Last week, Apple held its annual World Wide Developer’s Conference. It’s specifically designed for, you guessed it, developers to preview upcoming software changes and meet with one of 1,000 Apple engineers. WWDC’s first day, however, is the day all Apple fans look forward to the most. Every year, Apple executives open up WWDC with a grand showcase of Apple’s achievements in the last 12 months. Then, they dedicate the second half of their presentation to the unveiling of major software and product updates.
The following is what Apple brought to this year’s WWDC:
iOS is the operating system that runs on all of Apple’s mobile devices. Think iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch (for those who are still purchasing them). The new iOS introduces many design changes throughout the interface. Several core apps, such as Maps, Siri, Photos, and Notes, have received tweaks and updates. The most note-worthy updates include:
- The Lock Screen and the Notification Center have been merged, so that you no longer have a separate list of notifications on either screen.
- The Control Center (the panel that reveals itself when you flick upward from the bottom of your screen) has been overhauled to take up the entire screen. It also includes many new customization options (think widgets).
- The App Store has been completely redesigned. It features bigger graphics and an emphasis on discovering new apps every day. It also separated Games into its own category, something many feel was way overdue.
- A new Files app that mimics the design found in the Finder window of MacOS. You will be able to look at many file sources, including your phone or iPad’s local files. Additionally, you will be able to drag and drop images, links, files and more within and between apps.
- Homekit and AirPlay receive updates to support speakers, with AirPlay 2 supporting multi-room functionality
- Person-to-person Apple Pay feature built into the iMessage application will allow people to send money to one another using Apple Pay. Money can remain on your iCloud/iTunes account or be deposited into your checking account.
- iMessage will now be stored and synced in iCloud, meaning all of your iDevices will now have the same list of read, written, and deleted messages. Previously, iDevices depended on an unreliable Wifi and Bluetooth protocol to sync with one another.
iOS 11 will be released in the fall, like every previous iOS upgrade. It will be a free upgrade for all iOS 11-supported devices. Apple has stated that the oldest device to support iOS 11 is the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and the 6th generation iPod Touch. Click here for Apple's iOS 11 preview website.
macOS High Sierra
If you were expecting a major update like the one Microsoft released with Windows 10, you will be disappointed. Apple designed the new macOS High Sierra (aka 10.13) to be mostly an under-the-hood update. Here are the most note-worthy changes:
- The new macOS will adopt a revolutionary file system called Apple File System (APFS). It’s a file system that has been designed and optimized for modern storage devices, such as solid state drives. It comes with native encryption, crash protection, and uses the HEVC (H.265) compression standard that enables higher-quality video streaming with smaller files sizes. The previous file system was created over 18 years ago, so this change is pretty significant.
- The next edition of Apple’s graphics API, Metal 2, will now support speech recognition, natural language processing, and computer vision. Metal 2 will also support VR and external graphics cards when utilized with Thunderbolt 3.
macOS High Sierra will be released in the fall, like every previous macOS release. It will be a free upgrade for all supported devices. Apple released the following list of macOS High Sierra-compatible Macs. Click here for Apple's macOS High Sierra preview website.
- MacBook Pro – 2010 or later models
- MacBook – Late 2009 or later models
- MacBook Air – 2010 or later models
- iMac – Late 2009 or later models
- Mac Mini – 2010 or later models
- Mac Pro – 2010 or later models
Apple introduced a new version of watchOS, the operating system that runs on their Apple Watch device portfolio. It includes three new watch faces, and new complications (interactive icons in watch faces) called Now Playing and Apple News. Here are the most note-worthy changes:
- An improved Workout App that supports high intensity interval training workouts and auto-sets when swimming. It also includes GymKit, Apple’s new API that allows the watch to interface and share information with gym equipment via Bluetooth.
- Activity app is being updated to include monthly challenges and intelligent coaching. You will also be able to coming multiple workout types into a single workout, allowing you to track all of your calorie burn, steps, and miles under one workout session.
- The Music App has been redesigned with a new Music Mix and Favorites Mix, allowing you to activate music when you start a workout.
watchOS 4 will be released in the Fall. It will be a free upgrade for all Apple Watches. Click here for Apple's watchOS preview website.
iMac, Macbook, and Macbook Pro: Upgraded Hardware
Apple introduced some hardware upgrades to their iMac, Macbook, and Macbook Pro lineup. While they didn’t introduce any major re-designs, some of the hardware upgrades were much appreciated. Here are the most note-worthy changes:
- iMacs received the most upgrades of all the Mac hardware. A Fusion Drive (hybrid SSD and HDD storage) will now come standard, new faster SSD options are available, maximum RAM is now up to 64GBs, faster 7th-Gen Kaby Lake processors, and improved graphic processors (GPUs).
- Macbooks and Macbook Pro models also received faster 7th-Gen Kaby Lake processors, faster SSDs and improved GPUs.
- The Macbook Air received a faster Broadwell processor, giving us the impression that Apple is not ready to kill it off just yet.
New 10.5-INCH iPad Pro + iPAD PRO UPGRADES
The iPad Pro models received significant upgrades. A new 10.5-inch model was unveiled, replacing the 9.7-inch model by adopting smaller bezels to allow for a larger display. Besides screen sizes, both devices now come with identical hardware specs, no longer making spec comparisons a part of your decision-making process. Here are the most note-worthy upgrades that both iPad Pro models received:
- ProMotion display technology, which offers refresh rates of up to 120Hz. This allows for fluid scrolling, better responsiveness, and smoother motion. This also reduced the Apple Pencil’s latency to 20ms, giving you a more natural drawing experience.
- Brighter displays that support True Tone and wide color gamut. This improves the display’s performance in both bright outdoor and/or dim indoor conditions.
- Upgraded A10X Fusion chip that includes a six-core CPU and a 12-core GPU. This translates to 30 percent faster CPU performance and 40 percent faster GPU
- Upgraded cameras to match the hardware found on the iPhone 7. It features a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with optical image stabilization and a 7-megapixel front-facing camera.
- 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage options are available.
The new iPad Pros are available now. The 10.5-inch wifi model starts at $649, while the 12.9-inch wifi model starts at $799. Built-in LTE models are also available for an additional $130.
At the end of WWDC, Apple shifted from discussing updates to introducing a whole new category of hardware. The HomePod is a speaker device, Apple’s answer to the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Engineers focused on making the HomePod different by heavily investing on the device’s sound quality.
Inside of each HomePod are seven beam-forming tweeters with their own amplifier. The will generate distortion-free high frequency acoustics with directional control. Deep bass sounds will be powered by an upwards-facing woofer. A 6-mic array actively listens to your voice, which Apple says is capable of picking up from across the room.
Lastly, engineers built an A8 Fusion chip into the HomePod. This processor will power everything from Siri to a new automatic room-sensing technology. With Siri, you will be able to ask and control what you normally can on your iPhone. This includes controlling HomeKit devices, like your lights, doors, and thermostat. The device measures 7 inches tall, and resembles the cylindrical design of Apple’s Mac Pro. It will be available in either black or white and will be covered with a mesh design.
HomePod will be available for purchase this December for $349. Click here for Apple's HomePod preview website.
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