Held in San Jose, California, the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2017) released a number of new products such as the new iPad, MacBook and MacBook Pro and iMac Pro. It also showcased the new HomePod, Apple’s answer to Google Home and Amazon Echo. Several software updates for laptops were announced as well as new versions of operating systems for iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and computers.
Similar to other developer conferences this year, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) were also featured prominently during WWDC 2017.
Homepod is Apple’s 7-inch speaker that is controlled through natural voice interaction with Siri. It contains seven beamforming tweeters and a high-excursion woofer with a custom amplifier to give the highest-fidelity sound. It gives an immersive listening experience by adapting to the room and tuning the music. It can be used to not only play music but answer general queries, update you on your schedule, and control your smart home accessories. You will just need to say, “hey Siri, turn off the lights”, “give me the news”, or “open the garage door”. To be available at Apple stores from December, the device comes in two colors, black and white, and is priced at $349.
Apple has released what it claims is its “fastest and most powerful Mac ever.” It has been designed for pro customers with the most demanding workflows. iMac Pro has a 27-inch Retina 5K display, up to 18-core Xeon processors and up to 22 Teraflops of graphics computation. It has a new thermal design that allows it to run on temperatures up to 80 percent cooler than older iMacs. The device can support up to 4TB of SSD and up to 128GB of ECC memory, and it can connect to up to two high-performance RAID arrays and two 5K displays at the same time with its four Thunderbolt-3 ports. The new iMac Pro can be used for advanced graphics editing, virtual reality content creation, and real-time 3D rendering. It starts at $4,999 and will be available at Apple stores from December.
The new iPad Pro, in 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, contains the powerful A10X Fusion chip and runs on the new iOS 11. It has a brighter display featuring ProMotion and it also contains the advanced camera system of the iPhone 7.
iOS 11 has made it possible to include new features in iPad Pro including a Multi-Touch Drag and Drop option, allowing users to move documents and pictures from one app to another. There is a new app called Files that allows users to keep all their files in one place, whether the information is stored locally, in iCloud Drive or in other providers like Dropbox. Other features are a redesigned app switcher that allows you to easily switch between apps or view them in split-screen and a new iPad Dock that is customizable and allows you to float apps as windows.
Deeper integration with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard is bringing more utility to the new device and are enabling it to be used more like a laptop. The new iPads are available at Apple stores, with the 10.5 inch model starting at $649 and the 12.9 inch model at $799.
Apple has upgraded its entire line of MacBooks with new Intel processors but the screen, design, and ports remain the same. MacBook and MacBook Pros are getting Intel’s “Kaby Lake” processors, with speeds up to 3.5 GHz. The much neglected MacBook Air has also been upgraded to a 1.8 GHz processor, though it still hasn’t gotten a HD Retina display.
The updated laptops are available at a starting price of $1,299.
Apple also showcased watchOS 4 which features a Siri-backed watch face. Siri will be more proactive in Apple Watch and will display personalized information such as Activity coaching and a better music experience. The watch has additional fitness features including an improved Workout app and GymKit, which will allow users to pair the device with cardio equipment.
The company has also turned its gaze towards VR and is now working to support VR systems on Apple products. During the convention, the company paired up with a team from Lucasfilm to show a VR demonstration of Darth Vader from Star Wars walking around a lava planet. Apple was able to run the demonstration on an iMac using a HTC Vive VR headset.
Following a trend set by Google and Facebook developer conferences, Apple has also released a new set of tools for developers called the AR Kit so they can build new augmented reality experiences for iPad and iPhone. Praising the popular game Pokemon Go, which also makes use of augmented reality, the company spent a significant amount of time showing other demos to developers so they could bring more augmented reality apps to iOS devices in the future.
Who knows, Apple might end up making the next big thing in augmented reality. It certainly seems as if the company has set its sights on that.