Apple announces HomePod, new iMac Pro, iOS 11, and more at WWDC 2017

9 min read

Every year Apple brings us a bunch of new hardware, but like with Google I/O, they deliver new software announcements at WWDC. This year, Apple didn’t hold much back in terms of new information, so let’s take a closer look at what the company has brought to the table.

Amazon Video is finally available on Apple TV

Apple kicked off WWDC 2017 with tvOS, but it didn’t have much to announce. Rather, the company focused on one thing in particular – Amazon Video is finally coming to the Apple TV. While most services have been on Apple’s platform for a while, Amazon has never allowed it. Now, they’re finally enabling that.

watchOS picks up new watchfaces and predictive notifications

The Apple Watch has seen massive sales and with its latest update, Apple is adding some welcome new features. Most of these come in the form of watchfaces, starting with a new predictive notification Siri watchface. Using machine learning, this watchface presents users with things such as upcoming reminders, traffic info, news, and more. Toy Story faces and a new Kaleidoscope face have also been added along with several new additions to the Watch’s fitness capabilities.

Apple today previewed watchOS 4, featuring a proactive Siri watch face that displays the information users need most throughout the day, personalized Activity coaching and an entirely new music experience. The update features an enhanced Workout app and introduces GymKit, a groundbreaking technology platform that will offer customers connected workouts with cardio equipment.

macOS High Sierra “perfects” Apple’s desktop OS

Apple kicked things off this year with the reveal of the next version of the company’s desktop OS, macOS “High Sierra.” This new operating system doesn’t just share a similar name to its predecessor. Rather, High Sierra just slightly improves the overall functionality. Thankfully, it does include some useful additions to Safari including improved tracking protection and the ability to automatically block video ads.

It also adds an improved files system, better graphics support with the ability to take advantage of VR headsets, and support for both Unity and Unreal gaming engines.

Apple today previewed macOS High Sierra, the latest version of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, delivering new core storage, video and graphics technologies that pave the way for future innovation on the Mac. macOS High Sierra offers an all-new file system, support for High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and an update to Metal, Apple’s advanced graphics technology that powers everything from machine learning to virtual reality content creation. macOS High Sierra also includes a number of refinements to the apps Mac users enjoy every day, including Photos, Safari and Mail.

Macbook Air gets refreshed, iMac Pro coming later this year

Along with the new OS, Apple has also updated its entire lineup of iMacs and Macbook Pros with Kaby Lake processors and faster SSDs. A new 13-inch Macbook Pro is also available now for a more affordable $1,299. Even Apple’s aging Macbook Air, which we all thought was long dead, has been refreshed with updated specifications.

The big announcement here, though, was the reveal of a brand new iMac Pro due for release later this year. The new machine, priced at a starting point of $4,999, is Apple’s “most powerful Mac ever.” The impressive machine packs up to 18 processor cores, 27-inch 5K display, and a very powerful Radeon Pro Vega GPU which is capable of real-time 3D rendering and much more.

The all-new iMac Pro, with its gorgeous 27-inch Retina 5K display, up to 18-core Xeon processors and up to 22 Teraflops of graphics computation, is the most powerful Mac ever made. Featuring a stunning new space gray enclosure, iMac Pro packs incredible performance for advanced graphics editing, virtual reality content creation and real-time 3D rendering. iMac Pro is scheduled to ship in December starting at $4,999 (US).

iOS 11 adds a new control center, AR Kit, and tons of iPad features

iOS 11 adds a lot of social functionality to the iPhone and more specifically the iPad. The more major and universal updates include a update to Siri’s voice and recognition; iMessages now sync in the cloud, along with the ability to now send money peer-to-peer (which should’ve been called Apple to Apples IMO); and lastly, low-light image and video captures has been improved, and you can now edit live photo even more.

There’s also been a new UI update to the Control Center that put all controls (toggles, media, display etc) on one page using small, squared icons — Home control now just is a shortcut to the Home app. You can 3D-press each individual control to have more in-depth control over the action. The new redesign is already getting a bunch of mixed reviews, but we know how Apple is.

