Yesterday, Apple held their first-day keynote at their Worldwide Developers Conference, held at the McEnery Convention Centre in San Jose. The conference spans the course of a few days, from June 5th to June 9th, and attendees can attend sessions and meet with over 1,000 Apple engineers. The conference opened with CEO, Tim Cook, welcoming all the participants from over 75 countries worldwide. He told attendees that there were six major updates to share today. This is what Apple had to share with us.
1. Amazon Prime's video library comes to Apple TV
Confirming some speculation that had been floating around as of late, Apple confirmed that Amazon's video service would be hitting Apple TV. Apple and Amazon had been competing in the video streaming space for quite some time now, but now Amazon is being brought into the Apple product family, allowing their fantastic library of video content to make its way to more users. Tim Cook stated, "We are so pleased to welcome Amazon to Apple TV." It would seem that after some brief tension between the two companies, Amazon stopped selling Apple TV units as well as Google's Chromecast device, but it would appear they have come to a beneficial partnership. Tim didn't say exactly when we could expect to see Amazon on Apple TV, but we can safely assume that it will be soon.
2. Apple announces WatchOS 4
Apple's Vice President of Technology, Kevin Lynch, took to the stage to announce the next version of Apple's smartwatch OS, WatchOS 4. With this new updated operating system, the watch's faces get an update with new digital faces and some serious upgrades to Siri's capabilities and display options. Moreover, for the fitness inclined, the new Watch OS 4 comes with a myriad of new fitness app updates, including better workouts and personal challenges to keep you motivated.
The watch faces introduced by Apple include some animated faces displaying beloved Disney characters Woody, Jesse, and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. There's a vibrant kaleidoscope face, but the coolest addition is probably the Siri-integrated face for the Apple Watch. The watch's face will display a stream of information provided by Siri that can be expanded upon by its learning capabilities. So for instance, in the morning the watch face will recognize that it's the AM and could display your morning meetings that are scheduled, or perhaps the most efficient route to work.
Working out is going to be even more fun with the Apple Watch. Now, when you close one of your fitness loops, there are unique animations in the Activity app that come with closing both small and bigger challenges. The Workout app can now give you personalized challenges to complete, to keep you on your fitness journey. The app tailors each challenge to your very own exercise history, so they're never insurmountable. Also, now you can launch your favourite workout playlist right from the Apple Watch itself, within the Workout app. WatchOS 4 even comes with a brand-new feature called Gym Connect, which allows you to pair your Apple Watch to gym equipment to get the most accurate stats from your workout. Gym Connect promotes two-way data exchange with gym gear; just tap your watch to the enabled piece of equipment to synch your watch and start the information exchange. The new WatchOS 4 will be coming this fall as a free upgrade. Apple might just be trying to clinch the market on fitness wearables, so app makers, take note.
3. Apple announces new MacOS: High Sierra
The highly anticipated new Mac OS, High Sierra, was announced at WWDC today. It comes boasting features like a new and improved file system, and improvements to core apps like Photos and Mail, Metal 2 - aka VR content creation for Macs - makes it onto the scene. Apple didn't focus on an entirely re-designed OS for High Sierra, rather focusing on establishing deep technologies that provide the foundation for new tech. The closed developer beta is available now, and consumers can sign up for the public beta later this June.
One fascinating front-facing update that comes with High Sierra is the upgraded Safari browser. The new Safari is being hailed as 80% faster than Chrome, and it's currently the fastest web browser available across any platform. Even better than its speed, Safari now comes equipped with software to stop those annoying auto-playing videos. You can still watch them, but entirely at your leisure. Also, lastly, along with it's auto-play blocking software, Safari can now shield your digital history from those clever internet advertisers that follow you and advertise to you across the web. Apple will leverage machine learning to identify advertising tracking cookies and block them.
Next, on the agenda, a brand-new iMac is hitting the scene. The long-awaited and much-needed iMac update comes with upgraded storage capacities; 32G on the 21.5" models, and 64G on the 27" model. Both models come with an upgrade to the SSD drives, claiming they are up to 50% faster and available up to 2 terabytes. They will also be coming with some high-end AMD graphics cards. Along with an update to the standard iMac, Apple unveiled the iMac Pro. It is sold in the lovely Space Grey finish we all affectionately know from the iPad and iPhone product lines. And it is a beast of a machine. Starting at $4,999 it comes equipped with 6 Thunderbolt 3 ports, a few extra standard USB 3 ports, 10 Gbps Ethernet, and a few extra bells and whistles. Think of it as a Mac Pro that's been re-designed to be an iMac. It will only be available for purchase later this year.
There were no show-stopping updates for the new line of Macbooks. All Macbooks are being upgraded to a 7th gen intel-core processor, or "Kaby Lake," along with upgraded SSD's and a few more perks. These updates are available to ship to consumers as of now.
