WWDC 2023 dates, iOS 17, Apple AR/VR headset and more

WWDC 2023 graphic
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's WWDC 2023 event is now just hours away. We're expecting to not only see new software like iOS 17, but also new hardware that should include our very first look at Apple's AR/VR headset

Update: Follow our WWDC 2023 live blog now for all of today’s big announcements from Apple, including the mixed reality headset, iOS 17 and more.

WWDC is formally known as Worldwide Developers Conference, and it's Apple's annual get-together with the app makers who build the software you run on your iPhone, Mac and other Apple devices. This year looks set to be the biggest WWDC event yet, here are the 5 biggest announcements we expect to see. But the headset isn't the only WWDC 2023 hardware we expect.

For WWDC 2023, rumors point to Apple using the platform of WWDC to launch its long-rumored mixed reality headset (even if Apple's own team members aren't sure it's ready), as well as a possible MacBook Air 15-inch. Here's what we know about — and what we're expecting from — Apple's WWDC 2023 event.

WWDC 2023 news (updated June 5)

WWDC 2023 dates

Apple has announced that WWDC 2023 will kick off June 5 and run through June 9. There will be a "special experience" for developers and students in person at Apple Park on opening day for the conference. 

According to Apple's press release, WWDC 2023 will "spotlight the latest iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS advancement."

WWDC 2023 keynote invitation

(Image credit: Apple)

For most of us, the day to pay attention to is June 5, when WWDC 2023 gets underway. Apple has confirmed it's kicking off WWDC 2023 with a keynote on June 5 that gets underway at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET/6 p.m. BST. We're still waiting for word on WWDC 2023 keynote live streams, though we expect Apple will post something to its YouTube channel.

WWDC 2023 Software: iOS 17, macOS 14 and more

Software previews are typically the focus at WWDC, and there's no reason to believe that won't continue at WWDC 2023, especially with the keynote invitation including the logo for the Swift developer tools used to build apps. 

We'd expect Apple to preview the software that supports each of its different hardware products, offering developer betas to those in attendance immediately after the WWDC keynote. Public betas of that software would come out within a month after WWDC, in advance of the final release later that fall. Here's what we know so far about potential software previews at WWDC.

iOS 17 logo on phone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

iOS 17 and iPadOS 17: It's all but certain Apple will show off new versions of the software that runs on both the iPhone and the iPad, with iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 likely to share many of the same features. (There may be a few iPad-specific improvements for iPadOS 17 if Apple stays true to form this year.) Full versions of the software will show up in the fall about the same time as Apple releases the iPhone 15 and whatever new iPads are in store.

iOS 17 should get a decent number of new features instead of only refinements to existing ones as previously suspected. Those features could include interactive home screen widgets (rather than the current static ones), a new look for Control Center and additional Dynamic Island features like a new Siri UI. One report suggests iOS 17 will introduce a feature that allows iPhones to act like smart screens when charging and not in use while another claims a new journaling app is in the works for iOS 17.

Otherwise, the most consistent rumor we've heard is that iOS 17 could open up access to third-party app stores, allowing you to get your iPhone and iPad apps from somewhere other than Apple's own store. However, rumor has it that this iOS feature that will be exclusive to Europe, where new regulations have put Apple's feet to the fire to open up its walled garden. 

iOS 17 mockups

(Image credit: Analyst941 / Twitter)

A fresh suite of upgrades were hinted at in a more recent leak, with Apple Music set to get an overhaul, lock screen upgrades touted, and better control over tools like the flashlight and the main Control Center. We've also seen a possible new look for several Apple apps in iOS 17, including an easier to navigate Wallet, Health and Wallpapers. 

As for Siri, it looks as though Siri will not be getting a ChatGPT-like upgrade, as Apple is reportedly very hesitant to join the AI chatbot race. 

iPadOS 17 could get some standalone iPad features, hopefully building on the functionality of the tablets as pseudo computers. But for some, the update could prompt an upgrade: that's because there's a suite of iPads tipped to be incompatible with iPadOS 17. Likewise, we'll also find out which iPhones will support iOS 17, with one report claiming that three current iPhones and three current iPads won't be able to run the updated software.

macOS 14: Last year's WWDC saw a preview of macOS 13, more popularly known as macOS Ventura. The rumor mill has been mum about any features Apple plans to introduce to the Mac this year — and that includes whatever California-themed nickname Apple will slap on this year's update. The popular game No Man's Sky could also finally arrive for macOS devices.

macOS Ventura at WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

Like iOS 17, macOS 14 is rumored to have few major changes. In recent years, Apple has sought to make its software more seamless across different platforms, which could mean more iOS features like widgets finding their way to the Mac.

watchOS 10: Stop us if this sounds familiar, but we haven't that much about the next version of watchOS and what features it will bring to Apple's smartwatch, including this fall's expected Apple Watch 9 release. Power management features always seem to be at the top of Apple Watch users' wish lists, so we'll see if that makes the final cut.

tvOS 17: The software that powers Apple TV usually gets the shortest amount of stage time at WWDC — if Apple even mentions it at all. The only thing that might draw some attention to tvOS 17 is if Apple has any interface improvements to show off. 

xrOS: This figures to get the most attention at WWDC 2023, as it would be the newest member of the Apple software family — assuming Apple's finally ready to talk about its VR/AR hardware plans. (More on that in a moment.) Rumors suggest that Apple has dubbed the supporting software for its mixed reality gear as xrOS, after earlier reports described the software's name as realityOS. We have seen xrOS pop up in an Apple Store Connect error message, but that's far from conclusive evidence that Apple will stick with the moniker.

