Apple WWDC 2017 – The Software

After a typically cheesy video, Tim Cook took the stage at this years WWDC 2017, one of Apple’s most highly anticipated Calendar moments, despite a slight delay on getting started, and was set to release quite a bevy of updates to keep us all satisfied for the next year or so once everything is rolled out and released..

The first topic of all Events is typically updates, but honestly Apple had a ton of stuff to announce, but did mention a few facts for us in terms of the App Store. Apple now have over 16 Million Registered Developers, 3 Million of which were added just in the last year alone, and we’ll get more to the App Store as we peg on.

Interestingly about this years WWDC 2017, was it was just as much a hardware event as it was a software one, but we know it’s software everyone looks for in these events, so we’ll kick things off there!

If you’re looking for what Apple announced in the hardware department, you can click here!

tvOS

To say Apple mentioned tvOS is an over exaggeration, but Apple did announce that now over 50 partners and channels support the still US-only TV app, and that Amazon Prime will be coming to Apple TV later this year!

watchOS 4

First up is watchOS 4. This release, rather disappointingly was a small one, don’t get us wrong, Apple did introduce a collection of new features coming for Apple Watch owners, but none of which we expect will be that noticeable. That’s not to say a collection of features weren’t introduced, but let’s just say, don’t hold your breath.

New Faces

Apple introduced two new collection of Watch faces for the Apple Watch in watchOS 4, including some rather weird Kaleidoscope faces, one of which is shown on the image above on the right, as well as some Toy Story watch faces to go with the existing Mickey Mouse ones. Toy Story faces include Woody, Jessie and Buzz.

New Activity Features + Interactivity with Equipment

One of the most useful additions coming to the watchOS 4 update for those working out, is the new integration with Gym equipment using the Watch NFC chip to synchronise Data for your Activity. Apple claim machines with this functionality should be coming Fall of this year.

In terms of Activity goals, users will now get a much more visual cue on when they’ve reached Goals, with more insights coming as well as you go about achieving Workouts.

New Workout Design

Speaking of Workouts, a new Workout app design is now far more graphical, and you can now Create a new Workout, in the middle of a current one. Allowing you to mix Workout data more accurately and more accordingly.

Workouts now also link in with your Apple Music service, so Music suitable for a Workout, including Media Controls, can be found and actioned upon from within the Workout app.

Other features

  1. Dock: The Dock on the Apple Watch now instead of going left to right, now scrolls top to bottom
  2. News: The Apple Watch now gets the new News app
  3. Music: Apple Music Subscriptions and Playlists now feature in the Music app on Apple Watch
  4. Flashlight: Likely using a bright light on the Display, but a Flashlight function is now in the Control Centre on Apple Watch
  5. Native Core Bluetooth: The Apple Watch can now connect to Core Bluetooth devices, such as monitoring equipment, such as Glucose trackers and more.

watchOS 4 is available Today as a Dev Preview, with the usual Fall release.

macOS High Sierra

Just like with watchOS 4, if you were hoping for a fully user feature release from macOS, you’re about to get disappointed, as with the new release ‘High Sierra’ … no really, that’s what it’s called, we’ve another Snow Leopard / Mountain Lion esc release, focusing on refinement and smoothening out any rough edged in Sierra, which to be fair we’re never going to complain about in fairness.

To discuss the changes coming to High Sierra, Apple separated the talks in to two sections, Refinements and Technologies … ironically the same separators that Google used to separate the future of Android.

REFINEMENTS

Safari

Safari in macOS High Sierra has finally done it, the browser is now officially the worlds fastest and most efficient browser available today. Apple went a step further by including Windows in this. All tests were done via a MacBook Pro 2016 running macOS High Sierra and Windows 10 for Microsoft Edge.

Apple also introduced some new features to Safari including a new AutoPlay Blocking feature, which allows you to Stop any Autoplaying content whilst on a webpage.

