Just ten days after Google’s I/O event, Apple held its annual World Wide Developer Conference today, offering previews of what’s next in its desktop, mobile, wearable, and music products.
As usual, this was purely a software shindig – no new hardware was shown off. All current Apple hardware will be eligible for upgrades, however, with new versions of operating systems and the debut of Apple Music.
Many of iOS 9’s improvements are focused on making interaction with an iPhone or iPad more smooth and natural. Siri will be aware of what app or message the user is viewing, so just saying “Remind me about this tonight” will put useful information on your calendar.
An application programming interface (API) for the iOS Search function will allow users to search content within apps and open those apps to the exact right place. Your device will also learn your daily routine, so it can suggest apps at appropriate times. Plug in headphones and it suggests a playlist or audiobook. Apple made sure to mention that all this learning isn’t tied to your Apple ID, staying on the device itself to allay privacy concerns.
Many built-in apps get new features in iOS 9. Apple Pay is expanding to include Discover and store credit cards in addition to MasterCard, VISA, and American Express, and will launch in the UK in July. Passbook is being renamed Wallet, Notes can access the camera and Web content, and Maps shows detailed public transit info in select cities. A new app, News, gathers online content into a single magazine-style view.
On iPads, iOS 9 brings multitasking improvements. Slide Over opens a second app temporarily, hovering on the side of the screen. Split View (supported only on iPad Air 2 for now) shows two active apps simultaneously in resizable panes. Picture in Picture moves video to a small overlay while you use other apps.
A public beta of iOS 9 will be available to download in July, with the full release happening this fall.
At launch, Apple Watch was pretty much an iPhone accessory: it couldn’t do much on its own, depending on a constant Bluetooth connection. The watchOS 2 update will let apps run on the watch independently, so yes, you can leave your phone behind when you go for a run.
Part of Watch apps’ new autonomy comes from more generous access to hardware and built-in apps. Developers will be able to utilize the digital crown, microphone, speaker, accelerometer, and taptic engine in their own apps. The watch face itself will even be accessible for little widgets (or “complications” as they’re known in the watch world).
Like iOS 9, watchOS 2 will be offered as a public beta in July and a finished product in the fall.
Come back tomorrow for a look at the next version of OS X, called El Capitan, and the new Apple Music streaming and social service.
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