May 06, 2017
In case you missed it, Apple hosted it’s 2017 installment of the World Wide Developer Conference today at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. Normally Apple begins these conferences by bragging incessantly about itself, and throwing in some of their political opinions on various topics. However, this time they decided to skip all that and simply said “Apple is doing great”.
From there, they moved on to say that there will be 6 items they wanted to cover. This may not seem like a lot, but each item had many subitems within it. In fact - there enough content in those 6 topics to last about 3 hours and 15 minutes, making this one of the longest WWDC keynotes to date. In this post, we’ll be highlighting the biggest parts from this already big event.
So without further ado, lets dive into the highlights of this keynote!
Apple came out of the gate for this WWDC by introducing watchOS 4, which is available to developers today, and to the public in the fall. Unlike the other macOS and iOS, watchOS 4 will note have a public beta.
— Watch Faces
They started by showing off some two new watch faces - Kaleidoscope and Siri. Kaleidoscope is a super trippy face that is animated to look like a kaleidoscope and you can even use your own pictures for it. The Siri watch face features a dynamic interface that updates based on time & location to present you with relevant information. In addition, it includes a Siri Complication that allows you to activate Siri with just a tap! In addition, watch faces for Woody, Jessie, and Buzz from Toy Story have been added.
The Fitness app has received a wonderful update. You can now have multiple active workouts to swap between (start A, stop A, start B, stop B, resume A). In addition, music controls are incorporated right into the Fitness app. Which means no more switching between the Fitness and Music apps just to change a song while working out! Additionally, you can select a workout playlist that will start playing right when a workout is started.
On a related note, Apple has also added more features to the Activity Rings. Upon completing a ring the animation is more celebratory, and the more you complete/exceed your rings, the more celebratory the animation gets!
macOS High Sierra
Next, Apple introduced what’s new for macOS. As always, Apple has a creative name for its next installment of macOS (though the creativeness of this name is debatable) - macOS High Sierra. After acknowledging what the name could be misconstrued, they assured us the name was “fully baked” as they proceeded to make several wonderfully bad puns as they introduced the new OS. The developer beta is available today at the Apple Developer site, and a public beta will be available in late June.
— Safari Refinements
Apple has been on a huge privacy kick lately, doing everything they can to make sure your information stays private - even from the government and even from themselves. This policy of super-privacy has finally trickled its way down to new features in Safari.
The new version of Apple’s browser has an auto-play blocking feature. What does this mean? Well, if you’re browsing the web (specifically on news sites), videos and video ads will not automatically play audio - providing a disturbance free browsing experience!
If this isn’t fantastic enough, Safari also now offers Intelligent Tracking Prevention. Have you ever bough something, and then for weeks or even months after all you see is ads for that thing? With the newest version of Safari, you no longer have to worry about sites tracking you like that! Using machine-learning, Safari segments cross-site-scripting data and gets rid of it.
— Apple File System
Up until now, Apple’s computers have used HFS for their filesystem. Even through the changing times, and the advent of the Apple File System (APFS) for iOS, they’ve continued to use HFS for their computers. Today, all that changed. With High Sierra, macOS now uses APFS as its filesystem. What this means is near instantaneous cloning of directories, native encryption, crash protection, and much more!
With the new operating system announced, Apple decided to tell us what’s in store for the computers that use it - with a focus on the iMac Pro. It has been a very long time since the iMac Pro got a REAL update - so long in fact, that many pro-users actually switched to a MacBook Pro for their work.
Today Apple dropped the first big update in years to its desktop computer, and it was well worth the wait. Still sporting the 27-inch 5K display, the new iMac Pro is better than anyone could have anticipated. Firstly, it’s housed in a beautiful Space Gray enclosure.
However, looks are meaningless if it doesn’t have the hardware to match - and believe me, the iMac Pro does. It sports an 18-core Intel Xeon CPU for a whopping 22 Teraflops of graphics computation. That paired with the 5K display gives the iMac Pro the ability to replicate over one billion colors. That’s right not a million, but a billion! On top of that, it contains the presently unreleased AMD Vega GPU.
Now, all this fancy hardware puts off a lot of heat. In fact, a normal computer wouldn’t be able to handle the heat. The iMac Pro has an all-thermal design that delivers 80% more cooling capacity.
Want even better graphics? The iMac Pro (as well as the MacBooks) now allow for an external graphics card - something they’ve never done before. Normally, Apple is all about not allowing for the customization of hardware. But now, you can upgrade your graphics using almost whatever card you’d like to use! This could set them on the path for internal hardware upgrades in the future…
Now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for - iOS 11! Lots has been rumored about what this update would bring, lots was said at the WWDC, and lots went unsaid. From the WWDC, it may not seem like it - but this is the biggest update iOS has received since iOS 7! I’ve been playing with iOS 11 as I’ve been writing this, and it has a LOT of features that weren’t mentioned during the Keynote. I’ll fave a follow up blog post about all of that, so for the purposes of this post, I’m sticking with what was said in the keynote.