Intelligence Tracking Prevention was also added to Safari, which allows machine learning to attempt to prevent you from being tracked entirely surrounding the use of Safari following a purchase, or visit to a webpage. Apple say this won’t affect relevant ads however, though it will be interesting to see how that balance has been struck.

Photos

Apple have added a collection of enhancements to the Photos experience in macOS High Sierra, some of which effect the experience cross devices, including now fully synchronising Faces across devices.

Apple have also added a collection of new Editing Tools into the Photos experience, including Curves, Selective Tools and more.

Whilst Apple used to have the ability to Print Photobooks, the company is now leaving that to third parties, it’s unclear whether that will be built in to Photos going forward though.

Other features

  1. Mail: Spotlight search added in to Mail, as well as Split View in full screen mode. Mail also now uses 35% less disk space to store all your Mail items
TECHNOLOGIES

Apple File System (APFS)

Apple introduced the new Apple File System in to the recent iOS 10.3 release, which with it saw an incredible increase in performance and File management capabilities, but that was iOS, with macOS Apple will be tested heavily on integrating their new File System, and it will be interesting to see how well they implement it, and the benefits which we hope to feel on the iMac we’re writing this post on now.

The Apple File System is expected to introduce so much new technology which will vastly enhance general use of your Mac, a demonstration of the same hardware Duplicating near 7GB was done instantly using APFS, compared to 5-10 seconds on HFS, Apple’s previously used File System, so we should see great improvements.

Support for H.265 Video

Most of the Video you likely consume today is made up of H.264, mainly as it provides the correct number of compression and quality needed to view smoothly, and most importantly stream seamlessly online. Well, now it’s time to go to the next level, which is H.265. The main requirement of the new standard is naturally the growing popularity of 4K content, which requires a new standard of compression and quality efficiency which can only be delivered by the new standard.

H.265 video naturally requires deep hardware acceleration so will naturally only be supported by 2-3 year old Macs, but once it becomes mainstream, it will be interesting to see the technology in action.

Metal 2

Apple have announced a new version of their Metal architecture, which naturally will be coming to iOS too, Metal 2. What’s incredible about Metal 2, is that it increases the Graphical draw-rate by yet another 10X, which the original release of Metal was already 10X from OpenGL, so this is incredible Graphical computation possible out of Metal 2.

Apple have gone as far as to write the entire OS using Metal 2, to keep everything as smooth as possible, something we can’t wait to check out as let’s be fair, Sierra does lag quite a bit, even on decent level hardware.

Metal for External Graphics

This is a big one! Apple are finally allowing the use of Thunderbolt 3 External Graphics on the Mac. This means you will be able to plug in external Graphics to your Mac at any given time to pump up the graphics to the absolute max.

To get the service perfected, Apple is offering a Developer Kit featuring AMDs latest Radeon RX580 USB-C Thunderbolt Graphics Card, for those to test. This will work on the 2016 MacBook Pro and later, and any future USB-C Macs going forward.

Metal for VR

With the power of Metal 2, VR is finally possible on the Mac, with support for Unity, Unreal Engine as well as Steam VR all coming to the Mac. Apple’s Final Cut Pro X software is also being updated to support VR with VR ready editing capabilities being built right in!


macOS High Sierra is available Today as a Dev Preview, with the usual Fall release.

iOS 11

Apple said they’re turning iOS up to eleven with the release of iOS 11, and whilst that maybe rather an exaggeration using the irresistible pun, iOS 11 is a rather minimal release for the iPhone, but an absolute necessity for the iPad, bringing things the iPad has been needing almost since the day Apple put a “Pro” in a product name.

That’s not to say the update isn’t massive for all, and with 86% of users currently running iOS 10, this is going to be an update many will be expected and looking forward to, but let’s just say, you iPad users are getting a heck of a lot more.

