The Apple annual World Wide Developer Conference kicked-off today in San Francisco. Here’s the most important announcements made during WWDC 2017 keynote.

 Apple started the keynote with a pretty funny video of how things would work without iPhones or iPads working (not true of course) – of how people would bump into each other, share printed photos or even play candy-crush in real life! Thats not very Apple-like for a kickstart video.

 First came the numbers – Tim Cook said that Apple now has 16 million registered developers, with 3 million registrations in the last year itself. He also focused on the diversity of developers with the youngest being as young as 10 and the oldest being 82!

 Finally, it feels good to see the various OS platforms following a similar naming convention – tvOS, watchOS, macOS, iOS.

 Unlike the previous years, Tim skipped giving out the Apple company updates – because they do have a lot of things to share in the keynote!

1. Apple TV and tvOS

Amazon Prime video will be coming to Apple TV app and all Apple TVs. There will also be tvOS updates later this year

2. Apple Watch and watchOS

Apple has always maintained that the Apple watch is an amazing way of keeping track of your health (like other smart wearables). And with good reason – Activities is probably the most used feature of Apple watch (apart from telling the time of course). A lot of emphasis from the updates is on health again

  • Activity will now be more custom tailored – it will also be more encouraging for you to reach your goal streaks.
  • Workouts app will also have a swimming-centric mode
  • Apple is also making the Activity and Workout apps more intelligent – with high interval and varied training sessions that let you do back to back workouts.
  • WatchOS 4 is getting two-way communication with gym equipment, pair it with gym machines for more accurate data collection. Initially limited to some partners and it launches this fall
  • WatchOS 4 will also let you select a playlist which will automatically start a playback when you start a workout session
  • Activity showing you how much you need to do to close out your rings for the day is just too smart a move! “15 minutes of running will get you there” – keep moving

Apart from this, Apple Watch is seeing a few other updates

  • Apple watch is going to get a Siri-focused face
  • A one-tap Siri complication which will bring up details it thinks you need – traffic updates, appointments, boarding passes, etc.
  • The information the Siri face provides will be based on your calendar, routine and your travel plans – this is big and very helpful!
  • This is dopey but well Mickey Mouse will have company – with Buzz, Woody and Jessie from Toy Story getting their own watch faces
    • The music face of Apple watch looks great and will have a nice integration with AirPods.
    • Flashlight mode/emergency flasher introduced with watchOS 4
    • Native core bluetooth support comes to Apple Watch. Ranging and LE syncing with hardware like glucose sensors and other real time accessories – that is big!

The developer preview of watchOS 4 is coming out today as well

3. macOS High Sierra

The new macOS update is called macOS High Sierra (we were a little puzzled by the name to be honest)

Safari

  • A major “Thank you” for mac users is automatic autoplay blocking on Safari. Autoplay blocking will detect when videos are trying to autoplay and auto silence them
  • Apple also now declared Safari on High Sierra as the fastest browser
  • Apple is also introducing tracking prevention to Safari, blocking ad tracking using machine learning – so sites wouldn’t know what you’ve been searching for and looking. While this is great for users, how well will ad companies take it?

Other apps

  • Mail is getting a full-screen splitview — your inbox on one side, and the message on the other.
  • Photos is getting better – better facial recognition, improved sorting and easier sharing. Photo book printing is also opening up to third parties

File systems

  • Apple’s File System (APFS) will replace HFS system that OS X has used for decades
  • The iOS transition to APFS was really smooth – so if its as great on macOS – I’d be amazed!

Graphics

  • This, according to Apple was their main story for the evening
  • Apple’s primary API for heavy graphics rendering – Metal – will be seeing huge updates. Metal2 – a new graphics API with 10x performance improvements will be shipping out soon
  • Metal framework will also use machine learning (machine learning is everywhere today!)
  • Metal for external graphics over Thunderbolt for external GPUs on Macs
  • Huge emphasis on Metal for VR on High Sierra

High Sierra will ship later this year with a developer beta out in late June. 

