By: Nick Gambino
The tech world is alive with the sound of music. Apple Music to be precise. At the Worldwide Developer’s Conference, Apple finally announced the relaunch of their streaming music service a year after purchasing Beats Music and Beats Electronics for north of $3 billion.
Apple’s WWDC is always used as a platform to announce their newest software updates and releases. This year definitely didn’t disappoint. So let’s get into the top announcements and see if they’re as exciting as I think they are.
What would WWDC be without announcement of a new iOS? Well, I guess it would be WWDC without an announcement of a new iOS…
Well, that’s neither here nor there. Apple announced iOS 9 which is a whole new refined iOS. It’s not as game-changing as, say, iOS 7 but there are a few refinements that really stand out:
Notes – Added functionality allows you to now make sketches and diagrams with a drawing tool.
Passbook – Passbook is no more, it has been retitled “Wallet” with significant upgrades. Apple Pay is now integrated with your rewards cards allowing you to just make a single payment at, let’s say, Panera and your rewards card will automatically “swipe.” Apple continues to expand Apple Pay merchants with JC Penney and Trader Joe’s coming on board.
Apple Pay is due to be released in the UK in July giving Apple Pay its first step towards going global. One significant note is that Apple Pay will be accepted in the London transportation system. That’s a pretty big deal.
News/Newsstand – That pesky Newsstand is no more. It’s been replaced by “News.” This brand new app will allow you to scroll through loads of articles from various news sources much like you would in Flipboard.
Apple Maps – Apple Maps continues to get itself back on track with added integration for public transit directions, something that apps like Google Maps have had for years. Unfortunately it’s only being released in select major cities to start.
Siri – Our favorite voice in our head, Siri, is getting a bit of an upgrade with added duties that make her more of an assistant who jumps in before you need to ask. She’ll proactively suggest apps to use or people to call or even offer a soundtrack for you to listen to that would compliment an activity like running.
OS X El Capitan
The new OS X 10.11 is again more about refinements. You’ll be able to do things with Safari like mute audio in various tabs without having to go into them and pin sites. Spotlight has been beefed up so you can search more specifically for things like upcoming events and weather.
Though the thing I’m most excited about is split screen capability between multiple apps and windows. This has been sorely missing and many of us have been forced to use third party apps like BetterSnap Tool to make this work.
New Apple Watch OS
After only 2 months into its lifespan Apple Watch has a new updated OS, watchOS 2. This is a good sign for sure as there were some much needed improvements.
The new feature, Time Travel, allows you to jump forward to a specific future time to get an overview of what occurs at that time. Info such as weather, events in your calendar, etc.
They’ve upped the interactivity of the watch as you can now not only read e-mails but reply to them as well, right on your watch. Developers will now have more control on the apps they make for the device, specifically now having access to the use of its speakers when videos or audio are played through their apps.
A number of other new additions to iOS9 will also carry over to watchOS 2 such as public transport directions in Maps.
One of the few things Apple has not yet dominated is the streaming music model. They tried (and honestly failed) with iTunes Radio but with the purchase of Beats Music over a year ago they are ready to try again. In a world dominated by Spotify it seemed there was no edge in but Apple feels they’ve found one.
With Apple Music you can do the usual, stream music from your favorites artists and listen to your custom playlists. You can even watch exclusive music videos and video clips as well as play your own iTunes library. But with the new feature Connect, unsigned artists are now able to upload their own music to the service! BOOM. You want to catch attention? Give a much-needed leg up to the little guy.
And for something just a little different, they’ve created an international radio station titled Beats 1 with Zane Lowe hired to run the ship.
This’ll cost you $9.99 a month or $14.99 a month for a family plan that includes accessibility for up to 5 additional people.
For more information on Apple Music, check out an article by Bryan Tropeano that focuses specifically on it: Apple Music – Redefining the Way We Listen to Music.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this. You’d think one of the above-mentioned announcements would have received the most applause at the conference. That honor actually belongs to the announcement that their iOS programming language, Swift, will be open sourced.
This is huge. A long-standing gripe between developers and just general tech geeks has been Apple’s restrictive, lack of malleability. This is why some have tended to drift towards Android, because they honestly weren’t limited by HAVING to use Apple’s in-house dev tech.
This is a giant step towards Apple not alienating developers and making Apple feel more inclusive of third-party apps.
So there you have it, the biggest announcements at Apple’s WWDC. Most of these won’t be released to consumers until the Fall but are now available to developers in beta.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.