ON THE iPHONE

We’re going to kick off iOS 11 in the area it’s rather less of an update, being the iPhone. As always there’s a collection of under the hood improvements, and items all over the place set to improve the experience of using your iPhone, so we’re going to go over those first, before hitting the big features of iOS 11 for your iPhone!

The little things

  1. Messages now has a much more compact App drawer, and Messages will now sync across iCloud cross all your devices including Message deletion
  2. Siri has new much more improved Voices in both Male and Female
  3. Siri can now to translation beta
  4. Photos taken from your Camera will now be taken in a new HEVC format, with offers the same JPEG quality, but taking up half the storage. Compatibility sharing though will be supported.
  5. Do Not Disturb now has a new feature called ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’, which will Mute non-urgent Notifications if the device detects your connected to a Car
  6. HomeKit now supports Speakers, allowing the Control of Speakers, as well as Multiple Speakers at the same time offering simultaneous Audio using the new AirPlay 2 standard.

Control Center

One of the most noticeable changes you’ll find in iOS 11 is the new updated Control Centre, which not only looks a lot better and is now part of the same page, but finally introduces a collection of 3D Touch commands throughout the Control Centre. Where currently, 3D Touch is barely used to change the Flashlight brightness, now it’s used for everything, 3D Touch on the WiFi, you get a full context menu surrounding WiFi, 3D Touch on the Music brings up Music controls, all of this is now finally sorted and organised across the entire Control Centre.

Apple Pay

This is a great feature coming in iOS 11, and it’s where you’d expect it in Messages, this is Apple Pay for person-to-person Payments and we love it! One of the biggest hindrances surrounding sending money to different people is the difficulty surrounding how to do it. You’ve to get their Card information, or PayPal information, what if they don’t have PayPal, the troubles can potentially go on and on, but with Apple Pay within Messages, that’s all gone which is why we think this is great!

First thing is compatibility, which is sorted straight away as it’s built in to Messages, and the only devices that can receive an iMessage (in iOS 11), are compatible with Apple Pay. Second is use, you authenticate using Touch ID with your Apple Pay account built in to your device. If the recipient doesn’t have Apple Pay set up, they can still use the money you’ve sent to authenticate that amount or less using Contactless Payment using the Wallet, or the most likely scenario, send the money to their Bank account, but the convenience is right there!

Photos

Photos has seen a big update in iOS 11 in two ways, first being the use of Faces now synchronising across all your devices as we mentioned in macOS, but now with the built in Editing functionality built in which is much more featured.

The biggest change to Photos on your iPhone and iPad is the editing of Live Photos. You can now crop Live Photos, change the viewable still Photo, and even apply effects to your Live Photos as well;

  • Loop: Looping allows you to make your Live Photo a consistent loop
  • Bounce: Bounce allows your to make your Live Photo go from start to finish, then finish to start
  • Long Exposure: Long Exposure allows to create a seamless blur effect as if made using a Timelapse

Maps

The big update coming to Maps involves taking Navigation indoors. With the Maps app, you will be able to enter Shopping Centres, Airports and over time, anywhere indoors, and get a Map of the area right from your Apple Maps app, meaning you’ll be able to not only find your way around outside, but inside as well.

Maps also has a few updates in terms of Navigation whilst driving, including Land Guidance and Speed Limit displays.

Music

Rather small update coming to Apple Music, includes the ability to share your Music interests with your Friends, allowing Friend recommendation right in your Subscription. This is optional from both ends, but will allow you to share Music interests with your friends.

ON THE iPAD

If you have an iPad, iOS 11 is going to be massive! This is what we’re most excited about with iOS 11, and how could you not be based on what you can already see going on in the image above, this is what many never thought would come to the iOS platform, yet here it is!

Dock

Your iPad now has the ability to host a Dock, just like it does on your Mac, with a much wider list of Applications able to be launched from it as well. The Dock is also intelligent, giving you the ability to view your Siri Suggestions to the right of your Dock as well with the same Mac-like separator.

