Apple WWDC 2015: Apple Music, updates to iOS, Apple Watch, Apple Pay and OS X
Apple's 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off Monday in San Francisco, with CEO Tim Cook taking the stage for the keynote address.
WWDC 2015, being held from June 8 to 12, hosts developers for a look ahead at what's to come in software for iPhones, iPads, computers and the Apple Watch. The company was also expected to make a big announcement about launching a heretofore (mostly) hush-hush music streaming service to take on the likes of Spotify.
Tim Cook saved that big announcement for last: The streaming service -- dubbed Apple Music -- will come to iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad later this month. A version for Android is coming in the fall. It will cost $9.99 a month, with the first three months free.
Cook stepped out to applause from developers representing 70 countries, and after a bit of banter, gave a quick preview of what was coming:
He said that the new OS X would bring "a whole bunch of new capabilities to the Macintosh, and today we're bring native apps to the Watch with a new version of the Watch OS which gives the developers even more time to create even greater apps for the Watch that will change the world," he said.
Then he added, "I'm going to dispense with my normal updates other than to tell you everything's going great," and introduced Senior VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi to talk about the next version of OS X, the operating system for Macs, formerly called Yosemite, now called El Capitan.
The successor to Yosemite boasts a new Mission Control interface and the ability to do a "split view" that snaps windows to either the right or left, making it easier to see two side-by-side.
The new Safari will address an annoying problem that comes up more and more as sites add auto-play video and video ads: Hearing audio and not knowing where it's coming from. New tabs in Safari will show you where the mystery sound is coming from and mute it with one click.
El Capitan is available to developers today. There will be a public beta in July and free upgrades for users in the fall.
Fully 83 percent of iOS users are currently running the latest version, iOS 8, Federighi said, compared to 12 percent running the latest version of Android on their mobile devices.
He said that Siri has had a 40 percent reduction in error rate, down to 5 percent. The new operating system will have "proactive assistance," where Siri can be a more "thoughtful" personal assistant.
This echoes a major theme from Google's recent I/O developers conference, where the company introduced its mind-reading Now on Tap.
"You can say, 'Remind me to grab my coffee off the roof of my car when I get in,' because Siri knows know when you've gotten in your car, or, 'remind me about this,'" and Siri will know you mean the website you were looking at when you said that. She'll also be able to search for your photos simply by your description, for instance asking her to "show me pictures from San Francisco last June."
Addressing privacy issues, Federighi said the company is not gathering data on you. "All of this is done on-device and it stays on device under your control."
The new iOS 9 will be available for public beta in July and will be a free upgrade in the fall for all devices currently supporting iOS 8.
Kevin Lynch, who's in charge of Apple Watch software, said "we're moving really fast on watchOS," the operating system that runs Watch.
And how. The new version of watchOS is coming just six weeks after the Watch's release. A main thrust is giving developers access to all the watch's features -- such as the crown, the microphone and the "taptic engine" -- so they can create native apps for the wearable that will improve the user experience.
Some of the nice little touches OS2 will add: A new photo album watch face lets you see images from your photo albums switch on your home screen as you move your wrist. And while your watch is charging at night, it acts like a little nightstand alarm clock; the wheel and button work to snooze and turn off the alarm.
You can now read emails -- soon you'll be able to reply to them from the watch. And it will support FaceTime audio "for high fidelity calls right form your wrist."
Watch's OS2 will enable the fitness apps you already use and will let them add to your all day tracking.
New Apple Pay features will also come to Watch.
The new Watch operating system will be a free update for watch wearers in the fall.
Apple Pay and Wallet
Jennifer Bailey, vice president of worldwide online stores, talked about the latest steps Apple is taking to do away with the wallet.
Apple Pay, she said, will surpass 1 million supporting locations in July.
Pinterest's new "buy" buttons will work with Apple Pay on Apple devices only.
You'll be able to add store debit and credit cards, along with rewards cards starting with Kohl's, Walgreens and Dunkin Donuts.
"We decided it's time to rename passbook -- to Wallet," Bailey said. "One place for all your credit and debit cards, loyalty cards and more."
Apple will bring updates to its maps, responding to the 5 billion user requests it gets per week.
