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WWDC 2020 is going all online: iOS 14, macOS 10.16, watchOS 7 and more

wwdc tim cook
(Image credit: BRITTANY HOSEA-SMALL/AFP via Getty Images)

As expected, Apple won't be having a traditional WWDC 2020. Its annual worldwide developer's conference hasn't been called off, though — just moved online. 

Apple announced the news in a press release that declares "WWDC 2020 to Feature an Online Format with a Keynote and Sessions Connecting Millions of Developers Around the World." The announcement doesn't give a specific date, only that the event will take place in this June.

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While it's expected that Apple made this call because of concerns of coronavirus and the government-imposed limits on large gatherings — similarly, Microsoft just cancelled its Build developers conference and Google had already scrapped its developer get-together — Apple makes no explicit mention of coronavirus nor COVID-19 in the release. 

Instead, it quotes Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, who says "The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format," and that developers should expect a "full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world." 

Apple's also realizing its decision will hurt the local economy (much like how the cancelled SXSW was a big part of the Austin, Texas economy). The release notes the company will "commit $1 million to local San Jose organizations to offset associated revenue loss as a result of WWDC 2020’s new online format."

The release lists Apple's many operating systems "iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS," as the major topics of conversation for the big online event.

Here's what we're expecting Apple to address at its online developer conference in June.

iOS 14

Big rumored iOS 14 improvements start with an updated multitasking interface, which could let you view up to four apps on your phone at the same time. Expect this enhancement to mimic what iPadOS already provides for viewing up to three apps at once.

Personally, I'm more excited about the fact that Apple's considering letting us finally set our own default apps for features such as email. If I can get my iPhone to stop opening the Mail app — and just open Gmail itself — I'll be so happy. Many also hope to turn on Google Maps as a default.

There's also a new potential Fitness app on the way. It would offer workout videos and guidance on how to better exercise, augmenting Apple's current apps that log health and fitness info.

watchOS 7

Speaking of health, watchOS 7 and Apple Watch 6 leaks gave us reason to think Apple will finally add sleep tracking to the Apple Watch. The feature, which many (myself included) hoped to see arrive last year, will likely use battery life management tools to make sure you can make your Apple Watch last all day and night. 

The feature is rumored to include setting goals for how much you want to sleep, and provide recommendations and tips for getting a better night's rest.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You might also get the ability to make your own Apple Watch face, and share it with other users. 

Parents should be interested to hear that watchOS 7 could also allow one iPhone to monitor both that user's iPhone and their kid's Apple Watch. It would also include, naturally, parental controls for contacting others.

iPadOS 14

Many of the folks at the Tom's Guide office have wanted a real mouse/cursor on the iPad for years, well before Apple even made external mouse support a hidden feature. The next version of iPadOS may deliver this feature, per leaked code from iOS 14.

Also, expect text recognition for the Apple Pencil. Adjustments made to PencilKit show that Apple's going to allow third party apps to turn handwriting into text. With these above tricks, the iPad is definitely on its way to pleasing some folks who want the tablet to be closer to a laptop, as PCs have had text recognition for a while.

macOS 10.16

We haven't heard much about macOS 10.16, at least in terms of unique features. iMessages' rumored ability to @-tag others and also retract sent texts will likely come to the Mac.

Developers will have their ears and eyes open for any hints or confirmation that Apple's ARM-powered Macs are coming soon, as it will likely require a lot of work on their side to optimize and prepare their apps. And we'd also expect an update on Catalyst, Apple's ongoing effort to make it easier for app makers to bring iOS software to the Mac.

tvOS 14

Lastly, the Apple TV's going to get an update with tvOS 14. There aren't as many rumors here, but we have heard that the HomePod may get a "permanent" pairing option for always defaulting to pair with Apple's streaming box.

There have also been rumors of a new Apple TV 4K box, one that offers faster performance, which would be perfect for the Apple Arcade gaming service.