The wait is nearly over for Apple fans, as the firm’s hotly-anticipated annual tech event is about to commence.
Apple says the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), which kicks off on Monday at Apple Park in California, will be an ‘exhilarating week of technology’.
The tech giant is expected to announce its mixed reality headset at the event, as well as the next major software updates for its devices, including iOS 17.
Here, MailOnline gives a rundown of everything you need to know about WWDC, including how to tune in and when the big product will be revealed.
This year’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) runs from June 5-9 and is being held at Apple Park, the company’s HQ in California. This promo image shows the distinctive ring shape of Apple Park, which opened in April 2017
WHAT IS WWDC?
Worldwide Developer Conference is an annual event that’s been held by Apple since 1983, although it was not originally intended for hardware announcements.
It’s only in the past 20 years that Apple has been using the conference as a major launchpad for new devices, including the HomePod speaker in 2007 and the iPhone 4 in 2010.
Arguably, the main event in the calendar for Apple fans is its event held in the first two weeks of September, when it announces its new iPhone – although this year WWDC could be bigger.
Often, announcements at WWDC are modest and concern new software, app updates and other details that are of little interest to even hardcore Apple fans.
However, this year the firm is expected to announce a new piece of hardware that could soon ‘replace the iPhone’, according to one expert.
WHEN WILL WWDC TAKE PLACE?
This year’s event will kick off on Monday, June 5, and run until Friday, June 9, although the major announcements are expected to happen on the first day.
Apple CEO Tim Cook will deliver a keynote to kick off the event on Monday at 6pm BST (10am PT) – an opportunity to lift the lid on the new hardware.
Apple confirmed the dates for WWDC 2023 back in March and said the five-day event will be presented online, streamed through its YouTube channel and website.
This year’s five-day WWDC will be presented online, although there will be an opportunity for ‘developers and students to celebrate in person at a special experience’ hosted at Apple Park (pictured), the firm’s Cupertino HQ, on the opening day (June 5)
Apple has already posted about a ‘Special Event at Apple Park’ on the first day, described as a ‘special all-day experience’ to kick off ‘an incredible week’
However, there will be an opportunity for ‘developers and students to celebrate in person at a special experience’ hosted at Apple Park, the firm’s Cupertino HQ, on Monday.
Apple’s headset: Rumours
Release: September 2023
Type: Mixed reality
– One ‘higher-end’ similar to the M1 or M2
– One lower-end to manage ‘sensor-related aspects’
Operating system: xrOS
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E
Price: $3,000 (£2,400)
According to an attendee who received the event schedule, day one of WWDC will include a ‘Special Evening Activity’ that Apple said attendees ‘won’t want to miss’.
Apple has already posted about a ‘Special Event at Apple Park’ on the first day, described as a ‘special all-day experience’ to kick off ‘an incredible week’.
There will also be a smaller event on Tuesday for visitors to ‘discuss some of the latest announcements’ with Apple execs, the company said.
‘WWDC is one of our favorite times of the year at Apple,’ said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations.
‘It’s an opportunity to connect with the talented developers from around the globe who make this community so extraordinary.
‘WWDC23 is going to be our biggest and most exciting yet, and we can’t wait to see many of you online and in person at this very special event.’
WHAT WILL APPLE ANNOUNCE AT WWDC?
By far the most anticipated announcement is the mixed reality headset, which is rumoured to be called ‘Reality Pro’ or ‘Reality One’ and cost a whopping $3,000 (£2,400) when it’s released in September.
Apple’s cryptic promo image for WWDC this year features curving coloured lines – a possible reference to the wearable.
A glimpse of the new headset? A cryptic promo image for Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this year features curving coloured lines
The mixed reality headset, which has been in development for the best part of a decade, is expected to display apps, messages and more in front of people’s eyes.
Publicly, Apple has made no acknowledgement of the upcoming device, but its existence is an open secret within the tech industry.
A US leaker called Mark Gurman, who has been drip-feeding information about it in his weekly newsletter for months, says it could ‘replace the iPhone’.
While Gurman thinks the first version will be a ‘dud’ in terms of sales compared with the company’s existing hardware, future versions will likely do better as the product finds its niche – just like Apple’s smartwatch has done.
