Apple's WWDC 2017: The big takeaways for technology pros

Artificial intelligence, augmented reality and a bevy of developer tools gave enterprises a lot to ponder.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple's marathon WWDC 2017 opening session touched on a bevy of key themes enterprises need to ponder. Overall, artificial intelligence was a key theme and enterprises may be able to step up their augmented reality games. Developers also got a bevy of notable software developer kits.

Here are the big takeaways for technology professionals.

Apple is now playing the artificial intelligence and machine learning game too. Based on a Jackdaw Research analysis, AI has occupied a big chunk of the major developer---Microsoft, Facebook and Google---keynotes in 2017. Apple has now joined the club.

Executives frequently mentioned machine learning and noted how Siri could do more things (like Google Assistant) and use more voices. Siri will get an upgrade on watchOS as well as iOS. As I noted in a preview, Apple's main task was to outline key AI moves. The company got into the game and conversation with WWDC 2017. More: WWDC 2017: Apple gives Siri top billing on watchOS 4, Apple Watch | CNET: Apple wants Siri to read your mind and take over your home

Hardware upgrades woo pros back and set stage for developers to use augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Apple upgraded its entire Mac line to handle more graphics processing. The iMac Pro could be a nice showpiece or workstation for enterprises. Apple has been behind the curve with hardware updates and has closed the gap with the PC industry.

Apple WWDC 2017: Eight things you probably missed

The extra horsepower was needed given Apple needed to make a stand in augmented reality. Meanwhile, enterprises and content pros will have more faith in the Apple upgrade cycle. Content pros now have better systems. WWDC 2017: Apple reveals macOS refresh, High Sierra | Apple iMac Pro, worth the $4,999 | Apple announces new iMac range, powers up the MacBook | TechRepublic: Apple unleashes 18-core iMac Pro with 128GB RAM, bumps other Macs to Kaby Lake

Developer tools for Siri and AR support the strategic shift to be more AI and AR centric. SiriKit and ARKit were notable additions. If Siri is going to be the primary screen across devices Apple will need to use its developer base to help. On the AR front, ARKit will expose the technology to more developers and consumers. Both of those software developer kits will be strategically important going forward. Apple launches augmented reality developer tools with ARKit | Apple positions Mac updates, Mac OS High Sierra for VR developers

Apple is commerce. Yes, Apple's main theme was AI and AR, but don't forget what will pay the bills. Apple Pay will be more integrated and easier to use with iMessage integration. Meanwhile, an iOS 11 upgrade to Maps will include malls and inside spaces. You can see the connective tissue here as Apple profits from the handoff from Apple Pay to internal maps to closing sales and collecting fees. CNET: Apple Pay takes on Venmo with personal money transfers

Scenes from the Apple WWDC 2017 keynote (Gallery)

An App Store revamp may result in more developer profits. Apple's App Store walkthrough focused on games and apps, but developers had to be thinking better economics. Apple is promising a faster review process and more customer engagement. Let's face it: You can't discover many apps on the current App Store. The upgrade will make it easier to find apps and then conduct transactions. TechRepublic: Apple macOS High Sierra kills AutoPlay in Safari, uses machine learning to improve privacy

Apple's iPad Pro update was overdue, but features like drag and drop and files were outlined like they were something groundbreaking. And those features were great--20 years ago or more. Apple is making the iPad Pro more of a productivity device with its updates, but the company over rotated on the Apple Pencil and will still struggle to convince me an iPad Pro is better than a MacBook. Apple refreshes larger iPad Pro with 10.5-inch display | Your iPad will finally show you files | iOS 11 for iPad includes customizable dock and drag and drop features

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