Apple WWDC’s giveaways are the lifeblood of its money-making engine

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Just look at what we got in the last batch of OS updates, or in point updates in the following months, without being asked to pay for the privilege. Thanks to iOS 15, iPhone handsets going all the way back to the 6s were able to get SharePlay, Focus, text search, and Live Text in images, and major revamps of Maps, Weather, Wallet, and FaceTime. macOS Monterey, available on even some 2013 Macs, also brought SharePlay and Focus, plus Quick Note, Universal Control (eventually), and a plethora of other handy tweaks. And even the elderly Apple Watch Series 3 made it onto the list for watchOS 8 and its new faces and health features, redesigned apps, and (limited) on-device Siri commands.

Welcome to our weekly summary of all the Apple news you may have missed this week, condensed into bite-sized chunks. We named it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes well with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, but it’s also OK if you read it around lunch or dinner. We’re excited to hear what Apple has in store for our iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Macs with WWDC only days away—the keynote presentation starts on Monday at 10 a.m. PT. For the first time in a long time, our wallets are unaffected. Apple is sometimes chastised for overpricing its goods, but the yearly operating system updates are wonderful freebies that offer a slew of new capabilities to current items without breaking the bank.

Highlights

  • Sometimes it feels like Apple has a tendency to add new features just for the sake of it. And it’s worth noting at this point that by no means all of the new features will be as welcoming to older hardware as I’ve suggested above. iOS 16’s always-on screen, for example, is expected to be available on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max only. Acting as both carrot and stick for the hardware upgrade cycle, Apple’s free OS updates are a crucial part of the company’s money-making machine.

  • Apple, of course, is not a charity, and doesn’t give away these free upgrades out of the goodness of Craig Federighi’s heart. One way of looking at it is that a constantly evolving and improving user experience means happy users who are likely to stick with the platform for the next generation of premium hardware. Another is that increasingly complex and demanding software means you need to buy new hardware in order to keep it running smoothly.

WWDC and the Mac go together like caviar and micro horseradish. From transitions and towers to chips and changes, we’ve rounded up the 10 top Mac moments in WWDC history.

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