Editor's Desk: a WWDC 2022 finale, as stage gets set for fall
This year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) has ended, and the event offered something for everyone — on both the software and hardware side. Perhaps better still, it has set the table for what's likely to be an incredible fall, which could be the launching point for maybe a record number of new devices. So here's a look back at a busy week in the Apple world!
Apple doesn't always introduce new hardware at WWDC. This year, however, it revealed next-generation versions of the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. The former, Apple's top-selling Mac, is where all the excitement fell, which wasn't unexpected.
The long-rumored 2022 MacBook Air looks much like last year's 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models and offers similar features, including the return of MagSafe 3 and a new 1080p FaceTime HD camera. It also has a larger display, 13.6-inches. Like the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, this model is also the first Apple product to include an M2 chip.
With a starting price of $200 higher than the model it replaced, the 2022 MacBook Air is also the first Apple laptop available in Starlight and Midnight Blue.
And the 13-inch MacBook Pro? Other than the M2 chip and more memory choices, it's essentially the same as the 2020 model it replaced, right down to being the only Apple product with Touch Bar.
Given WWDC is a software-based conference, it comes to the surprise of no one that Monday's keynote address mainly was software-focused once you got past the two new laptops and introduction of the M2 chip. Of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13 Ventura, and watchOS 9, it's iPadOS 16 that probably made the biggest splash, but in some ways, for the wrong reasons.
The biggest new feature for iPad, and also M1-based Macs, was Stage Manager. Offering a new way to organize windows and apps, the feature brings iPadOS and macOS ever closer, although not nearly as much as some pre-WWDC rumors suggested.
Beyond Stage Manager, iPadOS 16 offers a nice laundry list of new and unexpected features such as an improved Focus mode, Live Text, Visual Search, and a significant update to Spotlight and Siri.
Unfortunately for iPad users, not every iPadOS 16 feature will come to every supported iPad. Instead, some are exclusive to iPad Pro models (2021 versions, not 2020 models) or this year's iPad Air (but not last year's iPad mini). This news isn't going over very well, especially with iMore's Luke Filipowicz.
But at least all the supported iPads are getting the native Weather app!
For a change, iOS wasn't the star of this year's WWDC keynote, as iOS 16 mostly focused on software improvements. Still, some promising new features were announced, including new wallpaper and notification controls. Christine Chan calls iOS 16 the biggest iOS update since iOS 14.
macOS 13 Ventura
My daily beat, macOS received some great new updates and features in macOS 13 Ventura. Beyond Stage Manager (my favorite new feature), I'm also excited for Continuity Camera, Passkeys, and much more.
Cupertino added considerable improvements to Apple Watch's fitness and health tools in watchOS 9 that should make runners and everyday users happy. These include expanded metrics, workout enhancements, Fitness+ updates, and AFib history. There are also sleep stages in the Sleep app, a Medications app, and another round of new watch faces.
For the first time in the history of tvOS, Apple failed to mention the software for Apple TV at WWDC. What this means to the entertainment device (and app) is unknown. The omission could mean the company has big announcements yet to come and decided to wait until the fall (and the launch of a new device?) to make them. Or, perhaps nothing is planned for Apple TV this year.
Rumors before and after WWDC suggest Apple could have many new hardware announcements prepped for fall. Based on the rumors and what normally happens each fall, here's what could be arriving in the coming months:
- Four new iPhone 14 series handsets
- Next-generation regular iPad
- Apple Watch Series 8, SE 2, Explorer edition
- Two new iPad Pro models in 2022; larger versions added in early 2023
- Updates to the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models
- An Apple silicon-based Mac Pro
- New AirPods (AirPods 4, AirPods Pro 2, AirPods Max 2)
- Movement on the HomePod front
- At least a preview of Apple's long-rumored VR headset
- Refresh for iMac mini, maybe iMac (Pro?)
- Cheaper Apple TV? An Apple TV stick?
It could be a busy few months, no?
WWDC final thoughts
Recapping Apple events and identifying their pros and cons is a subjective exercise. Regardless, here are my favorite WWDC announcements and moments for 2022:
Although I'm still annoyed Apple has yet to resurrect the singular "MacBook" name for a laptop, the continued success and focus on the MacBook Air continues to impress. This year's model, with two new color choices, an M1 chip, MagSafe, and more, will undoubtedly keep the MacBook Air at the top of our list of the best Macs on the market. Plus, despite the controversy of excluding certain iPads from all its functions, iPadOS 16 still represents a significant step forward for the sometimes maligned operating system. Prediction: 2022 iPad Pro models will wash away most of the criticism.
Apple Watch is already the world's best-selling smartwatch, and it would make sense for Apple to take a year off in terms of software improvements. And yet, that's not what happened at WWDC. Instead, the watchOS 9 update is an exciting one and should bring even more people into the Apple Watch's orbit.
Finally, I want to know what Apple's Craig Federighi eats before these keynotes, recorded and otherwise. He's a showman that oozes excitement that is never duplicated by anyone else on stage. Well done.
The big "ughs"
The 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro was the first Apple silicon device in my home and one I'll remember fondly. However, its continued form factor has no place in the MacBook lineup in 2022, especially with the far more popular MacBook Air sticking around (and now with a larger display!). Excessive supply is the best bet on why Apple is keeping the 13-inch MacBook Pro around for another generation. It probably has too many Touch Bars sitting around and other parts exclusive to that model. So most likely, despite the update, the 13-inch MacBook Pro as we know it will be quietly retired in 2023 when larger (and perhaps smaller) Pro models arrive.
Finally, it's regrettable Apple couldn't even mention tvOS during the WWDC keynote. Sure, the streaming side of the business isn't appropriate for a developer's conference. However, the same can't be said about gaming. Despite gaining great new titles each week, Apple's premium Arcade service doesn't seem to be getting much attention by Apple, and that's a shame. Perhaps the time has come for Apple to hold an Apple TV-specific media event each year, highlighting where things are heading with Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade. Where's the love, Apple?
What were your favorite moments of WWDC? What didn't you like?
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Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.
More likely, the reason the MacBook Pro is the same form with the M2 SOC is because supply restrictions and Covid in China both conspire to make it hard to produce two new lines of computers when orders for the Mac Studio are falling into an October/November time frame. As for tvOS, well, that's more likely important for the September time frame? Shouldn't a bit upgrade for tvOS be coming then? But you're probably right that whatever is coming should be getting a head's up at WWDC.