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Why watchOS 10 will be more exciting than iOS 17

Published Apr 3rd, 2023 8:28AM EDT
Apple Watch SE Main
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Apple announced the WWDC 2023 dates last week, so we already know when iOS 17, watchOS 10, and macOS 14 announcements will drop. But this year is different for Apple. The June 5th keynote will also feature Apple’s first-gen mixed reality headset and its operating system. That’s Apple’s priority right now, despite the rumored release delays.

A new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says that the AR/VR headset will be unveiled at WWDC. But Gurman also addressed Apple’s other operating systems. According to him, watchOS 10 should deliver an extensive upgrade featuring “notable changes” to the user interface. That already sounds more exciting than the iOS 17 upgrade, which should focus on performance improvements rather than new features.

Gurman said in his Power On newsletter that the June 5th WWDC 2023 keynote will be “one of the most importat days in its history:”

The headset will be a risky, but potentially monumental launch for Apple. It will herald mixed reality as its next major product category, offering a glimpse of a future where people are interacting with the world via headsets and not pocketable touch screens.

Recently, Ming-Chi Kuo detailed novel product delays for the mixed reality headset, prompting speculation that Apple might delay the announcement event. However, Gurman’s new report seems to leave no room for interpretation. The AR/VR headset will be Apple’s main priority at WWDC in early June.

Previous reports said that Apple devoted massive resources to the mixed reality headset, which would explain the less exciting upgrades for operating systems like iOS 17. iOS will still be the star of the show, but the OS update will not deliver any major iPhone features this year.

watchOS 10 will be more exciting, according to Gurman. The Apple Watch OS will deliver big changes to the user interface, although the Apple insider did not detail them:

I believe the new watchOS should be a fairly extensive upgrade — with notable changes to the user interface — unlike iOS 17. It’s important for watchOS to have a big year given that the Apple Watch hardware updates will be anything but major.

The watchOS 10 user interface overhaul should compensate for a lackluster hardware refresh this year. Indeed, Apple isn’t expected to deliver an Apple Watch Ultra 2 upgrade. The Apple Watch Series 9 could be a minor upgrade over last year’s model.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 15 Pro upgrade is going to be significant, especially the 15 Pro Max model. This would explain the more muted iOS 17 release.

If this information is accurate, and Gurman’s reports usually are, it further underscores the importance of Apple’s AR/VR headset. Other reports said Apple had prioritized the new product, anticipating less interesting software developments for Apple’s other products this year.

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.