Apple’s biggest WWDC keynote in years will still feel a little empty

Apple’s most important event each year is its Worldwide Developers Conference–the fall iPhone event might be the most significant annual event for Apple’s bottom line, but WWDC is more important. It’s where Apple unveils the new operating systems, the heart of the major hardware devices the company makes, and developers get to find out how to take advantage of the new OS features.

Apple hardware isn’t really the main focus of WWDC. But at recent WWDCs, Mac hardware has been a major part of the event. The transition to Apple silicon was announced at WWDC, and after that, the event was used to provide progress reports and reveal new M-series Macs.

But this year, it’s different. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported in a recent Power On newsletter that we won’t see any new hardware at WWDC24. As a Mac hardware enthusiast, I don’t just use a Mac, I like to follow Apple’s hardware developments. But considering what’s at stake for Apple this year and in the near future, this year’s WWDC agenda makes sense, but I can’t help but feel a sense of melancholy about the idea.

WWDC 2019: New Mac Pro

Historically, Mac hardware has had a scattered presence at WWDC–some years we get Mac hardware news, others we don’t. But the recent past has been remarkable, starting with WWDC 2019 where Apple revealed the long-awaited redesigned Mac Pro, a tower design that not only replaced its “trash can” predecessor but also harkened back to the beloved “cheese grater” Power Macs. Apple also revealed the high-priced Pro Display XDR to go with the it.


The 2019 Mac Pro came at a time when customers were dissatisfied with Apple’s approach to its most powerful Mac. The new Mac Pro came two years after Apple admitted that it needed to go back to the drawing board and it made a powerful tower that satisfied the needs of its audience, instead of dictating to that audience how it should do things.

What we didn’t know at that time is that the 2019 Mac Pro was the start of a major presence of Mac hardware at WWDC for the next few years. It was the start of something exciting for Mac enthusiasts.

Those who know their Apple history could argue that the start of this current roll was with WWDC 2017, where Apple previewed the iMac Pro and made updates to the iMacs and across the MacBook lineup. But that was followed by no Mac hardware at WWDC 2018. Also, there’s a connection between the 2019 Mac Pro announcement and WWDC 2020 that better exemplifies the current status of Mac hardware at WWDC–read on and you’ll see what I mean.

WWDC 2020: Buh-bye, Intel

It turned out that the 2019 Mac Pro was the last major Intel Mac to be unveiled at WWDC. At WWDC 2020, Apple made an announcement that changed the Mac forever by revealing that it will replace Intel processors with its own chips. No new hardware of any kind was revealed at WWDC20, only OS updates, but Apple did explain why it was dropping Intel for its own silicon and provided an overview of how the transition would work.


WWDC20 didn’t need new hardware. We got something better than that: a plan of how the Mac was going to be not just viable but lead the PC market going forward. It was both exciting and scary, but the scary part disappeared and the excitement was amplified when Apple released the M1 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini later that year.

WWDC 2021 to 2023

In 2021, we saw a break in Mac hardware announcements. You can blame the Covid pandemic for messing up the supply chain and production schedules.

WWDC 2022 was bursting with all kinds of announcements, including significant Mac hardware ones (even after the Mac Studio had just made its debut in March): the M2 arrived along with the first Macs to run it: the redesigned MacBook Air and refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro. While the M2 wasn’t as exciting as the M1, it did provide insight as to how Apple would approach chip upgrades and what kind of improvements to expect. It also was Apple’s opportunity to get a production cycle going with the M-series chips after a sputtering start, thanks to the pandemic.

WWDC 2023 will forever be known as the Apple Vision Pro event, and rightfully so. But Apple made three major Mac hardware announcements as well: the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air, the M2 upgrades to the Mac Studio, and the long-awaited Apple silicon Mac Pro.


WWDC 2024: Don’t expect Mac hardware announcements

After all these years (with one gap year), this year’s WWDC will have very big announcements–it could be Apple’s most important WWDC in its history. Apple needs to highlight its developments with artificial intelligence, which isn’t just a technology trend, it’s redefining how technology impacts how we do things.

Hardware is important to AI, which is demanding of processing power. Conveniently, Apple needed to cut short its M3 chip series cycle to bring in the more powerful M4, which was revealed in the new iPad Pro, not a new Mac. According to reports, M4 Macs won’t be ready until later this year. And macOS 15 won’t ship until the fall–those new M4 Macs will have the new version of the Mac operating system.

The timing means that we won’t most likely won’t see new Mac hardware at WWDC24. That’s a letdown because the Mac has a lot of momentum going and I want to see more. But it was a pretty good run for Mac hardware at WWDC, and there’s always next year.

You can learn more about Apple’s upcoming WWDC24 keynote in our superguide.

Source : Macworld