WWDC 2018: What is Apple's big event, will there be a new iPhone and how do I watch it?

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks on stage during Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S. June 5, 2017: REUTERS/Stephen Lam

This week, Apple will reveal the future of your iPhone – and any other product you might happen to own.

The company is hosting WWDC, its annual conference. Right in the middle of that is the keynote where the company shows off updates to the various operating systems and software that power all of its products.

The event will take place all through next week. But the big keynote happens on 4 June, in the morning pacific time so much later on in the day in the rest of the world.

What is WWDC?

The event’s full name is Worldwide Developers Conference, which gives you a pretty good picture of what happens. It serves as a place for app developers to meet each other and learn about the future of Apple’s various platforms, and for Apple to discuss that future with them.

But that leaves out the biggest bit of the whole week, at least for the general public: the big keynote that Apple holds at the beginning. That’s where it announces all of the changes coming to its software – and sometimes some of its hardware, too – for every single one of its products.

We’ll see iOS 12, whatever Apple decides to call the new version of its Mac operating system, and updates to its watches and TVs. And apps and services will probably get a big upgrade, too, with new features probably coming to apps like Music.

In short, if you use something from Apple, you’ll see what its future looks like next week. But you won’t get to see what future versions of it will look like.

Why should I care?

WWDC isn’t the most splashy of Apple events: that honour belongs to the September launches when it shows off the new iPhones. It is not focused on shiny new products, or breakthrough new hardware features.

But, for the reason, it can be even more exciting. It is the only one of Apple’s big annual events that focuses squarely on products you already have, offering upgrades to all of Apple’s products so long as they are new enough, and entirely for free.

So it is worth following along if you want to get a look at what the new iOS, macOS, watchOS or tvOS actually look like. You probably won’t get access to those features for some time – September, alongside the new phones, if you don’t join Apple’s beta programme – but you’ll get a sense for what the future will look like.

Sometimes, that software even offers hints at what new products – such as the the new iPhone – might look like, too.

Does that mean there won’t be a new iPhone, then?

Never say never, of course – but probably not. There almost certainly won’t be any flagship phones launched this WWDC, or any other one.

There have been some rumours about a new iPhone SE 2, upgrading that small, cheap and beloved handset. That might come around this year, though even that is unlikely.

But that doesn’t mean that the whole event is devoted to software. A host of products are rumoured for potential launches at the event – everything from its AirPower wireless charging mat to updated MacBook Pros – so it is likely that there’ll be some new hardware too.

How can I watch it?

Apple usually streams every WWDC keynote, and is almost certain to do the same this year. It hasn’t yet announced that it will – much less how it will do so – but going on previous years it should be fairly simple to watch along.

The company runs a special page on its website that lets people stream the keynote live, so long as they’re using the right kit. And an update will usually arrive on the Apple TV, installing a special app for watching it back.

If you miss it, you’ll be able to watch it back the same way. (And you’ll be able to fast forward through anything you want to skip.)

As well as the big keynote, Apple usually streams some of the other WWDC sessions online, too. They can often be a bit specific if you’re not a developer – delving into how parts of the underlying technology of iPhones and other products work so that people can make apps for them – but some of the events such as Apple’s “Platforms State of the Union” and design awards can be interesting.

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