From getting serious about AR to going toe to toe with Google on AI and machine learning, this year’s WWDC keynote was, as Tim Cook promised in his opening remarks, the “best and biggest” ever!
This was a WWDC like no other, from the unusual lack of leaks beforehand (although we won big on some of our prediction bets at Travelport Digital) to the multiple hardware announcements, this was Tim Cook in full Spinal Tap mode as he “turned it up to 11”. Watched by 5,000 eagle eyed developers from 75 countries (including our very own Elton Mendes) in the packed McEnery Convention Center, as well as millions of Apple devotees around the world, #WWDC17 was indeed both big and the best.
A lot was packed into the two and half hours onstage so we’ve summarised the key software and hardware announcements below.
App Store: If apps are dead, someone needs to let Apple know
Like we said at the start this was a WWDC like no other so there was none of the usual opening slides of number updates, Tim simply started by saying “Apple is doing great”. But not before dropping some huge stat bombs like “180 Billion apps downloaded to date” and “500 million weekly visits to the App Store”. Apps are dead? Ppfft, not in Cupertino they’re not!
iOS 11: Turned up to...
Hundreds of new features added to the world's favourite OS, including…
Apple Pay: As rumoured, peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments were announced (only in the US for now though, arrgh!)
Siri: Real-time translation in 5 languages, a more natural set of voices and enhanced personalisation based on in-device learning from usage of Safari, News, Mail, Messages etc.
ARKIt: “The world’s largest AR platform will be launched overnight”! The new platform will enable developers to easily bring augmented reality to apps with its high-end processors, motion sensors and built-in camera.
Indoor Mapping: The Maps app now supports indoor mapping for malls and 30 major airports worldwide (of course this one peaked our interest the most at Travelport Digital).
Messages: The Messages app will now sync across multiple devices and will also see its app drawer redesigned.
Control Center: Completely redesigned, customisable and all your notifications in one place
iPad: “iOS 11 takes the iPad to a whole new level” - ‘drag and drop’, ‘app switcher’, ‘instant mark-up with the Apple pencil’, the list goes on and on.
But perhaps the biggest gasp of the day went to the App Store revamp.
After 9 years the App Store is getting a rather large facelift. As well as the brand new interface (spot the new design direction happening here folks... it’s Apple News and Music but for apps) there is a new ‘Today’ tab which highlights featured apps and games as well as a recommends section called ‘The Daily List’ and an ‘App of the Day’. Oh and by the way, Games has it’s own seperate tab. Crikey!
macOS 10.13: Virtual reality finally becomes a reality on the Mac
Mirroring the not-so-game-changing new macOS name, ‘High Sierra’ (it’s predecessor was Sierra), announcements to macOS were more about refinements rather than ground-breaking new features. Among the less 'exciting' updates Safari is set to become the fastest desktop browser and will include crowd pleasers like intelligent tracking prevention and autoplay video blocking but more excitingly Metal 2 will support VR content for the first time on the Mac *future WWDC klaxon alert - Apple getting serious about VR next?*
watchOS 4: Say hello to the new contextual face of the Apple Watch
When it comes to the latest watchOS version, there is plenty to write about. The main updates include a new Siri-powered watch face that shows customized, relevant content throughout the day (reminders, traffic updates, calendar meetings etc.) using machine learning. Enhanced fitness features (including smarter workout controls and the ability for data syncing with gym equipment), a new dock interface and a new music app were among the other updates.
tvOS: Prime Time
tvOS did not get much air time during the keynote. The only real update is that Amazon Prime Video is (finally) coming to Apple TV.
At any other normal WWDC those software announcements alone would have exhausted us but Apple carried on into the second hour, into Hardware.
iMac Pro: The most powerful Mac
Much to the delight of Apple enthusiasts, the “most powerful Mac ever” will be available from December with real-time 3D rendering and a 1080p FaceTime camera.
iPad Pro: There’s a new model in town
Proving the rumours right, a new 10.5 inch iPad Pro was announced during the keynote to replace the 9.7 inch model, while the 12.9 inch model was also given a refresh.
HomePod: Hey Siri, Play ‘One Last Thing’
The highly anticipated Siri Speaker, ‘HomePod’ (wow Apple kept that name secret didn’t they!) was officially introduced! Our colleagues at Travelport Digital who voted a Siri speaker number 1 on their wish list in our pre-event predictions poll were feeling rather smug at this point (but let’s see if they are willing to shell out the $349 once it goes to market)!
The 7 inch speaker works with HomeKit and will compete with the likes of Sonos, Amazon Echo and Google Home but it’s not a smart assistant speaker, oh no this is a music hub (yeah right Apple), with ‘the power to rock the house’. Powered by Siri, the spatially aware speaker can detect its surroundings to optimise sound and also acts as a ‘musicologist’, providing personalised recommendations. Even though Apple are positioning this as ‘reinventing music in the home’, make no mistake, this is a smart Siri assistant disguised as a speaker as it also supports reminders, traffic, weather, translation, messages and much more. Get ready for when SiriKit expands, this little woofer is going to get seriously clever!
With hundreds more updates which we don’t have space for on this blog post, this year’s WWDC keynote was the epitome of the biggest and the best. And while our developers soak up the rest of the week’s sessions and workshops in San Jose, we’re super excited to start playing around with the new beta’s and discover how the updates and new features announced at #WWDC17 can improve our products and customers’ solutions alike.
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