WWDC 2021: What New iOS 15, macOS 12 & watchOS 8 Features Will Apple Announce?

Better iPad widgets, a new Kids Mode on Apple TV, new workouts, and maybe even AR glasses?

The WWDC 2021 keynot on June 7 is less than a month away, and we are hoping to get some exciting news on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS 12, watchOS 8, tvOS 15, and more. Apple's annual developers conference is all-online and free for the second year in a row. This event is a chance for Apple to showcase new software for its devices so that developers and system engineers can learn about changes for the year ahead. The event's highlight is the keynote announcement, which will stream live at 10 a.m. PDT on the 7th. Unlike the usual Apple announcements, the event focuses on software rather than new devices. This year, we expect to see UI upgrades on all the devices, new Apple Fitness Plus features, improved parental controls for Apple TV, and hopefully some new digital designs in the form of Apple Watch faces and screensavers.

Related to: iPadOS 15 Rumors: Home Screen Updates, New Notification Options & More

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iOS 15 Rumors

iOS 14 came with some innovative upgrades, such as the introduction of widgets. Many think that the iOS 15 update will be less dramatic, but that doesn't mean they won't be notable. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, we should expect to see a new notification menu, better auto-responses, and potentially a more social media feel to iMessages. To learn more about upcoming Apple announcements, sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

iOS 15 Release Date

Software updates are typically released in September, and we have no indication that 2021 will be any different. However, the developer beta release might become available as early as the keynote announcement to kick off the event on June 7 and the public beta will likely be available later that summer.

iOS Support for Older Phones

Before you get too excited about all these new features, keep in mind that not all iPhone models will enjoy these upgrades. iPhoneSoft, a French website, released a report claiming that iOS 15 will not offer support for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. 

Notifications & the Control Center

Between the different Do Not Disturb modes and features such as Wind Down Time that comes with Bedtime, figuring out how to mute your phone can be confusing. Gurnam talks about a brand new way to set notification preferences based on what users are doing at the time.

This new feature will let users select if they are driving, sleeping, working from the Lock Screen and the Control Center. Plus, you should be able to create custom statuses with a unique set of notification preferences. The same function is expected to be available with iPadOS 15.

Automatic Replies

With a new way to set your status comes a more advanced way to send automatic replies. Currently, auto-reply features are only available while you are driving. However, with different statuses come a more comprehensive range of automatic replies based on if you are working, sleeping, or custom activities like working out and walking your dog.

iMessages as a Social Network

It isn't a secret that there is no love lost between Apple and Facebook amidst the recent privacy and tracking accusations. However, Apple's supposed plans to make iMessage more like WhatsApp are a little more hush-hush. According to Bloomberg, the eventual goal is to upgrade iMessage to have competitive social network aspects. 

Since iMessage and FaceTime already offer free communication worldwide among Apple users, this isn't too hard to imagine. However, these major updates aren't expected to happen just yet. Although I am hoping to see iOS 15 introduce more fun messaging effects. You can read our Predictions, Rumors & Wish List for the Next iOS Update article for a more comprehensive look at iOS 15. 

iPadOS 15

From past experiences, we can safely assume that many updates that come to iOS 15 will be reflected in the iPadOS 15 update as well. So we forsee that everything that's coming to iPhones will be available to some extent on the iPad, including the new iPad Pro, as well.

Home Screen Widgets

One of the biggest iPad disappointments of the past year was the lousy integration of widgets on iPadOS 14. Luckily, iPadOS 15 is anticipated to fix this by making it possible to have widgets anywhere on the Home Screen. In fact, Bloomberg predicts that users will have the option to opt-out of the entire app grid and enjoy a widget-only screen instead.

Privacy

As we've seen with iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5, Apple is cracking down on privacy. The days of apps secretly collecting and sharing your data finally have an end in sight. iPadOS 15 is expected to make it even easier to keep your virtual activity private. A new menu would help users track apps rather than allowing the apps to track them. This role reversal will bring much-needed transparency and a new level of security.

macOS 12

While there has been a frustrating lack of leaks or official announcements about macOS 12, quite a few rumors are floating around. Since Big Sur came with a vital redesign just last year, the speculation is that Apple plans for a minor update this time around. Most rumors focus on guessing the new name.

macOS 12 Release Date

We can believe that the macOS 12 release date will be revealed on June 7 during the keynote announcement. If that happens, the public beta versions should be available in the weeks following the event.

macOS 12 Name

Sure, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but we are all dying to catch a whiff! At first, some people thought that it might be macOS 11.1 rather than 12. However, recent updates have us at 11.2.3, plus, 9to5Mac reported that both iOS 15 and macOS 12 were mentioned last month in the open-source WebKit repository.

While we are confident that it will be macOS 12, we still don't know what the system will be named. However, many speculate that it will be a California location. MacRumors has closely followed Apple on their journey of trademarking various location names since 2001. The publication's top guesses for the successor of Big Sur are Mammoth, Monterey, and Skyline.

macOS Support on Older Macs

Unfortunately, just like with iOS 15 and older iPhones, people are worried that 2013 MacBooks might lose their compatibility with annual software updates. This theory comes from last year’s update ending compatibility for several older Macs.

Better Privacy

Privacy has been a big concern for Apple lately with many changes to their app tracking policies on iPhone and iPad. So we can anticipate that macOS 12 will take further steps in protecting users and their privacy. 9to5Mac hopes for a microphone indicator similar to Big Sur's green light that turns on when the camera is on.

