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While Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) typically focuses on software and operating system updates, this year’s edition on June 5 also finally unveiled the company’s most hyped product in nearly a decade: the Apple Vision Pro headset.
But that’s not to say WWDC was light on other major announcements, including first looks at iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, and macOS Sonoma, alongside a slate of new product features.
Here’s what the Cupertino company announced today.
Apple Vision Pro is real
After years of rumors and false starts, Apple’s long-hyped mixed-reality “spatial computing” headset is official: Apple Vision Pro, powered by a new operating system called visionOS, is almost here. The augmented and virtual reality wearable will debut early next year with a $3,499 price tag. Apple calls it their “first spatial computer.”
For the price, consumers can expect a ski goggle-like device alongside a pocket-sized external magnetic charging battery pack. Unlike similar devices such as the Meta Quest, there aren’t additional physical components such as controllers. Instead, to use Vision Pro, people will use their eyes, body movements, and speech. Pinching one’s fingers, for example, can expand or minimize app windows, while eye movement can highlight icons and other options.
The futuristic headset will be powered by both Apple’s M2 chip, alongside a new R1 chip designed specifically for Vision Pro alongside a host of components created for its spatial computing product. From a visual standpoint, Vision Pro relies on two postage-stamp-sized lenses featuring a combined 23 million pixels to provide 4K resolution. A new Optic ID system scans users’ irises for on-device security, while the Vision Pro’s camera system creates a CGI avatar for apps like FaceTime.
During the WWDC pre-taped showcase, Vision Pro wearers used eye and hand movements to control the device alongside aid from Siri (which will soon just respond to “Siri,” and not “Hey, Siri” by the way). A speaker and microphone array is embedded in the headset, but AirPods are intended to provide more comprehensive spatial audio. A Digital Crown, like the one on the Apple Watch, is embedded on the headset to allow users the ability to toggle between AR and VR experiences.
Unsurprisingly, Vision Pro users can sync their Apple account data via their iPhone and iCloud, and the headset will include much of the standard app suite, including FaceTime, Files, Mail, Maps, Messages, Camera, Books, Safari, Photos, TV, and Weather.
Apple’s sizzle reel focused heavily on videoconferencing and workspace collaborations alongside entertainment, media and gaming experiences. Noticeably absent from the presentation, however, was any reference to an escapist “metaverse” pitched by competitors like Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta. Instead, Cook emphasized the ability to enhance everyday experiences and work while not divorcing oneself from the surrounding world. Vision Pro’s semi-transparent glass front will allow users the option to maintain eye contact with nearby individuals, or occlude the screen entirely for full-screen apps and experiences.
A 15-inch MacBook Air and the full transition to Apple Silicon
The company also announced more predictable hardware news. After years of the 13-inch standard MacBook Air, Apple also announced a 15-inch option sporting the same Apple silicon M2 chip used in last year’s models. At 11.5mm thin and just 3 pounds, the new 15-inch MacBook Air comes with Magsafe charging, six speakers, two Thunderbolt jacks, a 1080p camera, 18 hours of battery life, and is offered in four different colors. The 15-inch MacBook Air is available to order now, and begins shipping the week of June 12.
Mac Studio, introduced last year specifically for jobs like professional studio work, now boasts a new M2 Ultra chip, aka two M2 Max chips combined. Apple says the M2 Ultra chip is 20 percent faster than the M1, and boasts 192 GB of unified memory. Every new MacPro will come with the M2 Ultra chip—completing Apple’s complete transition to its in-house Apple silicon chips. The Mac Studio starts at $1,999, with MacPro starting at $6,999. Pre-orders are available now, with shipments beginning next week.
macOS Sonoma, iOS 17, iPad OS17, WatchOS 10
Of course, this being WWDC, Apple didn’t forget its upcoming software updates and changes. First up is iOS and iPad OS 17, which build upon last year’s home screen overhaul and iMessage edit features with a new smart display for locked iPhones in landscape mode called Standby. When placed in Standby, the iPhone functions as a desk clock and digital photo album alongside widgets like calendars, weather, and news. A forthcoming Journal app focuses on providing a space for private reflections, with the ability to log emotions and moods within end-to-end encryption security (E2EE).
As for iPadOS 17, it’s finally catching up with iOS abilities via a customizable lock screen feature first introduced last year in iOS 16. Widgets are also coming to the lock screen, as well as the Health app, while creators can look forward to iPad-honed Logic Pro and FinalCut Pro.
The next macOS is officially called Sonoma, and comes with a nifty rolling wallpaper feature as well as with—you guessed it—more widgets, which are now able to be dragged anywhere on the desktop. Sonoma’s gaming remains one of Apple’s self-imposed weak spots, but will feature a Game Mode option to optimize whatever you find yourself playing on Mac devices. Safari will get family password sharing, browsing profiles, and Web Apps, which appear to function as a kind of highly focused bookmark mode.
Video conferencing is also getting some upgrades, including the ability to adjust the size of your video overlay during presentations, and some fun reaction abilities that can also be used with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebX.
As for watchOS 10, the word is once again “widgets,” which are returning to the new OS as a major component controllable via the Digital Crown. Resembling the same feature on iOS and iPadOS home screens, users will be able to scroll through information such as calendar events, weather forecasts, and stock tickers. Apple Watch core apps are also getting updated designs to maximize the newer, larger displays for both standard watches and the Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple highlighted a ton of stuff over this two-hour-plus preview, but a number of smaller updates and releases deserve their own mentions: The Phone app, FaceTime, and Messages are all getting some exciting new features, notably the debut of personalized “contact posters” as an extension of one’s contact card. These essentially resemble a customizable lock screen notification for whoever is calling you. Similarly, AirDrop is getting something called NameDrop, a touchless personal info swap for new contacts, photos, and other media via simply bringing two iPhones or Apple Watches close together.
Voicemail will soon have a real-time transcription service, with the ability to immediately pick up the call, if you want. FaceTime is finally getting the ability to leave a video message in the event of a missed call. Messages is getting an improved search with filters to narrow conversation results, as well as a catchup arrow for group chats allowing you to jump to the last unchecked message. Messages also will boast audio transcriptions and various other improvements to in-line conversations. A Check-In ability to let friends and family know when you arrive at your destination within an E2EE security context. In terms of other travel add-ons, you’ll soon be able to download portions of Maps to check offline, in the event you ever find yourself in a dead zone.
AirPods are introducing adaptive audio, which personalizes volume by leveraging machine learning to adjust in real time. A pre-taped demo offered streaming music automatically muting when talking to someone, as well as selectively dimming unwanted ambient noise as opposed to important environmental situations such as car horns or bike bells. AirPlay is getting “on-device intelligence” to learn your casting habits for HomePod, and will soon get a QR code-based streamlining ability for participating hotels’ TVs.
Finally, Apple’s Health app is ramping up an emphasis on mental health via state-of-mind documentation, screening tools, and suggested resources.