Updated 4/03/20: Updated with the latest news and predictions about Apple events this year.
Apple doesn’t often participate in big industry-wide events like CES or E3. The most valuable company in the world holds its own events, thank you very much. Several times a year, Apple invites the press and industry professionals out to a theater to hear all about its latest products and services. Apple calls these “Special Events,” and streams them online to its millions of fans.
There’s also WWDC, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, a multi-day event in the middle of the year focused on sessions for developers, helping them make the most out of the latest Apple tools and products. It kicks off with a big keynote that serves to announce new products (typically the latest versions of iOS and macOS, as well as a few hardware products).
Apple usually announces the exact dates of its special events only a couple weeks in advance, but it tends to hold events at similar times from one year to the next. Here’s a list of the events we expect Apple to hold in 2020, and what we expect it to announce there. We’ll update this list throughout the year as we get a clearer picture of when Apple will take the stage and what it will announce.
Online launches until WWDC?
Apple often holds an event in March to highlight its latest products, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that this year. Conditions are definitely not going to be better through April, we can expect there to be no major events from Apple until the new “entirely online format” WWDC in June.
Apple already released a new iPad Pro with LIDAR camera and a new Magic Keyboard case, as well as an updated MacBook Air with Magic Keyboard. We suspect Apple has a few more products it had planned to announce in March, though.
Apple may just announce these products this spring as it did the iPad Pro and MacBook Air, with some slick web pages and marketing videos instead of an on-stage presentation.
WWDC: June 2020
On March 13, Apple released a statement announcing that it would not be cancelling this year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in light of concerns about the novel coronavirus pandemic. The format will change, though: Instead of hosting a live, crowded event in San Jose, Apple will employ an “entirely new online format.” Details are currently scant.
Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller did not announce dates for WWDC 2020 in the statement, but he confirmed the event would be held in June as usual. As Apple usually hosts the conference in the first or second full week of June, that means that this year it will likely fall on either June 1-5 or 8-12. Many other major industry events have been cancelled, and it was widely suspected that Apple would cancel WWDC as well.
Apple typically uses WWDC to announce the new macOS, tvOS, iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS upgrades for the fall. For this year’s WWDC, we expect to hear about iOS and iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, watchOS 7, and macOS 10.16.
WWDC events often (but not always) introduce new hardware, too. We first heard about the new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR at WWDC in 2019, and the HomePod and iMac Pro were introduced at WWDC in 2017, for example.
iPhone event: September 8 or 9
For the last eight years, Apple has unveiled the new iPhones during an event held around the second week of September (typically on a Tuesday or Wednesday). The most likely date for the 2020 iPhone event is on September 8 or 9.
There are currently lots of rumors swirling around about the 2020 iPhones, some of them contradictory. It’s expected that at least some of the models will feature 5G connectivity, upgraded cameras with “time of flight” sensors, and that once again the high-end models will have OLED displays while the less expensive model has an LCD. We can certainly expect the new iPhones to have a new A14 processor.
Apple also announced the new Apple Watch at each September event, and we have no reason to believe there won’t be an Apple Watch Series 6 this year.
An October event?
Apple sometimes holds an event in October, and sometimes does not. These events showcase all sorts of products—some years it’s a new MacBook, some years it’s a new iPad.
There was no October event in 2019—instead, Apple released products like the AirPods Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro directly online with no public event. We may have a better idea of whether Apple will hold an October event or not as the year progresses.
Awards and honors
Apple has given out app awards for years, but 2019 was the first time there was an actual ceremony for such. The Best of 2019 app awards were held at small event in New York, with mostly the nominated developers and some press in attendance. It was not streamed online.
Also for the first time in 2019, Apple held an awards ceremony for Apple Music. There was a live-streamed performance by Artist of the Year Billie Elish as part of it, the event as a whole was kept mostly to the music industry.
At WWDC, Apple presents its Apple Design Awards. Awards are presented to developers for outstanding artistry, technical achievement, user interface and application design.
Now that Apple has set a precedent with such events, it seems likely to continue in 2020. The only question is whether they will continue to be mostly subdued, industry-specific events or whether it will seek a larger audience.