Apple’s annual developer conference, Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, is set to kick off in the wake of Google I/O 2022. WWDC is important for app developers who build software for Apple’s platforms.

The event runs from June 6th to June 10th, and will highlight several much-anticipated updates to the tech giant’s platforms.  The conference brings updates to Apple’s five operating systems—  iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS— and potentially hardware announcements. As the last two years’ conferences provided software-only announcements, it’s not clear whether Apple will be announcing any hardware releases at this point. This year’s WWDC is expected to hold critical updates affecting the push notification space, among other exciting announcements.

Attendance Details for WWDC ‘22

WWDC’s keynote will kick off the conference at 10 am PST on Monday. This year’s event will be live-streamed and also offers space for a limited number of in-person attendees.

Although the conference is generally catered to developers, the keynote is also targeted to the general public and will cover new releases consumers should be aware of, while the State of the Union presentation is more developer-focused.

iOS16 (Sydney)

iOS 16 “Sydney” is top-of-mind for the developer community, as this particular release has more implications for apps than interface updates.

iOS 16 is Apple’s new operating system for iPhones. iPhones 7 and later are eligible to run the new OS. Updates to iOS16 are relevant to attendees, because of the sheer number of iPhone users in the world, who comprise app developers’ primary audience. After the new iOS is announced at the conference, the developer beta will be released. This version of the software is intended for registered app developers only, as this version of the OS is still unfinished and in the worst-case scenario, runs the risk of breaking your device.  

Alongside the release of the iOS 16 beta comes the release of the Xcode14 beta, which offers support for the new iOS. Xcode is the integrated development environment for building apps for Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Xcode releases generally follow the same timeline as iOS releases.

Timeline for the new OS

As we’ve covered, although the new operating system will be revealed at WWDC, it won’t yet be available for public release. The timeline of the public release follows Apple’s standard process of beta testing, which involves the creation of a developer beta, followed by a public beta, and then a final release of the software in the fall. Over the course of the next several months, the new OS will be tested, fixed, and iterated on until its official launch in the Fall.

Key Implications for iOS16

For many developers, iOS 16 updates are the most anticipated announcement to be made at the conference. For months, rumors have been flying about which new updates are coming.

Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman gave his predictions for the new iOS on April 10th in his popular “Power On” newsletter.

“On the iOS side, I'm looking for some fairly significant enhancements across the board, including an update to notifications and new health-tracking features.

I'm not expecting an end-to-end redesign of iOS's interface, even though it hasn't changed much since iOS 7 nearly a decade ago. But there might be a new iPadOS multitasking interface,” he said in the newsletter.

Notification Changes

Notably, this year’s WWDC brings potential changes to the iOS notifications system.

Web Push Notifications

Historically, support for web push notifications on iOS devices has been lacking. Apple has even received pushback for their lack of support for mobile web push. This lack of support has in turn limited the reach of web push notification campaigns on devices that run this operating system. Given the scope and reach of the web push channel on iOS browsers and the increased amount of time consumers spend surfing the web on mobile, an iOS change to enable mobile web push would have important implications for Onesignal and our customers.

As of the iOS 15.4 release, we can speculate that Safari web push notifications will finally be enabled. This is exciting, because if Safari adds support for mobile web push, other browsers will likely follow suit.

Evidence for this update lies in a number of under-the-hood changes to Webkit (the browser engine used by Safari) including the addition of the W3C PushAPI, which is required for web push.

The current Safari build includes some of these APIs, but others are still missing, and still others don't yet do anything.

Focus Mode

Intel from 9to5Mac has revealed that the new release also holds potential changes to Focus Mode. Focus Mode is a feature that was first implemented in iOS15 and macOS Monterey. This feature allows users to manage which notifications they wish to see and the times they’d like to see them.

How do Apple’s Focus Modes Work?

Focus modes are great for reducing interruptions throughout the day. They provide more flexibility for iOS users to customize how and when they want to be notified. In iOS versions earlier than 15, users could choose to silence all calls and notifications by enabling Do Not Disturb mode. With iOS 15, users can further hone their notification preferences for different contexts or moods by setting Work, Sleep, and Personal notification modes.

Other Key Updates

Other reports anticipate that the new OS may support interactive widgets, a floating app window, camera app improvements, and redesigned app icons.

Gurman’s anticipation of “fresh Apple apps” most likely indicates a refresh of Apple iOS apps. This means that apps that come with a user’s Apple device, such as Messages, Photos, Contacts, etcetera, could receive some enhancements.

With the new customizable widgets, iOS users could have access to media controls and timers.

Notable Changes to iPadOS 16 and watchOS9

iPadOS 16

In conjunction with iOS16, WWDC brings implications for the new iPad operating system, iPadOS 16. Changes to the iPad operating system tend to be on par with changes in its iOS counterpart, with the distinction that they’re adjusted for the iPad’s larger screen.

These anticipated updates include refreshed app icons and widgets. With the platform update, Apple may also port more of their apps to iPadOS.

It’s also possible that floating app windows will be available to users while their iPad is connected to a keyboard and trackpad.

watchOS9 (Kincaid)

When it comes to watchOS9 updates, Gurman predicts that Apple may have plans for a new lower power mode with additional app and feature support. There also may be updates to the available built-in watch faces.

In exciting news, it’s also anticipated that Apple will upgrade its atrial fibrillation detection feature for Apple Watch models. This lifesaving new feature could potentially calculate burden, which is the frequency at which users experience heart arrhythmias.

Although it was previously projected to be available in the Series 8 Apple Watch, Gurman anticipates the exciting new blood pressure monitor will not come out with this watch release. This blood glucose sensor will provide major benefits for diabetics, who comprise ten percent of the US population, according to the CDC. The sensor will provide an easy way for diabetics to monitor their blood glucose, without needing to draw blood, and provide users with the exact dosage of insulin they need to inject before consuming a meal. (Insert sentence about when this is expected to come out)

Hardware

It’s not likely that new hardware will be released in this year’s conference, given that Apple hasn’t done so at this annual conference since its release of the Mac Pro and Pro display XDR in 2019. However, some remain optimistic that the public may see a tease of the Mac Pro’s redesign and maybe the AR/VR headset.

The redesigned MacBook Air and the MacMini, both made with an M2 processor, will potentially be announced. Many future Macs will be made with this new chip, which will be faster, generate less heat, and save more power than its predecessor.

Although some are optimistic for an accelerated timeline on these hardware releases, others predict that the new MacBook Air’s release will be pushed back due to a stalled production timeline.

Catch our Key Takeaways From Google I/O 2022

In case you fell behind on any of the key updates announced at this year’s Google I/O, check out the following article, where we detail significant changes announced at Google I/O ’22, such as the new Android 13 notification permissions protocol.

>>Highlights From Google I/O 2022