Apple WWDC 2017: HomePod, iOS 11, new iPad Pro and everything announced

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Apple CEO Tim Cook at WWDC 2017 in San Jose started the Keynote by saying that it will be “the best and biggest WWDC ever”. The annual developer conference saw 5300 total attendees from over 75 countries. Apple now has 16 million registered developers in the program around the world, and last year alone it added 3 million new developers.

The Cupertino giant made six major announcements at the conference and here’s all you need to know about them.

1. watchOS 4

First, Apple’s VP Tech, Kevin Lynch announced next version of Apple Watch platform, the watchOS 4. It includes a new Siri-based watchface, which can automatically put priority notifications on screen, and yes, this is powered by machine learning. Users will be able to scroll through more information by rotating watch crown. The Siri watchface will keep changing throughout the day and based on user activities. But that’s not the only watchface you’ll find in the watchOS 4. There are two more watchfaces – kaleidoscope watchface and Toy Story face. The Toy Story watch face includes three main characters of the movie.

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The watchOS 4 developer preview is available from today. The public release will ship later this fall.

2. macOS High Sierra

At WWDC 2017, Apple announced update to Sierra with some improvements and refinements. The new macOS High Sierra will come with ‘world’s fastest web browser’ Safari. Apple says that Safari on Mac has been refined and is now 80% faster than Chrome. Safari comes with features like auto play blocking in browser, and intelligent tracking prevention. It uses machine learning to protect privacy.

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Other app improvements are for apps like Mail, Photos etc. Apple has ditch the old file system after three decades and the new file system on macOS High Sierra will be Apple File System. The H.264 is also changing to H.265 (HEVC), which is 40% better in compression.

The macOS Sierra developer preview is available from today. The public beta release will be in June for those users who register on Apple’s developer website. The free update available to all will be made available later this year in fall.

3. Updates to iMac, MacBooks and new ‘iMac Pro’

Apple is bringing Intel’s 7th generation Kaby Lake processors to the new iMac with “the best Mac display ever.” The new 5K iMac display’s offer 500 nits of brightness, which is 43 percent brighter than the previous generation iMac displays. The entry-level iMac gets 80% faster graphics performance than previous generation. For input, it includes two USB Type-C port which support Thunderbolt 3.

About the new iMac Pro line-up, the new iMac Pro with 5K retina display will ship with configurations up to 18-core Xeon processor, 16GB of VRAM, up to 128GB of data corruption-protecting ECC RAM, 1080p facetime camera, and up to 4TB for SSD storage.

The 21.5-inch iMac will start at $1099 and the 4K 21.5-inch iMac model starts at $1299. The starting price for iMac Pro is $4999, and it will be available in December.

4. iOS 11

Apple will be celebrating its 10th anniversary of the iPhone this year with iPhone 8. We were expecting the iOS 11 to be a major announcement at WWDC, and the new OS comes with completely redesigned control centre and all new App Store. It supports augmented reality and Apple has released a new ‘ARKit’ for developers. Other feature improvements in iOS 11 include smarter Siri, Apple Pay integration in iMessage, improved Maps with lane guidance, speed limit and detailed floor plans for malls etc.

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For the iPad, Apple is calling it “the largest iOS release for iPad ever.” Apple has 27 million Apple Music subscribers, and around 500 million weekly visitors on App Store.

5. New 10.5-inch Apple iPad Pro

Apple announced an all-new 10.5-inch iPad Pro at WWDC along with updates to the 12.9-inch model. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro weighs only 1 pound and the bezels are now much thinner than the 9.7-inch iPad.

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Both iPads come with 50% extra brighter TrueTone displays and are powered by the new A10X six-core CPU. It also includes a new 12-core GPU. These feature a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera along with a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. Apple says that both can last for 10 hours on a single charge.

The base variant of 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will come with 64GB of storage and goes up to 512GB storage. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro model starts at $649 and 12.9-inch version starts at $799. These starts shipping from next week in the U.S.

6. HomePod

Lastly, as expected, Apple officially announced the much-anticipated Siri-powered Wi-Fi smart speaker dubbed the ‘HomePod’. During the presentation, Apple pointed out how good quality wireless speakers are not smart, and smart speakers compromise on audio experience. The company says that HomePod is an ultimate combination of both. It is just 7-inch tall cylindrical shaped speaker that come covered with 3d mesh fabric on the outside. Insider, it features 7-beam-forming tweeters, 4-inch upward facing woofer, and the brain of an iPhone with Apple A8 Chip.

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The HomePod works with Apple Music subscription. It can stream directly from the cloud and play from your saved playlists. Just like Google Home, it also responds to voice command, which in Apple’s case is ‘Hey Siri’. The smart speaker can text someone, set alarms, ask for news, search information directly from the cloud, and most importantly can be control centre of all your connected device.

The HomePod starts is priced at $349. It comes in Grey and White colour options. It will be made available in December in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia to start with.