Apple's WWDC 2017 Event: So Far


Kicking Off Strong

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Being the staunch Android supporter that I am, rarely do I get excited about Apple products and releases. This year was different however, as I had a gut feeling that Apple was about to reveal a new host of products and software that would really grab my attention.

 

It turns out my gut feeling was correct: From new software in the forms of iOS 11, watchOS4, 

and the hugely updated macOS High Sierra, to new laptops and all-in-one's including a curiously powerful new iMac Pro, Apple came in swinging with this year's announcements. Will I purchase any of these products? Probably not, although I do plan on installing and reviewing iOS 11 on my fiance's iPhone. My favorite announcement this year was probably the iMac Pro, although with the strange position it's in, the new iPad Pro might be my overall pick. Continue reading on for details on all things new for Apple.

The Redesigned App Store

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The App Store hasn't seen many sweeping changes over the years, and this year Apple decided to bring forth a completely redesigned and transformed App Store. With a complete visual overhaul, a dedicated Games tab, and easy-to-use interface, these changes look to further streamline and immerse users in newly created app content. 

 

The App Store now features a Today tab, collecting and displaying all of the newly created app content available, as well as prominent or trending new apps. The Games tab is just that: a place where all games have a dedicated section, featuring the ability to browse by category. Of course the Apps tab remains, though without games being featured in the same degree as before. Between the streamlined interface, the ease of use, and the visual and app description upgrades, this was an unexpected hit for me, and I wish Android would find a way to do something similar.

Updates to iOS 11

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It feels like forever since we've gotten a major upgrade in terms of software with Android, which has me green with envy over the all new iOS 11 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod devices. 

 

Holy cow, what an awesome update this is. I mean, what the heck. Apple has really put together something special here, and as a user interface enthusiast, I have to tip my hat to this one. Photos have been upgraded. Siri has been upgraded. In the sleeper hit of the year, the Control Center has even been upgraded. There's now high fidelity AR, courtesy of software alone with no additional hardware required. Animations have improved, GPS guidance has improved, and to see it all come together in motion is a thing of beauty. In an unexpected yet long-awaited move, there is now a Files app, allowing your to manage your files, both on-device and in the cloud. You can now drag media from one app into another, say in the form of a picture into an email, on iPad. Siri now learns what you like and dislike, and is able to curate content and word search suggestions based on that information, which is still secured privately to protect private data. The Apple Pencil has been touched up, and features a nifty new ability to handwrite notes straight from the lock screen. 

 

Speaking of the lock screen, that has now been fused with the notifications panel, and sorts notifications into Recent and All categories.. The Control Center has been completely updated, with  a new full screen view, interactive switches replacing the old buttons and sliders, and the ability to completely customize an additional list of useful toggles. Screenshots are now handled differently, with your screenshots stacking as a thumbnail in the bottom of corner of the screen. Tapping this thumbnail brings up all of your screenshots, allowing options to write on multiple screenshots, and share one or more at once. Apple Pay, Live Photos, Apple Music, and AirPlay are also more robust, rounding out an extremely well-polished software package. 

watchOS 4 Brings Welcome Additions

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Apple looks to be making watchOS something more adaptive and aware, as well as interactive and engaging, and while it may not be perfect, Apple is making huge strides in the right direction. 

 

Something I would have to experience in person before I can make a final judgement on is the new Activity software designed to help you reach your fitness and activity goals, even going so far as to present you with a neon fireworks show as a reward for a job well done. While I can definitely appreciate its applications for those who would welcome it, I'm personally not a huge fan of my devices telling me or suggesting what I should do.

 

The Workouts sections has been improved, and there is one gimmicky function, the improvements are welcome. You can now quick start a workout, quickly switch between workouts, track swim sessions with greater accuracy, and the watch now engages Do Not Disturb when you begin your activities.

 

Music has improved on it's ability to sync and curate playlists of the music you like most, and there are a few new watch faces, some of which seem to be more of a novelty than anything else. That being said, just about everything packed into watchOS 4 is useful and a welcome improvement.

 

 

A Robust Upgrade Ushers in macOS High Sierra

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There's so much new happening in macOS High Sierra, it will be tough not to get too lengthy with this article, but Apple has this new OS bursting at the seams with new features and improvements. 

 

Starting off, macOS now has a new file manager in the form of the Apple File System, a 64-bit system that promises faster responsiveness, as well has enhanced security and backup features. Apple has improved their compression software, introducing High Efficiency Video Encoding, allowing up to a 40% improvement in compression, saving space while maintaining video quality. Metal 2 is a GPU enhancement technology adding machine learning as well as VR support. VR seems to be finally getting some love on macOS, allowing integration with Final Cut Pro X, Epic Unreal 4 Editor, and others.

 

Photos have increased functionality, as the program features a new sidebar, organization and editing tools, and new Memories and Live Photos functions. Photos now supports third-party extensions as well. Safari has some improvements, including new Intelligent Tracking Prevention, autoplay blocking of video content, per-site settings controls, and an always- on Reader function. 

 

Siri is now more natural sounding and expressive, bringing it's assistant capabilities ever-closer to the "uncanny valley" of AI. She's still very much Siri, but the experience feels much more natural and human, and her voice detection is spot-on and lightning fast.  Spotlight search and Mail searches have improved, Notes are now pinnable, and messaging is now completely integrated with iCloud, allowing retrieval across all linked devices. 

 

I have to give it to Apple; they're doing a fantastic job of bringing computing software ever more into a realm where software and user-intention marry in a natural harmony. By giving users the control and flexibility to use their devices in ways that feel natural and make sense, while providing an extremely polished interface, macOS High Sierra is an awesome step forward for the macOS platform.

iMac: What's New

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It's thin, it's sexy, it's still an iMac. Not much has changed design-wise, but that's not to say Apple hasn't done a good job with this year's version of their all-in-one. Possibly my favorite part of the bargain is just that: a base-model 21.5" iMac with a 1080p display starts at $1,099. While that is comparatively pricey when paired against other, more affordable all-in-one's, I think it's actually quite manageable for someone looking for a premium, if not upgrade-able, Mac product. Stepping up to a 4k display sets you back another 200 bucks, 

The All-New, Overpowered iMac Pro

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Macbook Pro: Continued Improvement

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What's New For Macbooks

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Better Late Than Never: Introducing The HomePod

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Best So Far: The New iPad Pro

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