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Every Apple product we're expecting at WWDC on Monday: AR/VR headset, Mac Studio, more

With a weekend left before WWDC, here's what's expected from Apple during its annual developer conference.
Written by June Wan, Technology Editor on
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), or as journalists and industry experts like to call "Dub Dub", is regarded as the company's most influential event of the year. What's unveiled at WWDC often plays a significant role not only in Apple's future but in shaping industry trends and how other manufacturers approach product design. And that will all happen this coming Monday.

Also: Apple may ship its upcoming headset with some very important warnings

Since the beginning, WWDC has been a home base for sharing new tools and software for developers to create better experiences for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and more. And over the past years, hardware announcements have slowly but surely crept into the itinerary. This year's event may offer more of them than ever before.

Sources and industry reports point to Apple releasing a new AR/VR headset, the company's first venture into an untapped product category in years, and naturally, a new operating system to follow. Updates to various Mac models, including new display sizes and chipsets, are in the cards, too. 

Read on for a breakdown of all the products we expect to see from Apple this WWDC.

1. Reality Pro headset (AR/VR)

The HTC Vive XR Elite with Apple logos reflecting off the visor.
June Wan/ZDNET

Apple's worst-kept secret, an AR/VR headset by the name of Reality Pro, is expected to make its debut at WWDC this year. At the time of writing, reports and sources familiar with the matter suggest the headset's design to be similar to a pair of ski goggles, with Apple leaning more towards comfort and ease of use than performance and battery life. 

Also: Fitness isn't going to sell me on Apple's rumored Reality Pro headset

Reality Pro will run on a new "XrOS" platform that's heavily inspired by iPadOS, expanding on familiar apps and services like internet browsing, entertainment, FaceTime, iMessage, and more. Gaming and fitness will be a focus with the new headset, too, though questions of processing power and efficiency remain up in the air.

Reports hint at the headset fielding a pair of 4K Sony-made displays for each eye and several external cameras for passthrough and hand tracking, besting the resolution quality and sensors of existing AR/VR headsets

Naturally, high-density panels blasting at users' eyes call for some disclaimers, and Apple apparently has those ready, too. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, the company may ship its upcoming AR/VR headset with some very important warnings; ones that suggest users who have experienced conditions such as Meniere's Disease, past traumatic brain injuries, vertigo, and anxiety disorders to not buy or use the reality-altering gadget.

lso: Will Apple's Reality Pro signal the beginning of the immersive internet?

On its own, the Reality Pro is expected to last around two hours before needing to recharge. To help, Apple will reportedly bundle a pocketable charging pack that can be tethered to the headset. We'll have to see how practical (or messy) the concoction is when we get our hands on a review unit.

The elephant in the room with the upcoming headset is its price. $3,000 is what's expected, putting the Reality Pro in a tier well above would-be competitors like the $1,000 Meta Quest Pro and HTC Vive XR Elite

"Early AR and VR products mostly failed to go mainstream and growth has stalled, so if Apple has a new idea for what XR is useful for and how to bring that vision to life for a segment of Apple's billion-plus customer base, that would be enormously significant for the company and the industry overall," Avi Greengart, Lead Analyst at Techsponential tells ZDNET.

Tune into WWDC on Monday to see just how Apple will justify the high cost of entry for its newest venture.

2. Mac Pro and Mac Studio

Mac Pro closeup (2019)
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Mac Pro and Mac Studio are due for an upgrade, but the former is what most Apple faithful are praying for. The Mac Pro, geared towards professional content creators, developers, and all the power users in between last made an appearance at WWDC 2019

Ironically, four years later, it's now the only Apple computer not running on the company's proprietary silicon.

Also: Introducing my design for an Apple Silicon-based Mac Pro

While the only reason going for a potential Mac Pro announcement is, well, time, Apple has hinted in recent months that a successor is due. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has mentioned that the second coming is near, but some time after WWDC. 

However, just recently, the journalist hinted that "several new Macs" may be on the docket during this year's spring keynote, including the Mac Studio with M2 Max and M2 Ultra configurations.

3. 15-inch MacBook Air


Last year's MacBook Air was unquestionably a grand slam, touting an ultraportable form factor capable of running high-performance tasks thanks to the M2 chip within, and ultimately taking ZDNET's top spot for Product of the Year. So, where does Apple go next? 

A larger display -- from 13.6 inches to 15 inches -- is what the chatter around WWDC town suggests. That would round out the rest of Apple's MacBook lineup, which includes the standard Air and 14 and 16-inch Pro models. 

Also: This lightweight laptop is surprisingly powerful (and it's not the MacBook Air)

To prevent buying confusion and overpricing the new MacBook Air, it would make the most sense for Apple to retain the processing components of the 13-inch model, like the M2 chipset, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB base storage on the newer laptop. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

An upcharge of about $100 to $200 for the larger display alone would be reasonable, taking the 15-inch model to the $1,300-$1,400 range. We'll have to see what more Apple decides to do with the lightweight laptop -- if it still is with the bigger footprint -- on June 5.

4. iOS 17, WatchOS 10, and the others

June Wan/ZDNET

WWDC, fundamentally, is a software-centered showcase, with Apple typically previewing what's to come with its iOS, WatchOS, iPad OS, MacOS, tvOS, and now xrOS platforms.

This year, iOS 17 is expected to bring quality-of-life improvements to the iPhone, including changes to Siri and CarPlay, better accessibility features like Personal Voice and Live Speech, and even a new smart display feature that turns the device, when locked, into an informational hub.

Also: Apple devices are about to get a bunch of new accessibility features

With WatchOS 10, reports suggest that Apple is giving its wearable operating system a design makeover, shifting from complex interactions to a more glanceable, widget-based experience, much like the elements on an iPhone home screen. Simply put, smartwatch displays are too small for focused tasks like replying to emails and checking fitness metrics. The new software should make things easier to navigate and on the eyes.

As for the other software versions, we'll have to wait until WWDC to see what Apple has in store. Based on how much the company has already announced heading into event day, you can expect a lot more from the technology giant.

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