That being said, Apple is sticking to its virtual format for WWDC 2021.

WWDC 2021 kicks off with a special event keynote at 10:00 a.m. PT / 13:00 p.m. ET. This event will be broadcast "direct from Apple Park" and will be available through Apple's website, Apple Developer app, Apple TV app and YouTube. After the speech, Apple will hold its annual State of the Union Platforms speech. This will take place at 14:00 p.m. PT / 17:00 p.m. ET on June 7 and will be available through the Apple Developer app and the Apple Developer website.

As has become the norm over the past year, WWDC's opening keynote will be a pre-recorded video with a high production value, beautiful videography from Apple Park, and appearances from several executives and engineers from Apple.

In addition to the opening and State of the Union address, WWDC 2021 will include the Apple Design Awards - which will include a video component this year - on June 10 at 14 p.m. ET. PT / 17 p.m. ET.

There will also be pavilions for WWDC 2021, which Apple says will provide "an easy way for developers to explore sessions, labs and special activities relevant to a given topic." Apple will also host digital lounges for WWDC 2021. These "lounges" will offer text-based question-and-answer sessions, as well as "special developer tool activities."

Finally, WWDC 2021 will feature over 200 in-depth sessions, one-on-one labs, and more. This will give developers "unprecedented access to Apple engineers and designers," the company said.

iOS 15

As usual, we expect one of WWDC's main goals this year will be on the iPhone with the introduction of iOS 15. While the last year has seen a barrage of leaks on it. what to expect from iOS 14, Apple has done a better job of keeping things in hiding this year. Nonetheless, there are still rumors about what Apple might have in store for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15.

Most of the current details on iOS 15 come from a Bloomberg April report. In the report, Mark Gurman described a handful of features that could accompany this year's update to iOS 15.

One of Apple's particular goals would be to find new ways to handle notifications. The report explained that users will be able to set different notification preferences based on their current state, such as "work, standby, or custom categories." A menu to access these commands would be located in the control center and on the lock screen, which would be redesigned this year.

The report explained:

There will also be an option to set automatic replies to messages based on their status. This will be an improvement over the current auto answer feature, which is currently only available while driving. Apple has added unique notification features like Do Not Disturb and Sleep Mode, but this will be the first time the company has offered a system-wide feature to change notifications based on a user's status.

Concept iOS 15 by Parker Ortolani

Apple is also reportedly working on changes to iMessage. The long-term goal is to make iMessage “more of a social network” and similar to WhatsApp, but it's unclear what new features will be introduced this year.

Apple will also continue to focus on privacy with new features in iOS 15. The company is reportedly developing a feature that "will show users which apps are silently collecting data about them." It comes just a few months after Apple officially launched its app tracking transparency feature with iOS 14.5.

A separate summary report indicated that iOS 15 will also include built-in support for food tracking in the Health app. This could be similar to what third-party apps like MyFitnessPal and FoodNoms already provide, but built into the operating system. Other rumors suggest that a redesigned control center and dual support for biometric authentication could arrive this year.

Interestingly, Apple has already announced a handful of new accessibility features that it says will arrive on the iPhone later this year. It's likely that these features, such as background noise, are part of iOS 15. In fact, it's possible that the screenshots shared by Apple even gave a glimpse of upcoming design changes in iOS 15. .

iPadOS 15

As reviews of the new iPad Pro indicate, iPadOS is overdue for a redesign. If Apple has an iPadOS redesign in store, we expect it to be announced at WWDC 2021 in June.

Bloomberg reported that iPadOS 15 will bring "the most important update" to the iPad home screen since 2010. This update will come in the form of allowing users to place widgets anywhere or on the iPad home screen, mimicking a feature that last appeared on the iPhone. year with iOS 14.

