What to Expect at WWDC 2023: AR/VR Headset, New Mac Studio, Mac Pro

WWDC 2023 What to Expect

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) commences on Monday, June 5, at 10 AM PT. PetaPixel will be on the ground for the keynote and this list is what the Silicon Valley giant is most likely to release.

WWDC often focuses on software, which will surely be part of Apple’s keynote address, but there’s a lot of smoke surrounding some exciting hardware announcements that could be on the horizon.

Ordered by decreasing confidence level, below is a breakdown of what people can expect from Apple during Monday’s keynote.

Nearly Certain: iOS, iPad OS, macOS, and watchOS Updates

File this one under “Will be discussed.” WWDC always includes unveiling new features for upcoming operating systems for Apple’s wide range of consumer products, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. There’s no reason to believe that this year will be any different.

Reliable Apple insider, Mark Gurman of Bloomberg says iOS 17, iPad OS 17, macOS 14, and watchOS 10 are likely to be revealed during WWDC 2023.

There aren’t many details about individual operating system updates, but iOS 17 is said to include a new smart display-like mode when placed an iPhone is in landscape mode that will show snippets of information. Gurman adds that there’ll be a new journaling app, an upgraded Wallet app, enhanced SharePlay, an updated Health app, Health on iPad, and expanded accessibility features.

WWDC 2023 What to Expect
Apple recently announced new accessibility features for iPhone and iPad, including Assistive Access, Live Speech, and more. The features will be available later this year. It’s a safe bet that Apple will discuss new accessibility features for the next version for iOS and iPad OS.

As for a new macOS version, it’ll be an incremental update over macOS 13.4, primarily including compatibility with new features introduced in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.

Speaking of iPad OS 17, last year saw the introduction of many features to iPad that made Apple’s popular tablet a better workhorse for productivity. Gurman doesn’t speculate about any specific new iPad features besides the new Health app. Users hoping for iPad to become a closer facsimile to Mac notebooks may need to wait a bit longer.

Extremely Confident: The Long-Awaited Mixed-Reality Apple Headset

This is almost certainly the year. The oft-rumored and long-awaited Apple mixed reality headset, which will reportedly combine augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) functionality, should finally be unveiled.

Gurman claims it’ll be an “ultra-premium” device constructed using glass, carbon fiber, and aluminum.

“It looks like a high-tech pair of ski goggles, features a new magnetic charger for power, has a curved front with an external screen to show a wearer’s facial expressions and eyes, and several external cameras to enable video pass-through, depth sensing and hand control,” writes Gurman.

The premium device is aimed at communication, content viewing, gaming, productivity, and even health. A source within Apple who worked on the device says it’s part “status symbol” and part “future of the computer.” Ambitious claims.

Inside the device are said to be a pair of 4K screens, with AR powered by video pass-through technology. The headset will likely borrow design elements from other Apple devices, including a rotating crown like Apple Watch.

Powered by an M2 chip and an external battery, the device promises a lot of performance and perhaps a somewhat lackluster battery life of around two hours per charge, per Gurman.

The AR/VR headset will have its own OS and include apps like Books, FaceTime, Files, Home, Mail, Safari, TV, Weather, and different wellness-oriented apps. Many third-party iPad apps are said to run on the device without any modification.

It doesn’t appear the new device will come cheap, as Gurman expects it’ll be priced around $3,000 and begin shipping several months after it is announced. For people who require glasses, apparently, the device is too thin to allow people to wear them and they’ll need to use a snap-in prescription lens system.

Very Confident: New M2 Chips and new Macs, Including the Mac Studio

There will very likely be at least one new Mac announced at WWDC. The most likely candidates include a new 15-inch MacBook Air and an updated Mac Studio.

What to Expect at WWDC 2023
Apple’s Mac Studio is an amazing choice for photographers. A new version could be announced at Monday.

These new Macs will likely run on M2 Pro, M2 Max, and an all-new M2 Ultra chips. Gurman says the M2 Ultra will include 24 CPU cores and offer up to 76 graphics cores. This is an increase of four CPU cores and a dozen GPU cores compared to the M1 Ultra.

Gurman says that a new Mac Pro, a device Apple has promised, is also coming. Earlier this year, PetaPixel reported that the new Mac Pro is “close to releasing,” and will likely be Apple’s most powerful computer to date. It’ll be interesting to see how Apple enables expansion and upgradeability for a new Mac Pro, as that has been an important focus for prior models but seems much more challenging given that Apple’s M-powered computers to this point are not upgradeable.

Gurman thinks a new Mac Pro powered by the new M2 Ultra may offer users up to 192GB of RAM. If a new Mac Pro is announced, especially if it has nearly 200GB of RAM, it’s a safe bet that it’ll be very expensive. Apple has never shied away from pricing its flagship desktop computers well outside the reach of the typical consumer. After all, they’re not designed for anything resembling typical workloads.

Marques Brownlee remarks on Twitter that if the new Mac Pro isn’t shown on Monday, it’s never coming. There’s a lot on the line for professional Mac users, although Apple has given its prosumer and professional users a lot to like since launching the initial M1 chip.

50/50: New Display

Apple’s high-end Studio Display is very nice, albeit expensive. Apple’s ProDisplay XDR from 2019 is even more costly, starting at an eye-watering $4,999.

There have been rumors that Apple is preparing to announce a new display, perhaps a new iteration of its flagship Pro Display XDR or a more affordable alternative to the Studio Display. However, PetaPixel isn’t confident about this rumor.

WWDC 2023 What to Expect
Are new Apple displays on the way?

Little Confidence: Final Cut Pro to Subscription

Apple recently brought its popular non-linear video editing app, Final Cut Pro, to iPad. Will Apple announce a shift from its one-time $299 purchase price to a subscription-based pricing model? Maybe.

Not Confident: Anything Else

While Apple runs a relatively tight ship, there are rarely surprises in its WWDC keynote addresses. Reliable insiders like Mark Gurman almost always get the scoop and are frequently bang-on with predictions.

However, that doesn’t mean a surprise is impossible — but it is unlikely.

Monday’s WWDC 2023 Keynote

If a surprise happens, it’ll be discussed on PetaPixel on Monday. PetaPixel’s coverage of WWDC will include in-depth information about everything Apple announces on Monday as soon as details are available.

Image credits: Apple