Apple had so much to announce at the 2017 edition of its annual Worldwide Developer Conference that it had to swallow important bits like the customary updates on status of various verticals. Still it ended up being a two-and-half hour keynote, which CEO Tim Cook tried to summarise into six different heads. But through the course of the eventful presentation it was clear this was a show squeezed into the time slot available — apparently about one hour of presentation had to be forgone or put on fast forward.
The highlight clearly was how Apple’s latest iOS 11 will make machine learning integral, while making augmented reality more accessible. Apple’s version of machine learning is woven into what its users would do on a daily basis across the operating system, right from understanding faces to suggesting apps based on incoming messages. But it also wants to give a big boost to augmented reality by opening up its ARKit for developers. That, the company says, will make it the largest AR platform in the world.
There is some serious Virtual Reality also coming to the MacBooks, which will get upgraded to macOS High Sierra soon. In fact, Apple showcased VR demos using the MacBook with some external graphics support, and HTC Vive hardware. Apple is upgrading its MacBook range with Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors, twice the memory and better graphics.
The iMac range too got upgrades with better displays, but a sneak peek of the $4,999 iMac Pro with unprecedented processing power and graphics capabilities really captured the attention of the audience. The iPad Pro range, meanwhile, got a new 10.5-inch variant which Apple seems to be pushing to replace the older 9.7-inch model. The iPad Pro has actually become cheaper while adding more muscle in processing, screen rates and display quality.
Among the other software announcements, the entry of Amazon Prime — which Cook called a creator of great original content — into Apple TV was significant. The watchOS will soon have a Siri watchface and a Music app that is easier to navigate. Apple also announced a redesign of the App Store, which clocks over 500 million visitors a month on the iOS platform.
There was one last thing, a whole new segment for Apple. It wants to revolutionise home music with the HomePod, a smart speaker for the home. Apple’s vision for the speaker is very similar to Amazon and Google’s vision for their smart speakers and hence comes with full access to the Siri virtual assistant. The difference, on the other hand, will be the ability to play the music better, with spacial context and access to the entire Apple Music store. The HomePod will start shipping in December, but India is not in the first wave.
Disclaimer: The author is attending Apple’s WWDC in San Jose at the invite of Apple India, which is paying for travel, accommodation.