With the M1 chip powering the new iPad Pro, Apple could reserve a lot of potential changes for iPadOS 15 this year. This includes support for professional apps like Xcode and Final Cut Pro, a new multitasking system, and more. Whether or not these features materialize this year remains to be seen, but they are high on the wishlists of many iPadOS users.

watchOS 8

For the Apple Watch, Apple will be showing watchOS 8 at WWDC this year. So far, we haven't heard any rumors about what changes Apple may have in store for the Apple Watch this year, but there are certainly some fruits at their fingertips that Apple could focus on.

My colleague Zac Hall specifically asked Apple to introduce new features for the always-on display of Apple Watch Series 5 and newer this year.

Some basic extensions for always-on display support include Apple's Now Playing view, navigation in Maps, and active countdowns in the Timer app. Now Playing and Maps actively support the watch face by default, but none of these features support always-on display. I would say the Timer app should also support the watch face when counting down, but I'd settle for a suitable permanent display medium to boot.

We'll be sure to update this article as new rumors about what to expect from watchOS 8 begin to emerge.

Read more:

macOS 12

There was a question about the name of this year's macOS version, but a reference found in Apple's WebKit documentation code in March apparently confirmed that Apple will be upgrading to macOS 12 this year. The name macOS is particularly noteworthy this year as Apple has moved from macOS 10.15 Catalina to macOS 11 Big Sur. This marked a noticeable change in macOS naming conventions for the first time since the introduction of Mac OS X in 2000.

There is currently very little indication of what might be new in macOS 12 this year. A report of Bloomberg simply indicated that this year's macOS version will be "minor" compared to the redesign we saw last year. In a concept for 9to5Mac, Parker Ortolani has come up with new apps, notification enhancements, and new privacy features for the Mac this year.

tvOS 15 and HomePod

To complement the software platforms, we expect to see Apple's WWDC 2021 update is tvOS 15, which powers Apple TV and HomePod. With the full-size HomePod ditched, it's still unclear what new features we can expect from tvOS 15 this year. We'll be sure to update this article if any last minute rumors emerge.

New MacBook Pro

While WWDC is generally a software-focused event, hardware announcements are not uncommon. Last year at WWDC 2020, Apple didn't announce any new hardware, but at WWDC 2019, Apple unveiled the Mac Pro and the accompanying Pro Display XDR. In general, Apple limits product presentations at WWDC to developer-oriented ones.

Jon Prosser reported this week that a new MacBook Pro is "confirmed" to come to WWDC.

Apple's next MacBook Pro update is expected to bring a new design, Apple Silicon inside, and possibly improved mini-LED display technology. The new design would be flatter, similar to the iPad Pro, and would come in 14-inch and 16-inch screen sizes. The "MacBook Pro" logo below the screen would also be removed, while ports like HDMI and MagSafe would have to revert next to an SD card slot.

The Apple Silicon chip inside is likely to be something similar to the "M1X", with Bloomberg reporting that it will feature a 10-core design with eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores. Apple will offer two variations of the chip, one with 16 GPU cores and another with 32 GPU cores.

Other material possibilities

Apart from the MacBook Pro, Apple is also working on updates to the Mac mini, the bigger screen iMac, the MacBook Air, and the Mac Pro. Of these machines, the only one that could potentially be announced at WWDC is the new Mac mini.

A recent report indicated that the new Mac mini will feature a redesigned chassis with an M1X processor inside. Since it's the same chip we'd expect to see in the redesigned MacBook Pro, there's a chance the new Mac mini will be announced at WWDC as well.

The new larger-screen iMac, the redesigned MacBook Air, and the Mac Pro are further down Apple's roadmap. We don't expect these products to be advertised at WWDC.

In general, Apple limits product presentations at WWDC to developer-related ones, and the MacBook Pro seems to fit that bill.

WWDC 2021: Summary

Of all Apple events, WWDC usually has the most surprises, and we expect it to be this year. While we'd expect the mainstays of WWDC to include iOS 15, macOS 12, and more, there's plenty of room for surprise.

Do you have any predictions for WWDC 2021? What are you most excited to see? Let us know in the comments!


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