WWDC 2017 Roundup: iOS 11, HomePod, 10.5-Inch iPad Pro, Refreshed Macs, Apple Files, and More

BY Evan Selleck

Published 5 Jun 2017

wwdc 2017 wallpaper

Today, Apple held its yearly keynote speech to start the Worldwide Developers Conference. And, sure enough, the company had a lot to go over.

This year’s keynote had a jam-packed schedule, with the company going over the latest iteration of iOS, macOS, and introducing new hardware like a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro and a smart speaker called the HomePod. They had so much to go through, in fact, that tvOS 11, while technically announced, was only on stage long enough to reveal that a new service would be available on it later this year, while any new features are being saved for a debut later this year.

So, now that the keynote has wrapped up and the dust has settled, it’s time to take a look back and round up everything that took the main stage (and didn’t). We’ll start from the beginning:

tvOS 11: Please welcome Amazon Prime Video!

The announcements for tvOS 11 were limited, to say the least, with Apple saying the company would unveil more later this year. However, they did manage to get the crowd cheering with the revelation that Amazon’s Prime Video service would finally be making its big debut on the Apple TV this year. This is probably one of the most oft-requested aspects for Apple TV up to this point, so it should be a welcomed addition when it arrives.

watchOS 4: Toy Story characters don’t have to work out

watchOS 4 will launch later this year, and when it does Apple Watch owners can expect to find a revitalized focus on the Activity feature and workouts, as well as new watch faces. Similar to how Siri shows relevant information on iOS, Siri face on watchOS 4 will show relevant reminders depending on your schedule and your location. The information being displayed on the screen will change and update itself everytime you lift your wrist to check your Apple Watch.

The Kaleidoscope watch face is simple in nature and shows very minimum information. Apple is also adding new Toy Story watch faces comprising of characters like Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Every time one brings up their Apple Watch, the Toy Story watch face will animate the character.

The Activity app is getting an update with watchOS 4 and will now show recommendations and suggestions depending on your workout history. The Workout app has also been enhanced and now lets one quickly start a workout tracking. Apple has also created a custom algorithm to track High Intensity Interval Tracking which is becoming more popular with time.

Users will now also be told how many exact minutes they need to walk to reach their goal for the day. Additionally, they will also be receiving monthly challenges designed specifically for them based on theri exercising habits.

With watchOS 4, Apple is also enabling two-way data sync that will allow the Apple Watch to communicate with various gym equipment and sync data with them. This will be done by pairing the Apple Watch with the equipment via NFC. Then, data recorded by Apple Watch will be synced to the treadmill or any other gym machine you are using and vice versa.

macOS High Sierra: Safari gets a boost, VR and AR get some love, Files get manageable, and Photos get new editing tools

macOS High Sierra

The first major improvements come to Safari, with benchmarks putting Safari “tops them all,” saying that the web browser is the world’s fastest on High Safari. It also includes Autoplay Blocking, which means that Safari will detect sites that shouldn’t be playing video and will stop them automatically. Users can play the videos manually if they choose to.

Safari also includes intelligent tracking prevention, meaning sites won’t track you from one site to another. It won’t block ads, but it will promote a user’s privacy.

Photos is getting a new persistent side bar, and a new view in chronological order, or by date, names, and more. People are synchronized automatically across devices as well. There are new editing tools in Photos, including Curves, to fine tune edges. Color in selective range. If you switch to another editing tool to make further edits, the changes will automatically sync to your Photos library.

Metal for VR is now supported in High Sierra as well. This is a VR-optimized pipeline that brings high performance to the user and developer. Valve is working with Apple, and Unreal and other engines are also supported in High Sierra as well.

iMacs and MacBooks: A new iPad Pro you can’t buy yet, and more refreshed models

The new 4K and 5K iMacs can now reach a brightness of 500 nits, which is up to 43 percent higher than before and support for up to one billion colors. It now also supports 10-bit dithering.

The new iMacs will be making use of Intel’s latest Kaby Lake CPUs for better performance and native HEVC decode. The base 21.5-inch iMac uses Intel’s latest dedicated GPU which features up to 80 percent better performance. The 4K 21.5-inch iMac features a Radeon 555 and 560 GPUs with up to 4GB vRAM that is up to 3x times faster. As for the 5K 27-inch iMac, it will feature Radeon Pro 570, 575, and 580 models with up to 8GB VRAM. The maxed out 27-inch iMac will be able to offer up to 5.5 teraflops of processing power.

The 21.5-inch iMac will now be available with up to 32GB memory configurations, while the 27-inch iMac will go up to 64GB. The Fusion Drive will be available on all 27-inch variants, with SSD speeds being doubled as well.

The new 2017 iMacs will also feature two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports that will allow professional users to connect an external monitor while also using an external GPU if they wish to.

Apple is aiming its new powerful iMac lineup at professionals and hopes it will be powerful enough for VR consumption.

The 12-inch MacBook, the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros, and the 13-inch MacBook Air were all updated with new Kaby Lake processors as well. The 13-inch MacBook Pro now starts at $1,299.00 as well.

Meanwhile, the iMac Pro will boast 8-cores, 10-cores, or 18-cores Xeon processors. It will be available with up to 128TB of RAM and 4TB SSD. On the GPU front, the iMac Pro will be making use of AMD’s Vega GPU featuring up to 16GB of VRAM. The company will not be using the base Vega GPU as the GPU inside the iMac Pro will feature up to 11 TeraFlops of horsepower. It will also come with four Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 10 gigabit Ethernet port.

