WWDC 2021: From AirPods 3 to new MacBook Pros, all the hardware Apple didn't announce
Plenty of rumors, little reality.
Eli BlumenthalSenior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming,
Apple's WWDC events are always software-driven spectacles. Given that they're targeted towards developers, that makes sense. With the rare exception of the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR in 2019, most recent WWDCs have kept the focus on what's coming next in platforms like iOS, iPadOS, MacOS and WatchOS, as opposed to showing off new gadgets.
There have been plenty of rumors that Apple was nearing the release of an updated MacBook Pro powered by new silicon. After announcing that it would be producing its own Mac processors at last year's WWDC (what became known as the M1), the introduction of a newer version of those chips would've fit with this event.
It would also make sense for the new chips to come inside a new 16-inch MacBook Pro or Mac Pro, two of the power-user-focused Apple products that still rely on Intel processors. While none of this materialized today, there are still rumors the new computers could arrive shortly. A report in April claimed that the next-generation chip has already entered mass production, with Bloomberg noting that new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros could arrive this summer.
Larger M1-powered iMac, higher-end Mac Mini
Apple recently introduced a new iMac powered by the M1 processor, though it only updated the smaller 24-inch model while the Mac Mini was one of the first M1-powered Macs last year.
A transition from Intel to Apple's M1 (or M1X/M2) for the 27-inch iMac would've been welcome, as would a more powerful Mac Mini. Bloomberg has reported that Apple is working on both devices, but neither were announced at WWDC.
Apple introduced the Pro Display XDR in 2019, but the pricey monitor runs nearly $5,000 on its own -- and that's not even including the optional $999 stand. There have been some rumors a more affordable display is in the works, with Bloomberg reporting in January that Apple was in "early development" of a cheaper monitor geared more towards regular consumers.
Like the others on this list, however, the new screen was nowhere to be seen at this year's WWDC.
Another favorite of the rumor mill leading up to WWDC was the launch of new AirPods. Rumored to share a similar design to the AirPods Pro, there was speculation that the new AirPods would also feature spatial audio support.
Also on the headphone front, NBA superstar LeBron James was spotted wearing what appears to be new, unannounced Beats earbuds while heading into a playoff game last week. The Lakers star even shared a few photos on his Instagram. An announcement at WWDC would've been unexpected, but with the audio focus mentioned above and Apple's focus on health and fitness, it wouldn't have been a complete surprise.