Apple (AAPL) had an action-packed developer conference showing off a plethora of new things, including the long-awaited home speaker, its big push into augmented reality, new Macs and a bevy of updates to its operating systems.
CEO Tim Cook kicked off the event, saying the developer community "has never been more vibrant," noting Apple now has more than 16 million registered developers, including 3 million added in the past year.
The company has paid out more than $70 billion to developers and given that 160 billion apps have been downloaded to date, it's clear Apple sees this as a strength of its business going forward.
There was also a focus on the professional user, something Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson noted was a theme throughout the keynote.
"Between what's available today and what's coming later this year, Apple now has a much more polished and powerful lineup of Macs for creative professionals including those who work on heavy duty content like 3D renders and VR," Dawson said in comments provided to TheStreet.
Here are the 11 biggest announcements from Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference.
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Though it has Siri integration so you can play music, get sports scores, receive stock quotes and complete other tasks the Echo and Home can do, Apple is positioning the HomePod as a music player first. Apple wants its competition to be Sonos when it comes to music and then the focus is on it as a smart speaker, letting you turn on the lights and other such tasks.
During the presentation, Apple senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller said great sounding speakers aren't smart (i.e. the Sonos) and smart speakers (i.e. the Echo and Home) don't sound great. But the 7-inch tall HomePod, which is made from mesh fabric has both features.
It sports 7 beam-forming tweeters. and a 4-inch subwoofer, while integrating the A8 chip for making music sound better in each room, as it recognizes object like couches, a practice that's known as being "spatially aware."
At $349, it's considerably more expensive than the Echo ($179) or Home ($129), meaning Apple will have its work cut out for it educating consumers why its product is better, even if it's positioning the HomePod as a cut above.
It comes in white and space gray and starts shipping in the U.S., U.K. and Australia in December, with other countries next year.
Aside from the HomePod, the biggest buzz surrounds what Apple is doing with augmented reality.
It announced a new augmented reality framework called ARKit, which will bring augmented reality capabilities to hundreds of millions of devices. Developers can create an app in the vein of Pokemon Go and supplant digital objects on top of real world objects.
During the demo, Apple showed an updated version of Pokemon Go with ARKit, where Pikachu was actually on the sidewalk, as opposed to sitting above it.
"Its ARkit tools for developers should quickly vault Apple into consideration as a major player in the current smartphone-centric AR market, where it's now got arguably one of the biggest platforms in the world for developers to focus on," Dawson said.
Apple appears getting closer to making the iPad the center of a post-PC world, with Cook referring to it as "truly a magical piece of glass that transforms into anything you want."
The new iPad Pro has a 10.5-inch screen and weighs 1 pound, giving it a 20% larger screen than the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, allowing for a true full-sized keyboard to be used with it.
In addition to the new size, the screen for both the 10.5-inch and 13-inch versions received updated screens, a higher, 120hz refresh rate, an A10X Fusion chip and battery life will be kept around ten hours.
Starting with iOS 11, the iPad will get a dock like the MacBook has, allowing users to swipe up and see all of their apps at once, making switching between apps even easier. It is also getting an app dragging feature, which lets users multi-task easier. Both of these effectively turn the iPad into a touch-screen laptop, something people have been asking Apple to do for years.
The 10.5-inch iPad Pro starts at $649 for the entry level 64GB model, while the 13-inch version starts at $799 and start shipping next week.
With several updates to the iMac hardware, it became clear that the creative professional was a focus on the event.
As with the MacBook, Intel's Kaby Lake CPUs are coming to the iMac. The desktop computers also received performance spec upgrades, in memory and in storage, as well as graphic performance.
Apple also highlighted the iMac's compatibility with virtual reality content creation, with the 27-inch 5k Retina iMac handling up to 5.5 teraflops worth of data, making it a "great platform for VR content creation."
Apple also showed off a sneak peek of an upcoming iMac, the iMac Pro, which it called "the most powerful Mac we've ever made." It will have a 5k display and come in space grey and start at $4,999, shipping in December.
Apple showed off several new updates to its lineup of MacBook laptops, with the MacBooks getting Intel's (INTC) seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors, along with faster SSDs for better performance.
