WWDC 2017: Apple Announces iOS 11, New Macs and iPad Pro, HomePod, More

Posted on June 5, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in iOS, Music + Videos, Smart Home with 62 Comments

WWDC 2017: Apple Announces iOS 11, New Macs and iPad Pro, HomePod, More

In a decidedly non-developer-focused WWDC keynote today, Apple announced a slew of new products, including iOS 11, new iMac and MacBook Pros, a new iPad Pro, and a Siri-powered HomePod speaker.

As I do so often, I spent the entire 2+ hour keynote skewering or praising Apple on Twitter as needed—OK, it was mostly skewering—but here I’ll provide a more straightforward rundown of the most important announcements.

iOS 11

Apple’s flagship mobile platform is getting another major update this year, and while it comes with the usual hyperbole, the iPad-specific features are indeed noteworthy.

On the iPad, iOS 11 will provide new multitasking features that include a new macOS-like dock and intra-app drag and drop and a new app switcher, and a Files app for file management. If you have an iPad Pro, iOS 11 will also enable new Apple Pencil features, including the ability to launch Notes directly from the lock screen.

On all supported devices, iOS 11 is also adding new augmented reality (AR) functionality similar to Google’s Project Tango, person-to-person Apple Pay, Do Not Disturb While Driving, and new capabilities across many (probably most) of the built-in apps. The App Store, in particular, is getting a major refresh.

There’s also a new version of Control Center that looks a lot like the old live tiles interface on Windows phone. But it doesn’t appear that Apple is updating the terribly out-of-date home screen experience.

If you have an iPhone 7 Plus, the Portrait mode feature is being updated with optical image stabilization, True Tone flash and HDR. And live photos will provide new bounce and loop effects.

A public beta of iOS 11 will begin later this month, Apple says.

macOS High Sierra

The next version of macOS is building off the current release, called Sierra, so Apple is calling it High Sierra. (Make fun of this if you want, but it’s no worse than Microsoft using the Fall Creators Update name.) This one appears to be a mix of app updates and low-level improvements.

Starting with the latter, High Sierra will switch to the more modern Apple File System as the new default. And it will add support for the High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC, H.265) standard for 4K streaming, external GPUs over USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, and virtual reality (VR).

Plus, Apple is shipping big updates to apps like Photos, Safari, Mail, Siri, Notes, and more.

As with iOS 11, a public beta is expected in late June.

watchOS 4

Apple’s most mobile platform is getting a proactive Siri watch face, personalized activity coaching for fitness buffs, improved apps, a new GymKit app, and an improved UI. Nothing all that exciting.

tvOS

Apple didn’t announce a single new tvOS feature, but Amazon Prime Video is coming to Apple TV. So we’ve got that going for us.

New and improved Macs

For the first time in years, Apple discussed Mac hardware updates at WWDC. There were a number of announcements.

First, the existing iMac lineup is being updated with improved 21.5- and 27-inch models that add Kaby Lake processors, improved graphics, Thunderbolt 3, faster SSDs, and other improvements. You can now buy a 4K 21.5-inch model for the first time.

Apple also showed off an iMac Pro that won’t ship until the end of the year. This workstation-class device will provide a 27-inch 5K non-touch display, up to an 18-core processor, 32 GB to 128 GB of RAM, 1 TB or more of SSD storage, Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics with 8 GB or more of dedicated RAM, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports. Pricing starts at $5000.

Apple also refreshed its new MacBook Pro lineup and its older MacBook with Kaby Lake processors. The MacBook Air was updated with a new 1.8 GHz processor, too, but I believe it’s still a previous-generation chip.

iPad Pro

Apple replaced the entry-level iPad Pro, which sported a 9.7-inch display like all previous full-sized iPads, with a new 10.5-inch model that features smaller bezels in the same form factor. It’s powered by the new A10X Fusion chip and features a redesigned Retina display (2224 x 1668) with so-called ProMotion technology that provides a super-fast 120 Hz refresh rate. It also includes the same camera as the iPhone 7, for some reason.

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch models start at $650 for 64 GB of storage and can be had with a new full-sized Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil as options. You can preorder today, and the device will be available next week.

As for the larger 12.9-inch model, Apple says it has updated it to match the specs in the smaller version. So you get the 64 GB of base storage (previously 32), the ProMotion technologies, the A10X chip, and the new camera. Prices start at $799.

HomePod

This terribly-named, Siri-powered smart speaker won’t ship until the end of 2017, so you’ll have time to let the sticker shock of the $350 price tag wear off. Yes, it’s yet another personal digital assistant appliance. But it’s one that focuses on music, while providing access to what Apple says are the most commonly-wanted non-music features.

As such, it’s designed to work with a paid Apple Music subscription, though I assume it will work with other services. It features voice control, custom-designed speakers, and room-sensing technologies, and it can form a stereo pair with a second HomePod if you’re rich.

More soon

Today’s keynote was incredibly long, but I need to decompress a bit and then watch it again when it is available on-demand. But I am most interested in the iOS 11 features, especially those for the iPad, and in the new 10.5-inch iPad too. I suspect I will have more to say about these products soon.

 

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