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Apple’s four big biggest updates from WWDC 2021 might’ve just leaked

Published Jun 6th, 2021 2:26PM EDT
iOS 15 Features
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple will unveil significant updates for its operating systems on Monday during its annual WWDC event. We’re looking at a virtual-only keynote for the second year in a row. The event will be streamed online so fans and developers can see the first glimpses of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, tvOS 15, macOS 12, and watchOS 8.

The iPhone’s next-gen update is always the most exciting thing that comes out of Apple’s developer conferences, as the iPhone remains Apple’s most popular device. People will flock to download the iOS 15 betas as soon as they’re available, with the first developer beta expected to drop soon after Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote. Some of iOS 15’s features leaked recently, but the leaks haven’t been as bad as they were in previous years. We still lack concrete evidence of the upcoming changes, including visuals.

It’s unlikely that iOS 15’s main secrets will be revealed before Monday’s press event, but a brand new report says Apple has four “big updates” in mind for WWDC. And they’re the kind of software upgrades that concern Apple’s entire ecosystem rather than just the iPhone.

“I hear there are big updates coming to Safari, Health, Maps and iMessage at WWDC next week,” The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern said on Twitter, adding that the walls of Apple’s walled garden will get even higher at the event.

Stern was replying to her previous Twitter post that linked to her column at The Wall Street Journal, where she addresses the concept of walled garden in tech and how it applies to Apple.

Essentially, Stern explains that Apple’s combination of hardware, software, and services helps Apple lock customers in. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and other tech companies have similar strategies in place. Whether they work as well as Apple’s is a different matter. Stern points out that the way Apple devices work together is unparalleled in the industry, as no other company has achieved the same performance. This would be a good reason for anyone to appreciate what the walled garden has to offer, although Stern points out that Apple’s ecosystem might hurt competition. That’s an argument that has been coming up more frequently lately, especially thanks to the Epic vs. Apple lawsuit.

Stern doesn’t offer any specifics surrounding the big updates that Apple has planned for WWDC 2021, but the four services she listed aren’t big surprises. Previous leaks told us to expect major iMessage and Health updates. These are core Apple software products and we would have anticipated updates even without these leaks.

Safari and Apple Maps updates are also unsurprising. Apple is trailing Google in both cases and the company has been trying to improve its internet browser and navigation app over the years. Safari has been a much better Chrome alternative in recent years, especially when it comes to user privacy. Of course, Chrome remains the world’s most popular browser.

The ‘big updates’ coming to iMessage, Health, Safari, and Apple Maps will not benefit just iPhone users, as these services and apps are available across Apple’s operating systems and devices.

Separate leaks in recent weeks have also indicated that Apple is planning some changes to notifications on iOS 15, a new home screen for iPad, and additional privacy features. Apple already announced a few major accessibility updates a few weeks ago, which could have easily been part of a WWDC segment on Monday.

Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote will start streaming at 10:00 AM PDT (1:00 PM EST) on Monday, and it can be streamed live at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.