WWDC 2017: iPad Pro, MacBook refresh shows Apple’s productivity push
It’s not just the hardware, the new Apple software is potentially smarter to take advantage of the powerful innards
This was a rather different Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) keynote. In a sharp contrast to the previous few years, Apple focused a lot on hardware this time, with the MacBook, iMac and the iPad Pro line-up getting fairly significant upgrades. This ties in with the company’s focus on productivity.
MacBook Pro: There was no option, but to bite the bullet
It was expected that Apple would be forced to do an unconventional mid-term refresh, to bring its laptops up to spec with its Windows 10-powered rivals which run Intel 7th generation processors. These machines have been upgraded with the latest generation Intel Kaby Lake processors. Apple has also given the laptops faster storage, which would mean significant improvements in overall performance. The company claims the new machines are up to 50% faster than the previous generation. There is no change, as expected, in terms of design or other specs.
iPad Pro line-up: Yet another screen size option
Are you someone who thought that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro was too small and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, too big? If yes, then Apple has a solution for you—the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro. This is the company’s latest iPad Pro, and it has been launched even as the company gives the larger iPad Pro a specs boost.
In largely the same footprint as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro chassis, Apple has been able to fit the larger display—whether this makes it better for productivity tasks, we will only know in due course of time. But it does mean that there are now four different screen sizes in the entire iPad family, which may get a bit confusing for potential buyers.
Both iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 12.9 will get new innards. A10X Fusion chips and 12-core graphics will power these productivity centric tablets.
All iPad Pros will now have the True Tone display feature, which alters the colour and brightness according to the ambient light temperature. These displays also exhibit wider colour reproduction capability and have HDR video support. Apple has also introduced a new feature called ProMotion, which pushes the display refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz—all fast moving motion content will feel smoother and more fluid. But since everyone isn’t gaming or watching a movie on these screens, the iPad Pro will be able to dynamically reduce the refresh rate, for better battery life, depending on what is on the screen. This also means that the Apple Pencil becomes more responsive.
That’s not all—power users would appreciate that the entry spec will now have 64GB storage option; this will go up all the way to 512GB storage.
iMac: The desktop isn’t done, just yet
The all-in-one desktop computing machines, the iMacs, have been given more powerful innards and upgraded specifications. The displays will be brighter than before (Apple claims about 43%), and reproduce more colours (as many as 1 billion, Apple suggests). The processors have been updated to the 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake chips. On some configuration options, the amount of RAM you can install on your iMac has been increased to as high as 64GB, while the storage configuration options now stretch up to 2TB SSDs.
Graphics is something Apple is focusing heavily on. The entry spec 21.5-inch iMac gets the new Intel Iris graphics, and is 80% faster than before. The iMac 4K 21.5-inch gets the Radeon Pro Graphics which are three times faster than before. The 27-inch iMac also gets the new Radeon Pro 570/575/580 graphics options, with 8GB dedicated RAM. Apple says that this configuration would be powerful enough for virtual reality (VR) content too.