We were expecting a few refreshing droplets of Apple news from WWDC 2017, but Tim Cook and co opened up a firehose and drenched us with new tech treats.
Pretty much every Apple product was treated to some added sparkle, with software updates for iPhones, Macs and the Apple Watch.
It wasn’t all just under the hood tweaks either – shiny new products arrived in the form of a new iMac Pro, some iPad Pros and a smart speaker to take on the Amazon Echo.
In other words, you’ve got a lot to catch up on, but luckily we’ve mulched it down into this perfectly blended Apple smoothie. Down it, down it...
1) Apple's made an Amazon Echo
Having launched Siri way before anyone felt comfortable talking to an inanimate piece of tech Apple’s had to watch on while Amazon’s Echo and Google Home stole its AI limelight. Well, that era is over with the grand unveiling of its HomePod: a speaker with voice assistant smarts.
A Sonos-Echo hybrid, the HomePod stands at little under 7in tall and is meant to be the centerpiece of your living room’s home audio setup with the sound quality to match that status. To that end its seven beam-forming tweeters and real-time sound modelling should see it outperform its smart speaker rivals, albeit at a considerable cost. The HomePod is set to cost US$350 (RM1490) when it arrives in December, which is about US$100 more than it costs you to buy both a Sonos Play:1 and Amazon Echo right now.
For that kind of cash, Siri’s going to have to work with a whole lot more than just Apple Music. We’ll presumably find out whether that’s the case later this year at another Apple event.
At present, the HomePod looks delightful, promises much and is all set to burn a great big hole in your bank account.
2) iOS 11 has loads of good new stuff
Ok. This is the biggie for existing iPhone and iPad users. While iOS 11 doesn’t offer up any game-changing new additions, it does have a load of small tweaks and additions that amount to something big indeed.
Siri, Apple Maps and the App Store have all gotten a whole lot smarter whether that’s in terms more natural speech, fresh lane guidance and speed information or a slick redesign. Yep, similarly to Apple Music and News the App Store is going big on curation so that it’ll be easier than ever to find apps that you’ll use more than once.
To that end, Apple is splitting out the games and apps categories, and providing in-house features on the essential downloads for your iPhone or iPad. On top of these big new changes iOS 11 is also set to arrive with a whole load of smart extras, such as smaller file sizes for photos, multi-room AirPlay for your home speaker setup and the ability to send money to friends using Apple Pay and iMessage.
All in all, there’s plenty to look forward to when the iOS 11 launches later this year. For now, it’s only available to developers.
3) There's a new Monument Valley out now
Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but there are a lot of shoddy apps kicking around. That’s why Monument Valley made such a big splash way back in 2014 with its M. C. Escher-inspired visuals and just-tricky-enough puzzles.
It was the kind of game that left you wanting for more, which is just as well since its sequel just got announced as part of WWDC 17. Monument Valley 2 is out now for iPhone and iPad and costs a thoroughly reasonable RM19.90. We can’t wait to give it a download.
4) There are two new iPad Pros
While the new HomePod and iMac Pro will doubtless steal the headlines from WWDC 17, Apple’s refreshed iPad Pros were the hidden gems of the event.
Killing off the old 9.7in Pro in favour of a new 10.5in model and an updated 12.9in one, Apple brought a host of improvements to both devices. Principally, they’ve been treated to the a new True Tone display that’s 50% brighter than the old one at 600 nits, which means more dazzling colours and altogether easier to read screen in bright light.
Due to the ample proportions of both screens, they can also both accommodate a full-sized keyboard. Elsewhere, these iPads are powered by the even faster 10X processor, can support video playback with a whopping great refresh of 120hz, and are backed up by a brand new Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. They’re also supremely pricey, retailing from RM2999 for the 64GB 10.5in Pro.