Two cents blog

Hey Siri, what’s Apple been up to?

by Tristan Strathearn on 7 June 2017

Turns out they’ve been up to a lot! Let’s look at the major things they announced at WWDC this week.

watchOS

First and foremost, they’ve made your wrist a lot more exciting with watchOS 4. The Apple watch still ranks #1 in customer satisfaction and still holds its place as #1 in the number of sales worldwide.

Apple decided to add a few new faces. Firstly, the Siri face, which will act like your very own intelligent assistant. Siri will provide you with time-aware information, such as upcoming tasks, the current weather and when your next flight is. All made possible via a neural network, which is actively gaining knowledge on the apps you use and when you use them.

There’s also a new kaleidoscope face and an extension on the Disney theme – bringing you Woody, Jesse and Buzz (from Toy Story).

For the gym-goers, you can now sleep soundly knowing that your watch will support two-way data binding with gym equipment. This means your fitness application can now talk to your gym equipment and can record data such as how many metres you’ve run, at what inclination, or speed!

Mac

For those of you reading this blog post on a Windows device, this next part will probably leave you a bit sad, mostly because you’re missing out on all the fun.

The Mac range has had some major updates! Starting with the announcement of a new OS called macOS High Sierra, which will be a free upgrade for everyone later this year.

Apple has taken a focus on making web browsing a little less invasive by introducing a new feature that stops auto-playing videos in Safari. You also won’t see as many targeted ads all over the web reminding you that you’re interested in fidget spinners, as Safari now has intelligent ad-tracker blocking. This doesn’t mean it’ll block advertisements, it just means 3rd parties won’t be able to track your online activity as easily as before!

If you’re tossing the idea of building the next virtual reality fidget spinner simulator however, stop tossing – as High Sierra now supports VR content creation. This Pro content generation includes bringing Apple’s Metal SDK (gaming platform) across to VR and getting companies such as Valve (Steam VR), Unity and Unreal involved.

If you require some extra beef, Apple has announced a new powerhouse iMac Pro starting at $4999. The new iMac comes in space grey, packed with up to 18 cores, AMD Radeon Vega Graphics, 128GB of ECC memory, 4x Thunderbolt 3 ports and 10GB Ethernet. If that doesn’t get your mouth watering, you’re probably not that into hardware.

iPhone

A whole heap of new additions are coming to the iPhone with iOS 11. These include new enhancements to Siri now being able to express herself in a more natural tone of voice, thanks to deep learning.

There’s also a better camera-app that includes true-tone flash, optical image stabilisation and better HDR. This will greatly enhance the quality of low light pictures and provide sharper, more stunning shots (as if the camera wasn’t amazing already!).

A major redesign to the control centre has come about too, keeping it all on one screen and allowing you to interact further with 3D touch.

Augmented Reality (AR) is making its way into the core, with the AR Kit becoming available to developers. It won’t be long before we can simulate the dream of having the new iMac on our desk!

Then there is Apple’s new driving mode. When your iPhone detects you’re driving, it will stop all notifications from coming through to your phone and display a blacked-out user interface. Don’t worry though, before it starts it’ll ask whether you’re a passenger in the vehicle, saving you from the unthinkable – having to converse with others while your phone has blocked you out.

HomePod

Standing under 7 inches tall, covered in a 3D mesh, packed with 7 tweeters and a 4 inch upward facing sub-woofer, the HomePod is the next generation of Apple Music for your home. Controlled by Siri, powered by Apple’s A8 chip and listening in with an array of 6 microphones around its perimeter, you can now talk to your speaker system and have it talk back – something we’ve all dreamed of.

The HomePod is Apple’s attempt at rivalling the two current market leaders, Amazon Echo and Google Home. I, for one, am excited to see how Apple will continue to use deep learning to make it a focal point in the living room.

It’ll come in two colours, white and space grey. Available at first in the US, UK and Australia for $349.

Conclusion

We’ve got a lot of exciting stuff to look forward to! The one thing I take away from WWDC is that Apple is shifting focus towards machine learning, augmented and virtual reality. The future is exciting and I cannot wait to see the next generation of applications.

 

Tristan Strathearn is an Associate Technical Lead at BCM

- Paul on June 7

Great post Tristan. A good summary of Apple's new products. Will be interesting for us to test their new HomePod alongside our Amazon Echo and Google Home.

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