I skipped WWDC again this year. Apple’s emphasis on iOS over the last three years removed the sparkle I once felt as a Mac user Instead of flying to California, I watched the keynote with the CocoaHeads Boston crew in a lecture hall at MIT. Daniel Jalkut was there; he does not wear his Burger King crown in person.
Despite staying in Boston again this week, I saw Apple’s 2017 WWDC keynote from a new direction. I am no longer a Mac user. For the last three years I have been a Hackintosh user at home, and a MacBook user on the job. Then I changed jobs and sold my Hackintosh. I still carry an iPhone in my pocket and wear an Apple Watch one my wrist, but I not the Apple fanatic I was a decade ago. Today I watched the keynote as an outsider.
- Amazon Prime content on Apple TV. Enough said.
Watch OS 4
- The new Siri watch face represents a push for powerful background artificial intelligence. Much more than the voice-activated query and reply routine we have today. I expect to see the Siri brand expand to fill more artificial intelligence foles in Apple’s future product announcements.
- I am a long distance runner. I train for several marathons throughout the year. Some days I need a little extra incentive to get out the door. Over the past year Apple’s Holiday Activity Challenges have kept me running even during inclement weather. Personalized activity challenges that include distance and speed goals would be a welcome addition to Watch OS 4.
- Some days I go swimming after a long Summer run. Watch OS 4 makes combining workouts easy. Hopefully it also lets me remove workouts from the list I am never going to perform.
- I only run indoors during the worst Winter storms, but when I do my Apple Watch never stays in sync with my treadmill. Watch OS 4 promises to keep my treadmill and watch in sync during my workout.
- Listening to music and podcasts on my Apple Watch is something I have always wanted to do, but syncing audio to my Apple Watch is a pain in the ass. I would be more excited about pairing a playlist with a specific workout if it didn’t require an Apple Music subscription.
- Watch OS 4 turns my Apple Watch into a flashlight, or a blinking safety light during night time runs. Eagerly awaiting the Ben Brooks review.
- The name ‘High Sierra’ sounds like it was chosen purely for the comic material Craig could deliver at the keynote.
- Autoplay Blocking and Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari are powerful privacy features that will no doubt be circumvented by online advertisers.
- Outsourcing books, websites, and other printer material from Photos.app’s projects makes sense. Apple’s only interest in the coffee table books is to showcase their own products.
- Apple File System is the new default, but will it automatically arrive on Macs with built-in RAID or custom partitions? Instant file duplication is the kind of feature computers should have had decades ago.
- It is exciting to think Apple is taking dedicated graphics hardware seriously again. Powerful discrete GPUs and external eGPUs will benefit more than just the gaming community. Apple acknowledges VR is a thing with support from major third-party players.
- The Mac OS window server now users Metal 2. It is like Quartz Extreme all over again!
- The push for improved graphics performance continues with brighter screens and more accurate colors on all iMacs. The entry-level 21.5-inch iMac features Intel Iris Plus Graphics, while the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs with Retina displays include the latest AMD Radeon GPUs.
- Unfortunately all 21.5-inch iMacs still ship with a 5400-rpm drive standard. The 24 GBs of Fusion Drive flash storage added to the high-end iMacs is embarrassing. Apple should give us the option to spec out a lightening fast NVMe SSD and pair it a roomy large capacity hard drive. The mounting hardware to install both varieties of storage simultaneously is already available in both size iMacs.
- Apple does USB Type-C right by including it alongside standard USB Type-A ports on the new iMacs.
- MacBooks also received a Kaby Lake update with faster integrated graphics, faster SSDs, and the latest latest AMD Radeon GPUs in the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Although these updates will only provide ~15% improvement over last years models, it is nice to see Apple taking the Mac refresh cycle seriously again.
- Apple closed the MacBook section of the keynote by offering a $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 128 GB SSD, and “bump in megahertz” to the MacBook Air.j0 Don’t buy either of these computers.
- The rumors were true Apple has been developing a Space Gray iMac Pro. This is the first time the iMac has been offered in an alternative color iMac in a alternative color since Indigo, Graphite, and Snow.
