Apple is on the verge of unveiling its most ambitious hardware product in years, with expectations high for its Worldwide Developers Conference. Taking place at Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California, the conference is likely to feature the introduction of a “mixed reality” headset that combines virtual reality and augmented reality. This headset could mark a significant milestone for Apple, comparable to the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015, and has the potential to revolutionize how people interact with computers and the world around them.
In addition to the highly anticipated AR/VR headset, Apple is expected to announce a range of software updates that will shape the user experience on its popular devices, including the iPhone and Apple Watch. There may also be glimpses of Apple’s plans to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into more of its products and services, as the company keeps pace with the AI race unfolding in Silicon Valley.
The conference will be livestreamed on Apple’s website and YouTube, starting at 10:00 a.m. PT/1:00 p.m. ET.
Here’s a closer look at what to expect:
Mixed reality headset
After years of expressing interest in augmented reality, Apple CEO Tim Cook is finally ready to unveil the company’s latest creation. According to Bloomberg, the highly anticipated headset, possibly named Reality One or Reality Pro, will boast an interface reminiscent of iOS. It will feature an immersive video display, along with cameras and sensors that enable users to control the device through hand gestures, eye movements, and even Siri commands.
Rumors suggest that the headset will also incorporate an outward-facing display, allowing observers to interact with the wearer without any sense of artificiality, as it will capture and project their eye movements and facial expressions convincingly.
Apple’s new offering is expected to come equipped with a range of applications tailored for gaming, fitness, and meditation. Moreover, users will have access to popular iOS apps such as Messages, FaceTime, and Safari. In the case of FaceTime, the headset will create a virtual reality experience where both the user’s face and full body are rendered, simulating the sensation of being in the same physical space.
The exact details and specifications of the headset will be revealed in due course.
This year, it seems that Apple has more hardware announcements in store besides the mixed reality headset.
Rumors suggest that Apple will introduce a new 15-inch MacBook Air featuring the company’s powerful M2 processor. Currently, the MacBook Air is available in a 13-inch size, so this anticipated release would offer users a larger option within the Air lineup.
Previously, individuals seeking a larger-sized Apple laptop had to opt for the higher-end MacBook Pro. However, the introduction of the 15-inch MacBook Air would provide an alternative for those who desire a bigger screen and enhanced performance while remaining within the Air series.
Fresh iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch features
While WWDC traditionally focuses on software, Apple executives are expected to dedicate a significant portion of the event to showcasing the upcoming changes and enhancements in their next-generation mobile operating systems, namely iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.
Compared to the major design overhaul of the lock screen and iMessage introduced last year, this year’s updates are anticipated to be more modest in scale.
In iOS 17, Apple is likely to emphasize its commitment to health tracking by introducing features that allow users to monitor various aspects of their well-being, including mood tracking and tracking changes in vision over time. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple will also introduce a journaling app that not only enables users to record their thoughts but also track activity levels, providing insights into how much time is spent at home or outside.
Furthermore, iOS 17 is rumored to bring a revamped lock screen experience. When in horizontal mode, the display will prominently showcase widgets associated with the calendar, weather, and other applications, effectively serving as a digital hub. Similar lock screen capabilities and health features are also expected to be introduced in iPadOS 17.
Among the anticipated upgrades are updates to the Apple Watch operating system, focusing on providing quick glances at widgets. Additionally, Apple is expected to reveal more details about its next-generation CarPlay platform, building upon the teaser it provided last year.
These software enhancements will likely take center stage at WWDC, offering users a glimpse into the future of Apple’s ecosystem.
Apple flexes AI muscle
While virtual reality (VR) is expected to take center stage at the event, Apple is also keen on demonstrating its commitment to keeping up with Silicon Valley’s current fascination: artificial intelligence (AI).
According to reports, Apple is planning to provide a sneak peek of an AI-powered digital coaching service. This service aims to motivate individuals to exercise regularly, improve their sleep patterns, and adopt healthier eating habits. While specific details on how it will function remain unclear, this effort aligns with the ongoing race among major tech companies to incorporate AI-driven technologies, sparked by the viral success of ChatGPT.
Furthermore, Apple may use the event to showcase and expand upon its recently hinted accessibility tools designed for the iPhone and iPad. One notable feature is the ability to replicate a user’s voice for phone calls with just 15 minutes of training.
While many other prominent tech companies have already outlined their AI strategies, this event could provide Apple with an opportunity to present its own vision and initiatives in the AI realm.