WWDC23: What to expect from Apple’s blockbuster keynote [Updated]


WWDC23: What to expect
Apple has plenty of announcements lined up for WWDC23
Photo/Graphics: Apple/Rajesh

With Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference just a week hours away, anticipation is building for what looks like one of the company’s most momentous events in years. In addition to the next versions of iOS, iPadOS, watchOS and macOS, Apple reportedly plans to use its WWDC23 keynote on June 5 to showcase some very interesting hardware.

Here’s a roundup of what to expect from the WWDC23 keynote, which streams live at 10 a.m. Pacific today.

What to expect from WWDC23

Each year, Apple uses WWDC to reveal its near-future priorities. The company touts new platforms (like HomeKit and HealthKit in 2014), as well as outlining new features coming to the operating systems that power its devices. The main audience is developers, who will build the apps that bring Apple’s hardware to life. However, the live-streamed keynote basically acts as a crystal ball that provides a clear look at Apple’s game plan for coming years.

By all accounts, this year’s WWDC is going to be special, with a couple of highly anticipated hardware reveals added to the software mix: an AR/VR headset and a 15-inch MacBook Air.

In fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted early Monday that this year’s WWDC will be the “best ever!”


iOS 17 and iPadOS 17

iPhone with an iOS 17 logo
iOS 17 is just a week away from its official unveiling.
Photo: Cult of Mac

For the last decade, Apple has announced the next version of iOS at its yearly developer conference. This year’s WWDC should be no different. The company will unveil iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 at the event, highlighting all the operating systems’ new features and enhancements.

Unlike iOS 16, which brought a major overhaul to the iPhone’s Lock Screen, the next iOS release might not offer any single headlining feature. Instead, Apple is reportedly focusing on several quality-of-life enhancements that have been long requested. These include new functionality for Dynamic Island and additional Focus mode filters.

A wellness-focused journaling app and smart home display mode also reportedly are in the cards. And in iPadOS 17, Apple likely will bring its Health app to iPad for the first time.

Apple already revealed some of the new accessibility features coming in iOS 17. See our roundup of what to expect from iOS 17 to get an even more granular idea of what new features are coming to your iPhone later this year.

watchOS 10 and macOS 14

Alongside iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, Apple undoubtedly will detail watchOS 10 at WWDC23. Reports suggest watchOS 10 will be the biggest update to the OS since its inception. Apple apparently plans to improve the system apps and bring iPhone-like widgets to the Apple Watch. The smartwatch might even gain syncing capabilities with the iPad and Mac, freeing it from the iPhone for the first time.

As for macOS 14, rumors indicate it will be a relatively minor update without any significant changes.

Hardware at WWDC23

AR/VR headset

AI-generated image showing Tim Cook wearing an Apple-branded VR headset.
Apple’s AR/VR headset could steal the show at WWDC23.
AI image: Midjourney/Cult of Mac

After years of rumors, Apple’s much-hyped AR/VR headset looks pegged to debut at WWDC23. Possibly called the “Reality Pro” or “Reality One,” the pricey headset is Apple’s attempt to change the computing game.

It’s a new and challenging product category for Apple to enter. While a few rivals sell mixed-reality headsets, the segment so far has failed to catch the attention of the masses. Apple hopes to change that.

More than iOS 17 and the 15-inch MacBook Air, Apple enthusiasts are excited about the company’s AR/VR headset. All the leaks so far point to the device packing an impressive amount of power and using a waist-mounted battery pack. The early buzz around the headset is also overwhelmingly positive. And, despite VR’s lack of traction, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about Apple’s upcoming headset.

xrOS: Apple headset operating system

The first version of the Apple headset could target developers, who will be vital in building an ecosystem of apps and use cases. And Apple undoubtedly will hype the operating system that will power it — potentially dubbed “xrOS” — to get devs excited.

If Apple can nail this, the company could eventually find success with its AR/VR headset (as well as the lightweight augmented-reality glasses the company really wants to make).

The device likely won’t go on sale immediately after the keynote. And, with a rumored price tag of $3,000, Apple’s first headset could be out of reach for many. Luckily, the company reportedly is already working on a cheaper model for 2025.

15-inch MacBook Air

2023 MacBook Air 15-inch concept
Apple could finally fulfill your wish for a 15-inch MacBook Air.
Concept: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple traditionally focuses on software at its developer conference. But over the last few years, the company has made major hardware announcements at WWDC. (In 2022, the company debuted its M2 chip and the redesigned MacBook Air at the event.) If recent rumors prove correct, Apple will unveil a 15-inch MacBook Air this year.

The upcoming laptop should pack the same specs as the existing 13-inch model, albeit in a bigger chassis. This should lead to longer battery life. But otherwise, expect the same M2 chip configuration, the same ports (or the lack of them), and a bigger (but similar) 15-inch screen without ProMotion.

There’s no word on pricing, but the 15-inch MacBook Air could cost around $200 more than its 13-inch sibling. It might go up for preorder right after Apple’s opening keynote at WWDC23 and hit retail stores soon after.

The 15-inch MacBook Air should be the ideal machine for anyone who does not need the power of the MacBook Pro lineup but wants a bigger display. Expectations about Apple’s first 15-inch MacBook Air are very high. If the machine provides a similar experience as its smaller sibling, the company could have another winner on its hands.

2023 Mac Studio

Apple could announce its 2023 refresh of the Mac Studio at WWDC23. Recent reports suggest the company is internally testing high-end desktop Macs with M2 Max and M2 Ultra chips. The latter could boast a 24-core CPU and a 60-core GPU. Another variant of the chip could sport a 76-core GPU with a whopping 192GB of system memory.

This should lead to the 2023 Mac Studio delivering a notable performance jump over its predecessor.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman confirmed last week that a new Mac Studio could arrive soon, with another source pointing to the same on Twitter.

Maybe: Apple silicon Mac Pro

The Mac lineup’s transition to Apple silicon started in late 2020, with the company expecting to finish the transition within two years. Apple almost achieved that goal, with the entire MacBook Pro, Air and iMac lineup using its M-series chip.

But Apple continues selling the Mac Pro powered by Intel processors. This is a bit puzzling, especially since the Mac Pro is meant for Apple’s high-end customers with extremely demanding workloads. Yes, there’s the Mac Studio, with its extremely powerful M1 Max and Ultra chips. However, it is not a Mac Pro replacement, since it is not user-upgradeable in any way.

Rumors suggest Apple is working on an Apple silicon Mac Pro with a redesigned chassis, though it may not feature user-upgradeable RAM. We also heard reports of Apple canceling an M2 Extreme variant of the machine. Instead, we might see an M2 Ultra Mac Pro at WWDC23 with some level of customization.

There have not been any concrete leaks to confirm that the revamped Mac Pro is indeed debuting at WWDC23, though. So, the chances of Apple releasing a new pro-grade Mac at its developer conference seem slim.

Don’t expect new iPhones and Apple Watch at WWDC23

Obviously, you shouldn’t expect Apple to announce the iPhone 15 lineup or the Apple Watch Series 9 at WWDC23. These products will launch later in the year, in a separate event (likely in September). Similarly, don’t expect new AirPods or iPads at next week’s WWDC keynote. They typically debut in the second half of the year.

WWDC23 takes place on June 5 with an online keynote. Apple will stream the event for free, so you can catch all the action live.

Note: We originally published this post on May 29. We updated it with additional information.


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