Everything Apple Announced at WWDC 2023

The company showed off new software and hardware—including a VR headset—at its annual developer conference today.
Apple Vision Pro VR headset with a mountain landscape seen in the eye holes
Photograph: Apple

Apple held its annual Worldwide Developers Conference today. The big news, of course, is that Apple’s long-awaited mixed reality headset finally made its debut. This very expensive device may have overshadowed other news from the event, but the company announced a whole host of stuff, including new Mac computers and updates to iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. 

Here’s everything Apple announced today.

Apple Vision Pro

The Vision Pro headset will be available early next year, Apple says.

Photograph: Apple

Apple’s new headset is called Vision Pro, and you can read all about it in our WIRED story (we've got more details in our hands-on experience). In short, it costs $3,499 (to start!) and looks like a pair of aluminum ski goggles. It’s an augmented reality experience in a VR head-box form factor. The headset attaches to a pocket-sized battery pack with a cable that Apple describes as “supple.” You can leave the cable plugged in for continuous use, but on the battery, it only lasts two hours. 

The headset feels like something out of Minority Report. It doesn’t use hand controllers, instead registering gesture controls from your fingers and eye movements to control the virtual interface. A physical dial on the headset lets you adjust how much of the digital screen occupies your vision, and visual pass-through lets you see the room around you in real time.

Apple is pitching the device as a tool for work and play, with features meant for streaming video, playing games, and taking business meetings all in one device. Its take on 3D avatars for virtual presence is unique: A setting called VisionOS scans your face to make a deepfake of you that it then projects to other people on the call. You appear onscreen as something that kind of looks like a Memoji, but photorealistic and even more horrifying.

The device is powered by Apple’s new R1 chip (along with an M2), which the company says keeps track of the 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones that all operate in tandem to control the device. Vision Pro will be available sometime next year. 

iOS 17

New features coming to iOS 17 will arrive on iPhones in the fall.

Photograph: Apple

Apple blasted through a number of updates in iOS 17 coming later this year. Front and center are new Contact Posters that appear during phone calls. This is a customizable design you can create for yourself, and it’ll show up on the caller’s screen when you call them. The Contact Posters of your friends live in the Contacts app, so when you pull a person’s information up or communicate with them anywhere in iOS, you see the images they’ve chosen to represent themselves. Contact Posters also come into play when you trigger another new feature: NameDrop.

NameDrop works with AirDrop when you bring two iPhones together (aka Bump!). You’ll see your Contact Poster and you can choose what phone numbers and emails you want to share with your new friend. (It even works when you bring an iPhone near an Apple Watch.) Better yet, if someone is sharing photos or large files via AirDrop, you can now leave AirDrop range and these will still be sent over the internet.

There are a few nice changes to phone calls. (Remember those?) Now, when someone’s calling, you can tap the voicemail button and see their transcription in real time. If the content is important, you can answer the call as they’re leaving a voicemail. Speaking of which, you can finally leave a message in FaceTime if the person you’re calling doesn’t answer. There are similar small upgrades in Apple’s Messages app, like the ability to swipe to reply inline, see audio message transcriptions under the message, and use inline location tracking. A new feature called Check In lets you share your location and battery status with a friend or family member and sends them an alert when you arrive home safely—or diverge from the route. 

There’s a new Journal app coming to iOS this year; it encourages you to string together some words about your day. It will prompt you to make new entries based on what you’ve been interacting with on your phone recently, whether it’s a podcast you listened to or some photos you shot. Also new is Standby, which turns your iPhone into a smart display of sorts when you put it in landscape mode on your bedside table or desk. You can cycle through widgets in this mode, along with clock designs and live activities, and even show off your photos. 

Other important improvements include changes to Autocorrect to make it more accurate than ever, as it can fix more types of grammatical errors and even offer predictions inline as you type (like Google’s Smart Compose in Gmail). Siri is also easier to activate. You no longer need to say “Hey,” and you don’t need to repeat “Hey Siri,” when you’re making back-to-back commands. Arguably the best feature, however, is that the Photos app can now recognize your furry friends.

Stay tuned, as we’ll be looking at all the new top features in iOS 17 soon.

iPadOS 17

New features coming to iPadOS 17 will become available in the fall. 

Photograph: Apple

Apple’s iPad operating system is getting some tweaks aimed at increasing usability. Interactive widgets let you fiddle with apps directly from the homepage. That way you don’t have to go into each individual app to play music, turn on your smart light bulbs, or set a timer. There’s also some interoperability between apps, like if you start an activity with a workout app and track it with a different app at the same time. There are also some enhanced customization options for the lock screen that let you add animations to your photo background and change font options. Additional features make working with PDFs on the iPad a smoother experience, like form autofill and inline editing.

MacOS Sonoma

MacOS Sonoma has a new look, some new capabilities, and lots of widgets.

Photograph: Apple

The next version of macOS is called Sonoma, and it has many of the same features announced in iOS and iPadOS 17. There are some special features for Macs, though. Widgets no longer just live in the Notification Center—you can pull them out into your desktop and interact with them. These widgets also fade to match the color of your background when you’re using an app so as to not distract from your current activity. Got an iPhone? If it’s nearby or connected to the same Wi-Fi network, you can install third-party mobile widgets on your Mac too.

Macs are also getting a new Game Mode that will prioritize the CPU and GPU for optimized performance, including lowering audio latency with AirPods and input latency with controllers. 

