Hardware at WWDC 2017

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For a few years now, WWDC was filled with software. This year Apple finally found a new way to announce a ton of software AND hardware. In this post I’ll discuss the hardware announced at this years WWDC.

iMac Pro

Apple said a few months ago they started working on a new Mac Pro and admitted they didn’t do the right thing on the previous/current one. They also told us they are planning to release it in late 18 or even 19… When the iMac Pro’s intro movie played, a lot of people where like, huh? Because they thought they were introducing the new Mac Pro already. Press this link to watch and, seriously, it’s a badass movie.

new_2017_imac_pro_dark_grey_front

“The most powerful Mac ever” -John Ternus-

When John Ternus started talking about the CPU(the brains behind a computer) and said they would be putting in an 8-core processor it thought, mmmh nice.  But then he continued and said 10-core processor… At this point my eyes got a little bigger. And as if that wasnt enough he surprised us again with an 18-core processor! So this is going to be a MONSTER in CPU performance. Apple didn’t stop there. They also announced this iMac could run up to 128GB ECC RAM which is 2 times as much as in the standard iMac. Where Apple went full option is on graphics. AMD’s newest Radeon Pro Vega Graphics will be available with 8 or 16GB of HMB2 memory. Add this to the killer CPU and RAM and you get an amazing Pro machine, that honestly, no one was really expecting. Apple also didn’t do ‘A MacBook’ on the ports. They updated the SD card slot to UHS II, kept 4 USB 3(type A) ports, added 4 Thunderbolt 3 posts(USB-C) and added a 10GB ethernet port. That last one is a first one on an Apple product. So for the USB-C haters reading this, your old USB 3(5gb/s) ports are still there… I know which ones I would use 😉 (TB3 40gb/s or USB 3.1g2 10gb/s)

Ports

This all sounds incredibly cool, and if you look at the specs sheet of the iMac Pro most people will fall in live instantly. Though if you look really close, you can see Apple said Intel 8,10 and 18 core, but no details on clockspeeds or what kind of processor this would be… And for some apps, it’s better to have fewer cores with higher clockspeeds than tons of cores with a slower clockspeed. If Apple choses the wrong approach in this decision they will have a lot of Pro’s who won’t buy this iMac Pro and will probably prefer to wait on the modular Mac Pro. Let’s hope Apple announces more information about the iMac Pro when it launches in December.

 

HomePod

The last thing to be anncounced at WWDC was Apple’s first smart speaker system called HomePod. The name still feels a little strange, but slowly it’s growing on me.

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Apple started by saying that there are a lot of home speaker systems. They gave the Sonos and Amazon example. Sonos makes really good sounding speakers, but they’re not smart. Amazon makes a really good smart speaker, but it sucks for music. Apple wants to make a speaker that is both smart and sound great for music. A very good comparison if you ask me. This is exactly the raison why you won’t find either of these at my house. Or you would have to buy both, but I’d rather spend that money on something else cool. If Apple pulls this off, I think this will be a very popular product. The HomePod is also made to sound even better when you add a second one so that generates even more sales. Normally I would start by saying what it sounds like but only a very few selected journalists have been able to listen to a HomePod. John Gruber was one of them so I’ll quote him for now.

I had the opportunity to listen to HomePod… In a side by side demo with a Sonos PLAY3 and an Amazon Echo in a simulated living room. The HomePod sounds really really really good. When you close your eyes, it’s hard to think that the audio is coming from a single source. The multi directional sound Apple talked about is true. It doesn’t sound like one speaker. -John Gruber-

After hearing John say this, I was very excited about hearing for myself how it will sound. And of course, everyone conceives sound in a different way. Some people like more bass,… etc. I’ll write a separate post about the HomePod when I get one(or two) myself.

homepod-siri-interact

iPad Pro

Apple also released 2 new iPad Pro’s. An update to the existing 12,9 inch iPad Pro and a new 10,5 inch iPad Pro. These iPad Pro’s feature the already great same design as their predecessors but have a completely new display and even more graphics power than before… Lets dive right in.

iPad Pro sizes

The first and biggest new feature on the new iPad Pro is the ProMotion display. A display that is first of all much brighter now at 600 nits. So wherever you use your iPad Pro, even in bright sunlight, it will be much easier to see. The display is also much less reflective thanks to a new coating. Where it used to be that the 9,7 inch iPad Pro had a better display, now the 12,9 and the 10,5″ have the same display. Both with P3 color gamut and TrueTone Displays. But maybe the biggest and coolest thing about the new iPad Pro displays is their refresh rate. Where most smartphones and tablets have a display that refreshes at 60Hz, the new iPad Pro has a display that refreshes at 120Hz! This makes everything you do on your iPad smoother and more beautiful. ProMotion makes your display feel incredibly responsive as well. All the animations, swiping pages and swiping up or down feels like it’s happening so fast your eyes can’t follow it. You can see for yourself in this slo motion video.

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A second benefit you get when using a ProMotion display is that your display loses it’s fixed refresh rate. The new iPad Pro can also slow down the refresh rate when you’re for example reading a new article. Reading a news article in 120Hz would be slight overkill so the smart A10X(I’ll tell your more about this badboy later) knows to slow down to 24Hz to save power. Another example would be when you’re watching a movie. This is where the display can show you a movie at 48Hz(24fps) which is exactly as the movie maker intended. So this display is both cool for the very high refresh rate and smooth animations but also for saving power. Very smart Apple!

For chipset, Apple chose for a bumped up version of the A10 Fusion chip found in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus called the A10X. What does the X mean? It means that this chip is a MONSTER. With 6 cores, 3 high performance and 3 high efficiency this chip is 30% faster while still being energy efficient. Where Apple went full option is on graphics performance. The A10X has a freaking 12 core GPU! This yields a 40% improvement on graphics performance for doing 3D renders and for playing graphic intensive games. This chip also has the power to drive a pro display at 120Hz, so it’s a power house.

iMac & MacBook Pro

As for the iMac and MacBook Pro there weren’t a lot of changes. That’s why I put them next to each other.  The new MacBook Pro’s look and feel exactly the same as the 2016 model but get the KabyLake processor instead of the SkyLake processor. They also receive a little faster SSD.

Apple did a good job on the iMac refresh this year. The new iMacs are also getting KabyLake processors, faster 2400Mhz RAM and faster flash storage(if you upgrade to flash). An all time new is for the first time, all of these iMacs get better graphics. The 21,5 inch gets up to 4GBs of VRAM and the 27 inch gets up to 8GBs of VRAM both in AMD flavors. Why did Apple do this? Well, that’s one simple answer. VR. They want everyone to be able to create and experience VR content on these new iMacs. A great and very smart move, since they’re also upgrading ‘Metal’ to support VR content with ‘Metal 2’.

It was clear that this WWDC had a ton of great both user and developer products but the developers got an amazing amount of new stuff to play with. Apple knows that the great ecosystem they created needs all of these developers and their amazing apps and technologies to be truly amazing. So to them, I want to say thank you. Have a great week and we’ll see each other soon in a next post.

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