Easily the most impressive feature of iOS 12 is the integration of Workflow into the operating system as the recently-rebranded Siri Shortcuts. Apple’s on-stage demos of Siri Shortcuts have consisted of people explaining a half-dozen different actions these shortcuts perform, as funneled through one simple command. However, Siri shortcuts are also tremendously helpful at drilling down into an application to complete one task without opening that application when it would be inconvenient to do so.
For example, when I’m playing Clash Royale, which has been filling a strategic hole in my heart for some time, I often want to skip Overcast to the next chapter of the podcast I’m listening to. You can only take so many SquareSpace ads.
Before iOS 12, this meant flipping over to Overcast in the multitasking switcher, expanding the current podcast to fill the whole screen, and then tapping the next chapter arrow. Finally, I’d flip back to the game to see that I had lost one or all of my towers and the game was probably over.
In iOS 12,with Overcast 5, you can configure a list of shortcuts within the app to handle practically any function of the app from changing the playback speed to skipping the current chapter. That changes the scenario to one step, “Hey Siri, Overcast next chapter.” Siri isn’t always fast, but she is definitely faster than swapping to Overcast app and attempting to do the same thing.
There is a lot more functionality in Shortcuts that I haven’t even tried yet, and this example was only simplifying one task into one command instead of several tasks, but it feels obvious at this point that these programmable actions can alleviate some of the burden placed on users to adapt to iOS.
My main gripe with the Shortcuts functionality as it exists today, and with Siri in general, is that Siri takes over the whole screen when it isn’t necessary to do so. Many Siri activities that aren’t even shortcuts only necessitate a small confirmation that the requested action took place. The iPhone 6 Plus-sized devices (and especially the XS Max) cry out for a small window of the screen to pop-up a Siri response, then nobody will miss out on their game of Clash Royale just to skip a podcast ad.
Part of the problem that causes Apple to dedicate the entire screen to Siri may be the low confidence we all have in Siri to hear us correctly. Even today I couldn’t get my (Series 1) Apple Watch to understand a simple request for a timer (CW: misogynistic slur in text). The misunderstanding turned the request for a timer into a nasty message that I was surprised to read, then a few tries later it became a request for information about a movie I don’t want to see. Finally, I gave up and set the timer myself. On the iPhone a full-screen Siri response gives you the ability to see and edit the request if it was misunderstood like my 20 minute timer was on the Watch.
Once Apple’s confidence in Siri is higher, we may get that partial-screen response to our requests. I recommend keeping up with Shortcutsvia MacStories.
You can call it PUBG, you can call it plunkbat, but the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is out on iOS and Android. Now we know what you’re paying for when you buy the $30 Windows version on Steam, pants, and a shirt and shoes. This free-to-play-as-heck mobile PUBG doesn’t include any of those to start, you’re going to have to find them in the game or in the exploitative loot boxes you get for playing it. At least if you don’t want to be an exhibitionist non-conformer, which if you do, go right ahead.
I’ve played one match and it was perfectly cromulent PUBGeeing, players are still getting used to the controls so I managed to get four small victories before losing in 16th place.
It’s out for free now on Android and iOS, it doesn’t cross-play with the Windows version at all.
There are two big computer vulnerabilities that were announced recently, Spectre and Meltdown attacks. These are significant because they affect almost every desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, and game console. Almost anything with a processor can be exploited to give attackers passwords and whatever other private information is on a device.
The attacks work because of the way that computer processors attempt to speculatively work ahead of their current point in executing a computer program. My understanding is that even code executed in your web browser could execute these attacks.
The workarounds that operating systems are implementing may slow these devices down because the attacks utilize performance features of the processors, but the performance effects of the mitigation might not be noticeable outside of specific workloads.
These aren’t normal software vulnerabilities, where a patch fixes the problem and everyone can move on. These vulnerabilities are in the fundamentals of how the microprocessor operates.
It shouldn’t be surprising that microprocessor designers have been building insecure hardware for 20 years. What’s surprising is that it took 20 years to discover it. In their rush to make computers faster, they weren’t thinking about security. They didn’t have the expertise to find these vulnerabilities. And those who did were too busy finding normal software vulnerabilities to examine microprocessors. Security researchers are starting to look more closely at these systems, so expect to hear about more vulnerabilities along these lines.