Reality Pro is expected to be launched with its own operating system, xrOS, which will host familiar Apple apps including FaceTime, Messages and Maps.
Gurman thinks the headset will be launched with a new portal for watching sports in VR as part of Apple’s push into streaming live games and news.
There will also be advanced videoconferencing and virtual meeting rooms with realistic avatars, making users feel like they’re interacting in the same place.
British designer Jony Ive, who left Apple in July 2019, was involved with the headset since its inception and ‘pushed the company to avoid the isolating designs that plagued existing VR headsets’, according to Gurman.
‘He also lobbied for a portable design without an external base station and an outward-facing display that would let you see the eyes of the user,’ he said.
Also at WWDC this year, Apple is expected to announce the next major software updates for its devices – iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10 and macOS, for iPhones, iPads, smartwatches and Mac computers, respectively.
Expected to be called ‘Reality Pro’, Apple’s headset will transport notifications, messages, directions and more from your iPhone to in front of your eyes (MailOnline’s impression)
According to 9to5mac, iOS 17 will include revamps to the Health app, a smart display mode, improvements to SharePlay, and a ‘smart’ journaling app.
It’s thought iOS 17 will be released in September to coincide with the new iPhone, which is expected to work closely with the new headset.
Just like previous WWDC years, the tech giant is also set to unveil the winners of its Apple Design Awards, which is a competition independent developers who have created software and hardware.
Apple says the awards are supposed to honour ‘excellence in innovation, ingenuity, and technical achievement in app and game design’.
HOW CAN I WATCH WWDC?
Apple will be streaming the event on its YouTube channel, as well as the Apple TV app, its website homepage, its dedicated developer webpage.
Pictured is the landing page for apple.com/uk/apple-events, with an animated version of the Apple logo
If you’re watching at home, make sure you’re in front of the screen at 6pm BST (10am PT) on Monday, as this is when the keynote will begin.
A tantalizing pre-broadcast teaser on Apple’s website shows an animated version of the Apple logo with colourful edges of refracted light.
This rainbow pattern has been a common theme of Apple’s teaser images leading up to WWDC – and could possibly be a reference to new products.
MailOnline will be bringing you all the latest news as it happens from Apple Park.
Why is Apple releasing a mixed reality headset?
Apple has long been rumoured to be developing an AR wearable; the tech giant filed a patent in 2019 that gives a glimpse into what it may be developing behind closed doors.
But work on the headset has been going on for the best part of a decade.
According to Gurman, Reality Pro could be the next major platform beyond the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch, which was first released to much hype back in 2015.
Mark Gurman has called the June 5 launch ‘one of the most critical events in the company’s history’ and an opportunity ‘to herald a post-iPhone era’.
With Reality Pro, Apple is ‘preparing for a future beyond the iPhone and iPad’ – but execs are ‘clear-eyed about Apple’s challenges pushing into this new market’.
While Gurman thinks the first version will be a ‘dud’ in terms of sales compared with the company’s existing hardware, future versions will likely do better as the product finds its place.
For now, Apple will have to explain to consumers why they’d want to own such a device and how it’s an improvement over the likes of iPhone and iPad.
Paolo Pescatore, analyst at PP Foresight, said the device will appeal to loyal fans and those who want ‘an immersive experience in areas such as games and live events’.
Apple has long been rumoured to be developing an AR wearable. The tech giant filed a patent in 2019 (pictured) that gives a glimpse into what it may be developing behind closed doors
But among the general public, adoption and awareness of AR and VR technologies ‘remains lackluster’ and could hamper sales of the headset.
‘The device will provide a much needed boost and reignite interest in the virtual and augmented reality market,’ Pescatore told MailOnline.
‘Ultimately this is still at early stage and has some way to go before its mass market and widely accepted.
‘People are not rushing out of their seats to buy a VR headset or even watch 360 degree videos.’
Pescatore also said Apple ‘cannot solely rely on the iPhone forever’ given intense competition from rival firms in new product categories such as foldable devices.
‘The company has placed strong focus on the iPhone as a gateway to the Apple universe,’ he said. ‘This might suggest it is behind the curve on new hardware.’
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