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What to expect from WWDC 2021: iOS 15, macOS 12, new hardware, and more

Apple's big software showcase is just around the corner. Here's everything we expect to see at WWDC 2021.

Published onJune 1, 2021

Apple wwdc21 teaser

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is just around the corner. The Cupertino firm will be hosting the event online from June 7 to June 11, 2021, with the keynote address set to kick off at 10 AM PT (1 PM ET) on the first day. As usual, we expect big software announcements from Apple, including new versions of iOS, iPad OS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Hardware announcements are rare at WWDC, but it’s very much possible that Apple has some new devices to show off. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what Apple might have in store for us.

What to expect from WWDC 2021

iOS 15

iPhone 12 Mini display in front of neon

New iPhone software is definitely on the horizon for WWDC 2021. The event is usually where Apple unveils the latest version of iOS for its number-one product and this year should be no different.

Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman reports that iOS 15 is set to bring a major revamp to the mobile software. According to Gurman, the upgraded software could include new ways for users to handle notifications, an updated lock screen, and additional privacy protections for flagship devices.

iPhone users may get an option to tweak notification preferences based on if they are driving, working, or sleeping. Users should also be able to create custom activity categories for notifications and set automatic replies based on their status. Apple will also apparently upgrade iMessage to ultimately function more like a social network.

Related: The best iPhone deals you can get right now

Besides this, Apple recently previewed some new accessibility features that should also debut on iOS 15.

As usual, don’t expect Apple to release iOS 15 at the event. New iPhone software usually goes live for general customers around September, after a public beta run in the summer. But you should start hearing more about it soon after the event when developers get access for testing.

iPad OS 15

Apple iPad Pro 2020 on bench

Just like iOS, Apple’s tablet operating system is also expected to gain new changes. The aforementioned Bloomberg report suggests the iPad home screen could see its “most significant update” to date. Apple may be planning to let users place widgets anywhere on the home screen, just like it does on the iPhone. An entire app grid may be replaceable with widgets.

Elsewhere, many iPad Pro users are pinning their hopes on iPad OS 15 to resolve productivity issues on the new M1 iPad Pro. The current software on the tablet limits all third-party apps to a maximum of 5GB RAM each. This despite the new iPad Pro topping out at 16GB of RAM. Creators who use pro multimedia apps hope Apple will address the limitation at WWDC.

macOS 12

Apple MacBook Air M1 open showing colorful photos

Details are scant about the new macOS, but as per Bloomberg, Apple is planning a minor update to its PC software, compared to the bigger redesign it introduced with Big Sur. Last year, Apple made it plenty clear that it wants iOS, iPad OS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS to look and function as similarly as possible. We may see more macOS features that serve that purpose.

As for the name of the new macOS, Apple has been dedicating the software to California landmarks for the past few years so the tradition will likely continue this year.

Like iOS 15 and iPad OS 15, macOS 12 should release in the form of a developer beta after the show.

watchOS 8 and tvOS 15

apple watch series 6 review artist watch face display 3

There haven’t been any major leaks or rumors about the new watchOS and tvOS versions. However, there’s been talk of some new features over the past few years and we may see them materialize at WWDC 2021.

It would be good to see Apple finally adopt the rumored blood glucose monitoring feature on the Apple Watch. Apple is also expected to debut its new Assistive Touch accessibility feature with the new smartwatch software. We also hope to see some more new health features come to the Apple Watch with watchOS 8.

Related: Apple TV Plus: Everything you need to know

As for tvOS 15, an unconfirmed report from a not-so-trustworthy source suggests the software could bring a much-needed design refresh to the platform. The current Apple TV layout leaves a lot to be desired and this might finally change at WWDC. The tvOS app store is also expected to get a new interface. Further, Apple could introduce a new mode for children with enhanced parental controls.


Apple MacBook Air M1 on glass desk next to a notepad

As we’ve mentioned before, new devices tend to be far and few at WWDC. However, last year, Apple announced its in-house M1 silicon at the event. The year before that, it introduced the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR.

Rumors are rife that Apple may launch a new MacBook Pro and Mac mini at the June 7 keynote. Both tips come from leaker Jon Prosser who isn’t always accurate. Nevertheless, he predicts the new Mac mini will get an upgraded M1X processor from Apple and a redesigned external chassis.

Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro rumor was also backed by Bloomberg. The publication reported that the laptop could launch as soon as summer, making WWDC the perfect venue for Apple to showcase it. The machine’s processor is expected to outperform the current M1 chip. It is said to launch in 14-inch and 16-inch screen sizes, with a redesigned chassis, magnetic MagSafe charger, and more ports for connecting external drives and devices.

We also haven’t seen the third generation of AirPods from Apple till now so a refresh might also be on the cards for the true wireless buds.

So those were all the things you can expect to see at Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote. We’ll be watching the event live and will bring you all the latest developments from it right here.