Apple has another serious software flaw, this one isn’t a security vulnerability but it causes some iOS devices (iPhones, iPads) with third-party apps installed that use local notifications to get stuck in a reboot loop on December 2nd.iOS 11.2 is out now and resolves the issue along with adding other features like Apple Pay Cash to send money to your friends and family, and resolves other issues. If you’re already experiencing the reboot loop then Apple has some steps for you to do before updating.
Other workarounds include setting your time back by a day or disabling notifications for the apps that cause it, but it’s better to just update.
Some people have an idea that staying on an older version of the software is more stable or more secure, this is always a bad idea in our day of networked devices that are constantly under attack from governments and other bad actors.
It must really be crappy to be on the teams responsible for these issues this week but it’s difficult to blame anyone specifically for them. With the root exploit it looks like a reasonable mistake that could happen to anyone. We don’t have all the details of the December 2nd bug yet, but both of these issues require an extremely specific set of things to go wrong before they happen. I have no doubt that Apple’s QA processes will change to include testing for these kinds of issues, but there isn’t any perfect software. What they have done well is the delivery mechanism for getting those updates out to users.
When Android has issues like these they are difficult to resolve because so many different companies have to get involved in order for updates to get released to end-users. I don’t envy anyone trying to resolve that issue at Google.
Yesterday, Gizmodo reported that Uber had been granted an entitlement for their iOS app that allowed them to capture an image of an iPhone’s screen at any time, even when the Uber app was not the active app on the phone. This is a big deal, because users don’t typically expect than an iPhone app that is not active might have the ability to eavesdrop on anything they are doing.
I have long felt that the sandboxing infrastructure on both iOS and Mac should be used to more accurately convey to users specifically what the apps they install are capable of doing. Currently the sandboxing system is used primarily to identify to Apple what a specific app’s privileges are. The requested entitlements are used to inform Apple’s decision to approve or reject an app, but the specific list of entitlements is not easily available to users, whose security is actually on the line.
This is absolutely fucking ridiculous. Fuck Uber. Apple should be ashamed for working with them at any level. Allowing an app to covertly record your screen without any prompting is exactly the kind of thing that Apple’s iOS app review process should prevent.
Uber claims they didn’t do anything wrong with this ability, the security researchers told Gizmodo that they didn’t detect anything going on with this code.
There are companies that are less trustworthy than Uber, but few have the opportunity to be as evil on such a large scale. Enabling them to do anything more than operate at a basic level on your platform is a mistake. At this point Apple should block them entirely and attempt to help the Taxi industry to reform and compete with Uber. Not that Apple would ever would, but still that would be the best thing to come out of this. The next best thing would be the improvements to the entitlement system that Jalkut suggests.
I wouldn’t even bother to wonder what Uber are doing on Android, where security is a fucking joke and carriers are still selling devices running ancient versions of that operating system that are affected by dozens of security vulnerabilities. This is especially true for pay-as-you-go phones sold cheaply at places like Walmart, Target, and so on. Those carriers and stores are endangering their customers by continuing to sell these devices.
Angela Ahrendts talked about their stores before Cook came back out to start announcing devices and software.
Here’s what they announced.
WatchOS 4 Tim Cook talked about their success then played a video featuring letters from users about how the watch has helped them. Here’s that video:
Jeff Williams reiterated WatchOS 4 updates with better coaching, a redesigned workout app, features for swimmers, and integration with gym equipment. The new OS also gets a new heart rate app and a heart rate complication for the watch faces. The watch will now alert you to an unusually high heart rate when it thinks you’re not active. It’ll also monitor for arrhythmias in a study with Stanford Medicine and the FDA later this year.
WatchOS 4 will be out on September 19th.
Apple Watch Series 3 Here’s their ad for the new Series 3 watch:
It’s a cellular device that takes calls with your regular iPhone’s phone number. Of course it’ll also have data capabilities and will stream music from Apple Music.
There’s a new faster processor and Siri finally speaks on the watch if you want to hear them instead of reading a response. The device also has a barometric altimeter built-in.
