WWDC20: What not to expect

As the curtain prepares to rise, just hours hence, on this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, there are still plenty of questions about what exactly Apple will be showing off at its annual event. New versions of its software platforms seem a lock, as does some sort of news about the Mac line transitioning to Apple’s own chips.

But beyond that, speculation has varied wildly about what else Apple might have up its sleeves, running the gamut from brand new, never-before-seen products to minor updates to its existing lines. It remains, even at this late date, anybody’s guess.

That said, we can look at Apple’s history and the current state of the company’s portfolio to at least identify some announcements that are unlikely to show up when Cupertino’s first ever virtual WWDC keynote gets under way, which might help us winnow down what we can reasonably expect.

Glasses fully empty

There have been, over the past couple decades, a few Apple rumors that tend to perpetually surface until they, eventually, either turn into real products or ultimately fade into nothingness. Both the iPhone and the Apple Watch are examples of the former, and it may be that the Apple Glasses—the company’s heads-up AR display—joins their ranks at some point.

But don’t expect it this year.

Apple

Illustration from a patent for a “goggle system” that Apple filed years ago.

Recent reports have suggested that the Glasses could be announced as early as this year, though it seems increasingly likely that they would be discussed in 2021 at the very earliest. Apple’s continuing to build robust AR support into their products, most recently with the inclusion of the LIDAR sensor on the 2020 iPad Pro, a feature that’s likely to appear on this year’s iPhone as well. But it seems as though the company might wait to see how developers take advantage of this new capability before it dives with both feet into a whole new product category.

More to the point, the Apple Glasses are far from being ready for prime time. The technology involved in creating these products, making them not only a device that people will want to use but fashionable enough that people don’t mind wearing them on their face, is probably still a ways off. And the last thing Apple wants is a replay of Google Glass’s reception.

Tags, you’re not it

Speaking of rumored products, it’s been months that we’ve been relatively certain of the existence of Apple Tags, the company’s competitor to Tile Bluetooth trackers, but they have yet to make any sort of official appearance. And despite that certainty, the recent example of AirPower illustrates that even that products that exist—or are announced!—don’t always end up shipping.