Apple’s WWDC 2017 Keynote Recap

Today kicked off the Apple World-Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) for 2017. This year’s conference takes place June 5-9, 2017 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, USA. It’s a place for app developers to gather and learn about the latest innovations in Apple’s operating systems, Swift programming techniques, and have access to Apple engineers. WWDC is usually a developer-focused event, with few consumer-focused announcements. This year was an exception. The keynote address was nearly 2.5 hours long and was packed full of both technical previews and product announcements. If you missed the live stream and want to watch the entire keynote, is available here: Apple Special Event: June 5, 2017 Live Stream Archive.

Introduction

As usual, Apple kicked it off with a fun video. Keep making apps or there may be an apocalypse! Then Tim Cook bounced onto the stage.

He shared some updates specific to WWDC and developers:

  • There are 16 million registered developers (up 3 million from last year).
  • 5300 attendees from 75 countries at WWDC 2017.
  • 10 year old developer in attendance – she has 5 apps on the App Store.
  • 82 year old developer in attendance – her first app was published this year.
  • They will present updates on all 4 platforms: tvOS, watchOS, macOS, and iOS.
  • Since there is so much content to get through, Tim is skipping the usual updates, and only says, “Apple is doing great. Moving on…”
  • They have six categories for announcements today…

1. tvOS

The TV app on tvOS and iOS now has over 50 partners, but there has been one noticeable absence: Amazon Prime video is coming to the Apple TV in the TV app and a tvOS app.

2. watchOS 4

Updates coming to watchOS 4 include the following highlights:

  • Watch faces
    • New Siri watch face
      • Displays most relevant info
    • Kaleidoscope face
    • More characters: Woody, Jessi, and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story
  • Activity app
    • More personalized notifications
    • Monthly challenges
    • New animations for closing the rings
    • More workouts
    • You can have a playlist automatically start with your workout
    • Music controls integrated in the workout app
  • Music app
    • Multiple playlists
    • Better AirPods integration
  • New Dock
  • Flashlight and blinking safety light
  • Native core Bluetooth support

The Developer Preview is available today and will be a free update to the public this fall.

3. Mac

The Mac is the heart and soul of Apple. We have both software and hardware updates in this category. With every new version of macOS comes a new name. Apple has been focusing on locations in their home state of California for the last several updates. Well, their crack marketing team is at it again… the new name is macOS High Sierra. Then Craig Federighi made a joke about it being “fully baked!” 🙄

Highlights

  • Safari
    • Worlds fastest desktop browser
    • Modern JavaScript performance 80% faster than Chrome
    • Auto play blocking!
    • Privacy: Intelligent Tracking Prevention (so you won’t see adds for the stuff you were just shopping for – trying to eliminate that creepy feeling of the web)
      • Using machine learning to detect tracking
  • Mail
    • Search is now using Spotlight
    • Split view for your compose window in full screen
    • 30% less disk space for storing your mail
  • Photos
    • Improved facial recognition
    • Tags sync across devices
    • Editing controls: Curves, Selective color
    • Better integration with 3rd party editors
    • 3rd party printed books and other products
  • Technology
    • Data
      • New file system: Apple File System APFS
      • 64 bit
      • Crash protection
      • Native encryption
      • Zero copy snapshots
    • Video
      • H.264 was the old standard
      • H.265 or HEVC is the new standard
      • 40% better compression
      • Hardware acceleration in latest Macs
    • Graphics
      • GPU performance
      • Metal 2
      • Up to 10x improvements – now 100x over OpenGL
      • Better debugging and analysis
      • Mac Window Server is now on Metal
      • Also using Metal for machine learning
      • Metal for external graphics
      • Metal for VR
      • Updating FinalCut for VR
      • Steam VR SDK coming to Mac
      • Unity Unreal SDK coming to Mac

The Developer beta is available today. A public beta will be available later this month, for the adventurous non-developers. The final release will be a free update this fall on all systems that support Sierra. Nice to see them holding the system requirements in place (for now).

