WWDC 2017 has begun, and we've covered the announcements here.
Apple puts on a mostly-annual developers conference in California to showcase new software, software updates, and - sometimes - technologies that developers can leverage in order to make their apps more innovative and up to date. Apple calls this conference the Worldwide Developers Conference, and although it's geared toward developers, consumers are invited to watch.
There's usually a healthy dose of consumer excitement in the keynote. This year, for instance, Apple introduced a Siri-powered speaker called HomePod, a new iPad Pro with a 10.5-inch screen, watchOS 4 for Apple Watch, MacOS High Sierra for Macs, iOS 11 for iPhones and iPads, and more. In fact, here's a round-up of all the announcements.
When is WWDC 2017?
Apple's WWDC 2017 conference takes places in San Jose, CA - rather than the usual city of San Francisco, CA - from 5 June to 9 June at the McEnery Convention Center. It means, for the first time, it is on the doorstep of Apple's new Cupertino complex.
Where can you watch WWDC 2017?
Apple held its keynote address at 10am PST (6pm BST). It was available to watch online through the dedicated Apple website or the WWDC app on iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. It's a two-hour event. We will embed the video here when it becomes available.
What happened at WWDC 2017?
Apple has announced the new version of iOS, expected for release in September. iOS 11 comes with a raft of new features. For instance, iMessages are now stored as part of iCloud, so they sync across all your devices. All your messages are stored in the cloud, but are still end-to-end encrypted for security. There are also new changes to Apple Pay, including the addition of person-to-person payments.
It works as an in-app add-on for iMessage so you can easily send payments to friends and families. Siri has a new, more natural voice and can translate from English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, etc. The Camera app improves in iOS 11, using HIEF compression for photos. They will look as good as normal JPEGs but at half the file size. Photos also now has a range of new options.
You have the ability to edit live images across the different frames, for instance. And finally, Control Center now packs all the features on one page, with sliders for volume and brightness. Then 3D touch will access individual controls, to tweak different aspects with more depth. Apple is yet to reveal the exact release date of iOS 11, but it should appear alongside the new iPhones later this "fall".
Apple has revealed some of the new features coming to Apple Watch when watchOS 4 is released later this year. The company explained that there will be new watch faces, including a Siri Watch face to see relevant content, including diary notifications, and news stories. The Music app is also improved. It has been redesigned, can automatically sync music and show cover art on the screen, and more.
Apple also showed a demo of the new dock. It will show recently used apps, so you can scroll through more easily than before. New fitness features are coming too, with playlists in Music starting when a workout begins. There are many other new features too, which we'll detail further soon. It is thought that watchOS 4 will be released in "the fall" - so a few months away yet.
MacOS High Sierra
Instead of announcing an all-new system with an all-new name, Apple announced MacOS High Sierra. It's a major update to Sierra, which Apple announced and rolled out last year. And Apple executive Craig Federighi wasted no time telling developers that High Sierra is "fully baked". The new macOS is about deep technology but also added some refinements, Federighi explained.
Safari is now the "world's fastest desktop browser" with High Sierra and is going after Chrome and its upcoming ad-blocking features. Safari now offers AutoPlay blocking and no longer has intelligence tracking prevention. But one of the biggest area of refinement in High Sierra is in Photos. There's now a persistent sidebar and a view that has all of your imports in chronological order.
Another big update announced is the new Apple File System. It's 64-bit, from top to bottom. Other new High Sierra features involve video and graphics; for instance, it now supports the H.256 standard for video. Apple also introduced Metal 2 and Metal VR. Remember, VR and AR apps need heavy GPU power, so we're not surprised to hear Apple announce is doubling down.
Steam VR SDK, Unity and Unreal engines are coming to the Mac as well.
Apple's iMac lineup has received an almighty boost. They now have improved brightness of 500 nits and use 10-bit dithering.The processor have had a bit of a boost too. The iMacs will now be fitted with Intel's 7th-gen Kaby Lake processors. They be specced with more memory than ever before: up to 32GB on the 21.5-inch display models and up to 64GB of memory on the 27-inch models.
Apple's Fusion Drive storage system is now standard on all 27-inch iMacs and can be specced on the 21.5-inch models. The solid state storage drives (SSD) also now work up to 50-per cent faster and can be specced up to 2TB. Also, the entry-level 21.5-inch iMac now has Intel Iris Plus graphics, while the 21.5-inch iMac with 4K display uses discreet Radeon Pro 555 and 560 GPU processors.
