The best of WWDC
Apple's WWDC 2017 press conference is in the books, and it's given us a ton of new hardware and software to get excited about. We saw Apple's first-ever smart speaker as well as the most powerful iMac ever made, and got a taste of what's next in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. Here's the biggest news you missed from the big show.
HomePod is a Siri-Powered Smart Speaker
Apple finally has an answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home. Launching in December for $349, HomePod is a compact, slick-looking smart speaker that connects to your Apple Music account and pumps out big sound thanks to a whole bunch of fancy audio tech packed inside.
But HomePod really stands out with its smarts. The speaker is spatially aware, meaning it’ll optimize music playback whether it’s tucked in the corner of your kitchen or placed in the middle of your living room. You can control HomePod via Siri voice controls, pair it with another HomePod, and sync it up with Apple HomeKit devices to make it the center of your smart home.
iOS 11 Gets Personal
iOS 11 is coming to your iPhone and iPad this fall, delivering a bunch of big changes that will make using Apple's mobile OS more personal and fun. You can now send your friends Apple Pay payments right within an iMessage conversation, as well as find out what your pals have been listening to simply by firing up Apple Music.
You can also look forward to a more finely curated App Store with how-to guides and a dedicated Games tab, as well as a reworked Control Center that puts every button you need on a single page. iOS 11 even makes Siri smarter, allowing the voice assistant to integrate with third-party apps and translate languages.
ARKit Makes Augmented Reality More Immersive
Look forward to enjoying a whole bunch of cool augmented reality games on your iPhone and iPad soon. Apple’s new ARKit for iOS 11 gives developers the ability to offer augmented reality experiences with better, more immersive motion tracking. The company gave us a few examples of ARKit in action, showing a more stable version of Pokemon Go as well as an awesome demo of the Wingnut AR demo that allowed the player to get immersed in an epic battle using just their iPad.
iPad Pro Gets Bigger, More Powerful
Apple’s highest-end iPad is about to get more powerful. The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro packs a speedy A10X processor and 12-core GPU, which allow the tablet to support fancy new features such as HDR video. The new Pro boasts a 120Hz refresh rate, which means even less latency when you’re drawing with an Apple Pencil. You can also expect a brighter display and full-size keyboards, both on the display itself and on the separate smart keyboard add-on.
High Sierra Turns Mac Into a VR Machine
The latest version of macOS is official, and it's ready to make your Mac a legitimate gaming and VR powerhouse. Launching later this year, MacOS High Sierra will optimize GPU performance for improved multitasking, smoother gaming performance and better support for external graphics amps for those who want to enjoy high-fidelity gaming on their MacBook. High Sierra will even support Valve's SteamVR platform, meaning you might someday be able to use VR headsets such as the HTC Vive on a Mac.
Creative types can look forward to better editing options in the Photos app, while everyone will be able to reap the benefits of reduced crashing and better security. The Safari app in macOS will even block autoplay ads automatically, which means a much better browsing experience for those who hate dealing with pesky pop-ups.
iMac Pro is the Most Powerful Mac Ever
Looking for a powerful new machine to utilize those High Sierra features on? Say hello to the iMac Pro. Dubbed “the most powerful Mac ever,” this beastly all-in-one sports a 5K Retina display, an 8-core Xeon processor and a beefy Radeon Vega graphics card that makes it ideal for gaming, VR and content creation. It's launching in December for $4,999.
Apple also refreshed its existing iMac line with Kaby Lake processors and improved graphics while cutting some prices – you can even get a 4K iMac for just $1,299.
Siri Makes Apple Watch Smarter With WatchOS 4
Your Apple Watch is about to get a whole lot smarter. WatchOS 4 brings a slew of exciting, Siri-powered changes to Apple's wearable, including a refined interface that puts more contextually relevant information right at your fingertips. For example, you might see traffic and weather information in the morning, a quick photo memory in the middle of the day, and a reminder about your movie tickets at night.
You can also look forward to new watch faces, a revamped Workout app and an improved Music app that will automatically sync your favorite music. Look out for the free watchOS 4 update this fall.
MacBooks Get a Kaby Lake Refresh
Despite all the huge iOS and iMac announcements, the MacBook still got some love. Apple’s laptop is getting refreshed with Intel’s 7th-generation Kaby Lake processors as well as faster SSDs, so look forward to a bit of a performance bump. The new models cost the same as the previous generation, ranging from the $1,299 MacBook to the $2,399 MacBook Pro.