Apple announces new iPad Pro, iMac Pro, MacBook updates and iOS 11 at WWDC17

Alex Kidman 6 June 2017

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Apple has unveiled a host of new hardware along with updates to iOS and macOS at its WWDC17 keynote event.

Apple kicked off its WWDC17 with a not-entirely-gently mocking video discussing what the world would be like without apps if they were suddenly accidentally switched off, but it quickly switched to delivering new experiences focused around software instead. "I'm so glad that really can't happen", Apple CEO Tim Cook said. Unusually, Apple didn't update its sales figures, a usual part of its keynote process. "Apple is doing really well", Cook noted.
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New iPad Pro

It was expected that Apple would update its iPad Pro line at the WWDC17 keynote, and indeed Apple did just that. The new iPad Pro will feature a 10.5 inch display in the same essential form factor as the existing 9.7 inch model. The new iPad Pro will feature a full sized onscreen keyboard thanks to that expanded screen real estate, and there will also be a new iPad Pro keyboard to use that new screen size.

The new iPad Pro will feature a six-core A10 FusionX processor with a 12 core GPU, with a claimed 40% graphics upgrade over the existing A9X. On the camera front, a 7MP front camera will naturally support Facetime. Lightning is still the connection standard, but Apple will also offer a USB C to Lightning adaptor.

The iPad Pro line also sees a memory bump with 64GB as the entry level standard, as well as 256GB and 512GB options available, as well as LTE-enabled versions. Ordering will start today with shipping next week.

In terms of pricing, Apple listed US pricing starting at $US649, $749 and $949, while the 12.9inch model will sell for $US799, $899, and $1099. In Australia, we'll pay the following prices for the new iPad Pro, which will ship from 13 June 2017:

AppleAustralian iPad Pro Pricing
10.5in 64GB$979
10.5in 64GB LTE$1,179
10.5in 256GB$1,129
10.5in 256GB LTE$1,329
10.5in 512GB$1,429
10.5in 512GB LTE$1,629
12.9in 64GB$1,199
12.9in 64GB LTE$1,399
12.9in 256GB$1,349
12.9in 256GB LTE$1,549
12.9in 512GB$1,649
12.9in 512GB LTE$1,849

For iPad, the new version of iOS will allow for a larger dock that can be summoned from any app, enabling wider multitasking support. iPads will also get drag and drop features for images, text and other content. Apple is also finally opening up the file system for iPads with the new Files app, which will support iCloud, as well as third party providers such as dropbox. If you're an Apple Pencil user, the new Notes app will also incorporate handwriting recognition.

New Mac hardware

Apple used the WWDC keynote to announce new iMacs with 500 nit displays, considerably brighter than the existing 5K displays currently sold. Predictably the new iMacs will support 7th generation Intel Core "Kaby Lake" processors.
Existing memory configurations will double, and fusion drives that use a mix of solid state and mechanical drives will come as standard.

The entry level 21.5 inch iMac will include Intel's own Iris graphics solution, while the higher end 21.5 inch iMacs will use Radeon Pro 555 and 560 GPUs as standard. On the 27 inch iMac front, Radeon Pro 570, 575 and 580 GPUs will come as ordering options. Pricing for the new iMacs in Australia will start at $1,899 and heading upwards depending on configuration.

On the notebook front, the MacBook Pro line also saw an update, with a predictable shift to Kaby Lake and faster SSDs. Surprisingly, the MacBook Air, which many saw as being near end of life will also see a slight jump in CPU speed for new models. All new models of the iMac, Macbook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air will ship from today. In Australia, the new Macbook Pro pricing will start at $1,899 for a 13 inch model, again heading upwards depending on the model you want.

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Apple also teased a new iMac line, the iMac Pro in a space grey finish. Apple had teased new Mac Pros earlier in the year, and it appears that the iMac Pro will at least partially fulfil that demand. Intel's Xeon processors will feature with up to 18 cores, with AMD's Radeon Vega graphics on board and up to 128GB of onboard memory. Apple won't release the new iMac Pros until December, with US list pricing starting at $US4999.

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iOS 11

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iOS 11 was an expected update, which we'll see later this year. New features will include a redesigned app drawer. iMessage will head to iCloud, allowing for automatic synchronisation of messages on new devices, including automatically deleting messages across all signed-in devices.

On the Apple Pay front, Apple claimed that it would hit a 50% retail availability in the US, although its Australian adoption has been much slower. The new feature for Apple Pay will be person to person payments, built into iMessage, authenticated via TouchID and sent to your Apple ID, although you will be able to then transfer on to a bank of your choice.

Siri's voice will also get an upgrade under iOS 11 with machine learning used to deliver a greater degree of inflection on spoken results. Apple also claims that it will include better contextual responses, as well as machine translation across multiple languages. Translation will initially support English to Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish, with more languages set to "come soon", according to Apple's Craig Federighi.

