What to Expect at WWDC 2020: New iMac, Custom Arm-Based Chip Unveiling, iOS 14, macOS 10.16, and More
Apple's 31st annual Worldwide Developers Conference will be unlike any WWDC before, because it's the first WWDC event that's going to be held in a digital-only capacity. That means it's free for all developers, but we're in uncharted territory when it comes to format.
Apple plans to hold a virtual keynote, which is set to take place on Monday, June 22. Though there's no physical event this year, Apple still has big plans for WWDC. Along with the usual software updates, rumors suggest Apple could unveil a redesigned iMac and give us our first glimpse at the custom-designed Arm-based chips it will use for future Macs.
Below, we've outlined everything that we're expecting to see from Apple at the digital keynote event.
Rumors suggest Apple will unveil a new iMac at WWDC, with the machine featuring the first redesign that it has seen since 2012.
Sonny Dickson, a leaker who sometimes shares details on Apple's plans, says the updated iMac will use "iPad Pro design language" with much thinner bezels that are similar in size to the bezels on the Pro Display XDR.
The iMac is rumored to include a T2 chip for security and controller functions, plus it will feature AMD Navi graphics and all-flash storage, with Apple eliminating the Fusion Drive. Intel in April announced "Comet Lake" chips that could be used in the updated iMac.
iMac size is unclear, but rumors have indicated that at least one model could measure in at 23 inches, bigger than the current 21.5-inch iMac. It's likely to be the same general size as the 21.5-inch model, but with slimmer bezels. The exact size for the larger iMac is unclear.
Rumors have been a bit mixed when it comes to release dates, with the 23-inch iMac rumors suggesting a launch in the second half of 2020, so it's not clear if both iMac sizes will be refreshed at the same time. One could come at WWDC and one could come later, or the WWDC timeline could be incorrect and we could be left waiting until later in the year for a new version of the iMac.
For more on what's rumored for the next-generation iMac, check out our iMac roundup.
Custom Arm-Based Chips
There have been rumors about Apple's work on custom-designed Arm-based chips for years now, and at WWDC 2020, Apple may finally be ready to unveil its efforts and details on its plan to replace Intel chips in Macs.
Bloomberg says Apple will unveil its custom chips at WWDC, but don't expect a Mac with an Arm-based chip right away - the first machine isn't expected to debut until 2021. Apple is making an early announcement to give developers time to prepare for the transition.
Apple has at least three Mac processors in development based on the A14 chip set to be included in the upcoming iPhone 12 models. The first Apple-designed Mac chips will feature 12 cores with eight high-performance cores and at least four energy-efficient cores.
Releasing its own custom-designed chips will allow Apple to untether itself from Intel, which will allow for more regular Mac updates as Apple will not have to rely on Intel's chip release schedule. Arm-based chips will feature faster performance and reduced power consumption, which could bring better battery life.
For more on Apple's work on custom-built Arm-based chips, check out our Arm-based chip guide.
iOS and iPadOS 14
We don't typically know too much about new versions of iOS ahead of when they're released, but in 2020, an early version of iOS 14 leaked in March, giving us some insight into what Apple is working on for the update.
The features listed below were discovered in the software, but it's worth noting that some of these new additions may have been shelved due to delays caused by the global health crisis.
First and foremost, iOS 14 will focus on performance and quality due to the numerous bugs that were found in iOS 13, but there are still quite a few new features in the works.
Setting Third-Party Apps as Default
2020 might be the year that Apple will allow iPhone and iPad users to set third-party mail, browser, and music apps as their defaults instead of Apple's own apps.
The change would allow apps like Google Chrome and Gmail to be set as the default apps on iOS devices, so tapping on a link or an email address would not necessarily open Apple's own apps. The change would also allow music apps used with the HomePod to work with Siri, something limited to Apple Music at the current time.
Home Screen Redesign
Right now, all the apps are organized in a grid pattern on the iPhone, but Apple could introduce an Apple Watch-like option that allows installed apps to be viewed in a list, which would make it easier to manage apps.
The list will show all of the apps installed on the iPhone, with users able to select viewing filters to see app categories like recently used or apps with unread notifications.
Along with an optional list view, iOS 14 may also offer Home screen widget options, allowing for widgets that can be moved freely around the Home screen much like app icons.
Wallpapers could improve significantly in iOS 14, as Apple could be planning to add support for third-party wallpaper packs in the update. This would let developers create wallpaper options for iPhone and iPad that could be installed through the Wallpaper section of the Settings app.
Apple plans to bring a new fitness app to the iPhone, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. The app will let users download fitness-related videos that will walk them through workouts. Multiple workout types will be available, including indoor running, cycling, rowing, stretching, core training, strength training, outdoor walking, dance, and yoga.
New Features for the Messages App
Apple is testing new features for Messages, including a new Slack-like mention system that will let users tag contacts with their name, such as @eric or @dan. In a busy group chat, this will make it possible to mute the overall conversation but receive push notifications when someone uses an @mention with your name.
Also for group chats, Apple may be planning to add multi-person typing indicators so you can see everyone that's currently typing in chat with more than one person.
