Apple Keynote 2017: Smarter smart watches, iPhones and iPads

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Your Apple Watch will soon sync with gym equipment, and you’ll be able to pay friends directly from iMessage. They were among updates to Apple’s software to be rolled out late this year.

At its developers conference in San Jose today, Apple announced upgrades to its four operating systems that users can expect to see soon. Developer and beta versions would be available sooner.

It revealed its new Mac operating system would be called “High Sierra”. If you don’t know the Sierra Nevada in California, you might know the Humphrey Bogart film of that name or the Sierra Nevada music festival.

It revealed that those pesky news sites that automatically roll videos and noisy music will have that functionality disabled through an update to Safari browser. And you could opt to use a new male Siri voice.

It also announced updated versions of its other operating system for iPhones and ipads — iOS11, the TVOS operating system for Apple TV and watchOS 4 for Apple Watch.

For the second year in a row, a young Melbourne developer was noted for their amazing achievements at WWDC. Apple chief executive Tim Cook commended 10-year-old Melbourne schoolboy Yuma Soerianto who already had 5 apps in the Apple App Store.

Apple Watch watchOS 4

While Apple Watch remains a top seller, the smartwatch form factor overall has been struggling — people generally see smartwatches as too complicated. Apple today sought to address this with updates to watchOS.

WatchOS 4 will automatically bring new information to your watch face without you scurrying for it by manipulating the watch.

It said the new Siri-based watchface is machine learning based and displays information related to where you are what you are doing. You’ll get reminders, weather, photo information, details about a plane you are catching, the moment you raise your wrist. Near dusk it might display the sunset time, and you might opt to get information about your home devices connected through HomeKit.

You can glance at top stories on the watch and save them for reading later on the phone.

The other major development with watchOS is activity monitoring. The activity app will display monthly challenges and collated activity details, and if you work out at the swimming pool, an auto set mode will automatically reset your metrics when you sit at the side of the pool for a rest.

If you’re doing multiple workouts, you can swap from one to the other by pressing the plus button on the watch.

Apple also announced a two-way exchange of information between Apple Watch and gym equipment by several large US gym manufacturers. Information like heart rate can be sent to the equipment while distance travelled on say a treadmill can be sent to the watch and Apple Health.

Continuous glucose monitoring, swing analysis of a tennis racket, and surfboard metrics that tell you the height of the waves and calories burnt will be available with a new Bluetooth 4 connection capability.

There’s better music integration with music stored on Watch — which you can listen to during training.

A new Music watch app will update favourites, such as playlists and music mixes automatically on the watch. You can pick a playlist that will automatically start with your workout. The watch will tell you how long you need to go to reach your goal.

A developer version of watchOS 4 will be available from today.

MacOS High Sierra — Macbooks and iMac

Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi made most of the software related announcements.

He said Apple was adding autoplay blocking to Safari that would kill off automatically playing video music and other things that annoyed users.

Safari would also thwart systems that sought to track users and breach their privacy through machine learning. In the new MacOS High Sierra, Spotlight would identify your top list of emailers so that the messages you need are at the top, and there was a split view in mail to make it easy to compose mail. New compression meant that mail would use 35 per cent less disk space.

In the Photo app, imports could be viewed in chronological order, and there were more options for filtering the view. Faces were more readily recognised, and if you identified a face, the name would replicate across your Apple devices.

Photo edits made using third-party tools like Photoshop would synchronise back to your photo library.

He said the Mac file system was being updated as the current HFS (hierarchical file system) had its roots from 30 years ago. Apple’s new file system would be introduced to MacOS as the new default, he said.

Video on the Mac would make use of the new H. 265 (HEVC) standard that offered 40 per cent better compression than H264.

Mr Federighi spent considerable time introducing Metal 2, software developers use for creating graphics. The new version offered a 10 times improvement in drawing throughput, he said.

“Some are our system animations are now buttery smooth all the time.”

Apple said desktop gaming company Valve Corporation was bringing the steam virtual r3eality software development kit to the Mac, as was Unity and Unreal Engine.

MacOS High Sierra was available now to developers, a public Beta would will be available later this month, and the full version would ship in the US Fall — Q3 this year.

iOS 11 — iPhones and iPads

Mr Cook took a swipe at Google Android. He said 86 per cent of Apple’s customers were running iOS 10, while just 7 per cent of Android users used the latest Android 7 (Nougat). He branded Android as an operating system “which suffers from horrible

Fragmentation”.

Mr Federighi detailed coming changes to iOS. A redesign of iMessage would make it easier to use stickers and apps. The apps would appear along the bottom.

iMessage conversations would be synchronised whenever you sign into iMessage on a new device through integration in iCloud. Only recent messages would be cached on a device. Messages would remain end-to-end encrypted.

Person-to-person payments would be integrated into iMessage. A payment option would appear where there was discussion about payments. You could send and receive money in your transcript and authenticate securely. The deposit would go to an Apple Pay cash card or could be transferred to a bank.

Deep learning was enabling Apple to make Siri’s voice more expressive and you could opt for a male Siri voice.

In what is playing ketchup with Google, Siri can translate from English to Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish with more language combinations to come.

In iOS 11, Siri would use machine learning to suggest follow up actions based on tasks you have completed and places you have visited.

It could compose a calendar entry in response to a booking you’ve just made online. “Of course this is kept completely private, readable only by you and your devices.”, Mr Federighi said.

The new H. 265 codes meant two times better compression of videos, while JPEG capture based on the same codes would halve the size of photos stored on your device without compromising quality.

Machine learning applied to photos would identify and categorise sporting events, memories of a new baby, and Apple live photos could be trimmed. You could mark any part of a live photo as your key photo. There was a range of new effects with live photos.

Control centre on the iPhone and iPad had been redesigned so that it fits into a single screen, and the lock screen and notifications had been combined.

Siri would be more aware of your location in iOS 11. Apple gave the example of a trip to Iceland. Siri would recognise that you’re in Iceland and offer recommendations about news in Iceland, and learn words you might need.

Apple Maps would have detailed floorplans of shopping malls and airports. That will be mainly in the US and Canada initially. In navigation, there would be lane guidance and speed limits.

In Carplay, a new iOS 11 feature called “Do Not Disturb” would know if you were driving. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and measurement of the Doppler Effect will detect if you’re moving in a car and would suggest you activate do not disturb while driving. People who message you would be notified that you are driving, and you’ll get back to them later. If you’re in the back seat, you can tell CarPlay you are not driving and still get messages. Apple says CarPlay now supported 200 car models.

There were updates to Apple Music which now had 27 million paid subscribers. You’ll be able to discover what music your friends are listening to, and control the playlist and music you offer to other friends. Developers will have access to the full Apple Music servers.

The Apple Store would get a makeover with separate tabs for games and apps, faster review times to app, and in-store purchase options would be listed in detail.

Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller said there were 500 million weekly visitors to the App Store, 180 billion apps to date have been downloaded, and $US70bn had been paid to developers so far, 30 per cent of it in the past year alone.

Apple also promoted its augmented reality kit for developers.

TVOS

Apple only briefly referred to software updates to Apple TV and the main change was US related. It said Amazon Prime Video was coming to Apple TV.

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