WWDC 2017 – What you need to know

It’s that time of year again! As roughly predicted by this site in January Apple have kicked off this year’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) with one of their signature keynote presentations.

Before we get in to the content, here’s the ‘too long, didn’t read’ version:

  • All operating systems updated, MacOS to be just a refined version (think snow leopard or mountain lion)
  • iOS11 will make the iPad more like a ‘computer’ than ever before
  • Speaking of the iPad, New iPad Pros. One new larger screen size and more powerful than ever
  • On power, new more powerful iMacs, MacBook Pros and we saw a sneak peak of the iMac Pro
  • Apple’s entry in to the smart speaker space is called HomePod and it’s a Siri enabled, Apple Music playing super speaker

Now for the longer version:

As was expected, Apple announced their newest operating systems, iOS 11, WatchOS 4, TVOS 4 and MacOS High Sierra.

After the weirdest into to a WWDC for a while Tim Cook said that Apple had a lot to cover so they skipped the company info and jumped straight to the software. Firstly, announcing that Amazon Prime Video is coming to TVoS and there’s more TVoS news later in the year (read: TV content deals to be announced in September / October).

Next up was WatchOS 4. Firstly was a collection of clever new watch faces, smartest of all is a Siri face that auto suggests content and information you may need through the day.

Then it was the time for MacOS and it’s new version High Sierra. In the Apple tradition of iterative improvement, this is version has a deeper integration of Apple’s metal graphics engine and bringing Apple’s newer file system to allow for faster machines. Oh and Valve are also bringing Steam VR and Unity and Unreal Engine to MacOS for VR support! Yeah, VR is coming to the Mac.

Speaking of the Mac, next up was the introduction of a hardware spec jump for all iMacs from the base level 21 inch to the 27 inch 5k ones. How best to show this? Well, bring out friends from Industrial Light and Magic with a freaking Star Wars demo.

The new, faster, cheaper iMacs, MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs are available right now! (Just 7 months after I bought mine)

In a sneak peak, Apple showed the iMac Pro. In space grey metal, and with a new keyboard Apple made their most powerful Mac ever. The iMac Pro ships with 8, 10 and up to 18 core Intel Xeon processors and the brand new Radeon Vega graphics cards. With up to 128GB RAM and 4TB of SSD storage. This thing will be a beast and it ships in December, starting from $4999.

Next up is Apple’s largest operating system, iOS.

Firstly, iMessage is being moved the the cloud, syncing between all your devices and staying encrypted from end to end. But the biggest deal to iMessage comes from Apple Pay, where you can now send and receive money from person to person. That money ‘stays’ on your device on an Apple Card, which you can then send on or send to your bank.

Siri gets new voices and a new interface. As well as that, Siri has a built in translator! But the thing that really blew us all away and is the most important thing from iOS 11 is ARKit Augmented Reality system. Now Apple have unleashed the power of their devices with OS level AR support. Want to know why that’s important? Because with one software update, Apple will create 100s of millions of AR capable devices with access to the worlds best known and arguably best stocked App Store.

The tech demos for ARKit were very impressive, running on console quality games engines means that if Apple do decide to unleash their AR Glasses, they will be very impressive.

Next up was an update to the iPad line with a brand new iPad Pro. The new iPad Pro has a slimmed down design and an increased screen size. Those screens by the way, are some of the most advanced ever made, let alone to a tablet device. It’s new A10X processor has 6 cores and there’s a 12 Core graphics chip. The new iPad Pros ship with a base 64GB of storage all the way up to 512GB and are available to order today.

With the iPads, there’s more updates to iOS11. The iPad specific updates to iOS include drag and drop, a new ever present dock and a ‘split view’ which is effectively having a windowed environment on the iPad. On top of all this is a new app called Files. This app links all of your cloud storage in to one place that you can manage from your iPad. Given how it had always been claimed that the iPad would be the computer replacement, iOS seems to be delivering on that.

After all of this, Tim Cook said that Apple had ‘one last thing’. This last thing was to reinvent music in the home. A smart speaker mixed with a wireless music system and they call it the HomePod. Apple put an A8 processor in this speaker to do some very, very clever things with bouncing and understanding it’s environment.

With built in Siri and Apple Music, the HomePod can be talked to from the other side of the room, which is very smart. So think Amazon Alexa mixed with a top of the range Sonos speaker. The HomePod lands in December for $349.

And that was that for the 2017 WWDC. Some new hardware that was expected and a sneak peak at what will be come a great USP for Apple’s products, that Augmented Reality is being built in at operating system level. That last point is going to be massively important going forwards and with the new iPhone launch now but three months away, we don’t have long to wait to see the fruits of Apple’s work.




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