WatchOS 4 Highlights
Apple put a lot of attention on improving iPad users' file management experience with iOS 11, something that's long been a source of pain. For one, there's a much bigger dock that houses predictive Siri as well as app icons, and you can summon the dock on any screen. There's a new app called Files, which allows you to organize and locate files across all your devices. More than just an iCloud manager, Files includes third-party (think Dropbox), local, and cross-platform storage. All your files are now sorted in one easy-to-access app. You can also drag and drop files, photos, and other documents from one place to the next. For instance, you can drag photos from the Photos app to an email you're composing. And if you're a fan of the Notes app, then we have some good news: Notes now allows you to scan and sign important documents remotely—no need for a printer or snail mail! Notes written with your Apple Pencil are even searchable in the Notes app.
HomePod: Apple’s Spacially Aware Smart Speaker
Apple's HomePod smart speaker—which will compete directly with the Amazon Echo and Google Home—was one of the biggest announcements of the day at WWDC.
Apple decided to create a home speaker with excellent sound quality and combine that with the functionality of an athome virtual assistant. What it came up with is this compact seven-inch speaker that costs $349. What Apple says sets the HomePod apart is that it delivers high-quality sound and is spatially aware, meaning it will adapt its sound output to match any location in any size room.
Using the speaker's built-in Siri capabilities, the HomePod also has a “Musicologist” feature that uses your Apple Music account to stream music you ask Siri to play. The speaker comes with seven tweeters, offering tremendous directional control, and it runs on an Apple A8 chip for greater sound quality (the same chip found in the iPhone 6). When you say “Hey Siri,” you can make a variety of requests, including ask- ing the speaker to set reminders, check the weather, and control your smart home devices. How good HomePod's assistant features are will depend on how much Apple continues to focus on improving Siri's accuracy and scope of capabilities. With a new product that centers around Siri, we can hope that artificial intelligence improvements are core to Apple's future plans.
10.5-Inch iPad Pro Takes On Your Laptop
The new iPad Pro featuring iOS 11 is set to give MacBooks a run for their money. With enhanced file management, a 10.5-inch screen, a full-sized on-screen and attachable keyboard, increased speed, and 10-hour battery life, the new iPad Pro appears ready to take on your MacBook's workload.
When Apple failed to announce a 2017 spring event, we anticipated big news at WWDC 17. Even so, we were pleasantly surprised by the number and scope of the improvements announced for the new iPad Pro, especially when paired with iOS 11's file management updates for iPad. Although the 10.5inch iPad Pro began shipping in June, the official version of iOS 11 won't be ready until the fall. In the meantime, there's plenty to love about the new-and-improved hardware of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.
The one-pound iPad Pro features a new display that's much brighter and more responsive than previous models. It will also be significantly faster thanks to its six-core A10X fusion processor—which Apple said is 500 times faster than the first iPad. The new iPad Pro will also have a 10-hour battery life, an improved camera, and new smart covers with built-in storage for the Apple Pencil. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro starts at $649.
This update is a game-changer for Apple Watch users, especially if you use it for working out. Here's a list of some of the updates Apple featured:
WatchOS 4 offers a new Siri watch face, featuring relevant info based on time and location, such as Wallet access, sunset times, and photo memories. There's also a Kaleidoscope face, which lets you turn your own photos into mosaics, and new Toy Story faces sporting animated Disney characters such as Woody, Jesse, and Buzz.
Workout & Activity
We were excited to hear about the new workout features of watchOS 4. The watch's new OS now provides the ability to include your swimming workouts, track high-intensity interval training, record multiple workouts in the same session, and exchange data with workout equipment in the gym using NFC technology. That means your equipment and watch can finally be on the same page.
The Activity app will also offer personalized notifications to help you reach your fitness goals, such as monthly challenges and achievement progress encouragements in the form of sparkly fireworks animations.
You can sync multiple playlists to the Apple Watch and listen to them, with auto music based on what the watch thinks you'll like.
Apple saved the vast majority of its tvOS 11 features for its fall release. The one huge thing Apple wanted to let us know? Amazon Prime Video is finally coming to Apple TV! You'll be able to watch your Prime Video subscription via the TV app or on your Apple TV. This is news we've been waiting for.