— P2P Pay
Apple Pay is great for paying for things at participating vendors. There’s no need to get out your credit card, you simply hold up your phone (which, let’s be real is probably in your hand during checkout anyways). But you still need other digital services like PayPal or Venmo if you wanted to send a personal payment to someone. With all these separate services being needed, it almost counteracts the intended streamline that their supposed to provide.
May your Digital Payments folder be cluttered no more! Apple Pay now supports person to person payments. Simply tap the Apple Pay app in the Messages application, and choose the amount to send (or you can even use Siri to send money)!
— Redesigned App Store
For the first time since iOS 7, the iOS App Store has gotten a redesign - but on a scale Apple’s never done before. The App Store has a completely new look. Games now have their own separate tab. Apple has also introduced a Game of the Day and App of the Day in their respective sections. The store page for each app also contains much more information, such as rank and awards. Reviews also appear under the description for easy access to helpful information from other users.
While many almost unanimously agree that the new features are nice, people are torn over the new design. Some love it, while some vehemently hate it - and there’s almost no in-between.
— Do Not Disturb While Driving
With the advent of new technology also comes the advent of new ways to misuse technology. Telephones and cars have poorly mixed ever since telephones were first installed in cars. Now with our mobile phones constantly sending us notifications, phone usage while driving has skyrocketed. Apple has now implemented a new feature called Do Not Disturb While Driving. When activated, this feature will prevent phone usage and block notifications while the car is moving. If someone needs to urgently contact you, they can prefix they’re message with “urgent”, otherwise they will simply get an auto-response saying you will respond when you are not driving.
I initially thought this feature was silly - people should simply have the self control not to look at their phones while driving, they should need the phone to do it for them. But as I though more, it can be quite useful. Whenever I’m driving, it’s always obnoxious to receive notifications from apps, as you can’t tell whether the vibration is from a game bugging you to come play, or from someone trying to contact you for a possibly important reason. With Do Not Disturb While Driving, if you feel the vibration, you know its something important.
The iPads are getting a small, but noteworthy update after the WWDC today. The iPad Pro will be receiving a slightly larger screen (but the tablet itself remains the same size), at 10.5 inches and 12.9 inches, along with some general hardware upgrades. The new display has a refresh rate of 120hz (double of what it previously was), and the rate can be intelligently adjusted to preserve battery.
— Apple Pencil
The Apple Pencil is receiving some improvements as well. The most notable is the latency between pen movement and device reaction is down to just 20 milliseconds - which is pretty much as close as you can get to 0.
— iPad + iOS 11
iOS 11 has some iPad specific features that really make the iPad a legitimate competitor in the tablet computer market. Though its not a fully-fledge macOS running on an iPad like many have been wanting, these new feature really give the iPad an edge.
The Dock can now hold 6 apps, plus 3 recently used apps. Additionally, the Dock can be accessed from anywhere, even from inside an application. To quickly multitask two apps, you can simply activate the dock and then touch & drag the app you want into the screen.
The App Switcher is now much more similar to MissionControl on macOS. It even preserves your multitasking state, so you can switch between several multitasking windows.
Notes now allows inline drawing along with typing seamlessly. Simply tap and hold the Apple Pencil to make space, and draw away!
Apple has finally jumped into the smart speaker game, and they’ve come out of the gates with quite the product. As stated in the Keynote, you can either have a dumb speaker with good sound, or a smart speaker with not so good sound. There’s no product that does both… until now!
The HomePod is Apple’s solution the the speaker intelligence/quality problem. It analyzes the room it’s in and adjusts its sound output to fit the room. With its array of 6 surrounding microphones, it won’t miss a command you say. At 7 inches tall, it’s the most powerful smart speaker on the market.
Oh - and you don’t have to worry about being spied on like you do with Amazon Echo or Google Home. It has local processing to listen for the “Hey Siri” command, and only transmits data once that command is recognized. Even then, the communication with Apple’s servers is entirely encrypted and a random anonymous ID is given with each communication.
And that wraps up this year’s World Wide Developer Conference. There’s lots more exciting things that were covered that I didn’t get to mention in this highlights post. I have an in depth iOS 11 post in the works, as well as a review of watchOS 4 + Watch.
If you didn’t catch the WWDC or would like to watch it again, you can find it here.