Apple WWDC 2017: The Highlights

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Earlier this week Apple kicked off its week-long annual developer conference with a keynote where they announced the next major updates for iOS and macOS. The company also launched plenty of new hardware, including upgraded MacBooks and a brand new smart speaker. Here are the main highlights that you will want to know more about.

iOS 11

As expected Apple announced the new iteration of the iOS platform, with version 11 that brings a great deal of design updates and changes to the fundamental parts of the mobile platform.

New Control Centre

Apple has redesigned the control centre. It now has a widget like appearance where the user can customise which items are shown. It also uses force touch on the buttons to slide things up and down like the brightness or to view more options. I like the idea of merging music, home kit and control centre into one place but it does seem cluttered. It will be interesting to see how much of this is customisable.

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App Store Design

Apple has given the app store an overhaul following the design similarities to Apple Music and with a greater focus on showcasing app imagery. A newly introduced ‘Today’ tab has been added featuring apps from a list curated by Apple. This will be a great way for users to see what is new each day. Games and Apps now have their own home in a dedicated tab and set of categories.

The app detail page also has a new layout, that allows you to add a subtitle under your app name, more featured videos and the ability to promote in-app purchases. It will show any awards you have been given for that app and when it gets featured and also any top rankings in categories. It will be interesting to see how we can use this extra meta data on an app page to increase downloads and make it more exciting for users to look at.

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Apple Pay Person-Person

Messages now have space around the updated keyboard making it easier to access stickers and apps, but the nice new feature is that through an iMessage app, you can now send money via Apple Pay person to person.

Updated Siri

Siri has been updated to make the voices sound more human and less robotic, the same word can be pronounced differently. Also, Siri now learns from your previous activities. It can offer suggestions based on what you have searched or done in other apps. Apple’s example of this was reading an article about Iceland and Siri started surfacing that information in other apps.

iPad Multitasking & Drag and Drop

Apple demonstrated several new enhancements to iOS 11 but the most noticeable change is on the iPad. The way you use the iPad for multitasking has changed, making it a closer experience to macOS. The dock which was currently only available on the home screen can now contain lots more apps and can be shown by just flicking up from the bottom of the screen. It also acts as an advanced app switcher; dragging an app from the dock onto the edges of the screen opens the current app and the new one side-by-side.

There is also a new view to see an overview of all your open apps, again similar to spaces on the mac. This is key for the new drag and drop feature where you can drag content or multiple elements from one app onto this new view to another app. For example, you could select images and text from a web page in Safari and then drag it across into Notes.

This has given the iPad much more flexibility in the way you can work and makes it faster for switching content between apps, a great addition.

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HomePod

Apple’s final announcement was the introduction of a brand new piece of hardware, a smart speaker that they want to be the centre of your home audio experience.

It is their attempt to compete directly against Google Home and the Amazon Echo. As we expected, it is integrated with Siri and HomeKit so after saying “Hey Siri”, you can say a range of commands allowing you to play music, set reminders, control lights and other connected elements around your home.

The emphasis is on the engineering and the speaker’s power. It sends out a 360 beam of sound to sense its surroundings, and if it finds itself on a shelf or a bookcase it will adjust the sound accordingly. It will be interesting to hear the quality of sound and how it compares with the cheaper alternatives available.

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These previews are highlights of what is to come throughout the rest of 2017. We are excited to see what other new things will be discovered over the course of this week and how we can use these new features in our apps in September when the software is officially released.

Joe

An iOS expert with a background in web development. Joe’s vast iOS knowledge and speedy delivery never ceases to amaze us.

  • Chris Rogers

    Finally bridging the gap between iMac and iPad. That’s what I like to see.