On Monday, Apple provide us with a lot to look forward to in the near future at the 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference. Between the technology behemoth’s upcoming “Apple Music” service, which will be their forray into the music streaming world, as well as what we can expect from their upcoming iOS 9 and OSX El Capitan operating systems.
The biggest takeaway from this year’s WWDC was Apple’s forthcoming music streaming service, Apple Music. The iTunes-powered service is looking jump straight into the fiery competition between heavy weight contenders, Spotify and Pandora, as well as the JAY Z-backed, “new kid on the block”, Tidal. While the service doesn’t exactly offer anything we haven’t seen before as of yet, it’s aiming to do it the best — and on a platform that most are probably already familiar with.
With a release date of June 30, Apple Music boasts a 30 million song catalog, with recommendations that aren’t based on algorithms or otherwise computer generated but by actual music experts, to help make the expansive catalog more traversable. According to Seattle Pi, “an Apple spokeswoman said the company has signed deals with the three major record labels, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group, along with independent labels,” so you can expect some familiar names in the mix, as well as several new ones.
Apple Music will also feature “Connect” which will allow artists — both signed and unsigned — to share music and possibly more directly to their fans, adding a level of interactivity and intimacy that is largely unseen on other platforms.
iTunes Radio will become “Apple Radio” within Apple Music, which will also offer curated recommendations from experts, as well as “Beats1”, Apple’s new 24-hour Internet radio station. Beats1 will broadcast in over 100 countries, and feature programing from three DJs, Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden, and Julie Adenuga.
Apple Music subscriptions will run $9.99 per month for one user, and $14.99 for the family pass which provides the service to up to six users.
Mac’s OS X Yosemite operating system will receive an upgrade this fall with the upcoming OS X El Capitan. A major feature of the forthcoming OS is its ADD-inducing Split View mode, allowing users to work with two apps, side by side, simultaneously. The Notes app will be improved with the ability to support pictures, video, drawings, interactive checklists and even maps, accessible across all of a user’s Apple devices. Also the Maps app will receive a needed upgrade, providing public transportation directions based on your arrival time which you can port directly to your iPhone. Couple all of that with the uber-helpful ability to mute all of your tabs in Safari as well as nifty new Trackpad gestures — one in particular allows you to find your mouse cursor by shaking it — and El Capitan is shaping up to be a welcomed improvement on the Mac interface.
iOS 9’s improvements will largely be major updates to Siri, making the voice assistant more proactive. For example, it will keep track of all things that pertain to you, such as flight information, on it’s own. Additionally, if you check your Twitter feed first thing in the morning, Siri will know and offer to show you it upon wake up, and it will be ever-ready with a simple swipe of your home screen. A “Now Playing” menu will also pop up on your iPhone’s lock screen upon plugging your headphones into the device, and when you receive a call from an unknown number Siri will scour your emails to attempt to identify the contact.
iOS 9’s refinements are best seen on iPads, as it they will practically turn the tablet device into a mini laptop, oppose to just an oversized iPhone. Similar to OS X El Capitan, iPad will receive Split View for apps, which can be adjusted between a half and half to 70-30 split, with both apps fully functional simultaneously. Additionally, images can be dragged from one half to the other; this feature is exclusive to the iPad Air 2. Older iPad models, however, will receive “Slide Over” which allows users to quickly switch between apps with a slide gesture, as well as a video player that allows videos to be played in the corner of your screen no matter what app you’re on (including FaceTime calls and HBO Now).
Healthkit will receive updates such as hydration monitoring, menstrual periods, reproductive health measurmeents, and UV exposure, while Homekit will upgrade with controls for your window shades, thermostats, lights and sensors according to CNN Money.
With all of these announcements, Apple is looking as formidable as ever to wage war against competitors across the board. We look forward to seeing how this plays out.
Those interested in beta testing Apple’s iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, if you’re willing to fork over $99 you can join Apple’s New Developer Program here.