Apple could be planning to add support for the /me command that's currently limited to the Mac, and perhaps most exciting, there may be a new feature that will let users retract sent messages. That a message was retracted would be visible to both parties.
Finally, there could be an option to mark a message as unread, which will let users retain the unread icon so a task or request isn't forgotten.
New Augmented Reality App
There could be an all-new augmented reality app in iOS 14, which is designed to let users get more information about the world around them using AR. Based on code in iOS 14, the app could feature integrations with Apple Stores and Starbucks.
These integrations could let users do things like hold up an iPhone in an Apple Store to see AR information about the products, or scan a QR code to see detailed information about an object at Starbucks.
QR codes may work as triggers for AR experiences, and Apple-designed QR codes have been found in Apple's iOS 14 AR app, which is code-named Gobi. There are signs that the Gobi app could offer comparison shopping and promotions or content experiences based on specific locations.
iCloud Keychain will include warnings whenever a password is reused in iOS 14, which should help encourage users to select different passwords for each site and service. Apple may also add a way to save two-factor authentication passwords, which would let iCloud Keychain generate two-factor authentication codes.
Apple is developing a feature that will let users interact with select content and experiences in apps without needing to have those apps installed. Apple has codenamed this feature "Clips," and it will allow users to scan a QR code linked to an app and interact with content from that app through a floating card on the screen.
The card will offer up options to download the full version of the app from the App Store or open content in app if it's already installed. Apple is testing Clips with OpenTable, Yelp, DoorDash, YouTube, and the PS4 Second Screen app from Sony.
As an example, a restaurant might have a scannable QR code that would open up the Yelp app or allow it to be installed to leave a review. A movie poster could offer a QR code that could be scanned to open up and play a YouTube video without the YouTube app needing to be installed.
New HomeKit Features
HomeKit may gain a new Night Shift for lights feature that would let HomeKit adjust the color temperature of HomeKit-connected lights based on the time of day. Early in the day, the lights would feature blue lighting to match the light from the sun, but at night, the lights would shift to a warmer, more yellow tone.
HomeKit Secure Video may be updated with facial recognition, allowing HomeKit cameras to be able to identify specific people.
Apple Pencil Updates
For iPadOS 14, Apple is adding a new PencilKit feature that will let users handwrite text in any text input field using the Apple Pencil, with the handwritten content then converted into standard text before it's sent.
The update could include support for Apple Pencil input on websites in Safari, allowing an Apple Pencil to be used for drawing and marking up as well as scrolling.
Updated Activity App
watchOS 7 is expected to bring a Kids Mode to the Apple Watch, and iOS 14 will feature a tweaked Activity app to accommodate the new mode. Instead of tracking active calories burned, the Activity app when used in Kids Mode will track movement time, which is a healthier metric for children.
Shot on iPhone Photos App Integration
Apple hosts Shot on iPhone photo challenges to collect high-quality Shot on iPhone images that can be used in videos and on billboards, and in iOS 14, Shot on iPhone contests could potentially be integrated into the Photos app. This would allow iPhone users to submit their photos and see challenge results right in the Photos app.
Safari in iOS 14 might offer a built-in translation feature that would let users translate webpages without using a third-party app or service.
Apple Maps in iOS 14 could provide additional information for select businesses, such as specific Genius Bar services offered by an Apple store, movie theaters with IMAX showtimes, and locations that offer discounts for children.
Find My in iOS 14 will include a notification feature that can provide alerts when someone doesn't arrive at a specific location at a scheduled time of day, so a parent can do something like set up an alert for when a child arrives at school at a certain time. If the child doesn't make it by the deadline, an alert would be sent.
CarPlay in iOS 14 might support custom wallpapers, displaying the wallpaper on the CarPlay interface. Wallpapers will be able to switch between light and dark mode based on the time of day.
Health App Sleep Tracking
The next-generation Apple Watch will feature Sleep Tracking, a feature that will integrate with the Health app on the iPhone. Users will be able to set a personalized sleep goal, and the Health app will provide recommendations on improving sleep.
Sleep tracking may not be unveiled until the fall with the launch of the Apple Watch Series 6, so this is a feature that we may not see when the iOS 14 beta releases.
Apple could be developing a full version of Xcode that runs on iPads, but there's been some contention about whether or not this is a feature that's actually in the works.
Apple is working on a "CarKey" feature that would allow the iPhone and Apple Watch to be used to lock, unlock, and start a car that has NFC capabilities. CarKey would let iPhone owners use their devices in lieu of a physical car key, and it's a feature that could be coming as part of iOS 14.
For a full list of all of the features that are rumored to be coming to iOS 14, make sure to check out our iOS 14 roundup.
Most of the leaks that we've seen have focused heavily on iOS and iPadOS 14, and little has been shared about macOS 10.16, which is as of yet unnamed. macOS 10.16 could, however, include some of the features that are coming to iOS 14, such as the changes to the Messages app.
There are even hints in iOS 14 that Apple is working on a Catalyst version of the Messages app for Mac, which would make the Mac Messages app much more similar to the iOS Messages app.
