iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 could have features cut thanks to xrOS – but macOS 14 could thrive

M1 iMac with photo of Mammoth Lakes in California
(Image credit: Shutterstock - Patricia Elaine Thomas)

If you're hoping to see some big changes to macOS 14, iOS 17, and iPadOS 17 this year, you might be out of luck.

According to Mark Gurman's 'Power On' newsletter, teams across Apple have been pulled to make sure that its headset and software, allegedly called Reality Pro and xrOS, is announced by May and released by the end of the year.

This in turn has meant that features meant for the next major software updates to iPhone and iPad lines could be more subdued, focusing on bug fixes and improvements, similar to iOS 12 in 2017, while upcoming Macs could also see some quieter updates across the year.

This could be welcome news for some, but we're at a point where improvements to Stage Manager in iPadOS and new features in macOS 14 would be great to see. Waiting another year for major features as opposed to simple bug fixes is potentially an issue. 

There's more low-hanging fruit for macOS than iOS

iOS 17 in front of an iPhone 14 Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

You could argue that in the 15 years since iOS debuted with the original iPhone, there's been less of a demand for new features and a greater need for improvements on existing ones – but with macOS it's the opposite.

Apparently codenamed 'Dawn', iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 could be released later this year with fewer bugs, a smoother operation, and also support for the upcoming headset and xrOS, the software for that headset. However, 'Sunburst', the codename for macOS 14, could still present an opportunity for Apple to introduce new features that users, myself included, have been asking for.

Widgets, for example, have been a great success on iPhone and iPad, thanks to the design and the small bites of information you can get on the lock screen and home screens without going into the apps. However, none of this can currently be found in macOS Ventura.

The Mac lock screen has barely changed since the debut of Mac OS X in 2001, and macOS 14 could be the release to update it to feature useful widgets. Some forget that widgets originally featured on the Mac, with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger in 2004, within an app called 'Dashboard'.

It would be great to see the return of this too once you get past the lock screen, instead of these widgets being restricted to a sidebar that also houses your notifications.

To state the obvious, Apple is a huge company, and while it's understandable that some teams are helping to make sure the headset is ready for launch this year, it doesn't mean we're going to see no new features from its other products.

iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 can have their 'refinement' moment this year, similar to iOS 12, but with macOS 14, there's a great opportunity to let it have its moment in terms of new features, alongside the upcoming Mac Pro and M2 Pro Macs.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.