WWDC 2021: What Developers Need to Know About Keynotes, Sessions

When Apple kicks off its annual WWDC (stylized and hashtagged as #WWDC21) conference this week, what can developers expect to see? 

This year, WWDC is virtual, which is great for developers who wouldn’t otherwise have the ability to fly out to Cupertino for three days of in-person keynotes and sessions. On June 7, the conference kicks off with a keynote at 10 AM PST (1 PM EST), followed by Apple’s State of the Union.

For many developers, the in-depth learning sessions are the key part of the experience. Apple plans on posting up video from 200+ sessions starting on June 8 (if you’re interested in viewing last year’s sessions, you can check those out on Apple’s developer site, as well). There are also online forums, which will try to replicate the conversations and mixing of an in-person conference. 

If this is your first time attending WWDC (either virtually or in-person), what can you expect? For starters, Apple executives will offer demos of the company’s upcoming OS updates and software, including iOS and iPadOS. While Apple traditionally likes to keep new features under wraps until the official reveal, current scuttlebutt suggests that iOS 15 might have a new lock screen and notifications system, along with some privacy upgrades. Meanwhile, iPadOS may receive some updates that make the iPad a more powerful productivity device.

For laptop and desktop developers (and users), Apple will also show off the next version of macOS. Over the past few years, macOS updates have brought the operating system’s UX and UI more in-line with iOS, and that trend may continue this year. Apple has a longtime goal of convincing more developers to build macOS apps, and could roll out new tools and features to facilitate app-building. 

As for other big reveals, it’s anyone’s guess. MacRumors has been pounding the proverbial drum about new software dubbed “homeOS,” which may allow Apple developers to build more apps and services for the connected home. While “homeOS” has been mentioned in some Apple job postings, it’s unclear whether this is a whole new operating system or just a rebranding of its existing “smart home” software. 

According to The Verge, Apple may also use this year’s WWDC to debut new MacBook Pros and upgraded Apple processors. There’s also the possibility (however faint) that the company could finally show off its long-rumored AR/VR headset. Whatever’s in store, it’s worth watching if you’re interested in developing for any part of Apple’s ecosystem.