The base iMac Pro configuration will cost $4,999, and it will be available from December.

Here’s a promo video for it:

iOS 11: So much iPad Pro love it’s almost ridiculous, and Drag and Drop for good measure

iOS 11 features iPhone Featured

The next iteration of iOS is iOS 11 and it’s a big change for the platform, with a variety of updates, refinements, and new additions added to the mix. And with so many rumors swirling around for an iPhone 8 reveal later this year, Apple seemed to put a huge focus on the iPad lineup at WWDC, showing off a ton of new features for the larger-screen iOS devices out there in the wild.

Of those new features, iOS 11 users will be able to make person-to-person payments with Apple Pay right from within iMessage, thanks to a new dedicated app. iMessage is also getting iCloud support, so conversations will sync better across devices — and all your conversations will be instantly obtainable when you fire up a new iOS device and log into your iCloud account, too.

Siri is getting improvements in more supported countries, can translate (some) languages, is learning more contextually-aware tricks, and much more. The camera app is getting improved as well, and Apple is expanding the Portrait Mode feature in the iPhone 7 Plus to allow third-party developers to access a Depth API. And Control Center, one of the standout feature of iOS, is also getting a heavy redesign:

iOS 11 is seeing improvements to Apple Maps, and Do Not Disturb is extending to driving, so while you are navigating the roads you won’t receive notifications. Apple Music is getting new features, like being able to add a song to a Now Playing list from a friend’s phone, and AirPlay 2 will expand on the wireless technology for multiple-room support.

Apple is also going big with augmented reality (AR) with a new ARKit. With it, developers will be able to create in-depth AR experiences for the iPhone, all without having to create anything for unwieldy headsets or other accessories.

Finally, the App Store is getting a major redesign, with a new tabbed approach — basically something that is very similar to the Apple Music design.

Now for the iPad Pro love:

The App Switcher is also getting a makeover to manage your running apps easily and can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom. Split View spaces will be preserved when one switches over to the new App Switcher.

iOS 11 will also bring native drag and drop support to the OS on the iPad so one can drag and drop files, images, and content from one app to another and more. So, one can drag and drop photos and links from Safari into the mail app, bring up the dock while having content being ready for being dropped into the screen, and more.

For iPad Pro and Apple Pencil users, iOS 11 comes with markup support across all apps that support printing. So, one can edit and mark any content being displayed on the screen. Similarly, one can edit screenshots on iOS 11 using the Apple Pencil by simply tapping on it.

The Notes app now makes use of machine learning to decipher one’s handwriting and make it searchable. It can now also scan documents and make them editable for Apple Pencil users.

Apple Pencil users can also simply tap on the lock screen to bring up the Notes app and start taking notes.

10.5-Inch iPad Pro: Smaller bezels and a better display

The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro features smaller bezels when compared to previous models, and so does the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (for the record). It also introduces a new display that features a refresh rate of 120Hz, True Tone, and much more.

The display also support “Pro Motion,” which will boost display performance. The new iPad Pro’s display will refresh at 120Hz (double the current 60Hz standard). For customers, that means motion content will be smoother and more responsive. It also means it works better with the Apple Pencil, it will reduce latency down to 20ms — an “industry best.” They will be the first mobile displays to adjust the refresh rate dynamically, depending on what is on the screen at the time.

The performance in the 10.5-inch iPad Pro has been boosted as well. It will feature an A10X Fusion chip, with a 6-core CPU. All automatically managed by the Apple Controller. It delivers 30% faster performance over the A9X, and 40% faster graphics performance.

It’s available to order beginning today, and begins shipping next week. It starts at $649 for the 64GB model.

HomePod: Welcome a new challenger!

The smart speaker market is probably going to explode, with Amazon and Google already knee-deep in their own efforts. And now Apple has officially joined the party. The company officially unveiled the HomePod (yes, that’s the real name), and it’s priced at $349 when it ships later this year.

It’s under 7 inches tall, and it’s covered in a 3D mesh fabric to boost acoustic properties. Along the bottom is a 7-array beam form with tweeters, to drive the audio from within and out along the bottom with directional control. It has a wooder, upwards facing, that splits distortion. It’s powered by an Apple A8 chip. Real-time acoustic modeling, multi-channel echo cancellation, and more, are powered by the chip.

Spatial awareness means that anywhere the speaker is set, it will automatically detect that location, the room around it, and adjust the audio to match the room.

The feature to discover music is a “musicologist.” It works with the Apple Music subscription out of the box. The speaker can pull music from the cloud directly. There are six microphones around the middle. “Hey, Siri” will light up a waveform up top, and it will serve up commands from there. Siri will understand more questions regarding music in the HomePod. “Play, something new” or “Who is singing on this track,” or even “What was the top song on May 5, 2016?” Other commands are all supported as well. It will “interpret” what the user is saying.

The HomePod will cost $349 when it launches later this year, shipping in December. It will be available in white and space gray. It will be available to start in the United States, the UK, and Australia.

Apple Store Reopens: Hurry up and buy things!

And then after it was all said and done, the Apple online store officially reopened its digital doors and opened orders for most of the new things the company unveiled today.

So, that will do it for the major announcements. What did you think of the keynote and its announcements?

But, here’s everything else that’s happened since:

Everything Else: