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Apple WWDC 2022 — what it could tell us about the iPhone 14

iPhone 14 Pro design vs iPhone 14 design
(Image credit: EverythingApplePro/YouTube)

Earlier this month, Google held its annual I/O developer conference, an event that's supposed to focus largely on the tools and software developers need to crank out products that work on the company's many different platforms. Yet, even with that focus, Google carved out some stage time to show off the Pixel 7 — a smartphone that won't even be available until later this year.

In just a little less than two weeks, Apple is going to hold an annual developer conference of its own — the week-long WWDC 2022 begins June 6 with a keynote at 1 pm. ET/10 a.m. PT. Like Google, Apple usually spends the WWDC keynote talking about software, so that the developers in attendance what features they can take advantage of when building apps for Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and more. And like Google, Apple probably has a phone in the works that won't see the light of day until later in the fall — namely, the iPhone 14.

FYI: Here's how to watch WWDC 2022 live stream

With Google offering a sneak preview of its phone at a developer conference, might Apple be tempted to follow suit? After all, one of the big rumored changes coming to the iPhone 14 Pro models is the replacement of the notch with a couple of cutouts. Surely, even a glimpse at the iPhone's new look would get the WWDC 2022 crowd fired up.

It's an exciting thought, Apple giving us an advanced look at its future iPhone. And it's about as likely to happen as Tim Cook announcing a dark, gritty reboot of Ted Lasso for Apple TV Plus.

Apple treats unannounced products much the same way the cast of Encanto treats Bruno — we don't talk about that. Certainly not when there's another three to four months of iPhone 13 sales to keep stoking before the iPhone 14's arrival. So if you're expecting any sort of Pixel 7-style surprise cameo at WWDC, banish that thought from your mind post-haste.

wwdc-2021-platforms

(Image credit: Apple | YouTube)

Which is not to say that the iPhone 14 will be completely absent from Apple's developer conference. No, you won't see any glimpse of the phone nor will anyone from the home office in Cupertino dare to even mouth the words "iPhone 14." But Apple's developer conference will offer a glimpse at Apple's future plans for its smartphones. And it will come in the form of an iOS 16 preview.

Recent WWDC installments have been dominated by previews of the different software overhauls Apple plans to unleash later on in the year. If you have the slightest bit of interest in iPhones, then, you'll want to pay extra attention to Apple's overview of its iOS iPhone software. 

Thus far, iOS 16 rumors have hinted at a fairly substantial update this year. The look of Apple's iOS may not change, but the feature set seems likely to expand, potentially in the form of new apps and what one dialed-in Apple observer describes as "new ways of interacting" with your phone.

We've already covered what we hope iOS 16 delivers, but some of the more persistent rumors include improvements to notifications and the idea of a "big widget" in which multiple widgets can be housed in the same container.

Of course, these features will be aimed at all iPhones — not just the ones coming in the fall, but existing devices that will be able to run iOS 16. (For the record, that's rumored to be the iPhone 7 and later. Tough luck, iPhone 6s and 2016 iPhone SE owners.) What about features specific to the iPhone 14?

Apple will likely do what it can to keep those under wraps a little bit longer, but if you happen to notice a lot of VR/AR features getting touted on stage at WWDC, you can guess it's probably because future iPhones will be optimized to take advantage of those capabilities. (Or that Apple's rumored VR/AR headset is closer to reality than you might think.) Likewise, if there are a lot of iOS 16 features built around the Camera and Photos apps, rumors about the iPhone 14 Pro getting a 48MP main camera sound a little bit more promising.

The biggest hints about the iPhone 14 may not surface until developers get their hands on the beta software and uncover references to the future iPhone and its features in the software code. For the most part, Apple does a pretty good job of sequestering features designed for specific phones so that they remain out of sight until the company is good and ready to tout them. But you never know what might leak out early.

For that reason, if you're really eager to get the inside scoop on Apple's future iPhone plans, certainly pay attention to what's said — and unsaid — at WWDC. But the real leaks might start to flow once the iOS 16 beta is in the hands of developers.

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.