5 Things We Didn’t Hear About at Apple’s WWDC
There's no doubt that Apple's first-ever virtual Worldwide Developers Conference was chocked full of cool new announcements last week, along with an all-new format that let Apple's executives and engineers show off the new features coming to iOS 14, watchOS 7, and macOS Big Sur in a whole new way.
As great as the news was about Apple's new operating systems and its transition to ARM-based Macs, there were a few other things that were rumoured for WWDC that never quite materialized. While it's perhaps not surprising that a developer-focused event would focus on, well, developers, and therefore by extension mostly software — and the leakers got a lot right in that area — Apple has set a precedent for dropping hardware announcements during the event in prior years. Read on for 5 things that we thought were coming at WWDC that didn't show up.
The New iMac
Apple's desktop computer, the iMac, has been getting a bit stale compared to the other products in its lineup, since it's been more than eight years since Apple actually revised the design, and even that was merely just slimming the edges for a sleeker side profile that didn't really make it look much different head-on from that last major iMac redesign in 2009. Although Apple added a Retina 5K display in 2014, and has released spec bumps almost every year since, the design itself has remained unchanged.
So a rumour earlier this month that Apple was poised to announce a new design at WWDC 2020 definitely whet our appetites, but sadly this didn't materialize. Of course, that doesn't mean it's not still coming, but at this point it seems likely we won't see a debut of a new iMac design until this fall — unless of course Apple chooses to quietly slip them out via press release over the summer instead.
As to what we can expect? While the reports may have gotten the launch date wrong, the other information still seems pretty plausible, and if true it looks like the iMac will move to a design more similar to the iPad Pro in style, with much slimmer bezels and squared-off edges. It's also expected to abandon the Fusion Drive in favour of fully SSD storage, add Apple's T2 coprocessor, and include AMD's latest Navi GPUs.
What's less certain in the midst of Apple's new ARM transition is whether these will be the last iMacs to feature Intel CPUs or whether they'll be the first to include Apple Silicon. With a major redesign in the works we're actually expecting the latter.
We've been hearing about Apple working on its own over-ear headphones for about two years now, but Apple's plans have only started to come into focus more recently, with reports as far back as February suggesting that they could now be right around the corner, and reliable sources even revealing a possible name last month, along with reports that production has already begun.
Prolific leaker Jon Prosser suggested back in April that these should have been on the slate for a WWDC announcement, and while everything we've seen still suggests that they're almost ready for release, it's possible that Apple just didn't feel they were worthy of presentation time, at least not at the already busy WWDC.
We're still sure they're coming this year, and Apple could simply announce them via press release over the summer, as it did with all of its AirPods last year, or it could save them for its September iPhone 12 event.
More Apple Watch Features
We've heard a lot about possible Apple Watch health and fitness features that could arrive this year, but the actual debut of watchOS 7 didn't actually check all of the boxes that we thought it would.
Really, the only big health feature we saw was sleep tracking, which is huge by itself, to be fair — and something that Apple has been working on for a while — but there was no word on blood oxygen monitoring, blood pressure monitoring, or even the rumoured fitness features for kids.
That said, we're not ready to give up on these features yet, and we suspect many of them are just waiting for the Apple Watch Series 6 to make its debut, either because they need new hardware, or simply because they'll be better able to take advantage of the new hardware and Apple doesn't want to tip its hand by announcing the more limited versions of these features just yet.
Apple's AirTags have probably been one of the most uncertain product launch rumours over the past year or so, as we have plenty of evidence that Apple is working on them, but rarely do we hear any reliable rumours as to when they might actually be unveiled.
So we weren't really expecting them to arrive at WWDC, but Apple did surprise us with the related announcement that it will be opening up its Find My network to allow AirTags competitors to participate, which is going to shake things up a bit, but we also think that gives us a big hint as when AirTags will actually be announced.
The catch is that since it's a new iOS 14 framework, developers aren't going to be able to actually ship products using Find My until at least September, but we strongly suspect that Apple wouldn't be opening up the feature if it wasn't planning to have its own AirTags out by then as well.
A New Apple TV
Another product that Apple is rumoured to be very close to releasing is a new souped-up Apple TV. While this didn't make an appearance at WWDC either, it's probably not a big enough deal to take up time in a formal presentation.
After all, at this point the Apple TV 4K is more than powerful enough for what most people are using it for, which is streaming video, and while it's a little bit sluggish with some Apple Arcade games, it's still not too bad overall.
Of course, an A12-equipped Apple TV with more storage would be a very welcome arrival for Apple TV gamers, and with Apple's increasing focus on gaming — this year its even gone so far as resurrect game center and add advanced game controller support, it seems inevitable that a more gamer-focused set-top box is in the works, and under the circumstances we actually were pretty surprised that Apple didn't unveil the new Apple TV at WWDC on the basis of offering gamer-centric features for developers to work with. In fact, even tvOS barely got a mention outside of HomeKit-related features.
Still, we suspect this is something Apple will be saving for a bigger announcement somewhere along the way, even if it just comes out via press release, and it's possible that there are some features lurking in tvOS 14 to support the new features and hardware that have yet to be revealed.