The Series 3 Apple Watch retains the form factor of the previous watches. Cellular models of the Series 3 have a red dot on the crown so that you can feel special.
Williams made a very awful joke during this presentation about a potential device with all of this functionality looking like a house arrest bracelet. Not funny.
Obviously Apple is very focused on this being an activity monitoring device. I’m not very active but I still appreciate mine as a device for triaging notifications.
Series 2 watches are getting dropped. The Series 1 will remain in the lineup at $250. The base series 3 watch will be $330 and the Series 3 with cellular capabilities will be $400.
No word on the cost for the cellular plan to go with it, but Williams said they have a special deal worked out with some carriers.
The new Series 3 watches will be available to pre-order on September 15th, they’ll be generally available on September 22nd.
I don’t see much reason to upgrade from my Series 0, but I’m glad they’re continuing to work on improvements.
Apple TV 4K
The Apple TV is one of the most expensive devices you can buy to put under your TV, and it has been a long time since Apple made any changes to the hardware. Eddy Cue’s pitch for this upgrade talked about how the new device also includes support for HDR standards. It also has an A10X Fusion chip, Eddy reminds us that it’s same one as in the iPad Pro. He boasted that it’s twice as fast at general computing tasks — and four times as fast on the GPU side — as the current 1080p 4th generation Apple TV.
Apple’s Aerial screensaver that displays high-resolution footage of interesting places to look at is getting updated with 4K footage.
4K movies will cost the same from Apple’s iTunes store as they currently charge for HD films. Any movies people currently own in HD that have 4K versions will be upgraded to 4K HDR for free.
Cue also said that Netflix and Amazon are on-board for the 4K update. Cue didn’t mention that the Amazon Prime Video app still isn’t available on the Apple TV even though Apple said they had a deal worked out with Amazon earlier this year.
Live news and sports are coming to the TV app on the Apple TV and iOS devices.
That Game Company’s Jenova Chen demoed a new game called Sky for the Apple TV. It’s a fun multiplayer game that has a similar style as their previous games like Journey. It’s temporarily exclusive to the Apple TV and iOS devices and will be out this winter. I didn’t hear anyone mention if the game runs in 4K.
Here’s a trailer for it:
The Apple TV lineup will now be:
Old Apple TV 32GB at $150.
Apple TV 4K 32GB $180
Apple TV 4K 64GB $200
It’ll be up for pre-orders on the 15th and have general availability on the 22nd.
Unfortunately there were no updates to the Apple TV Siri Remote announced, which is a shame because it’s not great for gaming and has some other design issues. Especially regarding picking up the remote and accidentally pressing the wrong button because it’s not easy to tell which orientation you’re holding it in without looking at it.
iPhone 8, 8 Plus
The rumors and leaks were accurate , there were three new iPhones announced today instead of two. An iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus.
Here’s the iPhone 8 ad:
Phil Schiller did his bit to sell the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. As rumored it has a glass back as well the front. It’ll be in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold. They assure that the glass is reinforced with steel and the “most durable ever” glass.
The display has been updated. It now has the True Tone technology from the iPad Pro that adjusts the display’s color temperature to look correct in different lighting conditions. The iPad Pro still doesn’t have the iPhone’s3D Touch feature and that makes writing on it a little bit more frustrating when I switch back and forth between my iPhone and iPad.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus speakers are louder and more accurate.
There’s a new A11 Bionic chip with six cores inside the iPhone 8. It’s supposedly 25% faster than the A10. Two of the six A11 cores are tuned for performance, and four of the cores are set up for tasks that can run efficiently and don’t require as much performance so that the device can save you some battery life. Those four low-power cores are supposedly 70% faster than the ones in the A10 chip.
The GPU on the 8 is the first one Apple has developed, it’s supposed to be 30% faster than last year’s A10 while taking half the power.
There’s a new image processing engine in the A11 that Schiller says will deliver faster autofocus in low-light conditions among other improvements that should make photos taken with the 8 look sharper and have less noise.
The cameras still shoot 12 megapixels, but Apple says that the sensor is larger and lets in more light. The Plus still has the exclusive on the dual camera setup versus the regular iPhone 8.