Hardware Updates

  • iMac
    • Screen now has 500 nits of brightness (that’s a lot of nits!) – 43% brighter than the previous version
    • 10bit dithering – can produce one billion colors
    • 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake processors
    • 10-bit HEVC
    • Up to 32GB or 64GB RAM for the 21.5″ and 27” models, respectively
    • The Fusion Drive is now standard
    • 50% faster SSD options, up to 2TB
    • 2 USB-C connectors with Thunderbolt 3
    • Can drive one external 5K display, or two 4K displays
    • Next gen graphics
      • Entry level model gets Intel Iris Plus 640 – 80% faster than previous generation.
      • Radeon Pro 555 & 560 with up to 4GB VRAM in the 4K 21.5” iMac – 3x faster
      • Radeon Pro 570, 575, 580 with up to 8GB VRAM in the 27″ 5K models – up to 5.5 teraflops half precision (which, apparently is a lot of teraflops)
    • John Knoll from ILM led a StarWars VR demo.
    • The 4K iMac now starting at $1299
  • MacBook and MacBook Pro
    • Also moving to Kaby Lake processors
    • Faster SSD on MacBook
    • Faster dedicated graphics on 15” MBP
    • 13” MBP now starting at $1299

All of the above new Macs are shipping today.

iMac Pro

Then Apple offered a sneak peek of a new high-end model: the iMac Pro!

  • It’s black! OK, it’s “space gray” – but that’s still cool!
  • 8-core Xeon Processor to start, with options up to 18-Cores!
  • AMD Radeon Vega graphics
  • Up to 22 teraflops half precision (for those keeping score at home, that’s 4x the teraflops of the regular high-end iMac)
  • Up to 128GB ECC memory
  • Up to 4TB 3GB/s SSD
  • 4x Thunderbolt 3 port
  • The first Mac with built-in 10GB Ethernet
  • Can drive 2 external 5K displays
  • A new wireless extended (with numeric keypad) Magic Keyboard, also in space gray, and a choice of Magic Mouse 2 or Magic Trackpad 2 in space gray.
  • Starting at $4999
  • Available in December

Tim Cook actually used the words “bad ass” on stage to describe the iMac Pro. Even if I can’t afford the iMac Pro, I want those space gray accessories. It is interesting that the new Magic Keyboard does not appear have a TouchBar, like the MacBook Pro.

5. iOS

Turn it up to eleven for iOS 11.

Highlights

  • Messages
    • Redesigned App Drawer
    • Messages in iCloud – all conversations are synchronized.
    • Only recent messages cached on device
  • ApplePay
    • 50% of retailers by the end of the year
    • Person to person payments
    • iMessage app
    • ApplePay cash – use for purchases or transfer to your bank.
  • Siri
    • New, natural voices for Siri
    • Follow-up questions
    • Translation in beta: English, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian
    • Siri Kit
    • Siri intelligence – context
      • On-device learning
      • Syncs across all devices – encrypted end-to-end
  • Camera
    • 1 Trillion photos per year
    • H.265 HEVC 2x better compression
    • Replacing JPEG with HEIF – 2x better compression, still shareable
    • New Depth API for developers
  • Photos
    • Memories identifies events, activities, kids, pets, etc.
    • Vertical memory videos
    • Trim live photos and mark any part the key photo
    • Loop or bounce live photos
    • Long exposure effect from live photos
  • New control center
  • New Lock Screen and Notification center
  • News recommendations based on your experiences
  • Your dictionary can update based on these as well
  • Maps
    • Let’s go to the mall! Indoor mapping in malls and airports
    • Speed limits are shown in turn-by-turn directions
    • Lane guidance
    • Do not disturb while driving
      • You can allow some people to reply “urgent” to get through
  • HomeKit
    • Speakers category
    • AirPlay 2 protocol – multi-room audio
    • Shared up next
    • AirPlay 2 API for developers
  • Apple Music
    • 27 million subscribers
    • See what your friends are listening to
    • MusicKit for Apple Music
  • App Store
    • 500 million weekly visitors
    • 180 billion apps downloaded
    • $70 billion paid out to developers
    • Faster app review times – under 24 hours, many in 1-2 hours
    • Phased releases
    • Complete redesign
      • Today tab
      • Games tab
        • In-app purchases can be seen in the App Store
      • Apps tab
  • Metal 2 (missed opportunity to be named “Heavy Metal”)
  • HEVC video
  • Machine learning – Core ML
    • Very fast on-device processing
  • AR (Augmented Reality)
    • ARKit – will be the largest AR platform instantly when it ships
    • Lego, Pokémon, Wingnut AR demos
  • QR Code support in the camera

