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Key announcements of WWDC 2017

On: June 6, 2017

Apple wrapped up the WWDC 2017 keynote and announced some interesting updates to most of the products the company builds. As expected, all Operating Systems by Apple – iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS – were upgraded. Spec upgrades to the existing lineup of Apple products were made too.

Apart from the software updates, a completely new piece of hardware, Apple HomePod was also launched. It will be Cupertino’s offering to compete with the smart home assistants, Amazon Echo and Google Home. Addressing criticism about ignoring the pro users with its Mac lineup, Apple gave a sneak peak of a high-end iMac Pro, due to launch later this year.

Let’s catch up with all the major announcements Tim Cook and his key associates made at WWDC 2017:

HomePod

Discussing the new hardware first, the rumours came true when Apple announced the new HomePod, their answer to Echo, Home and also Sonos speakers. It is built to provide sound output depending upon the space that it is in, Apple calls this “spacial awareness”. A feature known as “Musicologist” plays music with integration from Apple Music. And of course, it has Siri built inside it. So, it is your virtual home assistant along with being a high quality speaker. Ask it to play music, control your smart home devices and do probably anything that Siri is capable of.

Interestingly, Apple focussed on HomePod being a home music device & referred to reinventing how we listen to music at home. Almost as if Cupertino wants to underplay Siri’s smart capabilities as an assistant. This could probably be because of the popular belief that Siri is still not a great virtual assistant. 

It is priced at $349, comes in Black and White and ships in December for US, UK and Australia residents. Whereas, Amazon’s Echo is priced at $179.99 and the Google Home costs $130. Apple continues its over-pricing streak with the HomePod too but since it offers music playing capabilities, this new home assistant might seem like a good bargain to a few.

iMac Pro, new updates to iMac

Just when everyone thought Apple isn’t serious about its Pro users, Apple dropped the iMac Pro. It comes with a 5k display, better cooling capacity, an 8-core Xeon processor (upgradable to 18 cores!), up to 128GB of ECC memory and upto 4TB of SSD capacity. It also has four Thunderbolt 3 ports and a built-in 10GB Ethernet for better connectivity. This is the most high-spec computer device Apple has launched till date. It starts at $4,999 and ships in December.

Along with this new addition, Apple also updated its existing lineup of iMacs. They are now available with better Retina displays, Intel’s new 7th gen Kaby Lake processors and support for USB-C. Also, Apple is giving a major boost to VR content creators by adding graphic support to the iMacs. The demo for this was shown through a cool VR game which featured Darth Vader in it. 21.5-inch model for the new iMacs are starting from $1,099, 4K models start at $1,299.  

iPad Pro 10.5

A new size for the iPad Pro was introduced, it spans 10.5 inches and joins the family with two other sizes that already exist. It features a 12 MP rear camera, a 7 MP selfie camera and packs 10 hours of battery life.

Apple also introduced a new feature called as ProMotion. It brings down the latency of Apple Pencil to 20ms. This new feature also doubles the refresh rate up to 120Hz now. Now, the refresh rate will be automatically adjusted based on whether you are watching a video or a still image, thus optimising battery usage while providing great performance.

It starts at $649 for a 64GB variant and can be ordered now, shipping starts from next week.

iOS 11

With its annual iOS update this time, Apple has come up with an improved Siri, better camera optimizations, some new features to iMessage and much more.

Siri now has a new voice in the iOS 11 update which is said to sound more natural. It will also show some follow up suggestions to your original query now. New translation beta is also coming to Siri, which can translate English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish as of now. Siri will also learn your device usage to predict future queries or behaviour and this will be synced to all your devices where you use Siri. Apple also says that all this will be done with full end-to-end encryption.  

The company is betting high on iMessages as it is the second consecutive WWDC where it received a major update. You can now pay and receive payments right through iMessages negating the need for any external apps. Alternatively, your messages now stay on iCloud which means all your devices are in sync with iMessages.

Apple also says it to be the best iOS release for iPads so far. New multi-tasking abilities are introduced in the iPad. All your handwritten texts from the Apple Pencil are now searchable, Apple boasts about their deep learning advancements with this feature.

Apart from these, the App store has received a facelift which facilitates better discovery. It has also brought back the App of the Day section to foster user engagement. Even screen recording feature is provided in iOS 11. Indian users might have something to look up to in this new update as it comes with Hindi dictation and Kannada, Malayalam and Odiya keyboards.

macOS High Sierra

The new macOS is named High Sierra, much different from what the rumours claimed it to be. With High Sierra, Safari will have the ability to block site trackers well as videos that autoplay. New photo editing tools are introduced as an alternative to those who don’t have software like Adobe Photoshop. Graphic support has been upgraded too, with a new version of Metal, VR support and a Metal 2 developer kit.

watchOS 4

Just like every other watchOS update till now, this one features new watchfaces as well. On the fitness front, Apple has now introduced monthly challenges as well as the ability to share data through NFC. Even the app browsing UI has received a facelift which improves the user experience. Although the updates aren’t major, it targets certain areas to improve the Apple Watch experience.

ARKit

Apple has ventured into the Augmented Reality space with its new ARKit for iOS. It promises to provide a fast and stable motion tracking of the objects to make it seem real. The keynote demo looked cool and we can expect more out of it when developers start to play around and create new AR experiences. Instead of building hardware for AR, Apple is betting on its very own iPhone as its segway to the future of this technology. Craig Fedreghi proudly claimed it to be the, “largest AR platform in the world”.

We are hoping all the new launches to be as exciting as they sound. Keep reading the blog for all the future updates about Apple and rest of the technology world.

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Aditya Mohanty

Previously co-founded a startup called WordKrowd, an online literature platform, which explains his love for writing and reading. Thinks about startups and technologies all day long, thus got himself to Pricebaba for a stint in writing. Stories, both fictional and real excite him. Other close recipients of love from him include good movies and good food.