Apple’s photos captured with the 8 and 8 Plus’ cameras look fantastic, but they are just demonstrating the difference between an experienced photographer shooting for demonstration purposes and someone taking snapshots. Of course these camera improvements will help with either type of scenario, but they’re not going to turn Frank G. iPhoneOwner into a pro photographer unless they’re interested enough to edit their photos and think about what they’re doing before taking the photo.
Schiller says that there will be a new feature called Portrait Lighting in beta for the iPhone 8 Plus. He promises that this feature will be more than a filter, it’ll present you with different lighting choices for your subject in Portrait Mode within Apple’s Camera app. You’ll be able to edit those photos and choose different lighting scenarios after the fact.
Phil Schiller also promised that these phones have better video quality. You’ll be able to record 4K videos at 60 frames-per-second and if you like slo-mo you’ll be able to record 1080p video at 240 FPS.
Schiller says that the cameras and the A11 are also configured for augmented reality. The demos I have seen for AR on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are impressive, it could be useful to have a focus on AR in the hardware as well. Schiller played pre-recorded AR demos of a Warhammer game, an MLB overlay on a live game at a stadium, and an astronomy app called Sky Guide overlaying star charts directly on the sky as viewed through an iPhone.
Directive Games’ Atli Mar demoed their AR game, The Machines. It looked a little bit like an RTS but overlaid on a table. Mar said that there was a strategic advantage to being able to move the game’s camera around by moving the physical phone, but I’m not sure if that lines up with reality. It looked almost as awkward as the AR demo from WWDC but it is very difficult to play a game for an audience and line up your view to present something cinematic, especially in front of a live audience.
The iPhone 8 also has “wireless charging” which is just contact charging, it isn’t truly wireless. It’ll use the Qi charging standard that is already widely supported. It’s good that Apple didn’t make another standard, but they aren’t including a contact charging device in the box.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will be up for pre-order on September 15th and available in-stores on September 22nd. Here are the prices for different configurations:
64 GB for $700
256 GB for $850
iPhone 8 Plus
64GB for $800
256GB for $950
iOS 11 will be out on September 19th.
Apple’s surprise of the iPhone X was spoiled by leaks and rumors, I was pretty disgusted with some journalists who took umbrage with the person who leaked the information. It’s only in Apple’s promotional interests to keep these things a secret and they aren’t going to affect our national security.
Here’s the iPhone X ad:
Phil Schiller called it “the iPhone 10,” skipping 9, I wasn’t sure if that was intentional or not at first, but then they continued it and I guess this is just what it is now.
The X’s OLED display is 5.8 inches diagonally and continues the journey to a rounded rectangular slab that is all display without any border. It’s almost there, there’s just a notch at the top of the phone for the front-facing camera, earpiece, and other sensors. Apple calls this new display a “Super Retina Display” at 2436×1125 pixels and It’s 458 pixels-per-inch. So you’re getting a display that’s larger than the Plus and has more resolution in a smaller package. It’s also got an HDR standard for films and Apple’s True Tone tech.
Last year we lost the headphone TRSS jack and the home button was replaced with a simulation that I’ve grown accustomed to. This year the home button is just gone. You can wake the phone up by tapping on the display when it is in sleep mode.
iOS has other changes to accommodate the lack of a home button, of course. To get to the home screen from a “locked” iPhone X you now just swipe up from the bottom of the screen. It’s the same gesture when you’re in an app. Pausing mid-swipe, instead of raising your hand off the screen to complete the gesture, will bring up the multitasking switcher to choose from your recent apps.
I’m curious how that will work out with games. This overloading of gestures is a lot for users to take in.
The iPhone X’s sleep/wake switch is larger and can also be used to activate Siri.
Without a home button there isn’t room for a sensor to read your fingerprint for TouchID, so the iPhone X will have a face recognition system that Apple calls FaceID. Phil Schiller assures us that new sensors at the top of the phone in the notch will securely detect your face, even in the dark, to authorize your iPhone to be unlocked or in other places where you use TouchID. Including with Apple Pay.
Phil Schiller’s pitch for FaceID included a terrifying image of a wall of fake faces that Apple’s engineers used to test the face unlocking feature.