The 27-inch iMac can now be specced up, too. You can get up to 8GB of VRAM, providing 5.5 teraflops of processing power, ideal for VR creation. Connections-wise, these iMacs will be gifted with two USB-C ports that support Thunderbolt 3. They are now available. The 21.5-inch iMac will start at $1,099, while the 21.5-inch with 4K display is $1,299, and the 27-inch with 4K display starts at $1,799.
Not content with updating the regular line of iMac all-in-one computers, Apple's also super-charging the iMac for professionals. The iMac Pro takes things to the next level with a huge amount of power. It comes in Space Grey and is based on the 27-inch 5K iMac design. The starting configuration equips you with an 8-core Xeon, but there will be options for 10-core or 18-core versions too.
It's not just the CPU that's ramped up, but it will be equipped with the new Radeon Vega GPUs, offering up to 16GB of vRAM. Apple said this is the most powerful Mac that it's ever made. Of course this $4,999 machine isn't pitched at the average consumer, it's for those who want develop in the VR environment for that new VR support. Apple said it will be available from December 2017.
HTC has confirmed that its virtual reality headset, the HTC Vive, will soon be compatible with Mac. Apple revealed that it is adding Steam VR support to High Sierra, its new version of MacOS to be released this coming "fall", and that means it will be possible to use a Mac to control virtual reality experiences. It has been a PC exclusive so far. Demos of HTC Vive support were shown during WWDC.
iPad Pro 10.5-inch
This iPad follows another new iPad from earlier this year. Called iPad, that device is 9.7 inches. It replaced the iPad Air 2 and starts at $329. Apple said it "take everything you love about the 9.7 inch and give you a whole lot more to love". It looks like an iPad Pro, but with a larger 10.5-inch Retina display and reduced bezels. It weighs 1 pound, but it's 20-per cent larger.
It allows for a full-size onscreen keyboard, and a full-sized physical keyboard you can attach. It also comes with a feature called ProMotion, which doubles the refresh rate to 120Hz and supports HDR Video. And its True Tone technology is 50-per cent brighter, Apple said. The new iPad Pro is powered by the A10X six-core CPU, too, with a 12-core GPU included. Cameras have also been upgraded .
It has a 12-megapixel camera on the back and a front-facing 7-megapixel FaceTime camera. It also has an embedded Touch ID sensor, LTE model option, 64GB of standard memory, an improved four-speaker sound system, and support for the Smart Connector and Apple Pencil. Oh, and the new iPad Pro uses Lightning, not USB-C. It is available for preorder now with a starting price of $649.99.
Apple has announced its own music system in the form of the HomePod speaker. It will be released later this year, but the company revealed a sneak peek during its keynote. The HomePod is designed to take on the Amazon Echo in smart functionality, but it also systems like Sonos in audio quality. It has a seven-beam forming tweeter array to fill a room multi-directionally, plus a 4-inch woofer.
The speaker is controlled by Apple's A8 processor. This enables many features, such as multi-channel echo cancellation and separation. However, its the smart functionality, combined with Siri voice control ("Hey Siri") and Apple Music, which, using six microphones around the circumference, streams tracks using plenty of contextual phrases. It can also, set reminders and timers and find out news, etc.
Apple's HomePod will come in white and black, and as it comes with HomeKit built into the device, it works to control smart appliances around your home even when you just interact with your iPhone from another location. It'll cost $349 and will ship in the US, UK, and Australia from December.
Apple has announced that it is redesigning the App Store as part of iOS 11, to be released later this year. It has a cleaner, simpler look on phone with separate Music app-style tabs separating content. There is an all-new Today tab, which shows new games and apps recommended for that day only. You can also see other days' content just by scrolling down. There are also new tabs for Games.
The App Store will showcase a selection of the latest games, present gameplay videos and tips, and list popular games and in-app purchases. Apps also gets its own tab and is like Games. Every app and every game gets a new product page on the store with all new features and a friendly design. Apple also announced at WWDC 2017 that Monument Valley 2 is now available on the App Store.
After several rumours suggesting it was happening, Apple has confirmed that itself and Amazon have finally settled some differences, as Amazon's Video app will make its way to Apple TV later this year. Amazon Video is the last major video app missing from Apple TV, not including All 4 and ITV Hub, and its addition would make the Apple TV a more attractive option as a set-top box.
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