Apple WWDC 2021 keynote announced — iOS 15, macOS 12 and what else to expect

Apple WWDC 2021 keynote
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's made it official — the keynote for the company's annual Worldwide Developers Conference is set for Monday, June 7. That's when we'll likely get our first official looks at iOS 15, macOS 12, watchOS 8 and whatever other software Apple has in the works.

The keynote takes place at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT on June 7, kicking off a week of developer-focused sessions for Apple's virtual conference.

We already knew when Apple was holding this year's WWDC — Apple set the June 7 - June 11 dates back in March. And since the keynote usually kicks off the developer conference, it didn't take a lot of guesswork to figure out when Apple executives would take to the stage with this year's announcements. Still, it's nice to have an official date and time for the keynote, which is certain to stream on Apple's website.

WWDC is held every year, and it's Apple's chance to directly talk to developers, revealing new software and tools to help them ready their apps for the latest version of Apple's operating systems for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Since this is a developer-focused event, Apple generally doesn't make too many hardware announcements at WWDC, though the company has thrown us a few curve balls in the past. Last year, for example, we got our first look at Apple Silicon — the Apple-built chips now powering select Mac hardware.

We've got two weeks to go before WWDC, but here's what we imagine Apple is going to talk about during this year's show, along with a few surprises the company could unveil.

iOS 15 and iPadOS 15

Much of this focus this spring has been on iOS 14.5 — that update came out in April, bringing with it significant new features. But now Apple's attention is turning to the software update planned for the fall which will run on the new iPhone 13 models as well as current iPhones.

We should get an iOS 15 preview at WWDC 2021. Apple's expected to add more notification controls, widgets for the iPad home screen, and a new privacy menu. The look of the software could change, too, based on some leaked app icons.

In addition to the iOS 15 preview, expect to hear about Apple's beta program for the iPhone software update. Developers will likely get their copy of the software during WWDC, while a public beta will follow later.

macOS 12

Mac software also gets some significant stage time at WWDC, so we're expecting to hear a lot about the macOS 12 update at this year's conference.

Any news would be good news at this point, as there have been very few rumors about what Apple has planned for its Mac software. That would seem to suggest this will be a pretty low key update after the significant changes Apple introduced with last year's macOS Big Sur update. 

As with iOS 15, macOS 12 will likely arrive in the form of a developer beta during the show. 

watchOS 8 and tvOS 15

The next big software update for the Apple Watch should also receive some attention at WWDC, as Apple previews watchOS 8. Given Apple's focus on fitness in recent years, the Workout and Health apps are likely to see new features. Mental health could also be on the agenda for the Apple Watch, too.

In addition to its other software previews, Apple shows off the software that powers Apple TV. With a new Apple TV 4K out, though, we'd expect the tvOS 15 preview to be even more concise than usual.

Mac hardware

It's been a year since Apple announced plans to make its own processors for its laptops, having introduced M1 versions of the iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini. It's possible we could get a progress report on Apple's plans to have all its Macs running on its own silicon by 2022.

An Apple M2 chip is reportedly in production, with rumors suggesting that it could be ready in July. If so, Apple could provide an update there, especially if the M2 powers hardware — a 16-inch MacBook Pro or 27-inch iMac, for example — that's of particular interest to developers.

Other WWDC events

The WWDC keynote grabs the most attention from the general public, but it's not the only noteworthy event scheduled for this year's developer conference. A deeper dive into Apple's various platforms takes place at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on Monday (June 7), while Apple hands out awards to the best designed apps for the year on Thursday (June 10) at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.