Other features rumored for iOS 14 that could come to the Mac include built-in translations for Safari, Shot on iPhone integration into Photos, reused passwords in iCloud Keychain, third-party default apps, and wallpaper collection support.
For kids who wear Apple Watches, there's a new Kids Mode rumored for watchOS 7, which will include a new Activity mode that measures movement time instead of calories burned.
To go along with this, Apple will add a SchoolTime feature that will let parents manage which apps and complications on an Apple Watch are accessible during specific hours. General parental controls will also be available.
With the fitness app coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, the Apple Watch will be able to be used to track progress through various workout routines.
A Share Your Face feature may allow users to share specific Apple Watch faces and complication settings with one another, and there are new watch faces coming such as Infograph Pro with a tachymeter and an international watch face that shows flags from different countries.
When new Apple Watch models are released later this year, watchOS 7 could have new capabilities related to blood oxygen tracking and mental health capabilities, though not much is known about these new features at the current time.
More information on what's coming in watchOS 7 can be found in our watchOS roundup.
We don't know much about tvOS 14 at all, but based on the iOS 14 leaks, we do know that the Apple TV will get a new fitness app. The update could also feature a new permanent audio option for the Apple TV, with users able to specify the HomePod or another speaker as the default audio option without having to manually choose it as an AirPlay 2 target each time audio is played.
There's little else to say about tvOS at this time, but we can perhaps expect new animated screensavers, which Apple adds to the Apple TV with each update. There have also been rumors suggesting Apple could add a Screen Time feature to the Apple TV to track how much time is spent watching television.
Other Possible Hardware Announcements
Apple has multiple other products in the works that are likely going to launch at some point in 2020, and Apple could use WWDC to debut them. We've heard no specific details about these devices coming at WWDC, though, so it's a bit of a long shot.
Apple is creating Tile-like Bluetooth tracking tags that are designed to be attached to keys and wallets for tracking purposes, with lost items able to be searched for right in the Find My app on iPhone, iPad, Macs, and iCloud.
Apple plans to call these little tracking tags "AirTags," and hints of AirTags have been showing up in various versions of iOS since iOS 13 was in beta testing.
AirTags will work over Bluetooth and will have a built-in chip that lets them communicate with an Apple device, relaying the position of lost devices they're attached to. AirTags may also include ultra-wideband technology, which would allow them to work with the U1 chips in the latest iPhones.
With ultra-wideband support, AirTags would be able to provide more precise location information than Bluetooth alone, and there's also going to be a crowd tracking feature that will leverage other people's devices nearby to help you find what you've lost.
Images found in iOS 13 suggest AirTags will be small, circular white tags with an Apple logo, which will be able to attach to items using adhesive or an attachment point like a ring. AirTags will show up in the Find My app, and when an item is lost, there may be an AR component that will help you locate whatever's missing using the camera of an iPhone or iPad.
We have no information on when Apple will launch the AirTags, but it's very possible they're tied to iOS 14 and could be introduced at WWDC or in the fall alongside new iPhones.
Read more: For more on what to expect from the AirTags, make sure to check out our AirTag roundup.
Apple is developing high-end over-ear headphones that are rumored to be called the AirPods Studio. The new headphones will join the AirPods lineup with the AirPods 2 and the AirPods Pro, and they will be Apple-branded and distinct from the Beats lineup.
The AirPods Studio is said to feature Active Noise Cancellation, equalizer settings controlled though the iPhone, head and neck detection, and a $349 price tag.
Apple may also be working on multiple designs, one that's a higher-end premium version and one that's fitness-focused and made from lighter weight materials. According to Bloomberg, the headphones will feature magnetic ear cups and headband padding that can be swapped out, allowing for a customizable look.
Rumors have indicated the headphones will launch at some point in 2020, but a specific date has not been nailed down.
Read more: For more on the AirPods Studio, check out our AirPods Studio roundup.
Small Wireless Charging Mat
AirPower may have been nixed back in 2019, but there have been persistent rumors that Apple is working on some kind of wireless charging mat that could launch in 2020. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in January said that Apple is working on a "small wireless charging mat" with no other details provided.
Leaker Jon Prosser in March said that AirPower "isn't dead" and that the project is "back on internally," but it's not clear if he too was talking about the wireless charging mat that Apple has in development, nor is it clear if that product is the discontinued AirPower or something else entirely.
Bloomberg has also said that Apple is still exploring ways to make the AirPower work, so we could see some kind of AirPower product this year.
Refreshed Apple TV
We've been hearing rumors about a refreshed Apple TV for months, but there's so far been no word on when it's coming. Apple is definitely working on a refreshed model, perhaps with an A12X Bionic chip, new storage tiers, and possibly a new remote control, but it's not clear if it's going to be released at WWDC or later in the year.
Read More: For more on what to expect from a new Apple TV model, check out our Apple TV roundup.
Apple will livestream of the WWDC keynote available on its website, the Apple Developer apps, and through the TV app on the Apple TV, but for those unable to watch, we'll be covering the event on MacRumors.com and through our MacRumorsLive Twitter account.
We'll also have in-depth coverage of all of Apple's hardware and software announcements throughout the week.