The Apple ecosystem has once again been updated. At WWDC 2017, Apple announced updates to existing hardware and software as well as new products. Too busy to watch the keynote? We got you covered. Keep reading for a brief overview of announcements and our take on these developments.
The conference ran from June 5th to June 9th and each day was packed with announcements, labs, and workshops. We know Monday’s can be slow but for Apple, June 5th was anything but slow as they presented their keynote to an excited audience.
Apple hardware updates 101: Be a Pro
Kaby Lake processors are making their way into Macs as Apple introduced hardware refreshes for the iMac and MacBook.
As the previous update was in 2015 and given that most consumer electronics operate on a standard yearly refresh cycle, it is more than welcoming to see this update. Along with updated processors, there is a spec boost to graphic cards and displays. While the 21-inch base model is built for the average consumer, those looking to do some heavier work can turn to the 21.5-inch 4K model and the 27-inch 5K model.
21.5-inch 4k model specs:
- Display: Retina 4K at 4096-by-2304 resolution
- Processor: 3.0GHz quad-core i5 (configurable to 3.6Ghz quad-core i7 or 3.4GHz quad-core i5 (configurable to 3.6GHz quad-core i7)
- RAM: 8GB (configurable to 32GB)
- Storage: 1TB Fusion Drive (configurable to 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD)
- Graphics: Radeon Pro 555 with 2GB of VRAM or Radeon Pro 560 with $GB of VRAM
- Price: $1299 and $1499
27.5-inch 5K model specs:
- Display: Retina 5K at 5120-by-2880 resolution
- Processor: 3.5GHz quad-core i5 (configurable to 4.2Ghz quad-core i7) or 3.8Ghz quad-core i5 (configurable to 4.2 quad-core i7)
- RAM: 8GB (configurable to 64GB)
- Storage: 1TB Fusion Drive (configurable to 2TB or 3TB Fusion drive or 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD) or 2TB Fusion Drive Configurable to 3TB Fusion Drive or 512GB, 1TB or 2TB SSD.
- Graphics: Radeon Pro 575 with $GB of VRAM or Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB of VRAM
- Pricing: $1999 and $2299
- The updated specs for the iMac also brings support for VR.
For some the maximum configuration option is not enough. Previously, there was the Mac Pro more commonly known as the trashcan Mac. While rumors of a new modular Mac Pro is circulating around, for those that cannot wait there is now the iMac pro.
Truly living up to the pro name, the iMac pro is a monster in the specs department.
iMac Pro specs:
- Display: Retina 5K at 5120-by-2880 resolution
- Processor: 8-core or 10-core or 18-core
- RAM: 32GB (Configurable to 128GB)
- Storage: 1TB SSD (Configurable to 4TB)
- Graphics: Vega GPU ( Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics processor with 8GB of HBM2 memory)
- Price: $4999
The workstation comes complete with a sleek space gray keyboard, and Magic Mouse 2.
From the list of specs, we already know this workstation is aimed at the professionals doing a lot of processing intensive tasks such as 4K video editing or virtual reality. While the base model will set you back 5K, the maximum configuration calculations has been done by David Gerwirtz of zdnet and is estimated to be around 17k. A pro machine at a pro price.
In both the tech world and non-tech world, the term pro implies going beyond the norm. Being a pro in a field indicates mastery. Translate that to technology and you have hardware that goes beyond the norm, able to do something more. While this can be cleary seen with the iMac Pro, it was not the only “Pro” machine announced at WWDC 2017.
Prior to WWDC 2017, the iPad Pro line had two options, a 9.7-inch and a 12.9-inch. By June 6th, the 9.7-inch was no more and in its place, a 10.5-inch upgrade. The tablet market has noticeably died down these past couple years as those with a tablet see no need in constant upgrades while those who never owned one realized that even in 2017, they still don’t need one.
While the regular tablet market is shrinking, the laptop-tablet market is still going with products such as the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro. The new 10.5-inch model is no exception. While the hardware is fantastic, it’s the upcoming features included in iOS 11 that set it apart.
iOS: Round 11
We are entering the 11th iteration of iOS and this time it is labelled as:
A giant step for iPhone. A monumental leap for iPad.
iOS 11 sets a new standard for what is already the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. It makes iPhone better than before. It makes iPad more capable than ever. And now it opens up both to amazing possibilities for augmented reality in games and apps. With iOS 11, iPhone and iPad are the most powerful, personal, and intelligent devices they’ve ever been.
With iOS 11, the iPad Pro truly shines. Below are just some of the features that Apple is promoting:
- Files app that can be synced with cloud services
- Intelligent Dock that suggests apps based on usage
- Easier multitasking with Split View
- Instant Markup that utilizes Apple Pencil to markup PDF’s
For the iPhone, iOS 11 brings a revamped control center and more importantly, revamped Messages. With increased shortcuts and implementation of Apple Pay into the app, users can now send money to each other more easily.
Apple Pay is not new but does not have the same levels of popularity as Venmo. Apple Pay implementation into Messages seemingly solves this issue and we can look forward to this feature having high usage due to the relative ease of it.
Combining services into a single app to increase usage is becoming more common in the American market. Peer-to-peer payment implementation within apps exist such as payments in Facebook Messenger and Snapcash within Snapchat. Apple is aiming to compete with these platforms but when considering that this service will be implemented on a global level, it is quite possible that it will not have the same level of popularity especially in the Chinese and Japanese markets.
This is because this type of service is not new to them and has been in use for some time. As WeChat and Line dominate the Chinese and Japanese markets respectively, these platforms already offer the same type of service in addition to other services within the app. This is especially true for WeChat, which operates as a one app ecosystem, highlighted by The Economist.
It is farfetched to say that Apple is aiming for a one app ecosystem but regardless it is interesting to note the similarities between the route East Asian social media platforms have taken and the steps Apple is taking in iOS 11.
HomePod: Speaker first, Siri Second
Last but not least, WWDC 2017 brought forward Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home, the HomePod. Marketed as both a speaker and smart device is:
The new sound of home.
HomePod is a powerful speaker that sounds amazing, adapts to wherever it’s playing, and together with Apple Music, gives you effortless access to one of the world’s largest music catalogs. All controlled through natural voice interaction with Siri. It takes the listening experience to a whole new level. And that’s just the beginning.
In contrast to Echo and Home though, HomePod is a speaker-first. Smart devices in the house are already a niche market, therefore stylizing as a speaker-first device allows it to tap into the speaker market.
Thanks for reading!
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