WWDC, beyond OS updates: Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicked off yesterday and set the tone for the company’s focus for the rest of the year.
While the expected software, services, and platform announcements were expected, Apple’s AR/VR plans—the most anticipated news—remained in the shadows as the company dished on upcoming software and hardware releases.
Apple Silicon M2-powered hardware:
- Apple said its new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops will use the second-generation Apple Silicon M2 processors starting in July.
- The new processors are 1.4 times faster than M1 Macs and offer 15 times faster video editing than Intel-based Macs.
- Apple is on track to transition completely away from Intel chips this year.
Improved iPadOS multitasking and collaboration features:
- The iPad’s growth has declined recently, mostly because the tablet segment has stagnated.
- Updated multitasking features in iPadOS 16 could make iPads more productivity-focused, positioning them as possible laptop replacements.
iMessage gets better:
- iMessage in iOS 16 will soon allow users to edit and unsend iMessages and mark threads as unread.
- Apple is also expanding iMessage’s functionality with SharePlay features for activities like watching movies together.
- Improved dictation will make voice transcription more accurate.
Health features on WatchOS:
- With smartwatch competition coming around the corner, Apple is looking to bolster its lead in health and fitness tracking.
WatchOS 9 offers improved sleep tracking, a Medications app to help users manage and track meds, and Heart Rate Zones to track the intensity of workouts.
The bigger picture: Apple had an opportunity to outline its future AR/VR platform and show off its anticipated goggles but instead doubled down on safer bets for WWDC. Meta’s current freeze on metaverse development and hiring could be a factor for Apple’s decision to bide its time.
- The new operating systems across product lines bring mostly evolutionary updates and convenience features. They also draw the line for older hardware, especially for laptops and desktops.
- In context, the newly announced MacOS Ventura supports hardware from 2017 onward, relegating millions of Intel Macs obsolete. Similarly iOS 16 will no longer support iPhone 6 and earlier or the original iPhone SE.
The big takeaway: Apple will focus on refining the various product lines for 2022 while making popular services like iMessage more compelling and harder to quit. AR/VR OS and hardware could still be in the works for later this year but will not likely get to developers until early 2023.