WWDC — Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference — is a week-long convention showcasing the world’s most valuable technology company’s latest innovations. It is where the company demoed the Power Mac G5 in 2003, the iTunes App Store in 2008, and Apple Music in 2015, and it was no less newsworthy this year.
We head about Apple’s Siri-powered smart home speaker, a new iPad Pro 10.5, and big updates to all four operating system platforms: iOS, MacOS, WatchOS, and tvOS. Here is everything Apple announced during the WWDC keynote.
How to rewatch WWDC
If you missed the live-stream of the WWDC keynote address from the McEnery Convention Center on Tuesday, good news: Apple archived it for posterity. You will need to meet certain prerequisites to watch it, though.
If you are on a Mac, you need Safari 6.0.5 or newer and Mac OS X v10.8.5 or later. On a PC, you need Windows 10 and Microsoft’s Edge browser.
What Apple announced
Apple gave an overview of iOS 11, the next major version of the operating system on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, at WWDC.
Perhaps the most obvious improvements are a redesigned app drawer and a new Control Center with more apps shortcuts, but other changes have to do with Apple’s core services.
The App Store has been completely redesigned. A Today tab shows a scrollable list of cards featuring new games, apps, and updates, and clearer demarcations between categories make apps easier to find. Also new is editorial content: Apple’s App Store curators will publish how-to guides and lists like App of the Day and Game of the Day.
Apple’s rolling out peer-to-peer payments with iOS 11 — you can send money to friends and family, and transfer money to your bank — and better syncing between devices. When you delete an old message in iMessages, for example, some of that conversation will now sync some of your conversation history in iCloud.
A machine-learning platform, which it Apple calls Core ML, lends a hand in other areas. It does palm rejection on the iPad and can recognize images six times faster than the Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8.
That same artificial intelligence powers Apple’s new augmented reality platform: ARKit. Using techniques like motion tracking, plane-finding, and ambient light estimation, iOS 11 devices can identify surfaces like tables and orient digital objects on top of them. A new Ikea app lets you sketch out the design of a living room, and a Lego Batman app lets you move blocks around on a table. (Pokémon Go will support ARKit later this year, Apple says.)
A new Memories feature uses AI to identify sporting events, weddings, and more, and Live Photos taps machine learning to trim down videos and use any part of them as a featured photo.
iOS 11’s new Maps, meanwhile, uses AI for indoor navigation for select locations, including 30 airports and eight cities. There’s lane guidance in turn-by-turn driving directions, and a new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature that switches off your phone’s screen when you’re driving.
Apple’s new iOS ships with enhanced home control. A revamped AirPlay — AirPlay 2 — supports multi-room audio on hardware from Polk, Bose, and Apple’s own Beats brand. And new developer tools — MusicKit — give apps access to Apple Music playback data.
The developer of iOS 11 is available now and it will launch publicly in the fall. Check out our guide on how to install it.
“Just like iPad reinvented music in our pockets, HomePod is going to reinvent music in our homes,” Apple hardware chief Phil Schiller said.
Apple’s Siri-powered speaker matches the competition’s feature set blow for blow. It looks a little like the Mac Pro and packs high-end hardware including seven speakers, “precision acoustic horns,” a four-inch woofer, and Apple’s A8 processor.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. Apple’s HomePod uses real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancellation to automatically adjust the sound to the space around it. And it works with an Apple Music subscription to play tracks directly from the cloud.
The HomePod, like Amazon’s Eco speakers and Google Home, supports voice commands with the help of Siri. You can follow up, “Hey, Siri,” with commands like, “Play Beats 1 Radio,” and, “Play I’m Poppy.” And at launch, HomePod will support news updates, messages, reminders, podcasts, sports, translation, stocks, weather, and more.
HomePod can control HomeKit devices, too, including Philips Hue bulbs and connected ovens from General Electric. You can ask it about the current temperature (“Turn the temperature to 73,”) or the lights (“Are the lights on?”)
Apple stressed that HomePod’s voice data is fully encrypted and that only voice data immediately following the “Hey, Siri” command is recorded.
The HomePod will ship for $350 when it goes on sale later this year, and come in two colors: White and space gray. It will go on sale in December first in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
MacOS 10.13, the operating system that powers Apple’s iMac and MacBook lineup, finally has a name: High Sierra.
Performance is the focus. High Sierra ships with Apple’s new file system, APFS (Apple File System), which optimizes Flash/SSD storage and boasts features like strong encryption, space sharing, copy-on-write metadata, cloning for files and directories, and snapshots. And a new version of Apple’s low-level Metal graphics tool, Metal 2, boasts driver optimizations and support for virtual reality engines like Unity, Unreal, and Steam VR.
MacOS High Sierra is available to developers now, and enters public beta in June.
The iPad Pro, Apple’s flagship tablet, received a major upgrade at WWDC.
