Apple’s annual bash for developers usually delivers a few key software releases, but this year we have a bumper crop, with new iMac, a refreshed notebook lineup and updates to every OS Apple are currently running. Oh, and of course the new HomePod smart speaker system. Let’s start with the hardware…
With Mac Pro undergoing a complete overhaul after 2013’s redesign, creative professionals have been turning to top spec iMac models to support demanding work. Apple seem to officially acknowledge this with the 2017 iMac models, which boast all-new speedy Kaby Lake processors, boosted graphics (the entry level gets Iris Plus 640, up to 80% faster, the 21” models get Radeon Pro 555 and 560 with 4GB VRAM, up to 3x faster, and the 27” iMac gets Radeon Pro 570, 575 or 580, with 4GB VRAM).
Apple have said the display on the new iMacs is also the best ever on a Mac, 43% brighter with 500 nits and 10-bit dithering which basically boils down to them looking really, really good.
We also got a sneak peek at a brand new iMac Pro, due to ship in December. This new version is going to be a great prospect for video editing, as well as VR content creation, with workstation class performance, new fan architecture, 80% better cooling and quiet operation. Apple announced it would come with an 8 Core Xeon processor, upgradable all the way up to an insane 18 Cores, with Radeon Vega graphics, 16GB VRAM and 11 teraflops. iMac Pro will also come with up to 128GB ECC memory (more than twice that of current iMacs), up to 40TB storage, built-in 10Gb Ethernet and four Thunderbolt ports. Most importantly, it’ll be the first iMac to come in a fetching space grey.
In terms of notebooks, there wasn’t anything Earth-shattering to report – MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro all get a bump up to new Kaby Lake processors, as expected, and Apple announced they would also receive faster storage and graphics. They’re also dropping the price of the entry level models.
iPad users will now have a third size option to choose from: the 10.5″ iPad Pro. Apple are putting that extra screen space to good use, giving you a full size onscreen keyboard with support for more than 30 languages. But don’t worry about it getting unwieldy – despite being 20% larger that the 9.7” iPad, it still only weighs a pound.
The new 10’5” iPad Pro and the updated 12.9” model both sport a speedy A10X Fusion chip powering a six-core CPU, which gives you 30% faster CPU performance and 40% faster graphics performance than the previous generation A9X chip. The two leading iPad models have also gotten new screens capable of a 120Hz refresh rate, which combines with a new Pencil to deliver the most responsive iPad Pro performance ever, with just 20 milliseconds latency.
To save you battery life (iPad Pro can still clock up to ten hours on a single charge), the refresh rate is intelligently adjusted based on what you’re doing. If you’re viewing stills, it’ll drop down to the standard 24Hz, play back movies at 48Hz, and then move in to high gear so you can deal with interactive content at 120Hz.
Good news for anyone rocking an Apple Watch, as watchOS got an update to version 4. Apple showed off new Faces, powered by Siri, which are designed to use machine learning to always display the most relevant information to you and dynamically update the display. Activity and Workout get new features which will appeal to all sports and gym bunnies, but we were most excited by the colourful Kaleidoscope display feature and, oh yes, animated Toy Story characters. They’ve got a friend in us.
Apple TV fans rejoice: Amazon Prime Video is coming to tvOS, making it much easier to binge boxsets of the Man In the High Castle and Transparent.
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