Apple are making an API available to developers for accessing the kinect-style data from the sensors on the front of the iPhone. They’re using the sensors internally to make 12 animated emojis that respond to your face and can be recorded along with audio messages to send over iMessage. Snapchat was demonstrated with it for face masking as well. They had a pretty impressive Ultimate Warrior style mask.
Craig Federighi demonstrated the iPhone X and showed that you can access the new iOS 11 Control Center by swiping down from the upper right corner where the connection status indicators are.
Phil Schiller boasted about the iPhone X cameras, they’re even better than the ones in the iPhone 8 Plus with optical image stabilization on both cameras. The front-facing camera is supposed to be better for selfies as well.
The iPhone X is supposed to get 2 more hours of battery life over the base iPhone 7, and have the same Qi charging as the 8.
The iPhone X will be up for pre-order on October 27th and shipping on November 3rd. Here are the prices for different configurations:
64GB for $1000
256GB for $1150
AirPower & Updated AirPods
Apple also has a new oval Qi charging mat coming out next year that will charge the iPhone 8 and X, as well as their Apple Watch and a new case for the AirPods that Phil Schiller said was “optional.” I’m not sure yet if “optional” means a more expensive set of AirPods or a separate purchase after the fact or both. I’d hope I could upgrade my current AirPods with a one-time purchase.
Overall: I’m kind of disappointed with the pitch for the iPhone 8 versus the iPhone X. I don’t think I would personally want the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus when there’s an iPhone X available. Although I’m sure the iPhone X will not be available in as large a quantity as the 8. I also am not looking forward to an upgrade to the AirPods already. They don’t seem like something that should change as often, but I guess it might end up being similar to the Watch where there are updates but they seem less necessary than the phone.
I’m very disappointed that Apple is calling contact charging “wireless” when there are wires involved and you can’t just hold your iPhone five feet from the AirPower dingus to charge it.
Recently, Apple started removing VPN apps from their iOSApp Store in China in order to comply with local laws. That may be something they have to do as a business, but it’s time to allow apps from developers outside of the App Store. Gruber:
To me, the more interesting question isn’t whether Apple should be selling its products in China, but rather whether Apple should continue to make the App Store the only way to install apps on iOS devices. A full-on “install whatever you want” policy isn’t going to happen, but something like Gatekeeper on MacOS could.
Keep iOS App Store-only by default. Add a preference in Settings to allow apps to be downloaded from “identified developers” (those with an Apple developer certificate) in addition to the App Store. In that scenario, the App Store is no longer a single choke point for all native apps on the device.
The App Store was envisioned as a means for Apple to maintain strict control over the software running on iOS devices. But in a totalitarian state like China (or perhaps Russia, next), it becomes a source of control for the totalitarian regime.
Gruber doesn’t think this will happen, but it should. These pocket computers are supremely important to communications and it’s well past time for Apple to open things up.
If you’re an iPhone user still addicted to Flappy Bird, be ready to experience withdrawal symptoms.
When Apple launches iOS 11 in September, the company will drop support for old 32-bit applications—which is most apps released before 2014. Apps that haven’t been updated by their developers to run on the more efficient 64-bit architecture will cease to work
That’s true, but this article is also completely ridiculous in its conclusions. Here’s one of the solutions that Nemati suggests:
One obvious move: Create an emulator. By creating what amounts to simulators of old iOS versions, Apple could keep its past alive indefinitely. It’s something we saw recently when Nintendo released NES Classic, a replica of its stocky first gaming system loaded with 30 cherished early games. At 2.3 million units sold, it’s a good example of an emulator being used to make a quick buck (or more) on the back of nostalgia.
Emulating the Nintendo Entertainment System is easy today on low-powered, cheap, hardware. The Classic Edition kind of made sense for Nintendo as a product, but it is unlikely that Apple would ever release something similar.
Planned obsolescence is Apple’s modus operandi. It needs to keep customers buying new iPhones with updated specs. It’s unfortunate for consumers, who may have grown attached or even paid for these soon-to-be-defunct apps, and a shame for the creators who may see their work disappear.
The idea that Apple wants people to be unhappy with their devices on a schedule is almost as ridiculous as the idea of the iPhone Classic. Would you continue to buy things from a company that make you unhappy? I think you should replace things when they no-longer meet your needs or when there are new features that would dramatically change the experience of using that object in your life.
