WWDC 2018: Software, hardware and everything Apple is rumored to reveal

CEO Tim Cook and other Apple executives will take the stage at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference to announce software updates for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac, and HomePod. They may even announce new hardware. Here's what to expect.
By Elyse Betters Picaro, Managing Editor
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What is WWDC and when is it?

WWDC is Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple holds this multi-day event in order to get developers up to speed with its latest advancements. This year, the conference will include the usual first-day keynote, where Apple introduces its upcoming software updates and possibly new hardware refreshes, followed by sessions that developers can attend to learn more or meet with over 1,000 Apple engineers.

WWDC 2018 will be held from June 4 to June 8 in San Jose. If you want to watch the keynote live, go here for details about when and how to stream it online. If you'd rather catch up on all the latest rumors and leaks, here's a round up of everything Apple is expected to introduce...

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iOS 12: New parental controls, multi-person FaceTime calls, and more

Apple usually uses WWDC to preview the next major update to iOS. It will likely introduce iOS 12 to developers, with a focus on performance and quality refinements, as well as new features like cross-platform iOS and Mac apps, new digital health tools, and multi-person FaceTime calls. Reports have claimed we might also see improvements to parental controls and ARKit.

Keep in mind Apple has faced a lot of criticism over iOS flaws and glitches that are plaguing the mobile operating system -- not to mention the controversial "feature" that intentionally slows down iPhones. So, Apple is rumored to be focusing on quality over innovation with iOS 12. This may result in the postponement of long-expected upgrades, like a redesigned home screen and multiplayer support for AR gaming, according to Bloomberg.

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macOS 10.14: Cross-platform Mac and iOS apps

    Like iOS, Apple usually uses WWDC to preview the next major update to macOS.

    We expect to see macOS 10.14 demoed on stage for developers. A public release likely won't arrive until this autumn. The most significant change in this operating system update for Macs should be the introduction of cross-platform Mac and iOS apps. These are universal apps that work on both iOS and Mac, according to Bloomberg, which claimed Apple has been working on a way to let developers create apps that work across iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

    Apple might also spend some time highlighting security improvements to macOS, if there are any. After all, in November 2017, researchers discovered a huge security flaw in Apple's Mac operating system that allowed users to log in to practically any Mac laptop or desktop without a password. Yep. It's not just iOS that's been buggy lately; Apple has some explaining to do...

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    watchOS 5: Native Spotify app, Face ID unlocking, and more

    The next major version of the Apple Watch operating system, watchOS 5, will almost certainly be announced at WWDC 2018. Then, following beta tests, it should arrive for all compatible watches around September, which is when Apple might also announce a new Apple Watch 4.

    But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let's focus on watchOS 5 at this year's conference. Spotify is reportedly set to launch on watchOS 5, thanks to Apple's rumored StreamKit framework, giving users another native music streaming app to use without having to carry around their iPhone.

    Another rumor (or a recently uncovered patent, really) has suggested the next Apple Watch will have Face ID unlocking, so we might see Face ID improvements in the watchOS 5 software. Lastly, there was some recent news about a round-display Apple Watch patent. There's also talk about third-party watch faces coming as well as watch face customization. It's conceivable that we might see some announcements related to these developments.

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    Apple TV/tvOS 12: Tighter HomeKit pairing, Dolby Atmos support, and more

    For Apple TV users, the waters are a bit more murky. The set-top box operating system, tvOS, hasn't evolved much since tvOS 10 released alongside the fourth-generation Apple TV. For instance, the last "major" update, tvOS 11, actually introduced relatively minor changes.

    However, we already know the recent beta for tvOS 11.4 tightened up integration between the Apple TV and the Home app, plus it brought compatibility with the AirPlay 2 multi-room speaker feature first unveiled at last year's WWDC. With all that in mind, we may see more HomeKit-tvOS pairing at WWDC 2018, as well as updates to the new TV app.

    Also, last autumn Apple touted Apple TV support for Dolby Atmos, saying it would launch at a later date. This has yet to happen. Either way, we expect tvOS 12 to be unveiled and then released in beta to developers and public beta users shortly after. A full release should arrive this autumn.

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    HomePod: Low-cost, Beats-branded version possibly coming

    This one is a kind of a stretch: A new report from Apple's supply chain claimed a "low-priced" version of the HomePod will arrive soon with Beats by Dre branding instead of Apple branding. The report, from Chinese news site Sina, said the speaker will cost $199.

    Now, talk about a cheaper, miniature HomePod has been swirling since dismal sales for the first speaker were reported earlier this year. Former KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a great track record when it comes to Apple leaks, also predicted a low-cost speaker, priced between $150 and $200. It's unclear exactly what form the speaker would take and how it would differ from the $350 HomePod, but one thing is for sure: It likely won't be a Beats speaker.

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    Macs: New 13-inch MacBook model with Retina display

    The rumor mill has gone back and forth about whether Apple will introduce a new 13-inch MacBook model with a Retina display at WWDC 2018. It's expected to have an entry-level $899 price and may dislodge the 12-inch MacBook and the MacBook Air in Apple's Mac lineup.

    However, one of the most recent reports, from Digitimes, which has a so-so track record when it comes to leaking Apple news, claimed Apple has pushed back assembly of the new laptop into the third quarter of this year. The report mentioned supply chain partners have a piling inventory of parts that they can't do anything with until Apple gives them the go ahead.

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    iPhone X-style iPad Pro

    Apple recently brought a hallmark feature from the iPad Pro line -- support for the Pencil stylus -- to the new entry-level iPad that launched in March. So, in order to make the iPad Pro more appealing, Apple needs to update it. CNETfigures it might get an iPhone X-style design overhaul, with Apple ditching the home button and adding Face ID, possibly.

    But the thing is... Bloomberg has reported that a new version of the 10.5-inch model would likely not be ready for release until the second half of this year. Still, if Apple is planning to upgrade the higher-end iPad this year, it would make sense for us to see an unveiling at WWDC.

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    iPhone SE 2: Notch, Face ID, with iPhone 5S-like frame

    We saved the least likely for last. That's not to say it might not happen, though. You see, there have been many reports about Apple planning to release an updated iPhone SE this year.

    Case makers reportedly told Japanese website Mac Otakara that the so-called iPhone SE 2 would arrive in May. But, since May is nearly over, we highly doubt Apple would announce the phone now, rather than at its conference mere days away. Sure enough, Mac Otakaralater claimed, citing a Chinese supply source, that the iPhone SE 2 is "unlikely to make an appearance in the second quarter of 2018." It's not just the release date that's suffering from conflicting reports; there is also little consensus about what to expect from the device should it be real.

    It might have an iPhone X-like design with a notch, Face ID, and all -- though it might also have an aluminum, flat-edged frame like the iPhone 5S. If none of this sounds concrete enough for you, keep in mind regulatory filings have indicated new iPhones are coming soon.

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