Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2015 rounded up this morning with a flurry of announcements. Primarily all software based with updates from everything in their existing line of operating systems from iPhone to Apple Watch. This was an event that focused on incremental updates & not major feature releases, however there were a great amount of things that will change how you use your iOS devices day to day.
Here’s a recap of everything that mattered from the WWDC event for developers & consumers alike.
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OS X 10.11 El Capitan:
Their latest version of OS X is named after a rock formation within Yosemite. Known as El Capitan, yes thats really what they’re calling it. Aside from the name here’s a list of things El Capitan will bring to OS X.
- Mission Control Update
- Spotlight Update
- Native App Updates (Mail, Notes, etc)
Now the main aspects this OS update will focus on are “Experience” & “Performance”. With improvements made ever so slightly within the UI to make things easier to access & navigate. As far as performance enhancements go theres been a ton of updates under the hood to improve graphics performance with their all new Metal for Mac & other tweaks to improve everyday tasks. This update was all about stability & small enhancements here & there.
This is essentially window snapping & management brought over to OS X. Allowing you to easily snap apps next to each other for better viewing & multitasking.
The mission control window has been redesigned a bit to provide a cleaner overall experience. This allows you to navigate all your windows at a glance, split windows between multiple desktops, set apps to fullscreen, and more. This is what Mission Control should’ve been & focuses on doing everything under one feature.
Apple’s spotlight also received an update to allow for searching across more resources on the machine & web. It has also been updated to search within context to your files. So you can tell Spotlight to “Search for documents I worked on last week” for example which is super useful & makes it that much more convenient when your looking for a group/assortment of files.
The rest of OS X received some incremental upgrades as well. Maps app got updated with transit directions, safari with some speed tweaks & other features like tab muting, tab pinning, and more. Notes app got a big overhaul incorporating all sorts of features from to-do lists, photo support, and more (essentially evernote). Again this was an update that was incremental at the least yet game changing for some who’ve been waiting for some of these features. This isn’t a make or break update but at it’s free price point we can’t really argue. OS X El Capitan will be available in the Fall.
Developers can now get access via the developer program to start taking advantage of all the new features & API’s.
Another update that wasn’t focused on a huge UI overhaul or series of features. Rather it focused on the “foundation” of iOS. Performance, battery life, and ease of use across the mobile OS. The main updates here feature wise being
- Built-in Apps
- iPad Multitasking
- Intelligence (Proactive)
Apple has added an all new native app to iPhone, iPod, and iPad lineup is the “News” app. Essentially Apple’s take on Flipboard. You can sign up choose the stories/sources that matter to you & have Apple take that & provide you with a super visual news experience.
Just like OS X the new version of iOS has received its share of updates to native apps like Notes, Maps, and the Passbook app has been renamed to “Wallet” to accompany its support for Apple Pay & your various cards.
The iPad has finally received the software updates its been needing to make it an ever more powerful device. True multitasking has been brought to some of the iPads. I say some as the main split feature is limited to their “iPad Air 2”.
Slide Over is the ability to essentially slide in from the side another app while your still within lets say your browser. Essentially a way to respond to messages, access Twitter, and so on without leaving your main app. This provides a much more fluid experience while multitasking & is accessible across all current versions of the iPad from the Mini’s to Airs.
However the Split View feature which allows for side by side apps to be ran simultaneously is only available on the latest iPad Air 2. This could be due to the demand for hardware or Apple just trying to promote this feature across their top tier tablet.
Last but not least is the PiP or Picture in Picture feature which will allow iPad users to watch videos & media freely across iOS while using other apps or just on your home screen. This can be done with video media, FaceTime, and so on by simply tapping the Home button while media is playing.
Apple wanted to beef up the intelligence aspect of iOS, allowing it to have more context of how you use your device & what you want to see/use. As they claim a “smarter way to do just about everything.” Siri now has the ability to search through a wider range of things within your device & have more contextual understanding.
You can ask Siri things such as
“Show me photos from California last January”
“Remind me about this” while within an app.
The spotlight feature within iOS has been redone as well. Adding in better search functionality & a UI update to showcase “Siri Suggestions” people you contact frequently, apps you use most, and a “Nearby” section to find food, drinks, etc around you. Siri begins to live up to its assistive nature by doing more & more things automatically based on things you receive such as e-mails etc. For example receiving an e-mail for an invitation will automatically create email & events for your calendar. Plugging in your headphones to iOS 9 also recognizes you may want to finish something you started listening to earlier.
So subtle but convenient updates to how Siri works & interacts with you based of your daily usage.
Getting back to the foundation Apple really wanted to focus on the core aspects of iOS.
