Apple Inc rolled out a slew of upgrades to its entire ecosystem at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, while also debuting its most-talked-about Apple Vision Pro chief executive officer (CEO) Tim Cook termed as a “new kind of computer”.
WWDC is the tech giant’s annual event where it offers a glimpse into fresh software offerings for its range of Macs, iPhones, Apple Watches, and iPads. This year, it included hardware launches.
On Monday, the Cupertino-based company rolled out its new 15-inch MacBook Air, Mac Studio, and Mac Pro powered by the M2 processor, while also launching its latest iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and watchOS 10.
Unveiling Apple Vision Pro
The highlight of the event, however, was the debut of the Vision Pro headset which not only looks futuristic but boasts a 3D camera and can be controlled using eyes, hands, and voice.
“Welcome to the era of spatial computing with Apple Vision Pro. You’ve never seen anything like this before!” Cook tweeted.
“Featuring visionOS, the world’s first spatial operating system, Vision Pro lets users interact with digital content in a way that feels like it is physically present in their space,” the company said on its site.
The Vision Pro will usher in “spatial computing” in the way that the iPhone sparked mobile computing, the company added.
With two ultra-high-resolution displays, Apple Vision Pro transforms any space into a personal movie theater with a screen that feels 100 feet wide and an advanced spatial audio system.
Users can watch movies and TV shows, or enjoy stunning 3D movies. Apple immersive video offers 180-degree high-resolution recordings with spatial audio.
Apple ties up with Disney
Apple said industry partnerships for the new headset have been established, including with Disney.
Disney CEO Bob Iger announced in a pre-taped video during the presentation that Disney’s streaming service will be accessible on the Vision Pro.
“We’re constantly in search of new ways to entertain, inform and inspire our fans,” Iger said. “We believe Apple Vision Pro is a revolutionary platform.”
Disney’s streaming service will be available on the Vision Pro as soon as it reaches users, which Apple said would begin in the US.
Spatial computing makes new types of games possible with titles that can span a spectrum of immersion and bring gamers into all-new worlds.
Game developers using Unity Software’s platform will have access to Vision Pro tools.
Users can also play over 100 Apple Arcade games on a screen as large as they want, with incredible immersive audio and support for popular game controllers.
Vision Pro features and price tag
The Vision Pro headset will be equipped with the M2 chip, which is currently used in Apple’s Macs, along with an innovative “R1” chip. The latter is designed to process information from the device’s numerous cameras, sensors, and microphones.
This setup effectively reduces latency, a frequent problem in virtual reality headsets leading to motion sickness.
Apple has also assured a high-resolution display system in the Vision Pro that enables the rendering of 4K video and sharper text.
The mixed-reality headset will come in early 2024 with a price tag of $3,499.
New MacBook Air 15
Apple announced its new MacBook Air 15, a bigger avatar of the MacBook Air 13 that it rolled out last year.
The new MacBook Air is powered by an M2 chip and can last up to 18 hours on a full charge. Specifications include up to 24GB of memory and up to 2TB of storage, and comes with a starting price tag of $1,299 (or $1,199 with a student discount).
The new model is 11.5mm thick and weighs 3.3 pounds. It comes with two Thunderbolt ports and a Magsafe cable connector, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack. It has an above-display 1080p camera in a notch, three microphones, and six speakers with force-canceling subwoofers.
Mac Studio with M2
The new model comes equipped with Apple’s latest M2 Max chipset or the option of the new M2 Ultra chipset. The M2 Ultra combines two M2 Max chips, allowing up to 192GB of memory.
The power-packed M2 Ultra boasts a 24-core CPU and can simultaneously stream 22 videos at 8K ProRes resolution. Not just that, it can support up to six Apple Pro Displays at once, indicating its immense multitasking prowess.
The Mac Studio is set to hit the market next week, with prices starting at $1,999.
Mac Pro with M2 Ultra
The M2 Ultra will power its top-tier desktop, the Mac Pro, which gains from all the M2 Ultra enhancements offered in the Mac Studio, inclusive of support for up to 192GB of RAM.
In terms of connectivity, the Mac Pro is equipped with eight Thunderbolt ports, two HDMI ports, and dual 10GB Ethernet ports, not to mention six open PCIe Gen 4 slots. The new Mac Pro is versatile, with options for both upright tower and horizontal rack orientations.
Set to be available starting next week, the starting price for this powerhouse Mac Pro is $6,999.
The iOS 17 developer beta is now available for download. For starters, the Messages app now supports additional filters for searching, and the process of replying to messages has been simplified with the swipe-to-reply feature. Even voice notes are transcribed for convenience.
Check In, a new safety tool, lets you notify a trusted contact once you’ve reached your destination, particularly useful for late-night travels.
Expanding on last year’s sticker-copy feature from photos, now you can also create and share GIFs from videos. Additionally, all emojis can now be shared as stickers.
AirDrop’s functionality is extended with Name Drop, which allows you to share contact details, such as email addresses and phone numbers.
For those who frequently use Notes, a new secure app, Journal, is here for jotting down personal reflections. It can also auto-log activities like songs you’ve listened to and your workouts.
Apple Maps now features offline use, a convenience that Android users have enjoyed for years.
And finally, as rumored, summoning Siri just got simpler. Simply saying “Siri” will activate the assistant.
Apple has also blended some AI capabilities into its offerings, featuring tools such as automated transcription, PDF autofill, and facial replication in augmented reality.
Before the WWDC, Apple’s stock had climbed to a record high, driven by anticipation over the new headset. However, the unveiling of a higher-than-expected price tag led to a decline in shares, which hit their lowest for the day post-presentation.
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