The new "Transit" map focuses on subways, busses and step-by-step "multi-modal routing" that includes multiple modes of transportation. "We carefully surveyed all the entrances and exits so we can give you time to travel from where you actually are," Federighi explained. "It could be difference between catching your train on time and being stuck."
It will also become, he said, "effortless to ask Siri for directions."
Federighi introduced a new application he said they've wanted to make for years, News, calling it "beautiful content from the world' greatest sources, personalized for you."
Susan Prescott, markets VP, called the app "the best mobile reading experience ever." It maintains the look and feel of individual publishers and includes animations and videos.
The app uses your reading history to suggest stories to you.
Shortcuts to the new iPad keyboard will make it easier to cut and paste. And multitouch will let you use two fingers to create a much-easier-to-move cursor in the text.
The word of the day is multitasking.
A double tap on the home button brings up an easy task switcher, something that's been missing from iPads from the start. With "slide over" you can "bring in" a second app to overlay along the side of the app you're already in. Another tap lets you work in two apps in a side-by-side split screen. Another slide brings one full screen while pushing the other away.
Picture in picture means you that you can keep watching a video even while jumping into and out of other apps.
Split view is available in iPad Air 2. The other new features are available in the iPad Air and newer tablets.
Federighi said, Apple is seeing an extra hour of use in its iPhones. And a new low power mode "pulls switches you didn't even know existed" to extend battery life another 3 hours on top of that one hour.
HealthKit, HomeKit, CarPlay
HealthKit gets new features, like hydration tracking, while HomeKit adds support for window shades, carbon monoxide sensors and more, "allowing you to access your home remotely and securely via iCloud," Federighi said. "No matter where you are you can control all of your HomeKit devices."
He also said that "in future cars you'll be able to get in your car without taking your phone out of your bag or out of your pocket and start experiencing CarPlay effortlessly." It will also support more screen sizes and integrate with car-specific applications.
Tim Cook was thrilled announce that the app store has surpassed 100 billion apps downloaded, paying out more than $30 billion to developers.
One more thing... Apple Music
Cook used an old Steve Jobs trope to put the cake topper on his keynote, and brought up an industry expert to talk about it. Music legend Jimmy Iovine took the stage to introduce the highly anticipated streaming music service we now know is called Apple Music.
Apple acquired Dr. Dre and Iovine's Beats Electronics for $3 billion last May. The company's streaming service was the main selling point in the deal.
Iovine said Apple Music combines three things:
-"A revolutionary music service curated by the leading music experts we helped handpick" to figure out what song should come next. "Algorithms alone can't do that emotional task," he said.
-The "first-ever live 24/7 worldwide radio station," Beats One Radio, "a music lover's dream," coming from New York, L.A. and London
-Connect, described as a place where artists -- signed or unsigned, famous or unknown -- can share with fans like never before -- lyrics, remixes, songs, etc.
Iovine passed the mic to Eddy Cue, head of iTunes, for the tech details. Cue then passed it to Drake.
"Connect. It's right from where you are, in your city, in front of your computer," the artist said. "This approach is how we broke in 2008. It's been perfected and simplified by the great people at Apple."
"I can't wait to incorporate Apple Music and Connect into what I'm doing next," he said, adding, before leaving the stage, "This is something that simplifies everything for the modern musician like myself and the modern music consumer like you."
Cue came back on to show off the new app's mini player, and the running header with latest-added albums at the top.
"The first time we go to 'For You,' we want to find out about your musical tastes," he explained. You can tap on artists to show what you like and start to build a profile for recommendations.
For when you want to let someone else do the work, you jump to Beats One and let the radio play.
Connect gives you videos and images from the artists, like behind the scenes peeks and bands recording songs that haven't been released yet.
Even Siri can get into the action as your virtual DJ. Commands like, "Play the top 10 songs in alternative," and, "Play the top song from May 1982" get her to do just that. And if you don't know what that song from "Selma" is called, you can just say, "Play that song from 'Selma.'" And she does.
Apple Music will be $9.99 a month -- the cost of an album -- and Apple is making the first three months free. There will also be a $14.99-a-month family sharing plan for up to six family members. It's coming to iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad on iOS 8.4 later this month. A version for Android is coming this fall.
You can find more Apple Music coverage and WWDC updates from our partner site, CNET.
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