WWDC 2021 starts today: M2 MacBook Pro, iOS 15 and everything we expect from Apple
We could see new software for the iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV and even HomePod at this week's Apple developers conference.
Patrick HollandManaging Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Apple's annual developers conference runs June 7 to June 11 and, like WWDC 2020, it will take place entirely online. The five days of virtual sessions come under the ever-brightening shadow of the pandemic. Aside from new products and operating systems, WWDC is really about giving software developers early access to explore new features with the help of Apple engineers.
A keynote event on the first day will yield the biggest news with previews of Apple's next operating systems -- likely iPadOS 15, MacOS 12, WatchOS 8, TV OS 15 and iOS 15. There could also be hardware news, like the successor to Apple's M1 chip and new "pro" Macs that use M-series processors in lieu of Intel. Apple first announced its M-class chipsets at last year's WWDC. The system on a chip is designed in-house and vital to the company's transition away from Intel chips.
WWDC21 to show off the next major iteration of iOS
The next iPhone, likely to be called the iPhone 13 (unless it's the iPhone 12S), probably won't be launched until the fall. But a new version of the iPhone's operating system, likely called iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 for the iPad, is expected to be revealed.
One of the reveals devoted Apple fans enjoy is the name for the next version of MacOS. For years, Mac OS X versions were named after big cats like Snow Leopard and Lion. In 2014, with the release of OS X 10.10, Apple started nicknaming the software after notable California landmarks like Yosemite and most recently Big Sur. So maybe the next one will be called MacOS Monterey? Or MacOS Golden Gate? Perhaps MacOS Hollywood sign? Yeah, I have no idea.
Not much is known about Apple's next update for its computer operating system. There haven't been any specific rumors or leaks and to quote the Magic 8 Ball, "Reply hazy, try again."
It could be that MacOS 12 will be a smaller update focused on under-the-hood changes. M1 chips are approaching their first birthday and currently MacOS needs to support it as well as Intel-based Macs. But that points to a bigger question: Where are the M1 Pro machines? It is not clear if there will be a new version of the M1 chip at WWDC 2021 or an "X" version of the processor. But many of us hope for a shiny new MacBook Pro that shows off the "pro" version of the M-series chip.
WatchOS 8 could bring new health features to the Apple Watch
In addition to the iPhone and computers, expect software updates for the Apple Watch. Like MacOS, there has been hardly any leaked details about WatchOS 8. That said, there are several persistent rumors from the past few years that have yet to materialize.
One feature many of us hope for is removing the Apple Watch's dependence on the iPhone. We saw the iPhone divorce from the Mac with iOS 5 in 2011. It's not clear what's required in terms of hardware and software to accomplish this, but it would open the Apple Watch up to people without iOS devices.
Here's how to watch WWDC21
Want to watch WWDC 2021 from the comfort of your own home? Apple hosts a livestream of its Monday keynote on its website. There will likely be a live feed on Apple's YouTube channel. Apple will stream sessions throughout the week free for all developers. CNET will be reporting on WWDC, so check back for news and analysis throughout the show.