For the past three years, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has stuck to new software announcements for its annual World Wide Developer’s conference. But today, Apple wrapped up the WWDC 2017 keynote with a flurry of hardware reveals as well.
Here’s what you need to know about HomePod, the new iMac Pro, new iPad Pro, iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, ARKit and everything else Apple announced.
Everyone has been waiting for AAPL to finally respond to Amazon.com, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Amazon Echo smart speaker. After giving Amazon a several year head start and rivals like Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) time to get in the game, Apple unveiled its Amazon Echo competitor.
The long-rumored Siri speaker is now official, and it’s called HomePod. Apple is emphasizing audio performance, smarts (it has an A8 processor), Apple Music integration, HomeKit support, privacy, and of course, Siri.
HomePod will be available in December, and its price is $349.
Will the HomePod be able to make up lost ground for AAPL? It looks impressive, sounds impressive and as Gizmodo wrote a few weeks back: “Even if the Siri speaker sucks, you’ll want it.”
New 10.5-inch iPad Pro
As predicted, Apple showed off an all new, 10.5-inch iPad Pro.
With minimal side bezels, it offers a 20% larger screen view than the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. That’s large enough for a full-sized onscreen or Smart keyboard while remaining just one pound. The combination should be more appealing to professional and enterprise users than the smallest iPad Pro.
The display gets a boost with a 50% brightness increase and doubled refresh rates, while its A10X CPU offers big speed and graphics performance improvements.
Updated iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro Models + iMac Pro
Apple took considerable heat from its professional users when it released new MacBook Pros last year. Rival Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) took the opportunity to move in with new products like the Surface Laptop.
Today Apple announced updated MacBook Pro laptops. They don’t address all the complaints, but do add new seventh-generation CPUs from Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC). This makes them faster, more efficient and able to compete spec-wise with the latest Windows laptops. The company also upgraded its MacBooks and MacBook Air with new CPUs, helping level the playing field with those Surface Laptops.
New iMacs feature a brighter display, with boosted specs including those new seventh-generation CPUs and improved graphics. They also get a pair of USB-C ports, while retaining legacy ports — no repeat of the MacBook Pro dongle debacle.
The company also gave a sneak peak at the iMac Pro, in a Space Grey finish with workstation-class power, including a Xeon processor, high power graphics card and up to 128GB of RAM, making the new iMac Pro the fastest Mac ever and perfect for VR content creation.
The new laptops are available starting today. New consumer iMacs also go on sale today starting at $1099, with the high end model starting at $1799. The iMac Pro comes later this year starting at $4,999.
New Operating Systems
Given that this event is aimed squarely at developers, it’s only natural that Apple focused on updates to its growing collection of operating systems. macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS will all be getting new capabilities and some of these could be potential game changers.
In particular, iOS 11 — with its new Files app — adds new desktop-like file management features, including the ability to transfer files between apps. All the better for professionals using the new iPad Pro. iOS 11 also gets person-to-person Apple Pay payment, while Siri gains a new voice and translation capability and gets smarter at personal interaction with users. With iOS 11, iPhone users also get a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode with auto-responses, based on movement.
The App Store gets its first redesign since it launched, 180 billion app downloads ago.
On the AppleTV side, CEO Tim Cook announced Amazon Prime video is coming to the TV app and Apple TV.
This year’s macOS release is called High Sierra and includes an updated Safari web browser with a big speed boost, auto-play content blocking and advanced intelligent tracking prevention. It also emphasizes graphics, including support for external graphics cards and support for VR content creation.
Apple is working hard on machine learning and leveraging its iPhone cameras for ARKit, a new augmented reality technology. ARKit uses all the sensors and cameras on an iPhone, plus the high powered CPUs and GPUs in iPhones and iPads.
Apple claims leveraging hundreds of millions of existing iOS devices will make ARKit the world’s largest augmented reality platform.
What’s Next From Apple?
You never know with Apple these days — the company seems to have a lot of new and revised products in the pipeline — but the next big reveal after HomePod should be the iPhone 8.
The 10th anniversary iPhone is expected to be a premium smartphone with minimal bezels, integrated Touch ID sensor and $1,000+ price tag.
Look for it to be announced in September, at what should be Apple’s next big product event.