In addition, the MacBook Air, which many thought Apple would eventually discontinue, received a performance update as well.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro also got a price drop and now starts at $1,299.
Cook noted that 86% of Apple's customers are running iOS 10, which "blows away the other platforms that suffer from horrible fragmentation," a knock on Android. With iOS 11, Apple hopes this trend continues.
Some of the new features in iOS 11 include Apple Pay turning into a Venmo competitor, letting users send and receive money to friends via Apple Pay.
Apps inside Messages will be easier to discover and Messages will be more fully synced across devices, with only recent messages saved on the device (older ones are saved in the cloud), freeing up valuable memory.
Since Apple users take over 1 trillion photos per year, the Photos app also got overhauled, including letting developers get direct access to information coming from the camera via the Depth API.
Live Photos can now be trimmed, and you can scrub a live photo to set the main frame you want to act as the still. The ability to pick a specific frame from a live photo is super smart. Sometimes you miss the perfect photo by two seconds - but Live Photo captures it by chance. I've used third party apps to do this a bunch of times. Live Photos will also get a bunch of new looping modes - things like "bounce", that play a live photo on a back-and-forth loop.
The Control Center, which has had two pages for a while, is going back to a single page and will utilize 3D touch to help save time and increase efficiency.
Maps also got an update, getting indoor navigation support for malls and airports.
Another feature that may slip under the radar but may be the most important is the Do Not Disturb feature, which automatically detects when you're in a car (via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi doppler effect) and turns the screen off in an effort to prevent distracted driving.
Apple said iOS 11 will be available for developers immediately, public beta later this month and be available to everyone this fall.
Perhaps the unsung star of the show given the emphasis on machine learning and artificial intelligence, Siri is no longer being positioned as just a voice assistant. It's now being talked about in the throngs of general intelligence, a key step up.
Used monthly on approximately 375 million devices, Siri now incorporates deep learning to have a new expressive voice (it also now comes in male as well as female).
It will also help translate languages, and the Siri API now includes task management apps, in addition to what Apple announced in 2016.
While Apple barely touched on its tvOS platform, it did make one major announcement: Prime Video is coming to Apple TV.
After months of jostling between the two tech behemoth, Cook announced that Prime is coming to Apple TV, noting Amazon makes great shows like "Transparent," "Mozart in the Jungle" and "Man in the High Castle."
Despite no other major announcements for Apple TV, Cook did tease that tvOS updates would be coming later this year.
Apple continues to add new features to the Apple Watch, rolling out several new watch faces and integrating machine learning in watchOS 4.
As part of watchOS 4, Apple's Kevin Lynch highlighted that the Apple Watch is getting a Siri face, which displays the most relevant information to you at a particular time of day. With machine learning, whenever someone raises his wrist, the information is updated on the time of day, syncing your calendar and events into it. It will also proactively bring up details that may be needed, like traffic reports, boarding passes and other similar features.
Apple also unveiled other new watch faces, including a kaleidoscope face and three from Disney's Toy Story -- Woody, Jesse and Buzz Lightyear (to infinity and beyond!).
Additionally, the activity app is getting more personalized for users, including the addition of monthly fitness challenges and there will also be data exchanged between the Watch and NFC-enabled gym equipment, among other features.
As part of the keynote, Apple announced it was updating macOS, known as macOS High Sierra.
Perhaps the most important new features announced are those to Safari, Apple's web browser. Not only will it automatically detect videos that auto play and silence them unless asked for, but it will use machine learning to prevent tracking, thus blocking ad tracking.
In addition, macOS got updates for Photos, which will now have better facial recognition and improved sorting and an updated file system, replacing one that's been used for decades.
The new macOS now also supports virtual reality, shipping Metal for VR, Apple's updated graphic platform which will now work with virtual reality platform engines such as Steam, Unity and Unreal.
With more than 500 million people visiting the App Store every week and no major redesign since launch, Apple decided it was time to give it a facelift.
Along with phased releases (which let developers roll out updates on a group-by-group basis), the App Store is getting three new tabes, including a Today section highlighting the latest new apps. There's also a dedicated Games tab, along with a dedicated tab for other apps.
Developers will also see that downloadable content -- add-ons for apps -- are featured inside the App Store, a first for Apple.