Apple’s Wordwide Developers Conference kicked off yesterday and the event was, as expected, filled to the brim with new features, major announcements and not-so-subtle attempts to put Google back in their place.
Here’s the biggest announcements of the event so far:
It’s been a long time coming but Apple’s Siri speaker is finally here (well, in December).
It looks like an old Mac Pro, stands at a modest 7 inches tall and is powered by the A8 chipset. Users can use it in the same way they would Amazon Echo or Google Home, but Apple’s HomePod has a few little extras to make it stand out.
HomePod uses the A8 chip to monitor the space in the room and change its sound accordingly. The ‘Musicologist’ feature works alongside Apple Music and can be accessed by talking to Siri – who can now handle complicated questions, play music on demand or send iMessages..
It will be available in black and white, and costs $349. A valiant effort but so far we can’t see it knocking Echo off the top spot.
This is a big one for us as, let’s face it, we could spend hours exploring Apple’s latest iOS updates. Like every year, Apple showcased their latest iOS update and got the tongues wagging of mobile app developers all around the globe.
Packed full of new features, iOS 11 definitely doesn’t disappoint. Siri’s voice is now much less robotic thanks to machine learning, and it’ll use on-device learning to improve users’ iOS experiences. Siri will also speak in another language for you, which is great news for the 80% of Brits who communicate with non-English speakers by speaking English with a slightly foreign accent.
Siri is also learning to predict the users’ next moves and will offer suggestions based on previous behaviours. It’ll learn interests, suggest related topics in News or will add related words to QuickType suggestions.
Other features in iOS 11 include the addition of person-to-person payments in Apple Pay and the ability to send money through iMessages. Photos and videos will take up less space, and a long exposure mode is being added to the camera. Apple Maps will be updated with lane guidance and speed limits displayed, as well as indoor maps of department stores. Users will be able to see what their friends are listening to on Apple Music (this has the potential to be mildly embarrassing), and the App Store is getting a total redesign and will look a lot more similar to the current layout of Apple Music.
Apple are adding several new faces, including a Siri face to the WatchOS 4. This face will automatically display the information which is most important to you and simply lifting your wrist will display this relevant information. This face will provide traffic information, reminders, news headlines and other location/time specific information.
The activity app is also getting updated. New workout challenges will be added, alongside a high intensity interval training mode. While we’re sceptical about the actual usefulness of fitness watches (read more here), we’re glad to see Apple doing their bit to combat the obesity crisis.
However the most exciting feature of the WatchOS 4 is the Toy Story-related watchfaces. The new faces will feature Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear, and if that’s not the best piece of techie news you’ve heard this year than you need to take a long hard look at yourself.
MacOS 10.13 High Sierra
Although a bit of a mouthful, the new version of macOS has a number of useful improvements. Photos will be easier to sort through, with Apple allowing users to filter them by order or tag. Photo editor will also be much more user friendly, with new tools available such as Curve. Updates to Safari will help to block site trackers – meaning you won’t be plagued with headphone adverts for 10 months after you’ve actually bought the headphones.
Updates also include Apple’s new file system, APFS, which will make moving files around much quicker and simultaneously free up space.
10.5 Inch iPad Pro
It’s usually software that is announced at the WWDCs, so whenever a new piece of hardware is introduced, our app developers and designers will spend the next few days deciding who’s going to take one for the team and buy it first.
This year, Apple introduced the new 10.5 inch iPad Pro, featuring a 12-megapixel camera and a 7-megapixel selfie camera, alongside 10 hours of battery life. The large screen allows for a full size onscreen keyboard and it also supports HBR video. Apple Pencil will be more responsive thanks to the new ProMotion feature – which increases the refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz.
Finally it features a six-core A10X Fusion Chip with a 30% CPU performance improvement and a 40% graphics improvement. Notes has a built in document scanner and tapping with the Apple Pencil will lead you directly to the Notes app.
The 10.5-inch iPAd Pro will start at 64GB and costs $649.
Apple’s updated the iMac line which has gone down a storm with our app designers who are already whipping out their credit cards while committing themselves to a life of porridge and packed lunches. The new line includes an iMac 21.50inch and iMac Retina 4K 21.5-inc, with better storage, screens and the latest Intel Kaby Lake 7th gen processors.
The latest iMacs are shipping now but don’t be too hasty, as Apple also announced the high-end iMac Pro with with a Space Grey finish, a 27-inch screen, 18 cores in its processor and 16GB of VRAM. Start saving!