Here’s what to expect from Apple’s WWDC 2021

Along with a new MacBook Pro, we'll likely see the updates to all of Apple's operating systems


Though the passage of time makes little sense amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, somehow, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is right around the corner once again.

Apple’s WWDC 2021 is only a few days away and surprisingly, not a lot regarding what we’ll see at this year’s event has leaked. That said, at 10am PT/1pm ET, we can expect to see new versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS revealed during the online-only keynote.

There could also be a few surprises, including an entirely redesigned 14-inch/16-inch MacBook Pro, a new smart home operating system called homeOS and more.

Below is everything we expect to see at WWDC 2021:

iOS/iPadOS 15

Given iOS/iPadOS received a pretty significant revamp last year, this year’s update will likely be a little tamer. According to Bloomberg, iOS 15 will feature revamped notifications that allow users to change how the operating system (OS) handles them based on what you’re doing — for example, if you’re driving or sleeping. The ability to automatically respond to messages with canned responses is coming as well.

Other reported changes are a revamped iPhone Lock Screen and the possibility of an Android-like always-on display with the iPhone 13 now that the smartphone features an OLED screen. Some rumours also point to Apple expanding iOS 14.5’s transparency features in some way. Finally, new accessibility features like soothing background sounds are coming to the OS (Apple already released details about them).

Taking a call on the iPhone 12 Pro Max

On the iPadOS side of things, all iOS 15’s above features will likely make their way to Apple’s tablet operating system. We’ll likely see Apple take better advantage of the iPad Pro (2021)’s M1 chip, though it’s unclear exactly what this will look like. This could in some way relate to cross-platform iPadOS/macOS apps now that the high-end version of the tablet features the same chip as its refreshed Mac line.

Some rumours also point to iPadOS 15 getting a revamped Home Screen that allows users to move widgets around — weirdly, this wasn’t already a feature with iPadOS 14. Given this rumour comes from Bloomberg’s nearly always-reliable Mark Gurman and was one of last year’s most requested iPadOS 14 features, it’s likely accurate.

macOS 12/redesigned MacBook Pro

Now that nearly all of Apple’s Mac lineup has made the shift to its M1 chip, it’s likely that this year macOS 12 could bring with it significant changes. That said, nothing has really leaked about changes to the operating system.

However, it’s increasingly looking like we’ll see an entirely redesigned MacBook Pro line-up just seven months after the release of the M1-powered MacBook Pro.

Once again originally reported by Gurman, the new MacBook Pro will feature upgraded Apple silicon in the form of an M1x chip, an entirely redesigned body and the return of the SD card slot. While the 14-inch version of the laptop is expected to measure in at the same size as the current 13-inch MacBook Pro, rumours point to it featuring minimized bezels, allowing Apple to fit a larger display in the same body dimensions.

13-inch MacBook Pro (2020) running Lightroom CC

The new MacBook Pro is also expected to feature the return of the popular magnetic MagSafe Charger, an HDMI port and mini-LED display technology similar to the screen featured in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. On the inside, the upgraded M1 chip is tipped to feature 10 CPU core, including eight for high-performance tasks and two additional cores for energy-efficient use.

The chip will also include either 16 or 32 integrated GPU cores. It’s unclear if Apple will also offer a discrete GPU option with the 16-inch MacBook Pro as it does with the current Intel variant.

Everything else

Very little has leaked regarding watchOS 8 and tvOS 15. For example, all we really know about the next version of Apple’s wearable operating system is that it’s set to include a new feature called AssistiveTouch that allows users to control the smartwatch with physical gestures like clenching their fist through the use of motion sensors.

We could also see something about the often-rumoured glucose monitoring that’s rumoured to be coming to the Apple Watch Series 7 that’s set to likely be revealed this September.

Apple TV 4K 2021 top-down

On the tvOS 15 side, we’ll likely see at least something gaming-related during WWDC given the new Apple TV (2021) features Apple’s much faster A12 chip. In terms of new features, nothing has leaked about tvOS 15 yet, but Apple’s updates to its Apple TV operating system are typically pretty subtle.

References to something called homeOS also recently appeared in a job listing ahead of WWDC. Though the listing has since been pulled, this could relate to rumours surrounding Apple’s plans to release several new smart home products, including an Apple TV-like device that features a built-in speaker and a HomePod that features a screen.

As WWDC draws closer, more rumours regarding Apple’s plans for the annual developer conference will likely appear. This story will be updated over the next few days with additional leaks and report. 

Source: Bloomberg, (1), (2), (3)