Apple showed off several new features in Safari, like the ability to create profiles for your work and personal accounts. More interesting is the Web Apps feature, which lets you create a breakout instance of any website and place it in your dock as an “app.” Launch it, and it’ll feel like you’re using an app, with notifications and all, except it’s technically just a dynamic webpage. 

We’ll be diving into all the new macOS Sonoma features soon. 

Death Stranding Coming to Apple Games

The popular game Death Stranding is now available for Mac.

Courtesy of Kojima Productions

We’ve seen pretty much every major tech company struggle and fail to bring video games and notoriously spendthrift gamers into the fold. The fastest way would be to launch highly desired, top-tier games, but most of them are pretty old. Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding isn’t particularly new—it launched in 2019—but it’s still an award-winning game with a haunting storyline, beautiful music and graphics, and Mads Mikkelsen and Léa Seydoux as voice actors. Now it’s on Mac. New game capabilities, like reducing latency with AirPods, as well as Game Mode and a new Game Porting Toolkit, might mean that we will start seeing newer (and better!) games on the Mac soon.

A New MacBook Air

The Apple MacBook Air 15-inch.

Photograph: Apple

Apple has a new MacBook Air, and if you’ve been keeping up with its product announcements, much of it won’t seem any different from last year’s Air. No, really. It’s virtually identical to the 2022 machine, with the key difference being the size. This new model is a 15-inch laptop, so you get a 15.3-inch screen in place of the 13-incher of old.

You still get two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, a MagSafe charger, and a headphone jack. The design mimics recent MacBooks with the notch design for the 1080p webcam and slim borders around the screen. It’s slightly heavier at 3.3 pounds and a little thicker than the 13-inch model, but Apple claims it remains the “world’s thinnest 15-inch laptop” at just 11.5 mm. Like the 13-incher, it’s powered by the M2 chipset. It costs $1,299 and is available for preorder today, with the official launch next week.

More importantly, the 13-inch MacBook Air is getting a small price cut down to $1,099 (from $1,199). The 2020 M1-powered MacBook Air is still available for $999. 

New Mac Studio and Mac Pro

The Mac Studio and Mac Pro have the latest Apple Silicon processors inside.

Photograph: Apple

Yo dawg, we heard you like M2 chips in your M2 chips. Apple has a new peak-performance processor it’s calling the M2 Ultra. In a design that’s in line with Apple’s other highest-end chips, it is literally just two M2 Max chips stuck together. The Ultra is available inside of Apple’s two new pro-level Mac desktops.

The new Mac Studio, the more consumer-oriented machine of the two, gets a big boost from Apple’s M2 chip (up to and including the M2 Ultra). It can be upgraded to have up to 8 TB of storage space and 192 GB of memory.

Apple’s cheese-grater-looking Mac Pro also gets a beefy new chipset, with the range of M2 chips available. Like the Studio, the Mac Pro can be maxed out with the M2 Ultra and 192 GB of memory. It also has eight Thunderbolt ports for connecting all your dongles, and two HDMI ports with support for up to six screens. It has increased expandability in the form of six PCIe 4 slots that let you add additional equipment or storage space.

The new Mac Studio will cost $1,999. The Mac Pro starts at $6,999. They’re both available to order now, and Apple says they’ll ship next week.

Adaptive Audio

Adaptive Audio, a software update for AirPods, gives the headphones new noise-canceling capabilities.

Video: Apple

AirPods are getting a boost in the form of Apple’s new Adaptive Audio features. The updates are basically fancy noise-canceling settings, where the strength of the noise reduction is automatically adjusted to suit your audio environment. It can lower music volume when it detects people talking to you and fluctuate noise-canceling levels to reduce the various cacophonies around you. These kinds of features aren’t totally exclusive to Apple, as headphones from companies like Sony and JBL already offer similar noise controls.

WatchOS 10

With WatchOS 10, you'll see a short stack of relevant widgets when you twist the watch's crown.

Video: Apple

The Apple Watch is the best-selling wearable computer, but that small screen has always been a little difficult to navigate. With WatchOS 10, you can now twist the crown to reveal your most useful widgets and notifications. Machine learning will identify which widgets are the most relevant at different times based on your location, your calendar, and other factors. The design of key apps has also been updated. For example, you can now scroll through World Clock to see the best time to call your friend in Tokyo or London. And because it’s WWDC, it’s also time for new watch faces, like a Snoopy and Woodstock face where Snoopy catches Frisbees once you’ve started your daily Frisbee workout.

WatchOS will continue its focus on health, and especially cycling features. You can now sub your iPhone for your specialized cycling computer, since the device can now connect to Bluetooth-enabled accessories like speed and cadence sensors. With a tap, your cycling workout can now take over the entire display—nice for people who like to attach their phone to their handlebars. The Watch and iPhone can now also estimate your Functional Threshold Power, or FTP, which is the highest average power output you can sustain for an hour.

The Watch’s navigation capabilities get a bump. You can see new waypoints when you’re navigating outside, like where you last had cellular connection, and there’s a new topographic map view.

The Mindfulness app has also been updated and will now let you scroll through abstract shapes that help illustrate how you’re feeling. You can then log what made you feel that way or take clinical-standard questionnaires to identify your risk for depression or anxiety. The Apple Watch also has new features to protect your vision health, like a new Ambient Daylight feature to make sure you (and your child!) are getting the recommended 80 to 100 minutes of outside time per day, and Screen Distance to remind you to move your laptop or iPad farther away from your face. Of course, these features have nothing to do with the new $3,499 reason for Apple to be concerned with how well your eyes work.