I agree that there should be some effort to archive these old applications, Apple is rich enough to do something about it, but it is going to be difficult to do that in today’s software environment.
Here are some of the software and hardware hurdles anyone who wanted to archive old iOS software would have to overcome:
What’s the definitive article? With desktop software and older console games you could pack something up in an ISO or a copy of a cartridge’s ROM and say “this is the definitive article.” That’s difficult to do with networked software that is constantly being updated. You might say that the final version of the software released to the public by the original developer is the definitive article, but I bet some people would want a prior version because it did something differently, or the first version because it represented the most raw and original idea the developer had.
An iPhone Classic that is running an out-of-date version of iOS for using old applications would probably be inappropriate for a general audience as it would lack modern security and networking features for accessing any data online. Any exploits that enable jailbreaking also enable bad people to do bad things to that device.
What about the iPad, would there have to be an iPad Classic Edition? An Apple TV Classic Edition? An Apple Watch Classic Edition?
Could you imagine Apple going on stage during an event to try and explain a custom version of the iPhone that exists solely to run historical software? “Here’s the iPhone Classic, it only runs iOS versions up to 10.” It would confuse their messaging around whatever iPhone they’re actually trying to sell. That’s not our problem as users and developers, but it’s another reason why they would be less likely to have anything to do with such an effort.
This old App Store. They’d also have to maintain an older version of their app store and review software updates for those 32bit apps that couldn’t be transitioned to 64bit.
Users would be frustrated when something doesn’t work right because an underlying piece of infrastructure is gone like an API server for logging into games.
Developers who are still around would be stuck attempting to support versions of apps that they haven’t worked on in years. Is every app in this Classic App Store going to have a “probably unsupported” label on it?
Apple still needs to encourage developers to transition to 64bit. All of that infrastructure would have to exist while they’re also encouraging developers to update old apps to 64bit.
I’m not sure if a modern iPhone even has the potential performance to virtualize an older device without destroying the performance of modern software running on the same device at the same time.
How do you explain what is going on in any way that makes sense to a regular person?
Honestly, I think the only people in a position to solve this are software pirates, and they are still going to have a difficult time trying to do that for all of the games and other software out there on mobile platforms. Any other group would have hurdles that are too large to jump over in keeping this old software alive. It’s a problem for every modern online software distribution mechanism. Sony’s and Microsoft’s online stores for the PlayStation and Xbox both havethis issue. Nintendo’s laughable online shop couldn’t even give you access to software you purchased previously without calling their support line and begging for it until they released the Switch and you’d still lose your game saves if your Switch is lost, broken, or stolen.
Every year Apple has at least two big events, their iPhone event in the second half of the year and their developers conference event in the first half of the year. Each event has it’s own press briefing, here are my notes from today’s WWDC 2017 press briefing. It is long as hell.
The show opened with a comedy skit about a new Apple engineer sitting down at a new desk and accidentally unplugging the iOS app store servers, disabling every app. Soon, the world descends into chaos as people can’t get directions and we see a marketplace of people trying to substitute for the missing apps:
Tim Cook was the first live human on stage with numbers and then to announce that Amazon’s Prime Video service is finally going to the Apple TV.
WatchOS 4: Kevin Lynch announced new Siri functionality that would automatically present information you might want on the new Siri watch face. Rotating the crown scrolls through the available information. For example you might want to see your upcoming appointments and weather changes. They’re displayed as tiny cards as seen here:
There’s also a new kaleidoscope face along with several animated Toy Story character faces.
WatchOS 4 also has more customized notifications for activity encouragement and better reward animations when you’re done exercising.
The exercise tracking is more advanced and detects when you’re paused while swimming to determine your intervals, for example. It’s also easier now to move from one workout type into another without stopping.
New gym equipment will be Apple Watch enabled and will help you record your fitness activities on that equipment when you swipe your watch near a certain area on the equipment.
Apple Music is improved on the watch with a new app.
The new WatchOS will be out this Fall with a pre-release version available to developers today.
