Monday, June 5, 2017 – WWDC 2017 (Watch The Event)
It’s time for another Apple Live Event, which means I am locked in my office with time blocked on my calendar so that I can enjoy the event to the fullest. As someone who is regularly the go-to for technology and gadget advice, these events are my research, my bread and butter, and just something that I truly enjoy. So let’s not waste anymore time and jump right in!
Announcement #1 – tvOS
We sadly didn’t get a whole lot of information in the tvOS department. However, the major announcement is one that those of us with an AppleTV have been waiting forever for, Amazon Prime for tvOS. Amazon is finally bringing the benefits of Amazon Prime to the AppleTV. This means we can finally enjoy the content we are already paying for on our devices. For someone with a fully AppleTV household like mine, this is great news. I can’t wait to see how it runs and to have another source of content to enjoy.
Announcement #2 – WatchOS 4
WatchOS brought us some exciting announcements without giving us too much information to bite on. No hints about the next Apple Watch, but that was expected. Those announcements usually are showcased with the new iPhone (so hopefully this fall). Apple did supply us with new watch faces and custom options utilizing the kaleidoscope feature. Turn any photo into an animated kaleidoscope. Moving past the look, a new Siri watch face will also be available. This will add the ease of utilizing Siri from your watch home screen.
In terms of functionality, Apple showcased an updated activity app and music app. Tracking activity will now be easier and more user friendly than ever before. The workout UI has been overhauled and it now feels more personal while you use it. Another upgrade comes not to your actual watch, but to your workout equipment. If you are lucky enough to be a part of a gym that frequently updates their equipment, you might see some large equipment now syncing your workout to your watch. You now won’t have to deal with multiple data sets or conflicting data. The machine will place your workout inside the Apple ecosystem and your health tracking will be more accurate than ever before.
The music app overhaul finally gives us multiple playlists and album covers on the Apple Watch. You can tell that WatchOS4 is trying to allow us to break away more from the phone when it comes to workouts and use. We didn’t get a lot of details about this but I’m sure before launch, we will get more details about all the feature changes conic to WatchOS4.
Announcement #3 – MacOS High Sierra/iMac Pro
The announcement of High Sierra came brining smiling faces to developer community. With High Sierra comes new file structure, external graphics support, and ultimately a faster and more optimized operating system. The new file system (known as Apple File System – APFS) allows for a better streamline of data access and writing. It will allow Apple to continue to optimize their systems moving forward and is backward compatible with HFS drives already in place. With the release of Metal 2, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can now be a priority for developers. With support for external graphics power, Mac’s will now be able to break into the upcoming virtual industry, which has made developers quite excited.
Then after a brief set of details about High Sierra, the big bomb was dropped. There were pretty much zero leaks about a new pro model joining the team, and the iMac Pro is one of the sexiest machines I have ever seen. This machine is not only more powerful than the Mac Pro, but it looks amazing. We got a little sneak peak as more information will be released with High Sierra before it’s release in December.
Announcement #4 – iOS 11
With iOS 11, we see a ton of more features coming to the iPhone and iPad. As most iOS announcements, we only got a small taste of its capability, understanding that they will show off all the bells and whistles when they launch with the new iPhone this fall. However, to partner with the updated iPad line, iOS brings a lot of power and some new features that will make everyone happy.
Multitasking finally was re-invisioned in iOS11 (thankfully!) and the new addition of an app doc (think MacOS) changes how the user will interact with the iPad. iOS also brings AR to the iPhone and iPad and something so silly and small, QR code recognition built into the camera app. The camera app continues to get new features and pro style features. More and more users go to their phone before ever thinking about a physical camera, and this trend will continue as the cameras get better.
The addition of paying friends with Apple Pay is just another step in Apple continuing to build out the Apple Pay ecosystem, as we will also see that coming to desktops this fall. Not something I’ve had to use or even needed to use, but its great to see them continuing to develop out the system. I have finally made a payment from my Apple Watch and there was some joy from how easy it was.
The big addition is the Do Not Disturb mode for driving. Seeing Apple taking a step to help keep drivers focused and get away from distracted driver deaths was a great thing to see. Keeping the screen dark will be great for someone who has sensitive eyes (like myself) while driving at night with my phone docked in the car. There were a ton more features highlighted but we will continue to see what developers can do, what the beta’s show, and more details will come in the near future.
Announcement #5 – iPad Pro
We all new the iPad line was getting refreshed, but some of the things Apple showed us really make the iPad Pro a competitor for those wanting to ditch a laptop system. The new smaller iPad Pro now has a 10.5 inch screen. They’ve kept the same form factor, but increased the screen size for just a bit more room. In addition to iOS 11, the iPad Pro line will be an extremely powerful device that will let users multitask and accomplish what they have always wanted to do. Apple clearly is getting competitive in the market and listening to what consumers want. They’ve realized that the iPad isn’t just an extension device and that a lot of folks want to be able to treat it as they would a laptop. With the most advanced screen and 120hz refresh with ProMotion, this will truly be the best visual experience yet on a table device.
With the dock feature, multitask, drag and drop, and adding in an Apple Pencil to take notes on screen shots, this is going to be the right upgrade for most power users. I can’t wait to get my hands on one in the near future and then will do a full product review.
Announcement #6 – HomePod
And the final announcement of the day and something I had been waiting to hear about for quite some time, the Siri home speaker. Meet HomePod. The most sophisticated home speaker I have ever seen. People were expecting to get a Siri tool to compete with Amazon Alexa or Google Home, however Apple took it way beyond that. Knowing that Siri isn’t truly ready to go prime time yet, they released a speaker to compete with Sonos and Bose. This is a speaker first, that oh by the way, has Siri and HomeKit integrated. It is beautiful looking and smart. What do I mean by smart? It has an A8 chip inside of it. This allows the speaker to “learn” where it is in the room and make adjustments to provide the best sound quality it can. The big kicker for most, the price tag. It will be available for $349 in December when it launches. However, when you realize you are buying a quality home speaker, the price doesn’t shock. Those who were just expecting a cheap option to compete with an Amazon Echo are a bit price shocked. Apple really didn’t give us much about this device but from the few reports that came in, it sounds amazing. I’m hoping to get my hands on one (somewhere) so I can really hear it for myself, but this is definitely on my own Christmas list for this year.
Overall it was a pretty amazing WWDC. Tim Cook wasn’t kidding when he said it was the biggest WWDC they’ve ever had. They barely touched on a lot of the details (as those all come out during WWDC sessions) but it showed Apple has a lot of tricks up their sleeve and it is going to be an exciting year as we start to get more and more product launches before 2018.