Apple released macOS Sonoma, or macOS 14, in September after previewing it to the world during the previous June WWDC event. That event also saw the arrival of Apple Vision Pro and a ton of other software updates, so it's fair to say that macOS Sonoma was far from the highlight of the show. But for Mac users, it was the most important part — and things are likely to be no different when WWDC 2024 rolls around later this year, too.
We obviously don't yet know what place Apple will use to name its next big macOS software update but we do know that, in numerical values at least, this will be macOS 15. It's the software that will come preinstalled on all new Macs once it's officially released and likely be made available for all current Apple silicon models at the very least. So what features can we expect, and which details have already leaked ahead of time?
That's what we're going to be diving into here. You'll find everything we know, everything else that we think we know, and a few things that we're hoping for as we wind down the months to June's WWDC and what is sure to be a bumper day of announcements.
The story so far
As we already mentioned, Apple released macOS Sonoma in September 2023 to replace the macOS Ventura update that arrived the year before. Named after an area in Northern California's Wine Country, the update brought with it a number of new additions that were worth looking forward to even if they were unlikely to change the way people used their Macs.
At the top of the list for some people was the addition of new interactive widgets that could live on the Mac's desktop. That removed them from the Today view and made them more readily available, greatly increasing their utility. Apple also began allowing iPhone widgets to be used on the Mac for the first time, too.
Other improvements included Touch ID protection for Safari's Private Browsing Mode, new video conferencing improvements including hand gestures that can initiate Reactions, and more.
All of these features made macOS Sonoma the best version of the Mac's software to date without really kicking it on to a new level. With little currently known about macOS 15, it's possible we should expect something similar in 2024, too. With macOS now being such a mature operating system the days of sweeping changes are probably long gone.
macOS 15: Rumored features
macOS 15: A focus on AI
Apple has yet to confirm anything with regards to macOS 15, but the company is already rumored to have a focus on AI for the coming year. That is likely to manifest itself in the software updates that ship including iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and watchOS 11.
How Apple would use its newfound AI chops on the Mac isn't yet clear, but Siri and perhaps Spotlight would be two of the most likely beneficiaries. Siri in particular is in dire need of some help, while Spotlight could become the go-to source of information across the internet and into the realms of generative AI.
But again, with nothing confirmed by Apple and Mac-specific rumors hard to come by right now, we can't say for sure what Apple's plans are.
macOS 15: 'Ambitious and compelling'
Despite macOS being mature, Apple is thought to be working on what it calls "ambitious and compelling" upgrades. That's according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. With the iPhone 16 not expected to offer big new hardware features, Apple is instead expected to focus on software in 2024.
Unfortunately, it isn't immediately clear what Apple would label as ambitious or compelling although Gurman points to "major new features and designs" with "security and performance improvements" also tipped. But that's as much as we have been given so far.
macOS 15: What we'd like to see
There are a few things that we'd like to see Apple do with macOS 15 but we'd just be happy if it made System Settings less of a mess. That aside, AI is clearly a focus for Apple at this point and we're all for it. Imagine a life where something similar to ChatGPT is built into Spotlight, for example.
Another thing that we think everyone could get behind is a proper password management app. The iCloud Keychain situation is less than ideal right now, with people left to manage everything via the poor System Settings app. It's time that Mac users had a dedicated app to manage passwords, and it would be even better if we could add other details like notes and attachments as well.
Finally, a Health app seems obvious at this point. Apple brought the Health app from the iPhone to the iPad with iPadOS 18 and it's time the same app moved to the Mac as well. It could literally be the same app if needs be. Minimal effort for Apple's engineers, surely.
macOS 15: Expected release date
Apple has set itself an unofficial release pattern of announcing software in June and then releasing it in September or October, and it's expected to do the same in 2024. WWDC will likely take place in the first couple of weeks of June and that's likely to be when we get to see macOS 15 for the very first time.
Apple is expected to unveil watchOS 11 alongside iOS 18, iPadOS 18, watchOS 11, and tvOS 18 at WWDC before rolling out public and developer beta programs that run for the subsequent four months. If it follows its own pattern the new updates will ship alongside updated Apple Watches in September, too.
macOS 15: Compatible devices
We can safely assume that all of Apple's M1, M2, and M3 Macs will be compatible with macOS 15 when it ships, but there is a chance some Intel machines could be cut adrift. That is far from confirmed at this point, but it will have to happen eventually.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.