Mac Updates: Tim Cook introduced Craig Federighi to talk about macOS updates. macOS 10.13 will be called High Sierra, another stability update along the lines of Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion. Craig joked about the name’s obvious weed reference.
Craig promises these new features in 10.13:
Safari will also block autoplaying video and audio on web pages. That’s great.
Safari will have “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” to prevent sites from identifying you across domains.
Search is better somehow. Apple didn’t really explain how
Mail gets a split view in full-screen mode to edit new messages alongside reading others and is also more optimized for storage.
Photos gets all kinds of improvements such as improvements in detecting faces.
Finally, Photos’ machine learning stuff gets synced across devices.
Photos also has way more advanced editing features on the Mac.
Apple’s Apple File System came to iOS recently to replace HFS+, APFS will be on High Sierra as well.
MacOS will also support h.265 for video compression, which will also be supported with dedicated hardware on Macs.
Craig boasted about their graphics API Metal for a while before announcing Metal 2 that is supposed to give a 10x draw call throughput improvement. It’ll also have better debugging and optimization tools.
Interestingly, Craig talked about how there is a new Thunderbolt 3 enclosure with an AMD Radeon RX 580 and USB-C hub available for developers who want to offload Metal GPU computation tasks to an external device from a Mac. It isn’t clear if this can offload desktop graphics rendering, as well, but you would assume so.
Craig announced VR support coming to the Mac from Valve with SteamVR and engines from Epic (Unreal) and Unity.
All systems that support Sierra will support High Sierra. It’ll be out this Fall with a public beta later in June.
Mac Hardware Updates
New iMacs are coming with 50% brighter displays and Kaby Lake chipsets from Intel. The iMacs are getting support for more RAM, 32 gigs on the 21.5 inch and 64 gigs on the 27. The 27 also gets fusion drives by default. The 21.5 iMac gets improved integrated graphics. The 4k 21.5 inch iMac gets the Radeon Pro 555 and 560 with up to 4 gigs of RAM.
The 27inch 5K iMac gets the Radeon Pro 570,575, and 580 with up to 6 gigs of RAM.
MacBooks and MacBook Pros are also getting updated with new chipsets.
Industrial Light & Magic’s John Knoll & Epic’s Lauren Ridge showed up to give a VR demo running on the new iMacs. The demo featured live edits to a Star Wars scene in the Unreal Engine. It was incredibly awkward and didn’t demonstrate anything new over what Windows desktop machines could do last year.
There’s a new 27 inch iMac Pro in Space Gray to offer an option for anyone missing the Mac Pro that hasn’t been updated in years. With copious options in CPU (up to 18 cores) and RAM (up to 128GB).
According to Apple it’ll be much cheaper than a comparable workstation that would cost over $7000, this one will start at $5000. It’ll be available this December.
iOS 11 Tim Cook boasted about iOS 10’s lack of fragmentation compared to Android and then reintroduced Craig Federighi to talk about iOS 11.
iMessage apps get an updated app drawer.
iMessages is now in the cloud to sync your message history to all of your devices, and it is still encrypted end-to-end, which should mean that Apple can’t access your messages in any situation. Although practically they could do so and you might not know about it.
Apple Pay is getting person-to-person payments, and it’ll have integration with Messages. Although it’ll store by default to an Apple Pay Wallet you can transfer money to your bank account. Sounds like the introduction of an Apple Bank.
Siri is getting an improved voice that sounds more natural and is still the only option with both male and female voices. Siri will also support translation in beta with some languages. SiriKit for developers will do more and support more applications. The last update only worked with a few custom actions like sending messages in third-party apps.
iPhone photos and videos are getting new compression formats that are supposedly much more efficient. The portrait camera is getting more features for a higher quality end-result.
Memories are enhanced. Video editing is supposed to be much improved as well.
Control Center is now modular and a single page. If you 3D touch a control module you get more controls and more information for that module as it expands to take up more space on the display.
The lock screen notification area will now expand with a swipe to display all of your notifications, not just the most recent ones.
Live Photos are improved, you can pick the key photo and loop the short video in live photos or choose other effects.
