Apple Inc. held its Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) today and announced several updates for its operating systems across its devices, including iOS, OS X, and watchOS. It also launched some new apps that will be baked into Apple products and a new music streaming service. We tuned into the live stream, so if you missed it, here are some of the key announcements made by Apple CEO Tim Cook and friends.
Apple’s next version of OS X is called El Capitan. New UI upgrades will include a cleaner Mission Control view to create new spaces to group applications. Spotlight is a bit smarter, reaching deeper into the web and your applications to find what you’re looking for in a more contextual way. A new Notes app will let you drag and drop photos, PDFs, videos, and other files into a note. There’s also a new system font, San Francisco.
The update for iOS 9 was previewed, which will have improved Spotlight search capabilities and a smarter Siri on board. Siri might suggest contacts to you that you often talk to, for example (or Trent Reznor), and will deliver contextual reminders to you about when you have to leave to drive to your next appointment. Typing in a search will include more results from more categories, including sports scores, schedules, videos, and math calculations.
There will be some under-the-hood improvements in iOS 9 as well. There’s built-in battery optimization that Apple says will provide a typical user with one more hour of battery life per day, and a low power mode to really make the most of your charge. The update will be about 1.1 GB in size, about one-quarter of the iOS 8 update, and Apple will have an “install later” feature so you can have it install when the device isn’t in use.
Apple News was launched, a news aggregator app that will display articles from some well-known publishers such as Wired and The New York Times alongside news content that you can customize it to display. Content is displayed in a visual magazine style for the readers. For publishers, Apple News Format is the code that will allow publishers to create multimedia stories for the app.
There was some Apple Pay news, with the service now being supported by more than 1 million locations in the U.S. It will also be expanding to the U.K. in July. Apple is also renaming Passbook to Wallet, reflecting its ability to store payment cards, loyalty cards, tickets, and coupons. A new feature in Pinterest, Buyable Pins, will allow Apple Pay purchases from stores such as Cole Haan, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus from within the Pinterest app on iOS.
Apple Metal was previously available to iOS developers, but now it’s available for OS X as well. While OS X has never really been equated with videogames in the same way that Windows has, Apple is clearly making an appeal to change that here with its new rendering engine. Metal allows developers better access to system hardware, making processing up to 50 per cent more efficient. Epic Games demoed a big action zombie/apocalypse title on stage to show it off.
Apple Swift, the programming language that it introduced last year, is going open source later this year. That will give developers even more access to the code behind Swift, such as the compiler for apps. Swift 2 is due later this year and will include new optimization technology, protocol extensions, and shorter compile times. It’s all part of Apple’s bid to woo more developers to build apps on its platform.
Apple announced watchOS 2, which will be pushed out as a free update this Fall. The new OS will allow developers to create apps that run natively on the device, without having to rely on a paired smartphone for operation. There’s a new Nightstand Mode to use your watch as an alarm clock, support for the new Apple Wallet app, and support for transit directions in Apple Maps. You can now also reply to emails from the Watch, or have a conversation over FaceTime using audio chat.
A new Time Travel feature in watchOS 2, while not literally letting you travel through time, acts as a convenient way to scroll ahead in your day with the digital crown. As the time zooms ahead, your customized information on the watch face such as appointments, weather, and projected battery life will all update in real time. It also supports information from third-party apps, so you can see things like flight information with this feature.
In a video voiced over by Trent Reznor, who was given the title of “Artist/Apple Creative,” Apple introduced its new music streaming service in Apple Music. The service is planned for a worldwide debut on June 30 and will cost USD $9.99 per month for an individual subscription or USD $14.99 for a family plan that covers up to six people. Beats 1 is Apple’s live radio station that will be the flagship streaming station for the service, broadcasting to more than 100 countries.