The iPad Pro 10.5 and the iPad Pro 12.9 boast sleek, slim designs and revamped software with a focus on productivity.The tablets’ Retina displays, which have the same physical footprint as the iPad Pro models they’re replacing, feature narrower bezels and Apple’s True Tone technology, which automatically adjusts the color temperature based on surrounding lighting conditions. They also boast wider color gamut, as well as Pro Motion, a new innovation that uses a combination of software and hardware to improve the iPad Pro’s screen refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz.
Under the hood of the new iPad Pro 10.5 and 12.9 is Apple’s six-core A10X processor and 12-core GPU, a significant step up from the iPad 9.7’s processor. But despite the performance improvement, the new iPad Pro models last an impressive 10 hours on battery.
Those are not the only improvements in tow. Infinity Photo, an editing tool, lets you mock up photos in real time. Notes has a built-in document scanner that the Apple Pencil can launch from the iPad Pro’s lock screen. And a new app — Files — provides access to the iPad’s on-device storage. You can search tags across third-party storage providers, and dive into nested folders, recent documents, and even iCloud content.
Finally, Apple revamped some of the Apple Pencil’s tools. You can mark up any document that prints using AirPrint, and create a PDF — or handwritten email via iOS’s Mail app — on the fly. Even better: Handwriting is searchable across apps.
The new iPad Pro 9.7 and iPad 12.9 ship next week. Both come with double the base storage — 64GB of memory versus 32GB — and start at $650.
Apple introduced a bevy of new Macs at WWDC.
The company’s refreshed iMacs have better, brighter displays than the current generation — up to 500 nits (43 percent brighter), with 10-bit dithering and support for up to a billion colors. And they pack Intel’s Kaby Lake processors, 10-bit HEVC decoding, and up to 32GB of RAM (on the 21.5-inch model) or 64GB of RAM (on the 27-inch model).
They also ship in a bevy of graphics and connectivity options. The 21-inch iMac has an Iris Plus Graphics 640 chip with 64MB of eDRAM; the iMac Retina has Radeon Pro 555 or 560 GPU with up to 4GB of VRAM; and the iMac Retina 5K 27-inch has Radeon Pro 570, 575, or 580 graphics with 8GB VRAM. All come with USB Type-C ports and support for Thunderbolt 3.
The new iMacs start at $1,100 for the 12.5-inch and $1,300 for the 4K iMac.
The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro got price cuts and upgrades. Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup now sports Intel’s Kaby Lake processor and updated graphics in the 15-inch configuration. And the 13-inch MacBook Pro now starts at $1,300 — $200 less than it used to be.
Apple also gave a sneak preview of the iMac Pro, which ships later this year. It’s the “most powerful Mac ever,” and features “dual centrifugal” fans and an eight-core (up to 18 cores) processor. Radeon Vega graphics are in tow, plus 16GB of VRAM, four Thunderbolt 4 ports, and a 10GB Ethernet port.
The iMac Pro’s starting price is $5,000 and it will be available in December.
Apple ran through the highlights of WatchOS 4, the newest version of the operating system on the Apple Watch, at WWDC.
There is a new dock that lets you vertically scroll through recently used apps and a new watch face that “proactively” displays an information using the “with the same kind of intelligence” as Siri. Pull it out during your commute to work, for example, and you’ll get traffic and weather info.
An updated Apple News app lets you save news to read on your phone, and the Apple Watch’s Workout and Activity have been redesigned. There is an auto-set for pool workouts that indicate when you completed a lap and personalized achievement updates that guide you through workouts “intelligently.”
A High-Intensity Interval Training mode is in tow with Watch OS 4’s new fitness suite, plus monthly challenges and Gym Connect, which lets you use your Apple Watch’s NFC radio to pair with gym equipment. An NFC reader works with treadmills and bikes from Matrix, StairMaster, Schwinn to show your metrics in real time.
Last but not least, WatchOS 4 ships with new animated faces — including some featuring characters from Pixar’s Toy Store. It is available as a developer preview and will launch on existing Apple Watches later this year.
Apple announced improvements to Siri, its voice assistant, at WWDC.
The newest version of Siri uses deep learning to pronounce words more naturally and interpret languages. As of now, Apple’s assistant supports translation between English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
Siri’s also becoming “predictive.” Thanks to iOS 11’s on-device learning framework, it can surface news articles, create calendar appointments, and respond to messages with your current location. It’s completely private, Apple said and synced across iOS devices.
New video-on-demand services are heading to tvOS 11, the newest version of Apple’s entertainment-centric Apple TV operating system. Apple announced that Prime Video, Amazon’s streaming platform, will be available on tvOS “later this year.”
“We launched it with support from just a handful of video channels,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said on stage. “Now 50 partners integrated into the TV app.”
- The most common HomePod problems and how to fix them
- Apple HomePod mini tips and tricks
- The best Apple HomeKit-compatible devices for 2021
- Common iOS 13 problems and how to fix them (iOS 13.7 update)
- Apple HomePod mini review: Finally, the smart speaker Apple needs