For those not familiar with the term, WWDC is essentially Apple’s Expo for launching new products and ideas.
WWDC17 just wrapped up, with presentations by Apple executives Craig Federighi, Phil Schiller and, inevitably, Tim Cook, all there to discuss their latest and greatest developments in Apple technology.
As with any WWDC, the build up to the event was riddled with rumours. Hints of new software and hardware popping up everywhere and, perhaps unsurprisingly, many of them proved to be correct. So what did actually get released at the expo?
Apple Homepod – the next new smart home device?
We’ve predicted Apple would create a competitor for Amazon Echo and Google Home for some time now, but it turns out Apple went a step further than that! Meet Apple Homepod – the direct competitor to Sonos home entertainment speakers and the Amazon Echo.
Not only built with new ‘smart home’ technology, the HomePod uses it’s ‘special awareness’ features to tune its sound and fill rooms with quality audio based on the room it is in. Additionally, it features a ‘musicologist’ feature that utilises Apple Music to play the music you request using the in-built Siri function to play. Of course, being Siri, you can also ask more complex questions such as ‘who is the lead singer of this band?’ or ‘when was this song released?’ – an added little bonus to an already clever system! As Siri is designed to integrate with your home and lifestyle it can also control other smart devices and keep up to date with current events, all whilst being hands-free in your own home.
The HomePod is available in two colours; black or white. Apple have kickstarted the product at £270.23 ($349) which – depending on how well it proves itself – may be the first reasonable launch price from Apple in some time. Apple plan to start shipping in December, starting with the US, UK and Australia, and then entering more international markets in the following years.
The Dark Side of Apple – Imac Pro Introduced
Apple’s iMacs also got a hardware update this year. Featuring improved Retina displays, graphics boosts, Karby Lake processors, and USB-C, they are quite well equipped. They will also support graphics power for VR creation, demonstrated during the keynote by showing off a VR game featuring the Star Wars baddie Darth Vader, a lightsaber and a TIE fighter.
The 4k introductory models are also lower in price this year coming in at £1006.05 ($1299), again coming much closer to being a reasonable price and making 4k accessible. Have Apple gone soft?
In fact the most evil thing in this segment is not the lazer toting Sith lord… it’s “Darth” iMac (pro).
Likely intended as the daddy of all Apple machines, the new Apple IMAC Pro comes in at a staggering £3,871.58 ($4999)! It’s an incredibly sleek looking machine, encased in dark steel grey and boasting of a 5k display with improved cooling, an 8-core Xeon processor (upgradable to 18 cores!… crazy), up to 4tb of SSD (nuts!), up to 128 GB of ECC memory (insane!) four Thunderbolt 3 ports (meh!) and built in 10GB ethernet. Again this behemoth machine will start shipping in December.
In all honestly it will be interesting to see how these new advancements affect Apple’s market share. It’s no secret that Apple is widely disregarded by the gaming community, and for that amount of money, techies can create similar or more powerful machines with ease and with no connection to Apple’s typically restrictive software. The question we’re asking is – who’s in market for such an expensive and powerful machine? Knowing Apple’s affection for creativity, the target audience are likely 3D modellers, video creators (although you don’t need THAT much power) and the like. If so, I’m sure they will be very happy with this PC.
The Apple MacBook has also been treated to pretty much the same power boost and upgraded CPU, with the 4k model dropping in price as well.
Rise of The Robots – iOS 11 Is Introduced
Perhaps a sinister title – but the line really does ring true with the foreshadowed rollout of the formidable iOS 11.
Apple are billing the main features as further Siri improvements, an automatic ‘do not disturb’ driving mode and enhanced iMessage features. There is much more to it than that though.
This update really goes to show Apple’s progression with AI – and their focus on catching up with Google. Siri will now have the ability to translate 5 languages upon request; for example, the spoken English, ‘Siri, how do you say “bread” in French?’ will (hopefully) return the answer “pain” as the answer. Whether this will be pronounced in the correct accent is another question entirely….
This is an exciting and useful addition, but still not as fleshed out and useful as Google Translate, which can serve up to 100 languages and do it by webpage. Nonetheless, a useful addition and a step in the right direction.
The new iOS also features basic suggested actions based on your previous actions. Standard machine learning at the moment, but very handy and of course will be in line for updates once the update is rolled out.
As part of iOS 11, new features and changes are being made to iMessage. Messages now live in the cloud, meaning that you can delete messages across account any device on that account. You can now also send money across texts, which may be Apple’s way to compete with PayPal for Facebook sales – for users, this will be handy as an easy way to pay friends and family on the go. It will be interesting to see how this pans out; likely there will be a payment limit of £30 and as of yet we don’t know the specifics on their payment protection setup. iPhones/iPads are desirable devices and as such we’d like to know more on the protocols in place should one be stolen.
