For techies (and their mums) out there, the month of June means only one thing:
Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference – WWDC17
WWDC17 is the iPhone maker’s annual conference for developers, where apps and game makers from around the world attend sessions and exchange notes with over 1,000 Apple engineers. Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off this year’s event, which was held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. Previous WWDC’s were conducted at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco.
Apple announced several product upgrades and new products during the three-hour keynote. Most notable is a Siri-powered speaker. Aptly called HomePod, the device essentially Apple’s answer Echo, Amazon’s Alexa-powered speaker. Unlike Echo, however, HomePod is music-focused, with seven beam-forming tweeters and an upward-facing four-inch woofer built-in. Because it has Siri baked in, Apple’s smart speaker can do common tasks like set alarms, do conversions, and search the web. It can also respond to voice commands like play a song from a specific playlist or genre as well as answer complex questions like “Hey Siri, who’s the lead guitarist in this?” The $349 Apple speaker will be available in white and space grey starting December in the US, the UK, and Australia.
As expected, the Cupertino-based tech giant refreshed its iPad offerings this year, unveiling a 10.5 inch iPad Pro. Apple says the new iPad Pro’s 10.5-inch screen enables them to add a full-sized software keyboard as well as a full-sized physical smart keyboard. In addition to the new screen size, the tablet also comes with a more powerful 64-bit A10X Fusion chip, a brighter and better display with double the refresh rate.
On the software side, iOS 11 on the iPad will feature a predictive app dock that doubles as a multitasking bar. It shows up on the bottom of the screen, but when you’re inside the app, you can summon the app dock simply by swiping up. From there, users can drag and drop apps to the side of the screen to run them side-by-side with the current app they are using. Drag and drop also works with content between apps. That means users can drag pictures from Safari to the Mail app. Other notable features announced at WWDC17 for iOS 11 include augmented reality (AR), a file manager, person-to-person payments using Apple Pay, and a more natural-sounding Siri.
Also getting a fresh coat of paint is the App Store, with this completely new look that was redesigned from the ground up. One noteworthy change is the Today tab, which features original stories, helpful tips, and collections of must-have apps and games. Apps and Games are now housed in separate tabs, too.
In terms of computer hardware, Apple fans have a lot to look forward to the company announcing massive spec bumps for its desktop and notebook offerings.
The iMac Pro, which Apple calls “the most powerful Mac ever,” is equipped with an Octacore Xeon processor, a 27-inch Retina 5K display, and an all-new AMD Radeon Vega GPU that can do 22 Teraflops of graphics computation. The $4,999 all-in-one desktop pro computer will be available at the end of the year.
The more affordable iMac line have been upgraded with Thunderbolt 3, faster Kaby-Lake CPUs, and up to three times more powerful graphics processors delivering smooth performance for gaming, 3D graphics, and video editing. Apple’s all-in-one desktop computers now come with 43 percent brighter displays at 500 units and support for 1 billion colours.
MacBook and MacBook Pro
In addition to updating the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines with faster processors, Apple also added faster SSD options to MacBook and introduced a new $1,299 (US) 13-inch MacBook Pro.
MacOS High Sierra
Apple watch owners have reasons to be excited as well as the tech giant announced several improvements for watchOS 4, the Operating System that powers Apple’s digital timepiece, at WWDC17. New features included a revamped workout app, smarter integrations with gym equipment for more accurate workout tracking, new watch face featuring Toy Story characters, a kaleidoscope and a Siri watch face that predictively surfaces relevant information like flight boarding passes, weather, and smart controls for your Internet-connected appliances. watchOS 4 will be available to all watch models as a free update this Spring.