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Apple WWDC 2019 – The Biggest Announcements

Apple’s WWDC event this year has a couple of pleasant surprises. As usual, a bunch of software updates are coming to Apple’s range of products, but (arguably) the star of the show is the new Mac Pro. It’s a big update, considering the fact that it hasn’t been refreshed in six long years.

There are quite a number of things detailed at WWDC last night, so here are the biggest announcements from the keynote.

The Most Expensive Mac Pro Yet

As Apple’s most powerful Mac device yet, it’s no surprise the Mac Pro will cost a small fortune. Set to retail from $5,999 (that’s a whopping RM25,050 starting price) once it arrives later this fall, the base model of this machine comes with an octa-core Intel Xeon processor paired with 32GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon Pro 580X GPU, and a 256GB SSD.

If you so desire, the Mac Pro can be customised with a 28-core Xeon processor paired with up to 1.5TB of RAM. According to Apple, the Mac Pro’s cooling system is robust enough for the 28-core Xeon processor to sustain peak performance at all times. In the graphics department, you can fit up to four AMD Radeon Pro Vega II GPUs into the machine, giving you up to “56 teraflops of graphics performance and 128GB of video memory,” as Apple puts it.

Besides its raw hardware power, what makes the new Mac Pro an even more impressive machine is its modular design, which addresses one of the biggest shortcomings of the outgoing “trash can” Mac Pro. However, it remains to be seen just how easy it is to swap out parts and upgrade the Mac Pro, and whether or not consumers can actually do the upgrading themselves.

A $999 Monitor Stand for a $4,999 Display

Announced alongside the new Mac Pro is the $999 Pro Stand (about RM4,170) for the equally costly Pro Display XDR monitor that retails at an eye-watering $4,999 (approximately RM20,865). Yes, even the stand costs over RM4,000, and it has a counterbalance arm that can tilt, heighten, lower, and rotate the monitor.

As for the Pro Display XDR itself – XDR stands for extreme dynamic range – it is a 32-inch 6016 x 3384 Retina 6K LCD monitor with bezels only 9mm thin. Its brightness level is also very impressive, peaking at 1,600 nits with the ability to sustain 1,000 nits of brightness. On top of that, it also has Apple’s True Tone technology, P3 wide colour gamut, and 10-bit colour depth.

Just like the new Mac Pro, both the Pro Display XDR and Pro Stand will be available in fall 2019.

iOS 13 Introduces Dark Mode and Faster App Launch

As expected, Apple also detailed some key new features coming to iOS 13. The highlight? A new system-wide dark mode, of course. All first-party apps from Apple will support the new mode, and chances are, every aspect of the user interface will be darkened accordingly too.

Visual update aside, iOS 13 also promises better performance and some new features. Apps will supposedly launch up to two times faster, Face ID will unlock 30% quicker, the keyboard now supports swipe typing (similar to SwiftKey and Gboard), and iOS 13 can finally recognise external storage.

Beta version of the iOS 13 will be available for developers to test out starting today, while the public beta program will take place sometime in July. The final consumer version, on the other hand, will arrive in fall 2019.

iPad Gets Its Own OS

That’s right, iPad will run on its own OS in the future. Aptly dubbed iPadOS, the new platform makes iPads a lot more suitable for productivity tasks. It has a redesigned home screen, there’s now mouse support, it can recognise external storage (much like iOS 13), and there’s also a new copy and paste gesture – you can pinch with three fingers to copy, and then do a three-finger spread to paste.

Beyond that, iPadOS will still be very familiar to those who are used to iOS, but that will change moving forward. Apple will further differentiate the “iPad experience” from iPhones through gradual changes here and there, and it’ll be interesting to see where Apple will take iPadOS in the future.

Expect the consumer version of iPadOS to roll out later this fall.

macOS Catalina Adds iPad App Support

Last but certainly not least is the upcoming macOS Catalina update. Arriving sometime in fall 2019, one of the biggest changes is the splitting of iTunes into three separate apps: Podcasts, Apple TV, and Apple Music. It’s worth noting that these applications have already been available on iOS devices for years, so it’s merely macOS catching up here.

Nonetheless, Catalina does add a couple of noteworthy features; one of them is Sidecar, which lets you use an iPad as a secondary display for your Mac. This can be done wired or wirelessly, and certain apps even let you use an Apple Pencil with the iPad as a drawing tablet. Apps that support this include Adobe Illustrator, iWork, and Final Cut Pro X.

Perhaps the most interesting addition to macOS Catalina is Project Catalyst. It’s a framework that allows developers to port iPad apps to macOS, and if Catalyst takes off, it will further bolster the Mac’s selection of apps.

WWDC 2019 brought quite a number of interesting news, and we will see for ourselves how these software and hardware will pan out once they are officially released sometime in fall 2019.