4. New hardware

iMacs

  • Kaby Lake comes to the iMac
  • New iMac models were announced with higher memory capacity (32gb on 21.5 inch, 64GB on 27inch). The SSD drives will be 50% faster, and up to 2TB
  • The new 21.5 inch iMac will be 80% faster in its graphic performance.
  • All 4k iMacs are moving to discreet graphics, for graphics improvement. It’s up to 3x faster
  • The 27 inch 5k Retina model will be able to push up to 5.5 teraflops, which, they note, is a “great platform for VR content creation” (again luring VR)
  • Pretty solid VR and mixed reality demo – Apple is pitching developers hard on Mac as a VR platform
  • Pricing on the new iMac models:
    • 21.5 inch for  $1099
    • 4k 21.5 inch dropping down to  $1299
    • 5k 27 inch for $1799

Macbooks

MacBooks get Kaby Lake and faster SSDs and much more.

All of the new iMacs and MacBooks will ship starting today

iMac Pro

  • “It’s going to be, by far, the most powerful iMac we’ve ever made. In fact, it’s the most powerful MAC we’ve ever made.”
  • It’ll ship with an 8 core options, a 10 core option and an 18 core option and will use Radeon’s Vega graphics, with up to 16GB of VRAM
  • It’ll support up to 4TB of storage, 4 thunderbolt 3 ports, and have built-in 10Gb ethernet (so many ports!)
  • The starting configuration of the iMac Pro will cost $4999 and will ship in December – that is pretty expensive and not sure how many takers Apple will find for it
  • One thing is for sure – the iMac Pro looks AMAZING and we’d love to get our hands on one soon!

5. iOS 11

Tim Cook said 86% of iPhone customers are running on iOS 10. He also showed a slide with a dismal 7% update rate for Android.

So, iOS 11 sees a lot of new updates

  • The keyboard app/sticker drawer within messages is being redesigned so it’s not so hidden and non-intuitive
  • Messages are also more fully synced across devices. Only recent messages are on device, which will save a TON of space.
  • Syncing will also see an improvement: deleting a message within the Messages app will delete it across all of your devices

Apple Pay

  • By the end of the year, 50% of retailers in the U.S. will accept Apple Pay
  • Apple Pay is also going from businesses to person-to-person. You’ll be able to use Apple Pay to pay your friends within the Messages app. That’ll be a big hit for Square, Paypal and the likes

Siri

  • Siri is getting new voices. It is more natural with better inflections
  • Siri also gets instant translation features. If the translations are any good, this will be a great medium of learning a new language. To begin with, this will be available in Chinese, French, German and Italian
  • Siri also gets a small expansion in hooks to add task management apps.
  • Siri will also be more context-aware and can interpret messages to suggest location or calendar events as keyboard suggestions. Or if someone sends you a message saying you owe them money, you’ll get an option to pay them directly using Apple Pay

Photos & Videos

  • Videos shot on iOS 11 will now be encoded in HEVC, allowing for up to 2x better compression without lowering quality.
  • HEVC and HEIF video and still formats on the iPhone will give images half the size
  • Live Photos can now be trimmed and you can scrub a live photo to set the main frame you want to act as the still. This is amazing as at times you miss that perfect shot by just a frame
  • A fun addition was the ability to loop live photos
  • iOS developers now get direct access to the depth information coming from iPhone cameras – Depth API allows for compositing etc.

Control Center

The control center has been a mess from a long time. But the new update that Apple has gotten out for it, we are not so sure about it – whether it was really needed. Control Center is now a single page of widgets.

3D touching on some of the controls will expand them to bring up more options. For instance, 3d touching the music controller brings up the volume slider

Maps

Maps is getting indoor navigation support for Malls and Airports. They will also include lane navigation – which is one reason why a lot of people still used Google Maps. This is going to give them competition.

Other updates

  • Do Not Disturb while driving turns the screen off automatically. This can detect when you are in your car driving and will hide incoming notifications and auto-respond to them. This will save a lot of lives
  • Pre-selected numbers on the receiving end can reply “urgent” to get through to you in the DND mode
  • Home Kit will now have speaker support.
  • A new AirPlay 2 protocol with multi-room support is also being introduced. With AirPlay 2, anyone on your WiFi can join and add to playlists without disrupting the playback.
  • There will be an AirPlay 2 API so third-party developers can tap into the multi-room functionality
  • Developers are also getting a new MusicKit API, allowing for full access to Apple Music within third party apps. Shazam, for example, will be able to auto-add music it identifies to your collection.

