Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference WWDC is officially in full swing. This year, it takes place at the San Jose Convention Center and we were there on the ground as Tim Cook and team made all their announcements.
This year’s event is once again being held in San Jose in anticipation of the opening of Apple Park, Apple’s new campus in nearby Cupertino.
We were first treated with a “what if” situation where in the future, we would suddenly be ‘unplugged’ from all our apps.
And with the tradition of all things new, Apple also had many things to share with the thousands in attendance at WWDC, as well as those tuning in live from around the world.
1. All Of Apple’s OSes Will Get Updates
At the heart of Apple’s devices are their deep integration with the OSes designed for each platform.
For each of them, Apple have made major updates that will be coming this fall as a public update that will benefit both consumers and developers.
After all, we’re at WWDC.
Fitness was the main highlight of the new watchOS 4.
Users can literally use their Apple Watch as a personal fitness coach after the update, especially with the addition of a high intensity interval training (HIIT) on the Workout app and GymKit.
With GymKit, Apple has partnered with well-known manufacturers of gym equipment to enable fitness tracking from an external machine.
All you need to do to retrieve your data is simply bring your Apple Watch near a designated contact point on the machine.
On the Mac side of things, the next iteration of the macOS after Sierra is well, High Sierra.
We kid you not.
With High Sierra, Apple is first rebuilding the file system to make it even easier for you to manage and find your files. High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and Metal 2 will also be a part of the update, and Mac apps Photos, Safari and Mail will also see improvements.
Lastly, updates to iOS is perhaps targeted more for the iPad. iOS 11 will give the iPad powerful multitasking features to take advantage of the larger screen.
You will also get the new Files app to enable you to navigate through all your files and directories on your iPad easily.
Augmented Reality (AR) was also given the spotlight with iOS 11 and it’s clear that Apple sees the future moving in this direction (they even have demonstrations on and off stage).
The most exciting feature though is an update to Apple Pay that will enable peer-to-peer payments through the Messages app.
So the next time someone owes you money, repayment is just a text away.
2. There’s A New iPad (Pro)
Since the new iOS 11 is full of features that are iPad focused, it’s no surprise that Apple today announces the arrival of a new iPad Pro.
But first, say goodbye to the 9.7 inch iPad Pro because it just grew up.
The 10.5 inch iPad Pro replaces it to give you more space to play with the Apple Pencil, and the updates in iOS 11 that will enable you to multitask in a split screen format.
This new iPad Pro features what is likely to be the most advanced display to have ever been put into a tablet, with a brighter, sharper screen running at an astonishing 120Hz refresh rate.
3. App Store Receives A Makeover
In what seemed like something’s that’s long overdue, the App Store will finally get a much needed user interface update. The updated look is to help anyone easily discover apps and games right from the moment they open the app.
The App Store will be full of original stories and editorial, and it would be updated daily in a new Today tab, as well as new Games and Apps tabs.
With 180 billion apps and over $70 billion paid out to developers, the App Store is an important cornerstone both for the company, as well as the legions of developers around the world working to develop apps daily.
So an update to the look and feel of the App Store is greatly welcomed, considering it reaches out to more than 500 million unique visitors every week.
4. All The Popular Macs Have Been Updated
Apple also announced some major updates to its entire line of personal computers.
The good old iMac has received the much needed boost that everyone has been pining for.
Now armed with Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processor, and a more powerful AMD Radeon Pro graphics card. The good news is that the 4K base iMac is now more affordable, starting at US$1,299.
Then there’s the iMac Pro, which is shaping up to become a content creator’s dream machine. This is Apple’s answer to professionals who have been demanding for a more robust and high-performing Mac that still retains what makes the iMac so popular.
In other Mac news, all the Macbook Pros have also received the much expected refresh to the all new Kaby Lake processor updates across the board as well.
Perhaps the biggest feature to have come out of the iMac and Macbook Pro is the official support of external graphics docks.
Apple even sells a developer kit that developers can use as a reference for not just hardware, but also software when creating content (especially in VR).
5. Apple Is Going After VR And AR
Perhaps the biggest shift in Apple’s focus would be that all these updates above is steering the company into embracing Augmented and Virtual Realities, two things which they encourage developers at WWDC to explore.
Using Metal 2 and Machine Learning as a base within macOS High Sierra and iOS 11, the devices which have been announced today are clearly geared towards the emerging field of AR and VR.
AR will be handled by iOS, and specifically the iPad (and likely the iPhone too). In the keynote, and the showroom floor afterwards, Apple extensively demoed how the iPad will be able to reimagine what’s around you.
From simply putting furniture and decorations around, to having a battlefield rage on right on your desk, to simply just improving the graphics of existing games like Pokemon GO, the combination of the A10x chip in the iPad and iOS 11 proves that it is up to task.
The beefy updates to the iMac and Macbook Pros too were not an accident.
That’s because, Apple is equipping their most powerful machines to handle the technically taxing nature of VR headsets, and trying it first-hand on both the iMac and Macbook Pro, it certainly is buttery smooth in the demos that I tried.
6. Targeting (Smart) Home Audio
Last but not least, the long rumoured Apple speaker is now a reality, and it is called the HomePod. This is Apple’s response to the competition of smart speakers out in the market today but with a marked difference – it actually sounds as good as it looks.
Stylish and great sound might sound like their other brand Beats, but what makes the HomePod truly belong to Apple is the integration of Siri, and along with HomeKit, is designed to be a truly wireless smart audio solution within a home.
A Feature-Packed WWDC 2017
This year’s WWDC is probably the most feature-packed one in recent years, thanks to all the hardware being introduced in what is traditionally a very software orientated event.
Well, better more than less, and boy did we get a truckload of goodies.
Since the iPad and Mac side of things have pretty much been settled, the later part of the year is when we will be expecting a new Apple Watch, and of course the latest iteration of the iPhone.