It is the day all Apple fans have been waiting for – the Keynote speech at the WWDC conference in San Francisco. Apple CEO Tim Cook was on hand to outline the major software plans of the company for the coming 12 months.
The first announcement at the WWDC conference was a new version of the desktop operating system OS X. Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, introduced this particular segment, and claimed that the previous iteration of the Apple operating system, OS X Yosemite, achieved the fastest adoption rate of any desktop operating system in history.
This new version of OS X, effectively OS X 10, will be known as ‘El Capitan’. This software will feature both improvements under the hood, and smarter ways to make the software more intuitive and user-friendly. New features of OS X El Capitan include Spotlight, Split View, and window management.
Apple has also worked to optimize performance throughout the new OS X system. Central to this was the announcement of Metal; Apple’s brand new graphics processing technology. This will be available for the Mac in due course, and Apple claims that it will result in a 50 percent improvement in rendering and 40 percent greater rendering efficiency. This will be a particular boon to gamers, and will also doubtless renew speculation regarding a 4K version of the 21.5-inch iMac.
El Capitan is available to developers right now, with a public beta to follow July, and widespread rollout in fall via a free upgrade.
The centerpiece of the event was the announcement of the new Apple mobile operating system. At a conference dedicated to developers, this will always be the major software release, owing to the number of apps which are regularly produced for this operating system. Apple claims that this latest iOS 9 operating system will extend battery life, improve performance and increase security. These are three critical elements for the corporation ahead of the release of the iPhone 7, with battery life battery life of particular significance considering the criticism that Apple has received in this department in the past.
A particular emphasis has been placed on the Siri personal assistant in this release of iOS. According to Federighi, Siri will be both 40 percent faster and 40 percent more accurate in the iOS 9 system. The Apple keynote was keen to emphasize the growing importance of Siri as a software system, stating that it currently fields over 1 billion requests every week.
It seems that Siri is about to become considerably more proactive, with the device now featuring the ability to anticipate what you want to do next depending on your location, time, what app you have open, and what you are connected to. The software will also offer other suggestions based on upcoming meetings and communication patterns to help smooth your everyday work and activities. Netflix-related functionality was also announced.
Perhaps the most interesting news for developers was that Swift, the new programming language that Apple launched last year, will be open source from today. This can reasonably be described as a departure from the norm for Apple, and it is something that those looking for more transparency from the corporation will undoubtedly welcome.
Federeghi also announced a further updates to Notes, a new search API, an improved Health app, and new APIs for gaming and health monitoring.
Another important aspect of iOS 9 which came to light, as was predicted, was the ability of the software to multitask. Slide Over enables users to open a second application without leaving the existing one, while Split View enables two apps to be open and active at the same time on the same screen.
iOS 9 will be available in the fall as well, supporting all of the same devices as iOS 8, and reportedly taking up significantly less free memory than the previous addition. This will ensure that all Apple users should be able to install and update automatically.
There is another major device for Apple to feed nowadays, with the Apple Watch having been released last year. And Apple also announced an upgrade to the Apple Watch operating system at the WWDC, with watchOS 2 being unveiled.
In terms of functionality, this was mainly focused on the new health and fitness features, while watchOS 2 will also apparently include some interesting integrations with HomeKit. Apple had promised new smart home features, and these seem to have been delivered with this operating system.
Also of interest to Apple Watch owners will be news related to Apple Pay. This mobile payment system will be launching in the United Kingdom next month, with eight of the most popular banks and 250,000 merchant locations. Apple also claimed that Apple Pay will be accepted at over 1 million locations in the United States by next month. In iOS 9, it is possible to add retail store cards to Apple Pay simply by holding up one’s iPhone. Clearly Apple is placing an increasing emphasis on this technology.
As predicted, a new version of Maps was also announced at the WWDC conference, and this is particularly focused on its new Transit view, which includes directions for public transportation such as buses, trains, subways and ferries.
Finally, Apple also announced the release of its music streaming service. This was also widely anticipated, but the name of this new service was something of a surprise, even if it could not exactly be described as original. Apple Music encompasses a revolutionary music service, a 24/7 radio station, and also enables users to connect with artists.
Apple music enables you to stream directly from iTunes, and there is a new worldwide radio station offered by Apple called Beats One. Artists will be able to post their latest tracks on the service, as well as behind-the-scenes photographs and videos. There will also be opportunities provided for unsigned artists to gain the attention of the music industry.
All in all, although there were few surprises from this particular WWDC event, there were nonetheless some solid announcements from Apple, and plenty for developers and fans of the corporation to get their teeth into in the coming months.