What happened at WWDC 2017: HomePod, new iMac Pro, iOS 11 and more

Apple reveals an avalanche of updates to key software products

macOS High Sierra

Apple unveiled the latest update to its desktop operating system, but rather than launching a new version entirely, the company opted for a refinement of the existed software, which the company has dubbed 'High Sierra'.

As expected, the update introduced the Apple File System as the default system for macOS. This features native encryption, instant file copying and crash protection to save data in the event of a power failure. It's also fully compatible with the company's older HFS system.

The company announced updates to some of its first-party apps; Safari will now block autoplaying ads and online tracking, and Apple claims it's the world's fastest desktop browser with an 80% speed advantage over Chrome, for example. Photos has also been updated, featuring UI tweaks, support for third-party editing apps and machine learning tools to aid photo categorisation.

Apple also launched Metal 2, an updated version of its graphics API allowing developers to take advantage of machine learning and external GPUs via Thunderbolt 3. Support for the HEVC 4K video codec was also introduced, enabling better 4K video editing and content creation.

Most importantly, macOS High Sierra now allows users to create VR content, with SteamVR, HTC Vive, Unity and Epic all bringing their VR tools and hardware to macOS.

The macOS developer preview is available today, with a public beta coming in late June and the full release later in the Autumn.

New iMac & iMac Pro

This year, Apple used its annual dev show to announces some new hardware. The company often opts to unveil its new gear at dedicated events, but the company bucked this trend at WWDC 2017 with updates to some of its more business-oriented products.

Apple has already announced that it's working on a redesigned Mac Pro, but while it won't be ready until 2018 at the earliest, the company gave fans a sneak preview of another souped-up workstation - the all-new iMac Pro. This beast of a workstation uses a 27in, 5K display, with Radeon Vega graphics and a monstrous Intel Xeon CPU, going all the way up to 18 cores.

Supporting up to 128GB of ECC memory and 4TB of SSD storage, as well as 10Gb/sec Ethernet and two RAID arrays and two external 5K displays. The iMac Pro will start shipping in December and will sell for under $5,000.

In addition, the company also showed off its new desktop iMac, which is available today. Apple's touting this machine as a professional business device, so it's not hugely surprising that the company took the opportunity to show this off to its target audience.

As well as Intel's new Kaby Lake processors, the new iMac will include Thunderbolt 3, support twice as much memory as before and come with Radeon Pro 500-series GPUs. Brightness has been bumped up by over 40%, too, and Fusion Drives comes as standard on all 27in models.

New iPad Pro & MacBooks

Some of the other major announcements centred around iPad Pro. The company also revealed a brand new 10.5in iPad Pro model, featuring a new six-core A10X Fusion processor, thinner bezels and an all-new HDR display. The new screen technology includes ProMotion technology, which not only ups the maximum refresh rate to 120Hz, but also allows the iPad to dynamically adjust this based on whatever you're watching.

As well as Apple Pencil support, Apple has announced a new, specially-designed Smart Keyboard for the 10.5in iPad Pro. The new model will start at $649, and is available to purchase now.

Apple's 12.9in tablet also got a refresh, and now includes the new screen and processor, which supposedly delivers up to 30% better computational performance and up to 40% better GPU performance.

Both iPad Pro models will now start at 64GB, going up to a maximum storage capacity of 512GB, rivalling the hard drive sizes of many laptops.

Upgrades for the company's notebook range were announced too. Both the MacBook Pro and MacBook are now available with Intel's Kaby Lake processors, and13in MacBook Air even got updated to feature a faster 1.8GHz CPU.

Other improvements to the basic MacBook include a 50% faster SSD, support for twice as much memory and a thinner and lighter chassis. Similarly, the MacBook Pro has received a more powerful discrete GPU, and more video memory. All of the new MacBooks are available to order from today.

App Store redesigned

Arguably the cornerstone of its mobile platform, Apple's App Store has finally had a facelift. The company has redesigned its storefront's visual appearance, with separate tabs for games, apps and specially-curated software picked by Apple's editors. The App's product pages themselves have also been overhauled, and can now include localised screenshots and video, as well as highlighting of awards and chart positions.

WWDC 2017: what wasn't there

As per usual, Apple kept the big guns in reserve for dedicated events further down the line. That means the company didn'y be launching any new flagship products like the iPhone 8 or a brand-new MacBook.

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