Apple started WWDC 2017 keynote with a video titled Appocalypse , which showed a glimpse of what would happen if apps suddenly disappeared. Then the show continued on to discuss the amazing new announcements for Apple users and the ever increasing app developer community.
There was so much to announce during the short period, that Apple skipped the general update of how each of their platforms and products are currently performing. The topic directly shifted towards the most important points that Tim Cook and his team at Apple wanted to talk about.
It started with Apple announcing the next OS version of one of the most popular smartwatches on the market, watchOS 4. The focus for this update has been on improving what is already good and working well with the platform. A new Siri watch face was announced, which would enable users to get useful information right when they need it. Along with this, the fitness features of the watch are getting a boost with the introduction of smart coaching and challenges for the Activity app on the Apple Watch.
One of the most interesting announcements for watchOS 4 was the ability to interact with gym equipment using the Apple Watch's NFC capabilities, which go to show that Apple is looking to slowly enable access to the watch's NFC capabilities to the wider developer community soon.
Apple has also opened up access to the watch's Bluetooth system for devs to connect other devices to the watch, using native Bluetooth, enabling them to create unique and innovative ways for users to use the Apple Watch.
MacOS High Sierra
MacOS High Sierra is the name of the latest update announced for the Mac operating system. As part of this update, Apple seems to be working towards moving away from traditional filing systems and introducing its new advanced filing system called APFS (Apple File System). Along with that Safari has got an update as well, improving its speed and enhancing security for users by limiting the user's activity tracking by other websites.
With the new OS, Apple has updated its already widely used graphics processing engine, Metal. Metal 2 was updated with a focus to smoothly handle processing of machine learning capabilities on the Mac's, as well as to enhance the Virtual Reality capabilities of these devices.
Apple also announced that Steam VR would be soon available on and work appropriately with the new MacOS High Sierra, with support from both Unreal and Unity engines.
The MacOS is not the only platform being updated; the iMac family has also been updated for 2017. New processors, GPU's and USB-C's have been added to the latest version of iMac's. Along with them, the higher end versions of the iMac are being made to work with Virtual Reality programs and systems as well.
But the star of the iMac announcements which Apple will not release until end of the year was the new iMac Pro. This device will be aimed towards users with high graphic and processing power requirements, who usually work with powerful workstations as of now. These devices can be upgraded to insane levels of processing capabilities and can enable users to create amazing pieces of content.
Apple also announced the next version of iOS, iOS 11. This new version of the most popular mobile operating system will enable users to perform peer to peer financial transactions using Apple Pay, the amount received will be stored temporarily in a PayCash wallet, which the users can use for directly making purchases or transferring the money back to their bank accounts.
Apple has also opened up more of the SiriKit while making Siri more proactive at the same time. For the latest version of iOS, Apple is also changing the file system in which the images are stored currently from jpegs to heifs.
Another significant change in iOS 11 will be the redesign of the control centre, which now lets you perform a lot more tasks in a better way and also enable you to use 3D touch to access more options right on this screen.
This update is also going to make using the iOS devices while driving a vehicle very safe. The new do not disturb while driving mode enables users to completely switch off all notifications from apps and messages while the user is driving. This disconnectivity ensures that the user is more focused on the road and distracted by their devices every time a new notification appears.
The ability to share content from iOS devices to compatible devices will be improving along with the launch of the new OS. This sharing will happen because of the introduction of the updated version of Airplay with Airplay 2. This protocol will be opened up to third-party manufacturers to create Airplay compatible devices using the Airplay 2 API.
Apple also opened up the Apple Music and its vast library to all the developers using MusicKit; enabling them to create apps which can access songs and users playlists directly within the app.
Apple also announced ARKit, which will come as part of the iOS 11 development tools and will enable mobile app devs to create better Augmented Reality experiences for their users.
Apple announced the new 10.5 inches iPad Pro along with an updated 12.9 inches iPad Pro. These iPad's are being made more robust and inched towards the dream of replacing a laptop with updated iOS 11 for iPad's. iOS 11 for iPad's will have better multitasking abilities with the introduction of Launchpad and the capacity to switch apps in an easier way than the current system. Along with that, the OS will also enable users to drag and drop items from one app into another in a very natural and intuitive way.
One of the main reasons why users could not replace a laptop with an iPad was because of the lack of a proper file system. This pain point will be solved with iOS 11 with Files for iPad. This update will bring the ability to access the file system from iCloud as well as other systems like Dropbox and Box.
The notes app is also getting a major update with the ability to tap with the Apple pencil on the iPad's screen to directly launch the notes app (even when the device is locked) and the capability to search through handwritten content as well. The notes app can now even scan documents in a very intuitive and easy way, enabling users to go completely paperless.
Apple has officially entered the smart speaker market with the HomePod, a beautiful looking speaker created by Apple which will not only enable users to stream music from their Airplay 2 compatible devices but also act as an assistant using Siri. The speaker will come with the ability to access Apple Music and the user's playlists and library, enabling users to play any music they want at short notice in their homes.
Enabling Siri gives the speaker ability to not just listen to music but also provide information to the users, as well as be able to interact with other HomeKit enabled devices linked to the user's Apple devices.
There was a lot announced in this short period. As mobile app developers, we enjoyed all of the amazing announcements and cannot wait to get our hands on all the API's, updated OS's and newly launched devices to see what we can potentially build with these.
Apple's support for AR, VR and CUI could not come for us at hedgehog lab at a better time. Continuous research into these areas as well as having a lot of experience working with the Apple ecosystem, gives us a unique opportunity to bring our immersive and conversational UI experience together with our understanding of the Apple ecosystem to create truly unique experiences for our mobile partners and their users.