WWDC 2015: Apple's Announcement Round-Up

By Norman Chan

Here's everything Apple announced this morning at its annual developers conference.

Apple annual developer conference, WWDC, started today, and the company just finished its keynote address announcing updates for Mac OS, iOS, and WatchOS for the rest of the year. We followed along with liveblogs and the livestream, and will be discussing the news in this week's podcast. Until then, here are the major product and service announcements that came from Tim Cook and his team at Apple.

Photo credit: Apple

Mac OS X updates came first. The next version of Mac is called OS X El Capitan. Notable changes include Safari pinned bookmarks and tab management, Spotlight accepting natural language searches, and new mission control windows management--a la window snapping in Windows. Performance is supposed to be 1.4X that of Yosemite. Metal--Apple's low-level rendering engine--moves to OS X and secures Adobe adoption for much faster rendering. El Capitan is available to devs today and will be released for free in the fall.

On the iOS front, the big iOS 9 update lies with Siri, which gets a feature called Proactive Assistant. This is Apple's version of Google Now, and will take information from Mail, Calendar, and other apps to give you notifications about context-relevant events. It'll also be more context-aware for tasks, like playing audiobooks vs. music when you get in a car. Siri and iOS Spotlight look better integrated, with a new API for deep linked search within iOS apps. This will all be data kept on your phone, and not sent to Apple's data centers or linked to Apple ID. Maps gets transit directions in select cities to start. A new News app is like Apple's version of Flipboard, but apparently with no ads. Photos and Notes apps get updated too, along with the default keyboard.

Multitasking gets a big revamp on iOS 9, with iPads able to run two apps side by side. This is launched from the new task switcher, or by swiping in an app from the side of the screen using SlideOver (in that scenario, both apps don't run at the same time). SplitView apps share 50-50 screen real estate, while SlideOver distributes data 70-30, with auto layouts. SplitView is only available on iPad Air 2, though. Videos can also play picture-in-picture on any screen, and that'll be available on iPad Air 2 and up.

iOS 9 will get a toggle for a "low power mode" that Apple says will grant three extra hours of battery life. No specifics about what's turned off in this mode. Public beta for iOS 9 in July, and it'll come out in the fall for iPad 2/iPhone 4S and newer devices.

WatchOS didn't get any major unexpected updates. Native apps are coming in the Fall. Two new watch faces: photo album face, and time-lapse face (pre-filmed, corresponding to your geography). Devs can now make their own complications, though, which is good. The Apple Watch also gets a landscape-orientation Nightstand mode, with alarms.

Apple's One More Thing is the launch of a streaming music service, called Apple Music. It's based off of Beats, and will replace the Music app on iOS with a new interface. Sounds a lot like Beats music, with the emphasis on human-curated playlists. Siri will be heavily integrated. In addition to streaming capabilities, it'll include a new "Beats One" 24-hour digital radio station with music played by three DJs, synced worldwide. This is a biggie: Apple Music will be available on Android and Windows phones (in the fall). It'll launch on June 30th for iOS and cost $10 a month. $15 a month makes it available for up to six family members, and Apple is giving three months free.