WWDC is a crucial event for Apple purely from a software perspective. Apple brings together its enormous developer community, and lays down the foundation for what’s supposed to come later this year. Apple announces upcoming versions of its powerful operating systems, and gives developers a chance to fine tune their apps to make the most out of the new technologies. In obvious ways, it also paves the path for major hardware launches for the current year.
The WWDC keynote this year was surprisingly refreshing, even though parts of the keynote felt a bit rushed. When you’ve got to cover so much there’s room for a few hiccups too. All that aside, this year’s WWDC keynote was about both hardware and software. Apple announced new versions of watchOS, macOS, and iOS. It also launched new MacBooks, MacBook Pro, iMacs, as well as the mighty powerful iMac Pro coming later this year. The new iPad Pro was a bit of a surprise, but it eventually ended up taking the limelight.
Everyone expected Apple to make some sort of announcement on its Echo clone, and it did. Apple announced its upcoming speaker called HomePod. It didn’t try and pitch it as a smart assistant. Instead, Apple focussed on branding it as a premium speaker with Siri capabilities. That’s smart since you can’t charge a premium for a smart assistant right now, but you can if you’re selling a premium speaker with a smart assistant baked in.
The new Mac hardware is available right away, but you’ll need to wait till December for HomePod and iMac Pro. Developer previews of the upcoming editions of watchOS, macOS, and iOS are out too. Public beta should be available sometime later this month, if not early next month. General users will be able to upgrade their software for free starting December.
There are some major under the hood changes coming to macOS and iOS. watchOS is also getting nice upgrades, but it’ll be more interesting to see how Apple pairs them with new hardware later this year. The existing Watch 2 is doing quite well, according to the company.
But where Apple really hit the bull’s eye was: the new iPad Pro, and ARKit and Core ML. Of course the latter are SDKs meant for developers, but they will have a deep impact on a consumer’s experience going forward.
One could argue that the HomePod speaker is also a game-changer in itself, but I would keep that separate for now.
The new iPad Pro, along with iOS 11, is meant to shed the general assumption that iPads aren’t meant for any solid work. Of course you can get your writing done, the earlier iPad Pro could handle a lot more, but with iOS 11 things are looking even better for those looking to get rid of their laptops while on the move. The US initiated laptop ban on flights might help with the cause, but that’s an entirely different story.
ARKit and Core ML will enable developers to bring exciting new interfaces to their apps. If you think you’ve seen it with Snapchat or Instagram’s live filters, think again. If the demo during the WWDC keynote is anything to go by, we’re all in for a treat.
How we interact with smartphone operating systems makes all the difference in the world. We started off with touchscreen devices, and we’ve come to a point where we are extremely comfortable with just about any such device. Ahead, in the future, we’ll be interacting in multiple different ways with mixed reality using our mobile devices.
The fall season will be an extreme testing point for Apple. No one likes fingers being pointed at you for not being ‘innovative’ or having too much ‘courage’. But when it comes to showing off real work, Apple didn’t leave any stone unturned at WWDC’s keynote.
What remains to be seen is how the consumers reach, how developers take things forward, and how far Apple can push its hardware and software to reach that perfect point where consumer experience peaks. And, of course, consumers don’t mind a little dent in their bank accounts.