WWDC 2017

Apple's WWDC 2017 announcements: First thoughts for the enterprise

First impressions of what may excite enterprise users

Apple, WWDC, iOS, AR
Apple

Apple at WWDC 2017 made a wealth of announcements, many of which are likely of interest to enterprise users, these spanned iPads, iOS 11, AI, payments and, of course, Augmented Reality (AR).

What follows is a short first stop look at some of the news enterprise users may find interesting. I’ll provide more depth later this week.

The big opportunity: ARKit

While at face value you might see ARKit as being similar to Facebook’s Camera Effects, you’d be missing something.

Not only has Apple done years of groundwork to make sure these tools will work on tens of millions of devices, but its users are happy to cough up cash to engage in these experiences.

This means “it’s a much more attractive platform for brands and businesses looking to create augmented experiences,” said Adam Fingerman, chief experience officer and cofounder at San Francisco-based ArcTouch.

Machine learning that knows you but doesn’t sell you

Apple is really taking it cautiously with machine learning in its tech.

Sure, it made lots of allusions to AI, but when it comes to deployment it seems to be taking a slow but iterative approach. (Though when you unpack all its announcements you can see that the combined impact is actually pretty profound.)

Apple’s big news nuggets buried here were SiriKit and CoreML, tools developers should be able to use to build smarter apps for Apple’s platforms.

The use of CoreML is especially interesting in light of claims Apple plans a dedicated AI processor for its devices. On the face of it, new SiriKit APIs are the headline news, but their results remain a little limited, given support remains limited to: Ride-sharing and bill payment services, messaging, photo search, VoIP calls, workouts, car controls, lists and QR codes.

The capacity to sync encrypted data across multiple devices and improved contextual integration are quite tempting, but introduction of the useful yet counter intuitive type to Siri tool may actually cut through.  

Translation tools in Siri should be useful to any traveler, but in combination with multiple language support and natural voices represent even bigger opportunities ahead – instant translation for international video conferencing? All the same, Apple continues its great work to combine the best of machine intelligence with total control of privacy.

The iPad Pro gets serious

Apple’s decision not to introduce an iPad Pro mini will be a cause of upset to yours truly, but the flagship hardware improvements (including that fantastic screen and super-fast processor) promise much, much more.

All the same, the biggest improvements for productivity pros in the new breed device include the basics: full size multiple language keyboards and significant memory improvements, but also include big steps in usability which make an iPad Pro more like a Mac and a Mac more like an iPad Pro.

An unlimited item dock, copy-and-paste, and a much-improved app switcher mean Apple’s tablet now provides a more compelling argument for any mobile worker.

Apple Pencil integration means that device has become more of a peer player than a take it or leave it accessory that’s only really of interest to creative pros. And the new File browser is a huge and significant improvement that makes these tablets even more effective as laptop replacements.

There are many more iOS 11 improvements I plan to take a look at later in the week.

The iMac Pro

You just know that even at $4,999 the iMac Pro is going to end up on millions of desks when it does eventually ship.

Indeed, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Apple desktop sales slump slightly pending that new machine.

That’s not to say the other newly introduced models aren’t great – they really are great, but the impressive specs and AR creation capabilities the company has shoved inside these things is going to be incredibly tempting to pro users.

That’s not to say these will be enterprise kit, of course: but if you are a business seeking to get an early start in AR/VR experience creation (and why wouldn’t you be, given the huge opportunity this represents across so many industries), you now know the place to go to get the tools you need in a system your creative and tech staff are likely already used to using.

The iMac Pro means AR/VR experience design just went mainstream – particularly with macOS High Sierra.

Appocalypse Now

Finally, Apple’s Appocalypse video is highly amusing – and is also one of the best arguments I’ve seen yet to argue that the introduction of security back doors in apps and devices at government behest may absolutely threaten the safety and security of us all tomorrow, as criminals and foreign governments use these vulnerabilities to destroy infrastructure. Privacy and security are not luxury items.

I’m looking more deeply at the rest of Apple’s announcements, particularly iOS 11, and will report back with more on these later in the week. Have a good WWDC.

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