Apple WWDC 2023: What to expect

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference regularly sets the tone for the company’s future, and that may be truer than ever for 2023. Many expect the company to introduce its first mixed reality headset at the event, with a new platform to match. However, the wearable is far from the only major announcement believed to be coming at WWDC this year. Rumors have included a larger MacBook Air, a major watchOS update and even app sideloading on iOS. Here’s what you’re likely to see on June 5th.


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Video transcript

CHERYLYNN LOW: The last of the three biggest developer conferences every year is around the corner, and it is none other than Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference. WWDC is coming up on us, and based on all of the rumors we have seen and the leaks that are coming out so far, this might be one of the most intriguing WWDCs yet.

Many people are expecting Apple to not only reveal its first virtual or mixed reality headset at the event, with a new reality OS platform to match, but there's some hardware that might be on the agenda, too. In addition, we've got all the usual suspects on the software front, like updates to iOS, watchOS, macOS, and more, and so here's a roundup of all the things we expect to see next week at WWDC 2023 based on what we've learned so far.


Every WWDC, people take a lot of pains to find clues that might or might not be hidden in the invitation image and words. This year's invite had the text "swiftly developing" in it alongside a curvy-looking sort of colorful graphic. Some people think that picture might be some kind of lens. I feel like that's a stretch.

But it's very clear Apple has had ambitions in the headset space for years. It's been buying startups for goodness knows how long. Based on the rumors we've seen so far, Apple's device might be called the Reality Pro, and based on earlier leaks we've seen from patent applications and stuff, the company might be pushing something that's called realityOS to match with this device.

The hardware itself might offer a 4K resolution per I, have six cameras on board for full-body tracking, as well as a view of the outside world. It could also potentially use an M2 chip and have an external battery pack that would help it run for up to two hours while maintaining a fairly slim and comfortable design. Another name for this potential realityOS could also be xrOS, and it would do things that would help you interact with that mixed reality without using controllers so much.

Some rumors suggest that you could use hand gestures, use gaze detection, or even Siri voice commands to navigate the interface. There might also be an Apple Watch-like crown on the headset that lets you toggle between XR and VR, and there might also be a feature that allows you to type on sort of like an imaginary keyboard in mid-air.

Now, what would this device let you do? Early reports suggest that the focus of this initial foray device would be on productivity, and apps that would be available around the time of launch would include iMovie, GarageBand, and Pages. You could also potentially even have one-on-one FaceTime calls in xrOS.

If you're already intrigued and want to buy one of these headsets for yourself, be warned, you might have to save up for a little bit. Rumors suggest the headset will cost $3,000 and won't be available till later in the year. Last WWDC, Apple revealed a new redesigned MacBook Air that got rid of that wedge shape that we are so familiar with.

This WWDC, the company is expected to launch a follow-up to that in a 15-inch variant. For those who are always looking for a larger MacBook, they were always forced to consider something in the more high-end Pro line. The 15-inch MacBook Air would allow people to get a bigger laptop without having to pay more for the more premium specs.

Not much is known about the details of this laptop, other than that it will probably run a variant of the M2 chip, come with maybe 8 gigs of RAM, and potentially have a higher-resolution display. On to the software, and every year we expect to see updates to iOS at WWDC. And this time around, there could be something actually game-changing that will be announced at the show.

For the first time ever, iOS might actually allow for sideloading of apps, which means you won't have to look for or install programs through the App Store, and the App Store alone. You might even be able to download them through a browser or a drive app. If this happens, it would be done to honor European Union competition rules, and it would open the doors to just a whole host of changes to iOS.

While sideloading is a significant potential update, the change that might be coming that will probably impact your daily life more on iOS is a potential makeover of the control center. No details yet on what the new interface might look like, but we're expecting to hear some changes. Also, Apple may be paying a bit more attention to mental-health-related features with a mood-tracking tool coming to Health, potentially, as well as a journaling app similar to Day One that Apple might release.

Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro is supposed to get a bit more functionality, while the Maps app will have a new interface for the lock screen. And the Music and Wallet apps might get some tweaks. iPadOS is also going to get some love. Reportedly, in the area of the Health app, it will get a tablet-native version of that software, as well as inheriting the iOS 16's customizable lock screens.

Another thing we're expecting to happen not at WWDC but right after is the release of the next iOS beta. The iOS 17 beta is more than likely to be released right after the keynote reps. For fans of the Apple Watch, there may be big changes coming to watchOS as well. Mark Gurman, over at Bloomberg, suggests that watchOS will be redesigned around widgets, and Glances will be coming back.

Sort of, anyway. It sounds like this redesign will deprioritize apps and make everything a little more glanceable. This will be familiar probably to people who have been with watchOS since the beginning, but it might take a little getting used to for those who are fairly new to watchOS. So it seems like Apple may make this an option at the start so people who aren't used to it or prefer the older interface will have a choice.

And as always, we usually see a bunch of updates to macOS at WWDC, but, man, that team has been keeping its secrets tight. We have not heard much about what's coming over there, so it's not a lot for us to go on. We can only speculate based on what we know in the past, and we've seen a lot of tying together the iOS and iPadOS side of things with the desktop and macOS interface. So we might see more of that this year.

And while in years past, we have seen Apple launch the next generation of its own silicon, it will be unlikely that we see an M3 at this year's WWDC. That is at least what the rumors suggest. We can't completely rule out that possibility, but we're not hearing enough buzz around it to make us feel like that's something we'll see.

But what we're quite unlikely to see regardless are new MacBook Pros. Those are usually reserved for later in the year when Apple announces more powerful chips to power those beefier machines to begin with. Finally, about two WWDCs ago, the company teased a next-generation CarPlay interface. And while we still haven't seen that, it is possible we will see the company detail more of that, given all of the EV and smart-car interfaces that we have been seeing over the years, but still, something we don't know a lot about.

That's a pretty big set of news, especially if they all do happen to be true, but we still can't rule out a lot of different wild cards. Will there be new AirTags, new safety and security features? Maybe they'll actually make a car, and they'll drive off into the sunset.

The best thing to do is actually to stick around, come here to, where we will be live blogging the news from Cupertino on June 5. I'll be there along with Senior Editor Devindra Hardawar. We will be checking out all of the stuff. And if Apple does have stuff to show at Apple Park next week, we will be bringing you that coverage live from the ground, so make sure you just refresh like crazy.

Or if you prefer, just subscribe to Engadget for all of the news from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the world of consumer technology. And, hey, send me your thoughts on what you think Apple might actually reveal next week. And until next time, take your vitamins.