Well here it is, the big day for apple fans when rumors are no longer rumors at all. Yesterday at Apple’s WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) a lot of new things got revealed, a lot of new features coming up especially the biggest highlight of yesterday’s conference was Apple’s long-rumored music service. It was a bit flashy, though it followed two hours of low-key but fairly solid tweaks to Apple’s software products, from new versions of OS X and iOS to updates of its car, home, and watch software. This year, Apple customers of all stripes can look forward to a lot of refreshed apps and if the company delivers on its promise, all sorts of Siri integration. They might not make headlines quite as well, but little changes like Maps public transit support can make a big difference in the long run.
If you didn’t sit through the keynote, here’s a rundown of the highlights you shouldn’t miss.
OS X 10.11 : El Capitan
Apple’s senior vice president Craig Federighi started off the keynote with this important announcement sharing new advancements and improvements. He stated that over 55 percent of active Mac users are using Yosemite. He also announced the name of the latest OS X 10.11: El Capitan. Plenty of new features coming this way including new gestures, such as shake to maximize mouse cursor, and a new way to pin websites on Safari. The browser will also add a speaker icon on the URL bar to mute music coming from any tab opened. Instead of looking for files by name, you can now describe what you’re looking for, such as “Files I worked on last June” to bring up documents last edited at that time. El Capitan will also allow users to split their screen into multi-tasking windows (Windows 10 style) by holding the Maximize button and dragging left or right. Furthermore OS X 10.11 will be a part of Metal 3D graphics SDK to improve gaming and apps on its desktop. Apple says this should accelerate app launches by 1.4 times, and make it twice as fast to switch between apps. El Capitan is available for developers today, with a public beta coming in July and a full, free rollout to all this fall.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that iOS 9 will be supported by the same devices that support iOS 8, meaning that little 4s you’ve been clinging to forever will still be supported. You’ll need less space, too, for updating the next version: only 1.3GB rather than the 4.6GB that was needed for iOS 8. The iPad, meanwhile, has new productivity options, users can open two apps side-by-side on a single iPad Air 2. Developers can get their hands on all the new features when Apple drops the public beta.
Siri now more intelligent
Siri will be more intelligent, more contextually aware, and more proactive. New “context sensitive” features include the ability to tell Siri to “remind me about this” and it will know you are referring to the webpage currently on Safari. If you receive a phone number but are not sure who’s calling, you can also ask Siri to search through your emails to find any matches. Siri can also suggest people to invite for meetings, or apps that you might like your usage behavior during particular times of day. Apple also unveiled an API for search to help developer’s deep link their apps from mobile Spotlight searches. All of your searches and suggestions are not linked to your Apple ID or shared with third parties.
Apple unveiled its new partners, including Trader Joe’s and JC Penney. Payment processing company Square will also be launching a new Apple Pay-compatible reader this fall. But the most important announcement might be that it’s moving outside the US: Apple Pay will be coming to the UK in July. Besides eight banks and a variety of British brands, it will work with the London transportation system — something no American public transit authority has managed so far. Apple’s Passbook service, meanwhile, is turning into a service called Wallet, and Apple Pay itself is getting support for rewards cards.
Swift 2.0 and all the Kits
Craig Federighi also announced that new support headed for many of the Apple developer kits. These additions include hydration and reproductive health support on HealthKit, more Kits for gaming development and carbon monoxide alarms on HomeKit. After rushing through all the Kits, Federighi announced one last big bit of news: Swift 2.0 is coming, and it will be open-sourced. Compilers will be available for both OS X and Linux.
Watch OS update
There’s a whole new operating system for Apple watch now and it’s called watch OS 2. It has some more options for watch faces, including the cutely named “Time Travel,” which gives you an overview of upcoming events in addition to what’s going on at the moment. There’s a little bit more interactivity overall — you can, say, reply to emails instead of just reading them. HomeKit will also be natively on the watch, so you can control your home temperature from the digital crown, for example. Taptic engine and accelerator information will be made available for developers as well. The new WatchKit and watchOS 2 is available today for developers, heading to everyone else in the fall.
Like iOS 9 and OS X, Apple’s auto operating system got some big upgrades today, too. The most important is that CarPlay will allow auto makers to develop apps that control your car’s features. Going forward, you won’t have to leave the CarPlay OS to do things like turn the heat on. CarPlay will also now support high-DPI screens at multiple display sizes, meaning manufacturers are free to design around CarPlay any way they see fit.
Like all times it was up for Tim Cook to finish the keynote in a traditional “one more thing” tease. Today, Apple officially confirmed the long rumored Apple Music, its streaming service powered by iTunes. Users can search their content on “My Music,” or find song recommendations in the “For You” tab. It will also show you the song that’s coming up next to prepare your ear drums. To power “For You,” Apple Music will ask about your musical preferences to source songs, artists and playlists. You can also browse “Hot Tracks,” “Recent Releases,” “Top Charts” and even ad-free music videos. Siri will also work with contextually with Apple Music when your prompt for things like “Play me the top songs from 1982″ or “Play that song from Selma.” To talk more about Apple Music, Beats’ Jimmy Iovine joined Cook on stage. He says Apple Music will give users “the right song, at the right moment” – one way of doing this is via its radio station, Beats1. Guess where that name comes from. Beats1 is a 24/7 global radio station, hosted by former BBC Radio One DJ Zane Lowe. The service hopes to not only play great music, but help users discover new content. Artists can upload their work to Apple Music Connect to help increase their exposure, regardless of whether they’re signed. Apple’s even got Drake on stage to talk about Connect and how modern musicians can connect to their fans. Apple Music will launch on June 30 for $9.99 a month. A family plan will also be available for $14.99 a month for up to six members. Android support is coming in the fall.
Surely, this year’s WWDC resonated Google’s earlier I/O keynote. It is true that both companies are building increasingly expansive, smarter, and responsive ecosystems for everything from your wrist to your car. But the two events were also defined by small improvements.