Less than two weeks from Google’s I/O, Apple kicked off its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in California on June 8, 2015. Several new apps were introduced including the revolutionary new music streaming service, Apple Music. The company also announced that its programming language app, Swift, is now open source. Here’s everything you need to know from Apple’s WWDC:
Launching June 30 and promoted by the rapper Drake, the new streaming app gives users the first three months free. Afterwards the pricing will be $9.99/mo or $14.99/mo for a family plan with up to six different users. Music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have steadily become the primary medium used to listen to songs, and since Apple Music allows integration with the iOS Music app, it may just be the service that Apple users have been searching for. In addition the new app contains playlists from top artists and a live DJ service, Beats 1, as well as Connect. The feature integrates social media like Facebook and Twitter, and artists will even have their own pages to share new music, videos, and playlists. Apple Music has the whole package: music streaming, personal downloads, and Internet service radio – all in one app.
OS X El Capitan
In order to make up for last year’s software fiasco, Apple’s new operating systems for both iOS and OS X focus on improving stability, performance, and battery life. El Capitan (named after a rock in Yosemite national park) will be up to 1.4 times faster than Yosemite, allowing for faster browsing and switching between apps. In addition to optimized performances and a longer battery life, the iOS Metal graphics system is now on Mac, which is “significantly faster and less processor intensive for rendering intensive graphics.” The Spotlight app was also enhanced to expand its search engine and provide smarter search performances.
The biggest change with the updated operating system is Apple’s move away from its classic grid home screen towards the “Home Screen 2.0.” Interaction with the home screen changed when Apple introduced interactive notifications on the lock screen, which allowed users to go straight to the app itself. Now with Proactive Assistant, Apple’s competitor to Google Now, the software will make inferences based off a user’s history, anticipating what the user may want to do at any given moment. For example, if you check your emails every morning, iOS 9 will show you the email icon on your lock screen whenever you wake up. In addition it incorporates location-based recommendations for anything nearby, like restaurants or parking garages. Despite privacy concerns, Apple executive Craig Federighi assured that this information will stay on the user’s device and won’t be shared with any third parties.
Other new features include a low power mode, which can extend battery life for an additional three hours. You can also ask Siri to “show me photos from Utah last August,” and it will pull up the pictures directly on the Photos app. The iPhone isn’t the only Apple device getting an upgrade – iOS 9 permits iPad users to multitask on split-screens, letting more than one app to run side-by-side. Both iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan are expected to come out sometime this fall.
Perhaps one of the best yet underrated new features is the upgraded Maps app. Before, only Google Maps had the functionality of providing transit directions. If an iPhone user was lost in New York City and needed to look up which subway route to take, he or she would need to download Google Maps or another similar app. At last (seven years later), Apple integrated public transit directions into Maps. The transit directions include bus, ferry, subway, and train routes. Unfortunately, only London and a handful of cities in the US and China will be the first to experience the new update.
Women Keynote Speakers
Yesterday’s event also generated a buzz around something other than the company’s new and improved operating system: women executives took the stage for the first time. Although still lacking any minority executives onstage with the exception of Cuban-American Eddy Cue, both Jennifer Bailey and Susan Prescott taking the stage is an enormous step forward for Apple, “famous for parading white male executives across the stage.” Bailey presented the latest developments of the Apple Pay system, soon to be available in the UK, while Prescott discussed Apple’s innovative News app. Apple rebranded its former Newsstand app to simply News, which creates a personalized feed based on choices you make.
Overall, this year’s WWDC did not disappoint. With great new apps like News and Apple Music, we can’t wait for Apple’s new operating systems to debut this fall.