Apple’s 2015 WWDC developer conference included a heap of product announcements, including iOS 9, OS X El Capitan, watchOS 2 and its new music streaming service. It was a long conference, so let us sum it up for you.
iOS 9 Gets More Proactive
As expected, a new version of iOS is coming to iPhones and iPads by spring. There aren’t a lot of huge changes here, but there are a bunch of minor improvements on the way.
iOS 9 Gets Proactive Features Similar to Google Now
iOS 9 is more proactive and learns from your behaviour. For example, if you plug in headphones when you’re at the gym, your Now Playing track will start playing right away. Similarly, if it detects an upcoming event in your email, it will automatically add it to your calendar, and if an unknown number calls you, it will try and identify the caller. It will even check current driving conditions and send you a notification when it’s time to leave.
Spotlight Can Now Search Within Apps
Spotlight in iOS 9 is a lot more powerful and predictive. Pulling it up will show you your most recent contacts, as well as apps that you tend to launch at certain times of the day. You can also search within apps like Netflix and Vimeo, and do basic maths. More importantly, Spotlight now has an API, so this feature can (and hopefully will) come to many more apps soon.
Apple Maps Gets Public Transport Maps (But Not Everywhere)
Apple Maps is finally getting public transport maps and directions — sort of. The Transit up promises real-time updates, but the launch list of countries only covers the US and China. While this will probably come to Australia eventually, don’t uninstall your dedicated apps just yet.
Apple News Aggregates A Personalised List Of News Articles
Apple News is the big new app in iOS 9. It’s essentially Flipboard, but Apple-ified: you pick topics you’re interested in, as well as specific feeds of your favourite sites, all of which get packaged into one universal, visual app. Gizmodo has a closer look.
The iPad Gets Multitasking And A QuickType Keyboard
Arguably the most exciting new iOS 9 feature is for the iPad: true multitasking. You can now view two apps side-by-side, much like in Windows 8, so you can use both at once. Both are independent of each other so you can move them around and resize their columns as needed. Even cooler is the new picture-in-picture mode for the Videos app, so you can watch videos while you work or play in another app. The bulk of the multitasking features are limited to the iPad Air and newer, and the split view will only work on the Air 2.
The QuickType keyboard for the iPad now has formating options as well. You can also swipe with two fingers to create a trackpad to select and edit text. If you’re using a keyboard, you also get some new shortcuts to switch between apps.
Apple’s default Notes app now has formatting options and photos support. You can also draw sketches in the Notes app and instantly add links to your Notes from Safari.
Apple is also beefing up security, giving you more granular control over what data you share with Apple. If iOS 9 does need to dial home, it will do so anonymously and nothing is linked to your Apple ID. Apple Pay is launching in the UK — the first country to get it outside the US. Still no word on an Australian launch.
iOS 9 gets some improvements that extend your battery life. A new low power mode toggle lets you squeak out an extra three hours when you’re in need of extra juice.
iOS 9 will be available in the Aust, with a public beta in July. If you’re looking for more, Gizmodo has you covered.
OS X El Capitan Refines Yosemite With Minor Improvements
Apple also announced a new version of OS X, called El Capitan. It comes with a few new minor features, including some new gestures for dismissing mail, Safari gestures for pinning, and a new mouse cursor finder.
You can now move the Spotlight window around and it gets a natural language parser for searching. That means you can search Spotlight with terms like “Mail I ignored from Phil,” or “Documents I worked on last June.”
Full screen mode in Apple’s native apps has been overhauled. You can open up tabs in apps or do a side-by-side view with two apps (a feature Windows has had for several versions, incidentally). You can do all this through the Mission Control Spaces bar.
A few other minor improvements are on the way as well, including some performance increases for app launching, app switching, and PDF opening. Apple’s also bringing Metal, the iOS graphics technology, to the Mac. This should help with graphics performance in both applications and games.
OS X El Capitan will be a free upgrade available in spring.
Apple Music Streams The Entire iTunes Library To Your Devices
As its “One More Thing”, Apple announced Apple Music, a multi-platform streaming service similar to services like Spotify. It hooks into iOS’ Music app and has a personalised “For You” section. You can also create live playlists with the “Up Next” feature, which works about the same as the same feature in iTunes. As you’d expect, it can be controlled via Siri.
Besides streaming the entire iTunes music library, there’s also a social network built in that allows artists to communicate with fans, as well as a 24/7 global radio station with live DJs called Beats One.
WatchOS 2 Brings Native Apps And Minor Improvements
When the Apple Watch launched, the apps were linked to your iPhone. With watchOS 2, it will have its own native apps. This means that you won’t need to have your iPhone around in order to use them, which is handy.
WatchOS 2 gets a few enhancements as well. You’ll have new time faces, third party app information on your face, a “bedside mode” with an alarm, a time travel feature to see upcoming events, and more. You can now reply to emails, answer FaceTime audio, and store rewards cards on your watch, too.
Like most of these updates, WatchOS 2 will be available this spring.