The App Store

  • The statistics – The app store has just passed 180b downloads, with $70b paid out to developers
  • The App Store is getting phased releases finally
  • It also went through a full redesign for the first time. A new home tab called Today was added to the Store along with the layout updates. This tab features the latest/greatest stuff as curated by Apple.
  • Apple will be able to highlight apps in the Today tab with magazine-style UI
  • Games being the most popular category will have its own tab
  • Meanwhile, non-game apps are getting their own tabs too

The App Store is getting phased releases finally – developers will be able to roll out updates on a group-by-group basis. This lets you better test updates that might otherwise kill your infrastructure

Machine Learning

Apple announced they are building a new set of machine learning APIs for third party developers – a vision API, and a natural language processing API.

ARKit

Apple is building a new augmented reality framework called ARKit. ARKit will support Unity, Unreal, and Scenekit

This introduces slick markerless AR. The next PokemonGo is going to be absolutely crazy!

6. iPad

Tim Cook calls the iPad a magical piece of glass that transforms into anything you want. Apple is introducing a new iPad Pro with a 10.5 inch screen.

A bigger screen size means a full size keyboard, both physical and external. The 10.5 inch model will most probably replace the 9.7 inch model.

Both the 10.5 and 13 inch iPad Pros will get true tone displays with 600 nits brightness – so they will be able to handle HDR video display. Scrolling and animation will also be super smooth with the refresh rate upped to 120hz.

The Apple Pencil latency is dropping down to 20ms – that is VERY low.

The refresh rate will be “smartly” adjusted based on what you are viewing – a still image will have a lower refresh rate compared to a movie. This will also help save the battery life.

The new iPad Pro will ship with a new six-core A10x CPU, which has 30% faster processing over the A9x. Battery life will be around 10 hours – not bad at all.

The base model’s storage will be increased to 64 GB. The 10.5 inch iPad Pro will start at $649 and the 12.9 inch at $799. New iPad Pros start shipping next week.

iOS 11 on iPad

  • The dock will have a “predictive” section which will try to guess what you’re going to open next. The dock view can be swiped into any other screen
  • A new app switcher will show more apps at once
  • Swiping up from the bottom of the screen brings up your dock; swiping up even further takes you to the app switcher.
  • Aaaannddd, app-to-app drag & drop will be coming to the iPad
  • A new Files app will also be introduced. It will show all your local content with nested folder and will also be able to hook into third party services like Box and Dropbox
  • Instant marking-up of screenshots will now be available on the iPad
  • Notes will let you write handwritten notes with the Apple Pencil and later search that text from within spotlight.
  • Camera has a new built-in document scanner. Snap a picture of a document and the camera will automatically straighten it, crop it and let you annotate/sign with Apple pencil – all seamless. Screenshot editing is absolutely rad


With these iOS 11 updates on the iPad, looks like Apple is going to slowly merge iOS and macOS – spaces, app windows (non-modal), drag-and-drop are making their away across both.

iOS 11 is rolling out to developers today, will go into Public Beta in late june, and will ship to everyone this fall

7. Smart Speakers

As rumored, Apple is coming out with a speaker. They are planning to launch it later in the year and are calling it the HomePod (looks a lot like the Mac Pro). The HomePod will be 7″ tall.

It’s has an A8 chip inside that handles real-time acoustic modeling and audio beam-forming, in short makes your music sound really good.

It is supposed to be spatially-aware, it tries to detect the traits of the room it’s in and optimize the audio accordingly.

The HomePod will work as a home assistant, too. It will have 6 mics in an array around its rim, with voice commands triggered via “Hey Siri”, so you can use Siri to pull in things like music, news, messages, timers, stocks, and weather.

Well the end result is something we will wait to experience to know. HomePods will cost $349.

NewGenApps has been developing apps for Mac App Store and the iOS Store for 9+ years and have worked on many top-selling and featured apps. Have an idea for an iOS app or need to get your app updated to use the latest features offered by iOS 11? Get in touch.