The Keynote from WWDC23 was unusually jam-packed with huge announcements. Naturally, the first official details of new iOS, macOS, iPadOS and watchOS versions came to light, as is traditional. But Apple also used its annual developer conference to take the wraps off quite a bit of hardware.
And CEO Tim Cook used Apple’s classic “One more thing” line to unveil Vision Pro, the augmented-reality headset that was the absolute star of Monday’s Keynote.
A lot to keep track of at WWDC23
The Worldwide Developers Conference is supposed to be focused on operating systems and software, and there was plenty of that. iOS 17, macOS Sonoma, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10 and tvOS 17 were all announced.
But WWDC23 also brought multiple new Macs. That includes a 15-inch MacBook Air and well as faster versions of the Mac Pro and Mac Studio. And, of course, Apple’s very first augmented-reality headset.
Vision Pro breaks new ground for Apple
Today’s WWDC23 Keynote saved the best to last with an introduction to the new Apple Vision Pro augmented reality headset. “Vision Pro will introduce us to spatial computing,” said Tim Cook. “This marks the beginning of a journey that will bring a powerful new dimension to personal technology.”
Apps can be placed anywhere spatially around your environment. 3D apps running from Vision Pro can appear side-by-side with a virtual 4K display from a Mac. You can use Vision Pro to watch TV, movies and play games in a virtual movie theater — even for 3D movies — on a display as large as you want.
The display fits more pixels than a 4K television in the space of a postage stamp — in each eye.
Optical inserts magnetically attach to accommodate for prescription eyeglasses. Differently sized foam pieces can make sure the headset remains comfortable on differently sized heads.
The same frameworks in iPadOS and iOS are also available in visionOS to make sure many popular apps are available natively for the device on day one. The device starts at $3,499 and will be available early next year. –D. Griffin Jones
Apple goes big with 15-inch MacBook Air
After more than a decade of keeping the MacBook Air among of the smallest macOS notebooks, Apple busted out a 15.3-inch version at WWDC23.
Aside from display size, the new computer is very similar to the 13.6-inch Air that launched in 2022. That means it sports a very slender profile, an Apple M2 processor and a minimal number of ports.
It’s coming in at $1,299, and can be preordered now. And the 13.6-inch version from last year dropped $100 to $1,099. –Ed Hardy
Mac Pro and Mac Studio with M2 Ultra, at last!
The new M2 Ultra chip is a screamer. It features a 24-core CPU, up to a 76-core GPU, and support for up to 192GB of unified memory.
“It’s a monster of a chip,” said Apple’s Jennifer Munn, Director, Engineering Program Management, during its unveiling at WWDC23.
The new Mac Pro tower has six PCI slots for expansion cards and a bunch of high-speed connectivity options, including eight Thunderbolt 4 ports, two HDMI ports, and a pair of 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The new Mac Studio also retains the previous design, but now comes with the M2 Max or M2 Ultra chips. The M2 Ultra effectively doubles the M2 Max chip, and the new machine is up to three-times faster than the older M1-based Mac Studio, which was released last year.
Both machines are available to order today starting at $6,999 for the Mac Pro and $3,999 for the M2 Ultra Mac Studio. The Max version of the Mac Studio remains at the $1,999 starting price. Both machines will ship to customers next week, when they will also be available in stores. –Leander Kahney
iOS 17 boasts lengthy list of improvements
iOS 17 does not pack any single headlining new feature. Instead, Apple has focused on improving the core apps of the OS to deliver a better experience.
“Our next release, iOS 17, delivers more expressive communication, simplified sharing, more intelligent input and all new experiences for your iPhone,” said SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi during the WWDC23 keynote.
Improvements include adding support for sharing personalized posters in the Phone application, several handy new additions to the Messages app, smarter autocorrection, a more useful AirDrop experience and more.
iOS 17 will launch in autumn, though a developer beta is imminent and a public beta is scheduled for July. –Rajesh Pandey
macOS Sonoma brings better gaming, new AR features, interactive widgets and souped-up Safari
Apple unveiled macOS 14 Monday, freshly naming it macOS Sonoma after California’s second most-famous wine country. The new OS for Mac desktop brings potent new functionality.
“Introducing macOS Sonoma a big new release that will make your Mac more delightful and even more productive,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.
“First, many of the features we talked about earlier on iOS and iPad OS are going to be great on the Mac. And macOS Sanoma brings a rich set of features that elevate the experience of macOS,” he added.
In addition to shared features with iPhone and iPad, macOS Sonoma gains new gaming prowess with Game Mode, as well as interactive desktop widgets, video screensavers and Safari browser upgrades for performance and privacy. –David Snow
iPadOS 17 adds long-requested features
Ask an average iPad user what they want added to their tablet and the response might be the same Lock Screen customization features the iPhone got in 2022, and interactive widgets too. iPadOS 17 includes both of these.
In addition, the update includes a range of other tweaks, though nothing close to as major as the changes brought last year by iPadOS 16. Many of these are also in iOS 17.
The developer beta of iPadOS 17 is going out now, and the general public will beget a prerelease version in July. The full launch is scheduled for autumn. –Ed Hardy
Widgets for Apple Watch crown watchOS 10
Widgets are part of iPhone, iPad and Mac, and they’re also coming to Apple Watch with watchOS 10. Scrolling the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch face will open a a Smart Stack of widgets.
In addition, the upcoming upgrade includes a new look for many built-in Apple Watch apps.
And there’s especially good news for cyclists who depend on their Apple Watch. The Workout app adds features that serious cyclists have been requesting for years. –Graham Bower/Ed Hardy
tvOS 17 takes FaceTime to the big (TV) screen
Apple said Monday at WWDC23 that tvOS 17 brings FaceTime to Apple TV 4K for the first time. So you can put your calls with family, friends and colleagues on the biggest screen you have.
“tvOS 17 transforms the biggest screen in the home with FaceTime and new video conferencing capabilities, giving Apple TV 4K users the ability to easily connect with anyone right from their living room,” said Bob Borchers, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.
“New features and enhancements make Apple TV simpler to use and even more enjoyable, reinforcing it as the absolute best option in the living room for Apple customers,” he added.
tvOS 17 also adds a new Control Center, among other enhancements. Apple said the changes “provide a more personalized experience that works even better with iPhone” and brings together all your favorite streaming services and apps. — David Snow