- With up to 18 Xeon Cores, 128 GBs of ECC RAM, 4 TBs of solid state storage, and Radeon Vega graphics featuring 16 GBs of VRAM, I am surprised Apple decided to announce there will be a new Mac Pro next year. What does a modular Mac Pro get you that a iMac Pro doesn’t, especially when you consider the expansion possibilities of 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports and external GPUs?A
- Apple Pay in the messages app makes peer-to-peer payments easy. As long this feature does not include a credit card processing fee, Apple Pay will become a game changer for everything from Craigslist to splitting the restaurant bill. Maybe you grandmother will even adopt it in time for your next birthday card.
- Siri will be available in new voices, in more countries, with suggestions, contextual news and more all straight from within Messages. Will Mac users get these same Messages features, and do they even want to be messaged my Siri?
- HEIF replacing JPEG for 2x better image compression on you iOS device. It would be great to see an option to recompress your existing photos using this new standard and bring it back to the Photos.app on the Mac. Sharing your photos as JPEGs remains as easy as ever.
- Editing, adjusting, and capturing a still frame from a Live Photo is a welcome change for the millions of people recording Live Photos accidentally.
- The new iOS 11 Control Center promises to be less of a waste of space; especially on iPad.
- Apple Maps now offers internal floor plans for popular malls and airports. A quicker way to find the Apple Store and get out.
- Lane guidance and speed limits makes Apple maps useful in California. Good luck driving in downtown Boston.
- The new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature uses wireless know-how to learn when you are driving and avoid distractions. Most people will turn this feature off, but it could be an important preemptive measure to avoid future cellphone regulation.
- Apple Music offers profiles and shared playlists. The return of iTunes Ping?
- A brand-new redesigned App Store makes its way to iOS while Mac users are left in the lurch.
- Games are separated into their own tab giving more space to the rest of the iOS ecosystem.
- The Today tab shows you a curated look at what’s new in the App Store.
- The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro replaces the 9.7 inch model with a 20% larger display and 40% reduced borders. Apple claims 10.5 inch is the perfect screen size for the on-screen keyboard and Smart Covers.
- The 12.9-inch iPad Pro gets True Tone display, P3 color, HDR, and increased brightness.
- Both iPad Pros get 120 MHz ProMotion. At twice the refresh rate of a typical LCD, animations and video appear smoother while reducing Apple Pencil latency down to 20 ms. Refresh rate is intelligently adjusted, saving battery life on static images.
- Apple once again shows off its CPU design prowess by debuting a new A10X CPU with 6 compute cores, 12 graphic cores, and 40% faster graphic performance.
- New iOS Dock enables drag and drop multitasking while preserving familiarity with Mac OS.
- App Switcher is iOS version of the Mac’s Mission Control; preserving app state and pairing.
- Drag and drop images, text, and URLs make the new iPad software a multitasking powerhouse.
- Cloud-connected Files app bring some of the power behind the Mac OS Finder to iOS, but grandma is still going to find file management confusing.
- Markup anything on you can see or print with Apple Pencil and share your comments and corrections.
- Apple notes gains a built-in document scanner, in-line drawing, and searchable handwritten text.
- The iPad is starting to feel less like a larger iPhone and more like a smaller Mac, while Notes on unlock feels like a Newton feature.
- HomePod is a 7-inch tall Homekit enabled speaker with six microphones, seven beam-forming tweeters, one upward-facing woofer, and a Apple A8 CPU.
- Available in December for $349 HomePod is just another way to bring an Apple Music subscription into your home. By offering automatic detection and balance between two HomePods, Apple thinks you will buy two of these.
So what am I most excited about?
New technologies such as the Apple File System, Metal 2, H.265 video, and HEIF photos. Apple’s return to a regular update cycle for Mac hardware. The introduction of the iMac Pro;a true all-in-one professional workstation. Apple’s increased interest in discrete graphics, VR, and the potential for Apple to support eGPU solutions in the near future.
Even though I am not an iPad user I am glad the iOS is gaining increased functionality and improved multitasking by adopting familiar features from Mac OS. I believe multitouch is the future of computing, and a stronger iOS ecosystem will deliver the future to us faster.
I would have liked to see decreased sandbox restrictions in the Mac App Store. Many of the Apps I have grown to love over the past decade are no longer eligible for the Mac App store due to these restrictions. Their absence from the App Store is hurting the Mac ecosystem, and sending the message innovation is not welcome on the Mac platform.