Apple just finished its annual Worldwide Developers Conference! As usual, Apple announced the latest version of iOS and OS X for Apple devices, some of the latest statistics related to their products, and took the time to announce a new version of Apple Watch OS, and Swift. But of course, there’s always “one more thing” (well…there hasn’t been for a while, but it’s back now!), and this time around that is the announcement of Apple’s new music streaming service: Apple Music. So let’s dive in and check out what’s new.
Note: A followup article with more details on Apple Music is in the works and will be finalized when the service is released on June 30th.
OS X 10.11 El Capitan
OS X 10.11, also known as OS X El Capitan, was announced with a few new features. Apple focused on improving performance and minor details this time around. Safari now has the feature to “pin” sites on the landing page and have them load instantly upon access. Spotlight is now capable of more in-depth searches that scan the internet for things like weather, event tickets, and more using natural language processing. You can now split your screen between apps to better organize your screen space. Finally, Metal, the low-level graphics API that Apple introduced for their iOS devices for gaming and graphics applications is now available on OS X. Apple claims that gaming and graphics applications can see a 10x performance boost when built with Metal.
iOS 9 also makes mostly incremental steps. HealthKit has been updated so it can now track more data such as UV exposure and menstrual cycles. Passbook is now Wallet (really Apple?). Newsstand is now “News”. There’s a new “low power mode” that is aimed at giving users the option to shut things off and deliver an extra 3 hours of battery life. The iPad however gets a very exciting new feature: Multi-Window. Users will now be able to use 2 apps at once on screen in split-screen view. Exciting news for iPad Air 2 users.
Siri is getting a pretty major upgrade this time around. Siri can now act as a much more powerful personal assistant. The idea here is that it can do many of the things that Google Now does, such as use natural language processing to give contextual advice and options. Siri can now automatically put invitations in your calendar, suggest people you may want to call and offer you breaking news that you may want to read. According to Apple, all this information is processed and stored on your phone, and Apple has no access to it.
Apple Watch OS 2
The Apple Watch is getting an update that will allow it to do some cool things such as “Time Travel” which essentially allows you to use the digital crown to scrobble on the calendar view to see what events are coming up ahead. Developers also have a lot more control now and can develop and publish native Apple Watch apps to the App Store for users to download.
Swift is Apple’s new programming language that it announced last year. Many developers really liked it and found it really intuitive and easy to use. The problem was that it was so young so it didn’t have a lot of important features that developers tend to be used to. That changes this year. Apple announced Swift 2 with a crazy amount of new features, that developers have specifically been asking for (they listened!!!). On top of that, Apple did something major with Swift 2. They announced that they were going to Open-Source it. This is an absolutely major thing in terms of development. It’s unlike Apple to open-source anything, and doing so with its programming language that will power future applications is a major step. I applaud Apple heavily for taking this step. Also it will now become available on Linux too.
Apple announced it’s music streaming competitor, Apple Music. So far, it’s looking awesome. The idea is that users can use Apple Music for ALL their music related needs in a single place. Stream your favorite music, watch music videos and exclusive content published directly by artists onto the newsfeed, curated playlists, and more. The “Connect” feature allows unsigned artists to upload their music (think of SoundCloud). Then there’s Beats1 Radio. The first global 24/7 radio station DJ’ed by 3 DJs in Los Angeles, New York, and London. Finally, the price is right on point with everyone else. $9.99 a month, and if you have a family you can get the $14.99 a month plan and support up to 6 family members with their own lists and settings. To get people to try Apple Music, Apple has announced that users will get to use the service for the first 3 months for free. Apple Music will be available on June 30th on Mac, iOS, Windows (iTunes), and…..in the fall….Android! You read that right. Apple is going to make an Android version of Apple Music. If this isn’t an acknowledgement by Apple that Android is a force to be reckoned with, I don’t know what is.
Overall it was a very incremental and bland WWDC compared to what we’re used to, but there were a lot of positive things coming out of it. Most of which was Apple once again playing catch-up to Google, but hey, in the end, it’s what drives us forward, regardless of who’s in front.
What did you think of Apple’s new announcements this year? Leave me a comment below!