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Apple's WWDC 2021: The top 3 announcements business users want to hear

A tech expert shares his Apple WWDC 2021 predictions and wish list items, which includes iOS 15 and one potential surprise.

Apple WWDC Promo

Apple's WWDC 2021 virtual event will be held June 7-11.

Image: Apple, Inc.

Business users have robust expectations about Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which routinely features important new software and hardware innovations. WWDC 2021 will be held June 7-11 as an online event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. WWDC21 is free to watch and will start with a keynote address at 10 a.m. PT on June 7. To watch, visit Apple's site to stream the sessions throughout the week or watch via the Apple Developer app, the Apple TV app or YouTube. 

I don't think dramatic announcements are at the top of professionals' WWDC21 wish lists; instead, some reliable and even predictable upgrades would help businesses in the U.S. as they begin returning to normal operations. Here are biggest announcements I think business users hope to hear during WWDC21.

SEE: How to migrate to a new iPad, iPhone, or Mac (TechRepublic Premium)

MacOS 12 and more new OS versions

New editions of virtually every Apple OS are expected at WWDC21: leading the list is macOS 12, Big Sur's replacement, along with the "15" versions of iOS, iPadOS and tvOS.

Business users will focus on what these operating systems offer in terms of new features, capabilities, performance, efficiencies, battery life and more. While no one expects a new standalone translation app or digital assistant, refinements to existing technologies--such as translation capabilities and Siri--are important. The same is true for Maps, Notifications, iCloud integration and the iWork productivity suite.

SEE: iOS 15: The top 3 features Apple should include (TechRepublic)

Security improvements, including encryption capabilities and protection from malicious attacks, are also expected by business professionals. As ransomware attacks become more public and more widespread, the need for the OS to better protect its activities, applications and data from infection is increasingly important. 

New and/or improved pro-level Macs

The existing Mac Pro, which starts at $5,999, is a beast. The iMac Pro, a more affordable if still expensive but capable desktop with integrated display, was discontinued in March 2021. Even though Apple just introduced new hardware at its recent Spring Loaded event, there is a chance that during its June developers event Apple might reveal replacements for its high-end professional desktops. 

Power users (e.g., those who produce audio and video productions) will be listening for new pro platforms that boast multiple processors and numerous cores, robust graphics cards, efficient temperature control and a host of ports. As Apple's laptops and desktops have become much stingier lacking many expansion ports, the pro versions provide more flexibility, which is a necessity for such users.

SEE: Apple Silicon M1 Mac buying guide: 2021 iMac vs. 2020 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac mini (TechRepublic)

Possible among any hardware updates is a new Mac or iMac Pro with potentially new chassis designs. But even subtle hardware upgrades to the existing Mac Pro model would be welcome to business professionals awaiting the next generation of pro machines. And who knows, Apple may even take a crack at leveraging its own Silicon chips in new pro platforms--a development that could set new performance benchmarks.

An M2 chipset

Apple announced in November 2020 new Silicon chipsets of its own. The innovation marked the end of an important Intel collaboration that helped fuel more than a decade of impressive new systems.

The M1 first-generation chips integrate the CPU processor, I/O functions, security controls and Thunderbolt operation onto a single, fast-performing and power-conserving chip. Reviews repeatedly confirm the new Apple Silicon is a significant upgrade.

SEE: 4 reasons Apple's new M1-powered iPad Pro is a desktop and laptop replacement (TechRepublic)

In a world where "what have you done for me lately" continues arresting attention and confirming value, though, the question becomes: When will Apple reveal its second-generation of chips? While less than a year after launch may be too soon to expect an M2 chip, such a surprise would likely give many businesses confidence that the new Apple chips are mature, proven and ready for work.

That said, with positive reviews and benchmark tests so widespread, I have no reservations recommending businesses purchase new Mac laptops or iMac desktops with the first-generation M1 chip. Regardless, I've heard many users claim they are awaiting second-generation chips before committing to systems using Apple's own Silicon due to potential performance, reliability and compatibility fears. Although I believe those fears are unfounded, I think an M2 announcement at WWDC would be well received by business professionals and encourage sales and adoption.

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