Maps gets improved maps for inside buildings like malls and airports. Navigation gets speed limits and lane-guidance. There’s a new feature for drivers called Do Not Disturb while Driving, it’ll be automatically suggested while driving and hide notifications. It can also notify anyone texting you that you’re driving and that you won’t see their messages unless they’re on a VIP list or they can break through by responding with “urgent.”
AirPlay 2 supports multi-room speaker systems from all iOS devices as well as the 4th generation Apple TV.
Apple Music can optionally share your playlists and music library with your friends, developers can also access this information through new APIs.
Phil Schiller appeared on stage to announce some updates coming for developers and users. The iOS App Store gets a complete redesign that looks more like Apple Music. A new Today screen shows off new cards with different stories about new apps. There are new dedicated screens for showing off games and a different screen for non-game apps. Category editors can display videos demonstrating tips and tricks for different apps.
Craig came back to talk about other technology improvements, including ARKit for augmented reality. It’ll work with Unity, Unreal Engine, and Apple’s SceneKit. Craig demonstrated 3D objects like coffee cups and lamps displayed on surfaces like tables that are detected instead of just having the 3D objects overlaid on what the camera sees without any interaction with real-world objects. An updated version of Pokemon Go will support this new ARKit and display Pokemon on the ground instead of just floating in the air.
Peter Jackson’s WingnutAR team appeared on stage to demonstrate an AR application running on an iPad with a science fiction action scene. Using AR to display a pre-configured action sequence is pretty boring, honestly.
The 10.5 inch iPad Pro
Apple introduced a new iPad Pro with a 10.5 inch display and an A10x processor. Joz told us that this supports a full-size software keyboard along with a better keyboard case. It’ll have a better refresh rate that looks smoother when motion is displayed on the screen, so Apple called this ProMotion. It’ll also dynamically adjust the display refresh rate for whatever the content is you’re working on, for better performance or battery life at a slower refresh rate.
The new 10.5 inch iPad Pro also has the same camera as the iPhone 7 and the base model has 64 gigs of storage. They’re available for order today and will ship next week.
Craig came back to talk about iOS improvements for the iPad. The dock can now have a large amount of apps. It can be pulled up from the bottom of the screen in any app. You can pull apps out of the dock into a slide-over multi-tasking split-view. iOS 11 will also support drag and drop. There’s a new Files app that supports iCloud drive and third-party cloud file management services like Dropbox.
The Notes app now supports handwritten notes that get interpreted using OCR as text by the system for searching and can scan a document for editing.
The 12.9 (let’s be honest, 13) inch iPad Pro also gets the new display, processor, increased base storage (64GB) and other features. All of these iPads 10.5 and 12.9 also have the 2nd generation TouchID sensor with quicker fingerprint recognition, but still appear to have physical home buttons instead of the haptic-driven virtual home buttons of the iPhones 7 and 7 Plus.
Phil Schiller came back on stage to talk about “Reinventing Home Music” with a new speaker from Apple called HomePod. The first non-Beats branded speaker from Apple since the iPod Hi-Fi. HomePod is a rotund 7-inch tall device with a little bit of an urn shape and has its own A8 chip inside. Supposedly this speaker is very advanced and detects the kind of environment it is in to adjust for different types of rooms and adjust the audio for clarity. It’ll also work with another HomePod automatically for better stereo separation.
Of course, this speaker will support Siri and be Apple’s competitor to Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home device as was rumored for months. Apple says that this speaker will have advanced Siri functionality that is tailored specifically to it.
The HomePod will be $349, in white and space gray, this December.
Overall, this feels like Apple trying to catch up, in VR and AR, with a speaker for Siri and finally getting updates to the iPad Pro and an iMac Pro to help reassure Mac Pro users like video editors that Apple hasn’t completely abandoned them when the Mac Pro still doesn’t have a release scheduled beyond “not this year.”
It’s good to see VR on the Mac, but nothing today addressed the desire for a desktop Mac for gamers to play VR applications unless you want a machine with a built-in display and a GPU you can’t upgrade. As terrible as Nvidia can be as we’ve seen with the GTX 970 memory debacle, I don’t ever want to buy a desktop with an AMD graphics chipset.
I would probably want a HomePod as Apple is the only company offering an AI assistant speaker that gives a damn about privacy and isn’t just trying to sell you shit through their store like Amazon with their Echo.