Apple WWDC 2017: New iPad Pro, iOS 11 & New iMac Pro Announced
All the updates and announcements from this years’ WWDC 2017. New iPad and iOS 11 showcased.
Last night, Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage to kick-off the company’s annual World Wide Developers Conference 2017 at the San Jose Convention Centre.
However its wasn't the event’s only jam packed address. Apple’s executives had a packed couple of hours, full of announcements across their entire software lineup, and there was a surprising amount of hardware on show as well!
Here are our key takeaways from the biggest announcements from the event.
Updated Macs and macOS High Sierra
Apple’s gone ahead and announced a slew of updates to the Mac lineup. All of its new laptops and desktops now feature Intel’s latest generation of Kaby Lake processors. The desktops will now have an option of picking higher memory capacity and stronger graphics performance.
On the software front, Apple’s made some performance upgrades to macOS 10.13 High Sierra, including some speed boosts to Safari and some much-needed features like auto-play video blocking and reduced web-behavior tracking.
Apple’s also placed a lot of emphasis on virtual reality – something they haven’t spoken that much about before – and announced it’s working with Steam, Unity, and Unreal to bring their VR engines to the Mac.
The HTC Vive Star Wars demo in particular really showed off the big leaps Apple and its partners Industrial Light and Magic have made on the VR front on the Mac.
The New iMac Pro
Apple’s been lately criticised for having abandoned creative professionals, and the company responded by announcing a powerful beast in a familiar avatar.
The new $5000 iMac Pro is packed with enough hardware to make it the most powerful Mac to date.
Consider this – the base variant ships with a 8-core Xeon processor, which can be bumped up to a 10, or even 18-core, Xeon processor. Graphics duties, moreover, are handled by a Radeon Vega chip with up to 16GB of VRAM.
This thing can handle multiple 4K displays at one go over its four Thunderbolt 3 ports!
Plus there’s up to 128GB of memory and 4TB SSD storage – holy overkill, Batman!
And now, the entire shell comes in space grey, with keyboard and trackpad to match – whether you need it or not, whether you can afford it or not, you know you’ll want this.
To no one’s surprise, Apple showed off the next version of their mobile platform, iOS 11, with big improvements in several departments.
A redesigned Control Centre will allow quick access for brightness and volume controls, and the new Notifications Centre is streamlined seamlessly with the lock screen.
Siri sees some refinement, including what Apple calls “Siri Intelligence” that includes translations, proactive alerts, etc.
Messages will now be synched to the cloud, saving you storage on the device, and in countries where available, messages will allow iOS users to easily transfer money to each other.
Live Photos also got a big boost with the ability to select the key photo you want to retain from the Live Photo (after the fact), and the ability to make loops of your live photos (hello, Boomerang?).
The most interesting bits are the new ‘do not disturb’ mode for car usage, and the new augmented reality (AR) focused ARKit for iOS devices.
The latter uses computer vision to detect planes and surfaces and in the demos Apple showed, you could add a AR coffee cup or a vase on top of a real-life table and interact with the...
iPad Pros with iOS 11
Despite consecutive quarters of a downward decline in shipments, Apple made the one of the strongest overtures to its tablets at WWDC.
It launched a new $649 10.5-inch model with a 12MP camera and 64GB of base storage. It also bumped its Pro range up with refresh rates up to 120Hz, making a discernible difference to page scrolling and maps navigation.
The love continued with iOS 11 showing off a bevy of multitasking features meant specifically for the iPad – a new dock for your frequently used applications; new drag and drop features to move images; text and links between two apps; and a new Files app that sharpens the iPad’s productivity chops.
With iOS 11, Apple seems finally to be delivering on the iPad Pro’s “computer-like productivity” promise!
HomePod: Apple Very Own Wireless Speaker
The war for the living room is well and truly on, with Apple’s HomePod smart speaker being announced at WWDC. Much like speakers from Amazon and Google, owners can control the HomePod with their voice.
Ask Siri to play songs from your Apple Music library, check traffic and calendar updates, tell you about the weather, and control smart home devices, should you have any HomeKit controlled appliances.
Apple claims HomePod is strong on privacy protection, claiming that data only goes to Apple when you invoke the HomePod with a “Hey Siri” command.
In person, this cute but diminutive 7-inch speaker is packed with seven tweeters and uses all the smarts from its Apple A8 chip to customise the audio output based on the size of room it’s in.
Amazon Echo, Google Home and Sonos – watch out for HomePod, especially if it turns out decent sound as some have claimed. HomePod launches in December in select markets for $349 – India’s got to wait till 2018 for this baby.
(Tushar Kanwar is a technology columnist and commentator with 15 years of experience. He has written for India’s leading newspapers and magazines. He can be reached on Twitter at @2shar.)
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