iPad Pro

Then they took a break from talking about software to announce the new iPad Pro.

  • iPad Pro now in 10.5” retina display
  • 20% larger screen, but smaller border, so the overall size is not much larger than the standard iPad
  • Still weighs just 1 pound
  • Full-sized on-screen keyboard or smart keyboard
    • More than 30 languages of smart keyboard at launch
  • 600nits of brightness (this is also a lot of nits)
  • HDR video
  • ProMotion
    • 120Hz display refresh rate
    • Smoother motion – buttery smooth scrolling
    • Better Apple Pencil experience 20ms latency
    • Dynamically adjust refresh rate for better battery life
  • A10X Fusion chip – 6 cores: 3 high performance, 3 high efficiency
  • 30% faster CPU, 40% faster graphics
  • Affinity Photo editor demo
  • 12MP rear and 7MP front cameras
  • USB 3 transfer speeds
  • Fast charging, up to 2x faster than before
  • New smart covers and a sleeve with built-in storage for the Apple Pencil
  • Starting at 64GB storage for all iPad Pro models, up to 512GB
  • Starting at $649 for 10.5”, $799 for the 12.9”

Just when you thought they were done talking about iOS 11… they came back with more updates, specifically for iPad. These will solve a lot of the productivity issues that have prevented some people from doing all of their work on an iPad.

  • Dock all the things! Larger dock for common apps
  • Dock is available with a swipe up from the bottom in any app to switch apps
  • Pull an app out to be a sidebar app
  • New App Switcher – preserves app pairings
  • Drag and drop
  • Files app
    • Supports iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Adobe Creative Cloud, Baidu, and more
  • Select multiple files to drag and drop
  • File tagging
  • Mark-up with Create PDF option
  • Instantly mark-up screen shots
  • Handwriting becomes searchable text
  • Notes has a built-in document scanner
    • Crops pages, corrects perspective, and removes glare
    • Scan and sign documents with Apple Pencil
  • Tap the lock screen with the pencil to get into Notes
  • Flick keyboard allows you to enter numbers and symbols more easily

Developer preview today, with a free upgrade in the fall.

6. Home Music

Apple wants to reinvent home music with a “breakthrough home speaker” and they call it the HomePod. They described the world where you can either have a nice, expensive speaker, or a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. Apple’s answer is a larger, better speaker, that has Siri built-in.

  • 7 beam-forming tweeter array with directional control
  • Big woofer
  • Apple A8 chip
  • Multi-channel echo cancellation
  • Spacial Awareness
    • Detects the space around it to adjust the audio
    • Detects center vocals
    • Ambient audio – can bounce it off the walls around it
    • Full, rich mix to fill your room
  • 2 can work together
  • Works with Apple Music subscription
  • 6 microphone array
  • Smarter Siri music commands
  • Privacy – anonymous Siri ID is sent to Apple for processing
  • Available in December for $349
  • White or Space Gray

In concluding the event, Tim Cook recapped today’s announcements, encouraged the press to visit the hands-on area to see the new products, and announced that former First Lady Michelle Obama will be at tomorrow morning’s fireside chat to discuss empowering all people to make a difference.


Also published on Medium.

Shawn

Shawn – Software Engineer

Shawn is a highly skilled developer with many years of FileMaker and IT experience supporting Mac and Windows systems.

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