But that’s not all, the Dock can also be used to Drag and drop icons to initiate Split View offering a much better experience for multitasking on an iPad. The Dock can, at any time, be brought up using a swipe up from the bottom.

New App Switcher

If you swipe up entirely on your iPad, you will be presented with the App Switcher, which is whats shown on that image above. The App Switcher now features nearly everything you need right there on your iPad. It features your Dock, it shows your Apps running at the moment including any Split View apps in use, and it shows the same new Controls Centre introduced on the iPhone with a new Notes shortcut for Pencil users.

This alone highlights a massive shift in the capability of your iPad just after this software update to iOS 11.

Files app

When you install iOS 11 on your iPad, you don’t just gain a Files app, you gain an incredibly capable File Manager, with full Drag and Drop support (including MultiTouch, multi-Drag and Drop support), Folder creation, integration with all popular Cloud services and local Storage as well!

Just like the Mac Finder, you’ve a customisable Sidebar with your common Locations, Tags support and a Spotlight search to get to the File you’re looking for quickly.

Whilst you can access local Files, you can also View files from services such as Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and naturally iCloud Drive, from the same Files app. The app also features a Recents view, so you can find what you were working on last quickly and easily.

Markup

Markup has gone far from being just a feature built in to Mail and Photos to make quick annotations, it’s now so much more than that now. With iOS 11, it takes the Markup capability to the next level with 3 built in functionalities;

  1. Screenshots: When you take a screenshot, the screenshot will briefly show up in the bottom left of the screen, tapping that will bring you in to the Markup UI, where you can Crop, annotate and more, before saving or sharing the image afterwards.
  2. Scan and sign: You can now within the Notes app, scan a Document (as shown on the image above), which will automatically import as a viewable image, and Markup on that image, including Document signing and so much more. This alone is a massive and incredible productivity feature right there built in to Notes of all things.
  3. Tap lock screen for Apple Pencil: If you’ve an Apple Pencil, you can now tap the Lockscreen on your iPad Pro, and get instantly in to a new Notes document, where you can draw, write a Document straight away.

iPad Keyboard

The iPad QuickType keyboard now includes a drag down functionality to quickly add Symbols whilst typing a document.


iOS 11 is available Today as a Dev Preview, with the usual Fall release.

Augmented Reality

We knew this was coming, Apple today announced they were stepping deeply in to the world of Augmented Reality, and let’s just say we’re very excited about this!

Whilst Virtual Reality seems to be the thing that everyone is getting in to, especially now the Mac is VR Capable, the issue with VR is it requires additional hardware and an environment capable of it to work, AR doesn’t. What’s interesting about the way Apple are taking Augmented Reality is that it looks very similar to the Google Tango effort, which has always been something incredibly interesting to us, however unlike Google Tango, Apple’s AR solution doesn’t require specialised hardware, it just requires an iOS device, which we think it’s easily key to its further success!

To accomplish this, Apple have introduced ARKit, Apple’s Developer Kit for all things AR, and already announced that iPhone and iPads available today can already take advantage of ARKit right now, which is incredibly exciting to hear, especially that this is an iOS 11 feature, not hardware specific feature!

Apple demoed, Lego Batman (shown above), a version of Pokémon GO supporting ARKit to which the differences was literally night and day, and an incredible display of Graphics and Performance capabilities in an app called Wingnut AR, which showed a real world environment on a table, with an attack on a small civilisation.

We’re very excited about Apple’s effort in AR, and suddenly have forgotten all about Google’s Tango efforts, as this doesn’t require specialised hardware, just what you already have, which will always be the key to any success of new technology.


Summary

And there you have it, that’s EVERYTHING Apple announced at WWDC 2017 Software wise. But, Apple did announce a surprising amount of updates to their Hardware as well, which you can read about right here!

Published by R-Tech

R-Tech is the source of all the latest Technology posts on RKUK Media.

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