The idea is simple. Apple makes some updates to its various software platforms as well as its hardware offerings, and by the sheer strength of being the world’s richest tech company, it crushes several smaller companies who do the same thing. The strategy fits right into the “great artists steal” ethos espoused by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. It also means that the Cupertino powerhouse can offer new services to its customers without the annoying effort of having to come up with the ideas first.
WWDC 2017 is no different. Here’s a quick roundup of everything Apple’s trying to kill this year.
Every other browser
After Google Chrome came along and stole web browser dominance from Microsoft and others, Apple is in an endless game of catch-up to keep internet users in its ecosystem. The updates coming in the latest version of macOS might actually score Apple some points, though. Not only will Safari start hiding annoying ads that follow you around the web through its new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature, the browser will also find and silence annoying autoplay videos on websites.
Venmo and Square Cash
In a classic why-didn’t-they-do-this-sooner move, Apple finally added peer-to-peer payments to Apple Pay. Soon, in iOS 11, you’ll be able to tell a friend they owe you money via text, and iMessage will give them the option to pay with Apple Pay Cash.
It works just like Apple Pay, but instead of paying a store, you can pay your friends. Venmo, Square Cash, and basically every other peer-to-peer payments service should be very scared.
Microsoft Surface Pro
The iPad has been boring for years, but Apple clearly wants to change that (read: sell more iPads) in the months to come. A new 10.5-inch iPad Pro coupled with a new set of iPad-specific multitasking features in iOS 11 will make your iPad seem less like a tablet and more like a full-featured portable computer. In theory anyway.
You know who else has been trying to sell a device like this for, you know, years? Microsoft. As the new iPad shifts towards an experience that feels more like a MacBook, the novelty of an ultra versatile Surface Pro might be lost.
For years and years, Google has tried to do something remarkable in the augmented reality space with Project Tango, and it looks like Apple is about to leapfrog it. ARKit is a new SDK in iOS 11 that lets developers easily build augmented reality features into their apps.
The results shown off by an Apple partner looked like an incredible blending of the real world and an animated video game fantasy. The best part is the new software works with Apple’s existing hardware. It’s so simple that it makes Project Tango seem like a joke.
Amazon Echo and Google Home
Apple’s smart speaker is almost here, and it looks awesome. The lamely named HomePod works just like an Amazon Echo or a Google Home, except it does everything with the help of Siri and some jacked up hardware, including an A8 processor, six microphones, and HomeKit compatibility. Based on the preview offered at the WWDC keynote, HomePod will become Apple’s new AI-powered, voice-controlled home hub, and even if the device doesn’t offer as many features as its competitors, Apple fans will probably want it.
Apple’s HomePod actually goes after two categories with one product. While Amazon and Google emphasized home automation with their smart speakers, Apple is doubling down on audio with HomePod. Seven tweeters, six microphones, virtual surround sound, and a whole bunch of other buzz phrases promise that HomePod will sound as terrific as any wireless audio system, namely Sonos, the market leader.
Since the gadget won’t start shipping until December, we don’t yet know how great it sounds. But again, Apple fans will surely make this a holiday essential, regardless of how well it works. After all, it’s Apple.