The date for WWDC 2021 has been confirmed: get ready for a slew of Apple tech announcements beginning Monday, June 7, and continuing through Friday, June 11 during the online-only meeting. However, the announcement was accompanied by a seemingly harmless picture that is both an insider joke for Apple fans and, more than likely, a hint that the Apple Glasses are actually on the way.
Let’s start with the splash picture on Apple’s WWDC 2021 website: a pink-haired Memoji’d individual looking into the glow of a laptop – which is a playful reference to Apple SVP Craig Federighi doing the same thing when he launched the new line of M1-powered MacBooks last November, which quickly became a meme. However, the picture for WWDC 2021 may be another hint at what’s to come: the individual is wearing glasses, and app icons can be seen in the lenses.
Yeah, as you can see in the animation that plays when you load up the WWDC 2021 site, these are just reflections of apps in the macOS Dock (helpfully snipped into a GIF by leaker Ishan Agarwal in a tweet).
It may simply be Apple flair highlighting the apps within: the Calendar app, which displays the WWDC date (July 7), the Xcode app icon next to it, and so on.
It may also be a sign that Apple Glasses, the long-awaited AR/VR eyewear, will be unveiled at WWDC 2021.
To promote WWDC 2021, Apple released several Memoji-staring-in-a-laptop images, all of which have glasses with app icons in them – note the one below for the new Swift Student Challenge, which has a Swift (the iOS app coding language) logo instead of the Calendar app icon reflected in its lenses, as well as the image on the Apple Developer web site’s link to WWDC 2021.
And some higher-ups have expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation. Apple executives, such as SVP Greg Joswiak, received their own announcement Memojis. All glasses, all applications in glasses – this may be a subtle sign that tech-enhanced eyewear is on the way. The show’s slogan, ‘Glow and Behold,’ seems to be about vision.
Why would WWDC 2021 be a good time to unveil the Apple Glasses, particularly because Apple rarely launches new products at WWDC?
It all comes down to the code
Actually, the World-Wide Developer’s Conference caters mainly to programmers. Usually, the media just reports the keynote speech, which includes Tim Cook and other executives announcing a few high-level new features arriving in later this year’s updates, such as iOS 15 and watchOS 8, and avoids the days of developer and back-end presentations.
If Apple has some consumer-facing product updates, they are usually made sometime before WWDC (as was the case with the iPhone SE 2020 release last April) or in the normal September/October window alongside the year’s flagship iPhones.
However, if, as reports say, an Apple Glasses model will be released as early as 2022, WWDC 2021 will be the ideal time to announce them. Apple would probably have first-party applications for the smart glasses, but the company would almost certainly allow developers to create their own third-party software for the gadgets as well. However, given the form factor, Apple is likely to want to give developers some time to get used to the new device – and to get test units out for early software builds.
It’s likely that, as with the first Apple Watch in 2014, Apple will keep its Glasses close to its chest and actually show the product to customers rather than previewing it at WWDC to pique developer interest. However, it’s possible that the latest form factor will be so difficult that Apple will need to enlist the help of its developer group early and won’t be concerned about leaking information to the press. Perhaps Apple doesn’t mind creating a buzz.
Since, though we don’t know whether an AR or VR headset version of Apple Glass will be released first, possibly in 2022, the following year may be the ideal time to release an augmented reality system as the world begins to open up following the Covid-19 vaccine and people begin to engage with public life again.