Security, performance, and convenience such as battery life. Across the OS apps and other key pieces of technologies have been sized own to reduce battery usage whenever possible. Essentially a low power mode. Turning off sensors when the device is not being used & so on. This coupled with all the new features make a great incremental upgrade from iOS 8 plotting a lot of the bugs & providing a better experience starting at the foundation.
On top of all this developers have access to a whole slew of API’s. Carplay, Home Kit, HealthKit, Swift 2 improvements and more are all great things that developers can tap into with the latest release.
Swift 2 Apple’s programming language released last year has made big leaps & bounds and to continue that growth Apple in a shocking move made it Open Source for all developers no matter their platform to take advantage off.
Apple Watch has received it’s first update software wise since its release. The biggest update being its support for native apps. Developers now have a SDK that will allow them to develop apps without the need to depend on the iPhone to send over “App logic”. This will provide a faster experience & better one at that for App developer and of course users.
The main updates here being
- Watch Face Updates
- Complication Updates
- Time Travel
Slight software updates came to the Apple Watch most of which we should’ve seen at launch. The more visual side being the watch faces they’ve added from photo based wallpapers to time lapses created by Apple you can use as your watch face for a more customizable experience.
Complications are little tid bits of info displayed across your watch face. With this update you get access to even more info at a glance such as flight times, battery life for your car specifically (VW e-Golf) and a couple other widgets you add to customize your watch face that much more.
Time travel is another feature being integrated into WatchOS to essentially jump forward in time to see relevant information. You can see whats ahead on your schedule, news headlines that occurred, and even your electric car battery life span estimated throughout the day. All by turning your digital crown.
Developers have more access throughout the watch hardware as well to integrate into their new native apps. Taking advantage of things like the Taptic Engine, Digital Crown, Accelerometer, and more.
Last but not least Tim Cook saved the classic “One more thing…” line for their all new music streaming service announcement. The Apple Music service has been talked about in anticipation ever since they’ve bought Beats music.
The idea is to be an all-in-one music service behind their popular iTunes service they already offer. The service tries to focus on 3 aspects Music, Radio, and Connect.
Music- This is the streaming aspect of the service allowing you access to millions of the songs they already have in their library for you to stream. Built with recommendations, what’s new, and ways to of course discover new music.
Radio- Is Apples take on a 24/7 radio station backed by Beats. This will include music, interviews, and other cultural events surrounding the music industry. The main idea here is the star power behind this radio station. As Apple has taken the initiative to higher host Zane Lowe to run the show alongside a variety of widely known artists & figures to help DJ for the radio station.
This is nothing new obviously. Online radio has existed even in the 24/7 format however this is Apple trying to tap into the music culture aspect & if that means hiring the big public figures to draw hype then so be it.
Connect- Last but not least is Apple’s second attempt at connecting fans to artists they love & listen to. Remember Ping? It’s okay Apple doesn’t blame you if you don’t. Anyhow the idea here is to provide on top of all this a platform for artists to provide exclusive content & directly interact with their fan base. Allowing you to comment, share, like on your artists updates. Directly from the source. Again nothing groundbreaking this will depend on the artists adoption of this service & how they take to the platform.
This directly competes with Spotify & new services like Tidal which also focused on the star power aspect. While Apple doesn’t have the best track record with music/social networks they do own the biggest market place for music. That alone in conjunction with the deals & lets be honest money they can throw at this can easily transform this into a force to reckon with. However as of now to me they’re focusing more so on the artists & names to draw attention versus the music. Unless they can acquire deals & more exclusive music/features that Spotify doesn’t have then they won’t be able to stick out.
The service will start at $10 a month & offer a decent $15 monthly family plan for up to 6 members! However as of launch Apple service will come out June 30th & provide users a free 3 months to test out the service. So no harm in trying it out if your new to the streaming space or simply want to see how it stacks against the competition. It’s obviously still very early stages to see how they continue to roll with this & how far it’ll get.
However its no doubt Apple wants this service to be widely available & used. Apple Music will be available across all platforms by the end of this Fall season.
That about wraps up everything from WWDC 2015 event. It was definitely a lengthier event as they had a lot of ground to cover & while it was a packed event we saw more of what can be called gradual & incremental updates across their whole lineup. Of course this is nothing to be dismissed as these updates will definitely hold users over whether they have the latest iOS devices or older generations. Apple focused more on the foundations of the software in this case updating & implementing the core aspects of the software in order to provide a better experience not necessarily a new one. If anything these updates for iOS or OS X and so on provide a foundation in themselves for the next major release in the year to come.
What was your favorite announcement developer or consumer wise from the event? Anything your excited to see rolled out or try once Fall comes about. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!