4. iOS 11
This is where things start to get really interesting. As app makers ourselves, we love the iOS system and corresponding App Store. So we paid extra attention to what was going on with the new iOS 11. Apple seriously went to task here, bringing improvements both big and small to the new operating system. iOS 11 is set to available as a free update coming in September of 2017. These were some of the core features of the new OS:
iMessage app drawer
For those of us that are iPhone users on the regular, using our iMessage apps can sometimes be a tad annoying as we tap and slide our way through a series of screens until we get the app that we want. Apple has decided to improve this area by designating a shortcut drawer for your most popular iMessage apps; so they'll be right on hand when you need them. This will make an impact on how many iMessage apps users interact with on a daily basis; making them easier to find will only drive up engagement.
iPhone to iPhone Apple Pay capabilities
No more having to use 3rd party apps to send money to your fellow iPhone users. You can send and receive payments securely, and you authenticate your identity through touch ID. When receiving payment, it can be deposited onto your Apple Pay cash card, or be sent to your bank account; the choice is up to the user. With the ever increasing popularity of mobile payments, being able to pay person to person via mobile pay was only a matter of time.
Siri gets a new voice
Both of Siri's female and male voices are getting an upgrade; they sound more eloquent and with more inflection in their tones. You'll also be able to use Siri to translate a few select languages, for now. Apple also decided to delve deep into the capabilities of machine learning to make Siri even smarter. It can now take more context of what's in your calendar, where you are, what time it is, and feed you better suggestions.
The iPhone camera learns some new tricks
The camera in every generation of iPhone gets better and better, powering users to create beautiful photography on the go. So, it's only natural that with a new OS upgrade, the software powering that camera gets more powerful as well. With the new iOS 11 camera upgrade, you'll receive improved image quality, true tone flash, HDR, HEVC video, and up to 2x better compression to save on system storage. Maybe one of the most stand-out features was a very Boomerang-esque feature, made popular by content-giant Instagram.
Upgraded Control Centre
This is a neat update as Apple decided to make the device's control centre more efficient and customizable. No more swiping to different tabs, everything you need will be located all on the same screen. For more details, you can 3D touch onto the icons for more detailed information.
A completely redesigned App Store
This redesign looks pretty cool. The new App Store design looks a lot more modern and accessible. The new look features a 'Today' tab, which will feature cool games and apps that users will want to download the most. Besides the Today tab, there are two separate tabs for "Games" and " Apps," respectively. Mobile games makers get excited, with this new app store launch not only can you have your mobile games featured, but you can also display any pertinent in-app purchases that users can make alongside the game to enhance their experience. With this redesign, app makers can focus not only on getting their apps featured, but highlight relevant content, add-ons, and so forth. There will be a big focus on content and visuals when this new App Store goes live.
Back in April, Facebook made waves in the augmented and virtual reality space by announcing React Fiber, React VR, and the Camera Effects platform. Now, it's Apple's turn to wade into the AR/VR fray. Apple unveiled ARKit, its API kit for iOS developers. It adds new capabilities like depth perception and can place objects onto top surfaces, like the lamp and teacup that was featured during the Keynote presentation. Aso, unlike Facebook's announcement at F8, Apple did a live demo of their product, which was very, very impressive.
5. A brand new iPad Pro
Apple decided to give a mega-upgrade to the iPad Pro. The old 9.7-inch model is being upgraded to a 10.5-inch display. It will come with a much better A10X chip inside, and the 12.9-inch model is also getting the same refresh. Apple is also putting an app dock on the iPad pro, and this is an iPad specific iOS 11 update. You can bring up the dock with a swipe from the bottom of the screen, then drag and drop your favourite apps into it. You even get to utilize floating windows to work on more than one app at once. This iPad Pro is starting to feel more and more like an ultra-thin and portable Macbook. The UI is way more fluid on this new iOS. The Apple Pencil is now more functional with the Notes app, you can annotate screenshots as needed, and you can even scan documents with the base camera app. All in all, this is an excellent overhaul and revamp of the previous iPad Pro.
Lastly, Apple unveiled their new Siri-powered smart speaker; the HomePod. The pod looks a bit like a cross between a pill and a ball of yarn; and it's compact, but powerful enough to fill an entire room up with music. Apple decided to make the decision to put music at the forefront of this speaker, and not Siri, although the AI assistant is useable with this speaker, making it a challenger for other home assistants, such as the Amazon Echo. The HomePod comes with a seven beam-forming tweeter array, a custom-built subwoofer, an Apple A8 chip, as well as multi-channel echo cancellation. HomePod can scan the area surrounding it to optimize the audio accordingly. For customers that are looking for an accessory that is a speaker first and a digital assistant second, this makes an excellent choice.
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