Benny Ling

Apple’s WWDC 2017 Wrap Up, Machine Learning Edition

Apple just blew through six major updates on stage at WWDC, telling us about the future of iOS, macOS, watchOS, and even the iMac and iPad. While the keynote was run at breakneck pace and went for close to two-and a half hours, the pervasive theme — besides rumours spoiling nothing — was that Apple are focusing on machine learning to power many technologies moving forward. When Cook’s update about Apple was brief and to the point — “Apple’s doing great!” — you knew you were in for a good time. Let’s break it down.

1. Apple TV

Amazon arriving on the Apple TV was the first cab off the rank, a seemingly minor update to the platform. Coming later this year, Amazon Prime Video will be good for all Amazon Prime subscribers, but less useful for those of us that live outside of the US or the UK don’t get all the advantages of Amazon Prime.

2. watchOS 4

Kevin Lynch was up next to talk watchOS 4, which features new watch faces, improvements to workouts, and the new ability for watchOS to talk to gym equipment to exchange information, so that both the watch and the equipment can share information that the other doesn’t have.

There’s a new proactive Siri watch face in watchOS 4, which tells you about upcoming things like the trip to work, upcoming meetings, and what the weather is like today. It’s powered by machine learning to understand your habits and learn about them over time, in order to tell you about what you want to know next, and the updates even change over the course of the day so they’re always showing you something relevant. The new Siri watch face joins the trippy Kaleidoscope (Apple’s version of an Apple Watch fidget spinner, to be sure) and new Toy Story animated watch faces featuring Woody, Jessie, and Buzz.

Improvements to workouts include smarts that allow multiple workouts during the same workout, workouts automatically starting a playlist of music, and some swimming-related workout improvements that can tell you how you’re doing when you take a short break at one end of the pool. Activity improvements compare you against your past self, encouraging you to move more than the previous month.

WatchOS 4 will be a free update this fall, which probably means after September.

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Monday Morning News

With WWDC happening bright and early tomorrow morning, Ars Technica tells us what to expect from what might turn out of be one of just four Apple events this year. With WWDC being a primarily developer-focused event, there’s a good chance we’ll see updates to all the Apple platforms, but nothing is for certain when it comes to the details.

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Good Reads for May, 2017

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a series of somewhat scrutinised — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Whether they’re commentary on Apple’s latest project, a detailed analysis of how Apple keeps itself ahead of the competition, or reflecting back on ten years of the iPhone, they’ll have something for everyone. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • The standout piece from May was from Steven Levy, who over at Wired had a deep dive into Apple Park. Apple Park is undoubtedly as much of an Apple product as your iPhone or iPad is, from the attention to detail to the wood that made up the walls in offices, to the workplaces designed to increase collaboration between individuals and teams. (As a bonus, Levy’s piece in Backchannel tells us the story of David Muffly, the guy in charge of the trees at Apple Park.)

It’s probably more accurate to say that Apple Park is the architectural avatar of the man who envisioned it, the same man who pushed employees to produce those signature products. In the absence of his rigor and clarity, he left behind a headquarters that embodies both his autobiography and his values.

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Friday Morning News

There’s a new version of Swift Playgrounds on the way from Apple, complete with support for interaction with real-world robots, drones, and music instruments. Apple’s announcement of Swift Playgrounds 1.5 says the app will soon support Bluetooth enabled devices such as the Sphero SPRK+, Lego Mindstorms Education EV3, Parrot drones, and more. Starting on Monday, those wanting to program commands into their robots can do so.

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Thursday Morning News

New renders of the upcoming iPhone design compare one possible design with the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8. There’s a couple of things I don’t like about this, however: there’s no single image that has the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8 design alongside the proposed iPhone design. Plus, I’m not sure I like the screen cutout for the earpiece, front-facing camera, ambient light sensor, and proximity sensor. It looks very out of place, and I can’t see Apple releasing that kind of compromise in going for maximum possible display area.

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Wednesday Morning News

Apple has announced Carpool Karaoke will be available to all Apple Music subscribers starting August 8. While that will likely mean a next-day release for us in a different timezone than the US, we’ll still be able to see different celebrities from music and pop culture paired up and singing tunes in a weekly series. There’s no indication of how many episodes will air in the series, but we might as well enjoy it while we can. You know, before the nuclear winter.

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Monday Morning News

The jury’s still out on whether AI will be the next big thing, but rumour has it Apple is working on a chip to power AI on devices. Much like it did for motion data with the M-series coprocessors, a specific chip for AI on device would allow for more advanced interactions and capabilities, providing the kind of always-on AI that would be the precursor to a “Her” future.

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Friday Morning News

Apple has confirmed the WWDC keynote will be livestreamed. The Apple TV events app has been updated, so you can follow along with Apple’s developer-focused event keynote on June 6, 3am.

A case designed for the next iPhone was purchased by Mac Otakara, who took some photos and compared the size to the current models. Given rumours it’s unsurprising that the case is marginally larger than the current iPhone 7, but still noticeably smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus. The vertically-aligned dual camera cutout is also roughly the same size as the current dual-lens camera arrangement on the Plus-sized model.

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Thursday Morning News

The launch of Apple’s app development curriculum for high school and community college students is both a way to get students into programming and providing the necessary material for them to do so. Offered as a free download from the iBooks Store, App Development with Swift teaches students elements of app design, and what’s more, six community colleges in the US will be offering the course to close to half a million students.

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Wednesday Morning News

Apple and Nokia have settled their patent dispute. The two companies announced they had entered a licensing agreement, with Nokia providing network infrastructure services to Apple, and Apple resuming selling Nokia health products, including Withings accessories. Both companies have said they’re interested in future health initiatives, according to The Verge, but for now, Nokia will receive an upfront cash payment from Apple.

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