This year was packed with plenty of announcements but rather than list each one; I wanted to write about the five big takeaways in the Keynote. These indicate where Apple thinks technology is moving: and where the company wants to move forward.
iPad Pro and the Professional Tablet
It is not often that Apple showcases hardware at WWDC, but this year Apple is making sure pro users do not feel left out - in particular on the iPad. On the traditional desktop/laptop front, Apple is upgrading the iMacs and MacBook Pros with new processors, new graphics cards, more memory capacity, faster SSDs and more. However, on the iPad front, Apple is trying to find the footing with the slowly decreasing tablet market by going more professional. Not only did they come out with a 10.5 inch iPad but iOS 11 will include plenty of features for power users including:
- More Advanced Split View
- More Advanced Home Screen Dock
- Drag and Drop
- Cloud Integrated Files App
With iOS 11, Apple has made significant advancements in Photography. With Apple being the leading digital camera brand based on Flickr’s catalog and the inclusion of two lenses and Portrait mode in the iPhone 7+, it is not surprising. Apple has made several improvements to editing, searching, cataloging and viewing photos. Changes from iOS 11:
- macOS Filters compatible with Adobe Photoshop and Pixelmator
- Synchronized Categories through iCloud
- Improved Facial Recognition
- Edit Main Frame in Live Photo
- HEVC Compression for Video and Photos
- Depth API for Custom Apps utilizing iPhone 7+ Dual Lens
Music has been a big part of Apple’s story since the iPod, so it is no wonder Music has continued to be a central part of WWDC since it is inception. At WWDC2017, there was another revamp of the Music app as well as the creation of MusicKit for devs. On top of that was the inclusion of the hotly rumored Siri Speaker, which has been named HomePod.
All the rumors positioned this as an Amazon Echo or Google Home competitor, however, what’s interesting is this has been marketed as a competitor to a Sonos or other high-end home speakers perhaps more so. Apple has emphasized first home audio features like Spatial Awareness and then the Siri functions alternatively. Which isn’t to say AI tech was not highlighted…
When Apple mentions AI tech, they talk about Machine Learning first and foremost… and Siri is only a part of that. There are Siri features like:
- More Voices and Translations
- Increased Availability to Developers with SiriKit
- Siri’s Inclusion as a Device with the HomePod
At WWDC2017 Apple isn't putting all of its stock in the voice market but rather another AI tech. That tech is Machine Learning. For instance, features like the Siri Watch Face, and a more Predicative Home Screen as well as the features included with Photos are Siri branded but don’t include the voice. Machine Learning was a significant term used throughout WWDC this year and along with the showcase of the new desktop and laptop upgrades shows Apple’s desire to be the premier development tool in another space.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
When they wanted to show off the power of their new line of iMacs, they had the folks from Industrial Light and Magic come and show a demo of their VR capabilities. While it seems Siri has received a major update this year, Apple is making a claim in the VR and AR production and development industry. While voice activated assistants seem to be behind overall (with Apple not in the lead), Apple sees a significant move forward in the VR/AR industry. If you get a chance, do checkout the ILM VR Demo and the Weta Digital Demo of ARKit. Apple is showing it is willing to catch up. Maybe not so much in voice activated assistant space, but when it comes to VR/AR production and machine learning in general, they see a future.