The iOS Camera app will also see an update, with the key headline feature being a new image format for images, high compression compared to JPG. You'll still be able to share out in the common JPG format, however. The OIS in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will allow for better low light performance. The new Photos app will include an upgraded memories feature with smarter selection process.

Apple's Control Center for iOS 11 will feature all of its controls in a single interface direct from the home screen, with 3D touch used to reveal further controls without needing to swipe for additional features, while Apple will also build in a car-specific do not disturb mode that will include automatic reply notification for messages.

Homekit speaker support will be built into iOS 11, including an updated version of Airplay, dubbed Airplay 2. Apple TV (4th Generation) will also support Airplay 2.

Apple Music will incorporate friend listening lists, including indicators if you're listening to a track your friends are also enjoying. Apps will also have developer access to Apple Music, with Apple looking to developers to further enhance the Apple Music experience.

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On the App Store front, Apple claimed that 180 billion apps have been downloaded across the 9 years of the App store's life, covering some $US70 billion in developer payments. The App store on iOS will also see a design refresh, with a new "Today" tab, that will highlight apps and developers for consumers to discover. Games will get its own tab within the iOS App Store app, including direct links to IAP content. Non-game Apps will sit (naturally enough) on the redesigned Apps tab.

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Apple is also making a play for developers to produce AR apps with ARKit, an API for developing AR content, showing off an impressive live demo adding items to a live AR video feed. ARKit uses the inbuilt sensors on the iPhone to detect surfaces and render objects using third party frameworks. ARKit will enable apps such as Pokémon Go to incorporate real-world placement of Pokémon in the popular game.

Amazon Prime video coming to tvOS

Apple actually kicked off its lengthy keynote with a very quick update for tvOS. There's no sign of new hardware, but instead an increased push for new content partners. The headline news there is the inclusion of Amazon Prime Video for Apple TV. It will appear later this year, although it wasn't clear if this would just be the 4th generation Apple TV, or older models where Apple push loads apps to the platform.

watchOS4: New faces, fitness tracking and gym synchronisation

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Apple's updated version of watchOS will include a siri-based watch face with new complications based on the AI learning around your actual usage routines, or at least that's Apple's claims. This will include third-party apps as well as Apple's own inhouse apps. For those who are more into Apple's somewhat hippie roots, the new Kaleidoscope fade features (you guessed it) a kaliedoscope. For the kids, new Toy Story watch faces with Woody, Jesse and Buzz from the Pixar movie series will also debut with the new version of watchOS.

Apple's activity tracking feature in watchOS will include new personalisation, including coaching prompts and monthly challenges. The workout app gains a new UI with faster starts for fitness activities. For swimmers, resting at the edge of a pool will automatically mark a set point before setting off again.

watchOS will also support NFC syncing with selected gym equipment to launch workouts and track heart rates dynamically across both devices. Your gym will have to support the new connectivity, with Apple claiming that new equipment will ship in the northern hemisphere autumn timeframe.
On the developer front, Apple states that apps will have greater ability to run in the background, as well as enhanced Bluetooth connectivity for new apps. Apple stated that watchOS 4 will appear for consumers in Autumn in the northern hemisphere.

Apple macOS High Sierra: New filesystem, Safari updates

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Tim Cook declared the Mac as the "heart and soul of Apple" at the keynote, and for a developer conference that meant unveiling the next version of macOS.

The next version of macOS will be a direct upgrade of the existing macOS Sierra, and thus will be named macOS High Sierra. According to Apple's Craig Federighi, the updated Safari will be even faster than other competing browsers. 80% faster in Javascript than Chrome. One consumer-pleasing feature here will be the inclusion of autoplay blocking in Safari, so noisy web ads or embedded video content won't automatically play. Intelligent tracking prevention will enable greater levels of user privacy.

On the Mail front, full screen split view will be added, as well as Spotlight integration for faster mail searches. Apple will also update its Photos app with a persistent sidebar, new filtering options, and image synchronisation across multiple devices. New editing tools in Photos will include curves and selective colouring, as well as syncronisation between popular photo editing tools such as Photoshop.

It was widely predicted that Apple would use its WWDC17 keynote to announce the integration of a new filesystem for Macs, and High Sierra will indeed use Apple's own Apple File System (APFS). APFS is a 64-bit file system with inbuilt integration and (according to Apple) considerably faster performance. High Sierra will support .H265 for 4K HDR video encoding, including hardware acceleration for newer Macs. The new Metal 2 GPU library will (again, according to Apple), accelerate GPU performance across a wide variety of apps.

Metal 2 will also enable external GPU usage via Thunderbolt/USB C for those developers who wish to enable it, and Apple will offer an external enclosures for new GPUs. Apple will also support VR development via Metal, although there's no sign of an Apple-developed VR headset as yet. A developer beta was immediately made available, with a public beta available from late June, and general availability in the Autumn timeframe in the northern hemisphere.

All the WWDC17 headlines


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