As far as the iPad goes, iOS 11 improves multitasking 10-fold. A quick swipe allows us to see not only a thumbnail page of apps and the control center, but also a Dock in which you can instantly pull up apps to the main display in split view form (of up to 3 apps at a time). You can also touch and hold to drag files, folders, or photos from one app to another.

iOS is in developer beta currently, and a public beta will be available next month. The full stable release should be available later this fall.

iOS 11 is the biggest software release ever for iPad, with powerful multitasking features, the Files app and more ways to use Apple Pencil. Augmented reality is coming to hundreds of millions of iOS devices with a new platform for developers to build apps that let users place virtual content on top of real-world scenes. CoreML gives developers on-device machine learning capabilities so they can easily make apps that will predict, learn and become more intelligent. Additional features include the ability to pay friends using Apple Pay, Do Not Disturb while driving to help users stay more focused on the road, even more intelligence and a new voice for Siri and new professional capabilities to Photos and Camera.

A gorgeous redesigned App Store

The App Store has gotten a huge redesign that focuses on app discovery. Instead of the horizontal, scrollable icon, lists, we now have big vibrant cards that highlight just a few apps at a time for each category. There’s a new category as well, as soon as you open the app store, titled “Today”, that shows you not only ‘App of the day’ and ‘Game of the day’ but also a list of new apps to try out and tips for already installed apps.

Developers should be rejoicing! Not only will this new App Store UI highlight app discovery, but also will do a better job showing which apps have in-app purchase, which will hopefully help with some of the poor reviews.

The beautifully redesigned App Store is packed with original stories and editorial, updated daily in a new Today tab, as well as new Games and Apps tabs. Compelling stories, in-depth interviews, helpful tips and collections of must-have apps and games will showcase Apple’s unique perspective and aim to inform, help and inspire customers every day.

iPad Pro 10.5-inch offers more display and less bezels

Apple’s iPad product line has also been expanded even further with the introduction of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. This new model doesn’t differ much from the others with a high-resolution, Apple Pencil compatible display, but it does include some interesting new features. The first is that the bezels on this model have been trimmed down to allow for extra screen real estate without making the device all that much bigger.

The display in the new iPad Pro is also the first 120hz display on a mobile device, offering “buttery smooth” scrolling and improved viewing experiences based on what you’re doing on the device. Along with that, Apple has included the new A10X Fusion chipset which allows the device to tackle CPU intensive tasks such as editing photos in powerful photo editors and even editing 4K videos without skipping a beat or dropping any battery life.

Pricing for the new iPad Pro 10.5 lands at $649 with the optional keyboard landing at $159. The Apple Pencil remains priced at $99.

Apple today introduced an all-new 10.5-inch iPad Pro and a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, featuring the world’s most advanced display with ProMotion technology and incredible performance with the new A10X Fusion chip. The new 10.5-inch model reduces the borders by nearly 40 percent to fit into an incredibly compact package that still weighs just one pound. The stunning, redesigned Retina display in iPad Pro features ProMotion, a new technology that delivers refresh rates of up to 120Hz for fluid scrolling, greater responsiveness and smoother motion content.

With ProMotion, Apple Pencil is even more responsive with an industry-best, 20-millisecond latency for even more fluid and natural drawing. iPad Pro delivers groundbreaking performance, connectivity and versatility to tackle the most demanding tasks. The powerful new 64-bit A10X Fusion chip provides performance that is faster than most PC laptops shipping today, so tackling complex tasks like editing photos and 4K video, rendering 3D images or playing games feels effortless.

HomePod is Apple’s Echo/Google Home competitor that focuses on audio quality

Amid all the rumors about a Siri-powered speaker, and the growing competition from Google and Amazon, Apple also unveiled the new HomePod — excuse the poor name. The HomePod seems to actually be more designed to take on the like of Sonos rather than Google Home or Echo due to it’s heavy focus on audio quality rather than revamping the smart assistant, SIri.

The HomePod features 7 speakers in a 360-degree shape, that resembled the Mac Pro, and should have no trouble filling the room with spatial awareness to properly equalize its sound. While it should sound excellent for tunes, you’ll also have the full power of Siri. That means you can ask the HomePod anything that your heart desires, even harder questions like “Who plays the drums on this track?” or “What album came out on this day 20 years ago?” as well as accessing functions like HomeKit.

The HomePod will be available in December, in white or black, for $349.

Designed to work with an Apple Music subscription for access to over 40 million songs, HomePod provides deep knowledge of personal music preferences and tastes and helps users discover new music. HomePod features a large, Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters that provide pure high frequency acoustics with incredible directional control and powerful technologies built right in to preserve the richness and intent of the original recordings. HomePod will be available starting in December