Do Not Disturb Driving Mode
Your phone can now identify when you are driving and turn on “do not disturb” to prevent notifications and distractions whilst you’re at the wheel. It’s definitely a good idea. In our opinion, there should also be a feature where it can’t be disabled during driving for safety purposes, although this would annoy your passengers if their iPhones can’t differentiate between who is the driver and who isn’t. Maybe a little more work needed on that one!
Siri has a New Voice!
Yes you heard it, Siri can now say words in a few different ways! This is aimed at making the narrative sound much more human (but still has a little way to go). It’s a cool addition but honestly a novelty with no real bearing on the productivity or use of the Siri system.
Keep Up With Your Friends
We all know that Apple music is a direct competitor for Spotify, which should make it no surprise that they have added the ability to see what your friends are listening to and check out shared playlists. Thank goodness for that handy feature…
App Store Updates
The App Store has been given a complete overhaul and a whole new redesign is on the way to help users discover new apps easier. A ‘how to’ section has been added, which helps users understand popular apps better.
They have also brought back ‘App of the day’, presumably because they noticed people weren’t opening apps as much as before, and so helps them engage people in purchases.
A New Image
Photo capture has been worked on and now gives users more control over low light conditions and the ability to edit live images to change the fundamental settings or trim videos. The photo edits can be imported into third party software such as Photoshop, and the edits viewed as separate layers/actions.
There will also be a new re-imagined Control Center, with 3D touch and a ‘one page’ style layout. This condenses all the information you need onto the page without looking confusing or overcomplicated.
The All New iPad Running iOS 11
The iPad has been improved with features such as enhanced multitasking. This lets users drag and drop apps from the more expansive dock, and split the screen into appropriate sections. Drag and drop can also be used to transfer images, videos, links and more between apps. A smooth and fluid system, likely derivative of the MacOS’s functionality – but some may say it is quite similar to Android’s current Nougat system which has been utilising such technology for a while now. Has this been the update that has just brought the iPad in line with other market leading devices?
Saying that, they have also added the Mac folder system from ‘finder’ to the iPad. This is a tool that brings the iPad from tablet territory and closer into laptop territory, so only time will tell how users will take to this. This is likely a gradual change towards the iPad being a notebook/tablet crossover like the Windows Surface.
Apple Pencil Compatibility
Here’s one for the graphic artists out there! Apple have worked hard to improve the functionality of the Apple Pencil; already a suitable alternative to the traditional graphics tablet, Apple have refreshed the latency on the Pencil to 20ms and doubled the refresh rate up to 120Hz. This will result in a much more realistic and controlled drawing system!
As the Pencil now also has quick one touch access to your notes and Apple’s “deep learning” technology, this will mean improvements to using the Notes function too, as presumably this will be an experience of AI machine learning that will understand your writing habits and can interpret your scribbles.
Immersion In Apps With ARKit
Who doesn’t love future tech? Apple are introducing a new developer technology called ARKit, which allows for Augmented Reality (AR) apps being created for the iPhone. The developer tool can find physical planes, track motion and estimate scale and ambient lighting. It will be interesting to see what sort of gamification and marketing could be created with AR for Apple devices moving forward!
10.5” iPad Pro Released
It seems Apple are still on board with their “bigger is better” thinking. The iPad Pro is now available in 3 different sizes and features similar technology to the iPhone 7. It also supports USB 3.0 and has 10 hours of battery life from 100%! Very nice additions to the range!
The 10.5” version is the first ‘full sized’ iPad in relativity to Laptops. It can fit a full-sized keyboard onscreen and also has a full sized smart keyboard. Yet another nod at the Windows Surface it seems.
It will be available with a base model of 64gb for £503.33 ($649). It is available to order RIGHT NOW and will ship soon!
MacOS High Sierra
An incredibly original attempt at a name for their new Mac OS, this comes with updates to Safari, built around the premise of making web streaming less irritating. These updates block auto play adverts and site trackers.
It will be interesting to see how this affects online marketing, as a lack of tracking means presumably a lack of information on Mac users. However, it is likely you will still be tracked, they just won’t display tracked ads.
As for auto play? THANK YOU APPLE! Auto play truly is one of the worst and most annoying features of online ads, especially when you have a lot of tabs open and can’t trace the source quickly. This will likely be a very well received update!
High Sierra is also bringing new developer tools and support for VR – this got a lot of cheer at the expo. It’s probably clear that people are fully enthused by VR technology and it is here to stay – it’s not just a gimmick anymore!
watchOS 4 Brings New Features
Yes, even the iWatch gets an update. It seems that Apple realised that their watch is essentially just another phone on your wrist, and needed another USP to keep people buying. Their latest addition to the wearable platform is mostly fitness based, and introduces a new fitness coaching tool to encourage users to set their own challenges to push themselves harder! This sounds like a really good idea, especially as the watch can now sync with most new NFC enabled gym equipment, allowing for the most accurate calorie and activity information. Again really handy and impressive, so kudos to you Apple!
Got any more WWDC news to share, or simply want to make a comment? Post below, we’d love to hear from you!
All images credit to Apple