Let’s take a look back at Apple’s WWDC 2017 keynote last month, where key executives Craig Federighi, Phil Schiller, and, of course, Tim Cook, took the stage to announce upgrades to the brands products such as iPhones, MacBooks, Apple TV, and much more.
The rumours for this year’s WWDC came in the final hours leading up to the event, together with speculation of new hardware and, of course, program news for programmers to help prepare the launch of customer updates in the autumn. Prospectors were also expecting the company to eventually take Siri up against the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant on the hardware and smart home front and it seems like it came in the kind of the Apple HomePod.
Here are the highlights from last month’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote:
The HomePod Speaker
So let’s get the Siri speaker rumours out of the way, as it turns out, Apple was not quite aiming its smart speaker to go against only Amazon Echo and Google Home, but it is also going up against the Sonos home entertainment speakers. Called the HomePod, it utilises spatial awareness to alter the settings to tune and better fill the space with sound depending on the space it is in. In addition, it has a “Musicologist” feature which works with Apple Music to stream the songs you request the speaker’s built-in Siri to perform with. You can even ask more complicated, music-related questions such as “who is the drummer in this tune?” Or “what record came out on this day 20 years back?”.
The HomePod will be available in two colours, black and white, and will integrate Siri within an Amazon Echo / Google Home-like user case. You can ask it to control smart home devices and check the day’s weather and news briefings. Apple priced the HomePod under $500AUD, with plans to send it in December first to clients in the US, UK, and Australia. It will enter more global markets next year.
Spec upgrades and the IMac Pro
Apple’s introducing updated iMac desktops with enhanced Retina screens, graphics boosts, Kaby Lake chips, and USB-C. They will also support images for VR content production. The keynote speaker demonstrated this by displaying a VR game featuring Darth Vader, a lightsaber, and a TIE fighter.
There’s a new iMac Pro too, using a 5K screen with enhanced cooling capacity, and 8-core Xeon processor (upgradeable up to 18-core up to 4TB of SSD up to 128GB of ECC memory, four thunderbolt 3 interfaces, and built in 10GB Ethernet which will be perfect for things like web design, MacBooks would also get an upgrade with a new processor.
iOS 11 features
The new variant of iOS software has some social updates, like an upgrade to Siri which has improved speech, the ability to help translate sentences into various languages, and on-device predictions that indicate actions based on what you do on your own iPhone or iPad. iMessages now get backed to the iCloud, with synchronized conversations which you could delete from any device you have that are within the same account. You can also cover and receive payments from contacts via iMessage.
Photo capture will be improved, with better low-light functionality, and also the ability to edit live photos so you may alter the picture or trim the movie. There is a new control center also, which relies a good deal on 3D Touch and condenses most controllers on the lower half of the screen without appearing cluttered.
There’s also a new security feature that recognizes when a consumer is driving and automatically turns on Do Not Disturb to prevent distractions. When you are available to be social again, now you can visit Apple Music to find out what your friends are listening to and take a look at shared playlists.
Lastly, The App Store was redesigned for greater discovery and a How to section for advice about how best to utilise various popular apps. Apple’s also bringing back the “Program of the Day” segment to market users to the App Store more often, this is also great for the tech and digital design services who can benefit from new programs that make things like being able to build a website easier.
On the IPad, iOS 11 enhances multitasking which lets users pull up a program from the dock and drag it on the screen to divide the display. Comparable to what you can do on a MacBook, you can use the dash to drag and hold files, folders, or photos and drop them into another program like mail or iMessage. Handwritten text from an Apple Pencil are also searchable by the Notes app. Apple claims it uses “deep learning” to recognise penmanship.
Apple also spoke briefly about the documents app that leaked a couple of hours prior to when the business leaders kicked off the keynote, which is a cloud management system which you can use to sort files by date and size, similar to the way you’d go through your documents onto a desktop computer or laptop.
Build AR Programs
Apple introduced a new ARKit to let developers build augmented reality programs for the iPhone. The kit will help find airplanes, track movement, and gauge scale and ambient lighting. Popular programs like Pokémon GO will also utilize ARKit for enhanced real-time renders.
Rather than requiring external hardware such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, Apple appears to be gambling on ARKit to present impressive excellent imaging by the means of a device most people already possess.
The 10.5-inch iPad Pro
The iPad Pro will now be available in three different sizes, thanks to a new 10.5-inch version introduced now. There is a 12-megapixel camera, exactly like the iPhone 7, using a 7MP selfie camera, it supports USB 3.0 and contains 10 hours of battery life.
There’s a new feature named ProMotion which reduces the Apple Pencil’s latency to 20 milliseconds. It can automatically adjust the refresh rate based on what you are viewing (fast-moving video versus picture). ProMotion also doubles the refresh rate to up to 120Hz.
The new macOS High Sierra
The upcoming version of macOS is going to be known as High Sierra, and it includes upgrades to Safari that help block website trackers and auto playing videos. Apple’s also added new photo-editing programs like curves and it’s better filtering tools to form images by keywords or faces.
An updated file management system is going to be a component of the upgrade too, which speeds up directory communication with native encryption. On the graphics end, there is a second version of Metal, support for VR, and a Metal 2 developer kit which you can purchase with an AMD GPU to song programs for external graphics.
The WatchOS 4
An update for your Apple Watch is forthcoming which introduces new faces which display various kinds of information, such as Siri reminders or more visual ones which contain Toy Story characters. There is also a fitness-focused update, including monthly challenges to encourage the wearer to get more active and NFC-enabled data sharing in which the user can tap their Apple Watch on gym equipment to match the two, sharing the most accurate calorie burn and action details available.