What We Would Love to See

Since notification controls are getting a revamp on the iPhone and iPad, it’s not crazy to think that there might be an update to the Control Center on the Mac. If our handheld devices are getting customizable statuses that help us optimize notifications, it would be great to see this reflected on our Macs as well. 

If the added feature of setting up a status is taken to its full extent, it could be synchronized with the Reminders and Calendar apps. That way, users could automatically set up statuses based on scheduled events. The ability to use iCloud to apply your status to your entire Apple ecosystem seamlessly would be groundbreaking. 

watchOS 8

Apple Watch models tend to all look the same, leaving the most dramatic transformations to software updates. With no substantial leaks to go on, we can only guess what comes next. Our fingers are crossed for an improved Fitness app, a more user-friendly Health app, an upgrade on Sleep tracking, and hopefully, new complications and watch faces!

watchOS 8 Release Date

Based on past years, we can conclude that the watchOS 8 will be released in September. Of course, we will find out more during the keynote announcement and hopefully experience the public beta versions as soon as this summer.

Fitness App

The past few additions to Apple Watch have included the Apple Fitness Plus subscription class service and the unique Time to Walk workout podcast. It isn't absurd to think that Apple is preparing to make the watch even more of a must-have for fitness enthusiasts.

Of course, we forsee that there will be more workout options and maybe even new ways to record exercises. I would love to see some more Fitness+ features on my actual watch. Since it powers the workouts on my iPhone, I don't understand why it can't offer more informative haptics and directional photos.

Health App

It seems like Apple has been obsessed with adding different ways of measuring our heart health. However, the integration of these readings into the Fitness and Health apps has been disappointing. 

A more user-friendly and synced Health app that is as easy to use on the watch as it is on your phone would be the logical way to improve the overall Apple Watch experience. 

Sleep Tracking

Apple's sleep tracking app needs a serious upgrade. Right now, it barely competes with the free Apple Watch-compatible apps. It is frustrating that Apple Watch already has all the tech available to do things like record snoring and sleep talking. Apple could also offer a better understanding of heart rate dip at night. 

Even if it comes with a separate paid subscription similar to Apple Fitness Plus, it could be a valuable resource. If Apple also included a way to incorporate the Notes and Calendar apps to record dreams, it would become one of the most comprehensive sleep tracking app out there.

Watch Faces

The Apple Watch is literally a tiny supercomputer, but we cannot deny its role as an accessory. With the iPadOS 15 rumored to get a widget makeover, it isn't crazy to think that the Apple Watch might get better complications.

Plus, new watch face designs come with the potential to put more app information for quick reference. Personally, I'd love to see an all-inclusive health and fitness widget-style complication as my actual watch face.

tvOS 15

There is a lot of buzz around tvOS 15 now that we have a new Apple TV 4K and an all-new Siri Remote. This update is expected to have more exciting changes than tvOS 14. These include UI upgrades, a better Siri experience, and a kids mode are rumored to be just around the corner.

tvOS 15 Release Date

Users can expect the final version of tvOS 15 to be released soon after the event, likely before any other updates mentioned in this article. Of course, the public beta version will presumably be released during the June 7 Apple event.

All models running the current tvOS 14 software will hopefully continue receiving support. This is excellent news for anyone considering getting the new remote to use with their old Apple TV.

Get More from Siri

Since there is a new Siri remote available for Apple TV, we anticipate that it will do a lot more. Combined with an updated layout for better app discoverability, it will hopefully become much easier to navigate directly on the TV.

New Kids Mode 

Apple has focused on making its products better for families by introducing Apple Card Family and constantly improving Family Sharing on their devices. A report from The Verifier hints at better parental controls, Screen Time function, and a fresh new design. 

Apple Fitness Plus

With the upgrades to Apple Fitness Plus over the year, it might be more than wishful thinking to imagine a better workout experience. Besides fixing some common bugs such as Fitness+ disconnecting, a better multi-user experience would be a game-changer.

New Screensavers

People are pretty hyped about the potential of new screensavers. After all, a large TV is basically a piece of art, and people are hoping to put beautiful new designs up on their walls.

Other Rumors: AR Glasses

There is always a lot of speculation about what will be announced at the upcoming WWDC. While some rumors are based on facts, others are pure science fiction born from wishful thinking. 

Forbes did a lot of speculating about the potential release of AR glasses While an augmented reality headset isn't a far-fetched idea, the announcement of Apple Glass in 2021 is unlikely. Since a device like this would have to interact with other Apple products, the iPhone in particular, existing apps would have to be updated to support this. Plus, new games and programs would have to be developed for this new toy to be worth purchasing.

While we cannot guarantee that any of these predictions will come true, we are so excited for WWDC 2021, taking place June 7 to 11. You are welcome to join us for the event and, in particular, the keynote announcement. Plus, don't forget to keep an eye on our website to learn more about the announcements directly from our Apple experts.

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Author Details

Olena Kagui's picture

Author Details

Olena Kagui

Olena Kagui is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life who lives in Rhode Island. With a BA in International Relations from Anglo American University, Olena traveled the world. She has lived in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, China, and the USA. Olena won an excellence award for a controversial article, got a grant to blog from a war-zone, and published a short fictional story. She hopes to publish a full-length novel and continue writing up a storm on her blog The Travel Bug Bite! When she’s not typing or flying, she is loving on animals, crafting bizarre creations, and devouring all-you-can-eat sushi.