Rumours of new iPad Pros have been swirling around the internet for some time, but Apple finally confirmed the news this week.
At the opening keynote presentation of its 2017 World Wide Developers Conference in California, the tech giant announced what's in store for Apple fans this year.
Along with the arrival of new iPad Pros, CEO Tim Cook also revealed Apple's new speaker - HomePod - will be hitting stores later this year.
Here are all the new products you can look forward to.
New iPad Pros
New iPad Pros were rumoured, and at a new size, and the predictions were spot on. The new size is slightly bigger, but with a much bigger 10.5in screen (which is 20% bigger than the 9.7in design it replaces). The new size is perfect for a full-size keyboard either on screen, or physically attached in one of the new smart keyboard cases. Both sizes of iPad Pro (the bigger 12.9in screen size remains unchanged) get new screen technology - with True Tone displays, wide colour gamut, and extra brightness.
There’s also a new technology called ProMotion included - the display refreshes at up to 120Hz, so all video motion looks better, but also makes Apple Pencil work better. The iPad Pros are the fastest iPads ever made, using the new Apple A10X chip - there is lots of new tech in them to speed up both general computing tasks, but also graphics.
Apple says the new iPad Pros are 500 times faster than the original iPad. There is a range of new cases for iPad Pros, too - including a comeback for leather as an option, and you can even buy a little leather sleeve for your Apple Pencil.
The 10.5-inch iPad Pro comes in silver, space grey, gold and rose gold and starts at £619 for the 64GB with Wi-Fi model and £749 for the 64GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is available in silver, space grey and gold and starts at £769 for the 64GB Wi-Fi model and £899 for the 64GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model.
You can order one now , and they’ll be delivered (and available in store) next week.
11 is the next version of operating system to run on the iPad and iPro, and at WWDC17 we got a run down of the new features that will debut when the software is made available later in the year.
A couple of interesting new features for both iPhone and iPad were announced, like being able to use ApplePay person to person rather than just with merchants (you can send money to your friend’s account phone-to-phone). There are also some cool new features in the Photos app, with better Memories sections, and some editing tools that allow you to make looping and bouncing gifs from Live Photos, and to recreate the kind of motion blur you get in a DSLR camera when using long exposure.
But the really big news in iOS was reserved for iPad - Apple seems intent on continually improving iPad’s usefulness, despite (or perhaps because of) dwindling sales. New features for iPad include the ability to copy and past across apps, quick type features including the ability to type numbers and punctuation on the software keyboard by flicking down on keys, and new app called Files. This makes managing files on the iPad a bit more like using a file browser that you’d find on a regular computer, and works with lots of services - not just Apple’s own iCloud, but also Dropbox and Adobe Creative Cloud.
There’s also more integration with Apple Pencil - you’re able to create PDFs from any app that allows printing, and then draw on it with the pencil and send the marked-up image on. Pencil now works a lot better with the Notes app - which is upgraded to allow in-line drawing in notes. Hand written text can also be searched, and a built-in document scanner is included, so you can scan anything and turn it into a note. iOS11 will be a free update, coming in the autumn, presumably at around the time new iPhones come out.
Apple is very interested in augmented reality (AR) - the projection of graphic elements onto real-life scenes, viewed on screen, and it has developed a new platform for iOS developers to build AR into their apps. A demo, from Wingnut, Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson’s AR company, showed off the potential of the platform by displaying a fabulously detailed table top game, and it looked amazing. But the true potential won’t be realised until the first apps utilising the technology come out in the autumn at the same time as iOS11.
One of the apps we use most on the iPhone and iPad is, of course the App Store itself. For the first time in its nine-year history, the app is being totally redesigned for iOS11. The store is being split up into three new tabs, one called Today, and two others for Apps and Games. All are much richer visually, and also include stories about developers and the development of the apps and games, as well as themed lists and recommendations.
The Today tab changes every day, with a tighter focus on a smaller number of recommendations, which will hopefully be more useful than the current all-in version.
Fairly minor updates to two other Apple platforms were revealed, too. Apple Watch is getting the fourth version of its OS, which will include a Siri-based watch face which can update itself to show you the things that you need to know when you need to know them throughout the day, and the Disney contingent was also expanded with three new animated Toy Story-themed faces. watch OS 4 also promises a better work-out app.Apple TV’s software was mentioned briefly, with the expected addition of an Amazon Prime Video app - but Tim Cook did say we’d be hearing a lot more about tvOS later in the year.
watchOS 4 will be available for free in the autumn.
It might not be slated for an actual release until the end of the year, and only in the US, UK and Australia, but the big news from WWDC 17 is Apple’s brand new smart speaker with Siri built in. It’s Apple’s long-awaited answer to Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Home. But Apple has an interesting twist in its marketing. Far from being all about Siri and an AI assistant, for Apple, HomePod is all about music.
The HomePod includes a dizzying array of audio tech inside, which helps it adapt its sound output to the room its in. The fact that Siri is built-in, and that you can control it with your voice was almost pitched as an added extra on top of the fact that it’s a great speaker for listing to music in the home. But you can ask Siri to read news, update you on the weather, add reminders, control connected appliances in your home, and more.
Siri was a constant feature throughout the keynote - apart from having a new, more natural voice, it can also understand more natural language, so you don’t have to remember the exact phrases needed to perform a specific task. It also learns over time, with that learning synced over iCloud so its available on all your Apple devices. It’s been especially tweaked to handle music-based requests, which helps make the experience on the HomePod even more intuitive - you can, for example, ask it who plays the drums on the song your listening to.
HomePod will be available in December. UK pricing has not been announced, but in the US it will cost $349.
New Macs and a new macOS
Every one of Apple’s consumer Mac computers was upgraded at the event to be faster with more storage and ports, but the big news hardware-wise, was reserved for the professionals. A new supercharged Mac, called the iMac Pro, was revealed. It’s specs are astonishing, and it is quite comfortably the most powerful computer Apple has ever made. It also looks very cool, too - it comes only in a new space grey colour, with space grey accessories to match. Unfortunately you can’t buy those independently - they will come only with the new computer.
Apple also revealed a new version of the macOS, which it is calling High Sierra. As the name suggests, it adds few features to the current macOS Sierra, but improves much under the hood - like the transitions to Apple’s new file format, and new graphics software to speed things up.Apple also introduced a new virtual reality platform for developers, an area that the Mac has been lagging behind in. For users, there were new editing tools in the Photos app and some new anti-tracking features in the Safari web-browser.
macOS High Sierra will be available for free from the Mac Store in the autumn. Like HomePod, the iMac Pro won’t be available until December, with a base-configuration price of $4,999 in the US. UK pricing will be revealed closer to the time.