We've heard few reports about what to expect from xrOS, other than it will likely mirror a lot of iOS's features while also supporting the hand- and eye-tracking capabilities of Apple's upcoming headset.

WWDC 2023 potential hardware: Apple AR/VR headset

The most likely hardware candidate to appear at WWDC 2023 is a product that isn't expected to arrive until closer to the end of the year. That would be the Apple VR/AR headset Apple supposedly has in the works, with the most popular rumor suggest a preview of the mixed reality device at WWDC. 

3D render of the Apple VR/AR headset

(Image credit: Marcus Kane/Sketchfab)

The rumor certainly makes sense. When Apple's entered new product categories before, as with both the iPhone and the Apple Watch, it showed off those devices several months before their release date. An Apple VR/AR headset preview at WWDC would also give Apple the opportunity to let app makers familiarize themselves with the product, since apps will likely be a key part of the headset experience.

Apple Reality Pro headset: Apple's headset is expected to focus on mixed realty, with an M2 chip powering the device. You'll control it through eye and gesture tracking, with some reports claiming you'll be able to do things like type in mid-air. The headset will reportedly be called the Apple Reality Pro, and the Pro part of that name will be very much in evidence in the rumored price of the headset —  we've heard it could cost as much as $3,000. 

And even if you have the $3,000 on hand, you may need an Apple store appointment to try it out. The current expectation is that you'll actually be able to buy a headset in December so start blocking off time in your calendar now so you won't have any scheduling conflicts when it finally is released.

Interestingly, one report says that Apple will launch the AR/VR headset despite reservations from the design team that the device is too heavy and not ready for prime time. Tim Cook and Apple COO Jeff Williams reportedly overruled the design team in order to release this year. A 3D model of the Apple headset has also leaked

A report in The Wall Street Journal says the headset will resemble a pair of ski googles, feature an external battery pack and that its “capabilities far exceed those of competitors." It also may get a blinding display that can hit 5,000 nits peak brightness with 4K resolution in each eye. Demo sessions could feature a brand new immersive version of FaceTime as well.

Apple's AR WWDC 2023 teaser

Apple's AR WWDC 2023 teaser (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For more signs that Apple has AR on the brain, go to the Apple Events page on your iPhone or iPad and tap the Apple logo on the page. An augmented reality version of the logo with the WWDC's June 5 date will appear floating on your view finder. Is that confirmation, a mixed reality headset is coming? Probably not, but it's a fun way to get ready for WWDC.

New Macs: As for another hardware announcements at WWDC, Rumors of a 15-inch MacBook Air featuring the M2 chip or a new Mac Pro persist, especially now that there won't be another Apple event before WWDC.  Mark Gurman also claims that "several new Macs" will launch during the keynote address, lending credence to the many rumors.

Of the rumored Macs, the Mac Studio M2 seems like the more appropriate announcement at an event packed with developers, though signs suggest the new 15-inch MacBook Air will also launch at WWDC. Production is even said to be ramping up ahead of a potential WWDC launch. We rather hope that the debut of a larger MacBook Air could lead to Apple killing off the MacBook Pro 13-inch, which seems evermore less relevant in the MacBook line up. 

One unlikely source of speculation is Apple itself: Three unreleased Mac models have been spotted on the backend of Apple's Find My network. They appear to be desktop Mac models, as they aren't compatible with Find My functionality and are listed alongside other confirmed desktop Macs. A lot remains unclear, though. These three identifiers could represent three versions of a single model in Apple's Mac lineup, or two variants of one product and another of a second product. There's just no telling.

Similarly, while there are rumblings of new Mac Studios coming, their launch seems to be further away than WWDC, potentially to give a possible Mac Pro refresh some breathing room. Nevertheless, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports that Apple will start accepting Mac Studio trade-ins on June 5, the same day WWDC starts. (The 13-inch M2 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models are also scheduled to be accepted for trade-ins, Gurman says.) That's raising speculation a new Mac Studio may arrive in June.

Don't expect any Apple hardware announced at WWDC 2023 to use M3 chips though. Apple's apparently struggling to produce enough for new Macs and iPads. But at least when they do arrive, they should be impressively powerful.

WWDC 2023 outlook

Even without hardware, WWDC 2023 would be a packed event given all the software previews Apple is likely to show off. But with all signs pointing to a sneak preview of the Apple Reality Pro headset, this year's edition of Apple's developer conference figures to be more significant than usual.

Stay tuned for more rumors and additional information on what Apple has in store for WWDC 2023 as we get even closer to that June 5 opening keynote.

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.