At last year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple brought big changes to iOS with iOS 8 and especially OS X with the re-designed Yosemite. And much like the 2014 edition, this year’s WWDC focused predominantly on iOS and OS X, as well as the announcements of all new services and tools for developers.
So what exactly was announced? Tim Cook took the stage briefly at the Moscone West convention center in San Francisco before handing off to Craig Federighi to show us Apple’s roadmap for the near future.
OS X El Capitan
In order to find the next OS X name, the folks at Apple had to “look within” and landed on “El Capitan” which is a rock formation in Yosemite National Park. But the changes to OS X go deeper than just a name. El Capitan will bring better performance with 1.4x faster app launches, 2x faster app switching and up to 4x faster PDF opening in preview. Many of its native apps will also see improvements.
Spotlight: Spotlight looks to be more powerful than ever with advancements in how you manage windows on the system, and natural language enhancements and contextually aware search results to find documents, sports scores, weather and other information on the Mac and online.
Safari: Similar to the bookmarks bar, Safari now allows “pinning” of chosen websites at the top of the browser. You’ll also be able to mute any mysterious background music that a website is playing in any of the tabs with a universal mute feature.
Mail: The native Mail app received an upgraded full-screen mode, the ability to create tabs in the compose window, and the option to hide in-progress messages while going back to the main inbox. There are also new archiving and deleting gestures for Mail.
Notes: The notes app received an upgrade with graphic links and more robust editing features.
Mission Control: The existing Mission Control feature can now be accessed with a three-finger up swipe and all windows on your desktop arrange themselves in a single layer with nothing out of view.
Metal: After its introduction for iOS last year, Metal has arrived for the Mac and has received deep architectural improvements. Apple says the Metal API on OS X will boost both performance and battery life. A representative from Epic Games came on stage to demonstrate the Metal engine by showing off its new game “Fortnite” and claimed that Metal’s 10x better performance “allows developers like us to develop better games”.
Split View: Split View is a new feature that automatically fills your screen with two apps of your choosing. Split views are created by simply dragging apps onto each other in the Mission Control view.
The public beta of OS X El Capitan will be available in July, and will roll out to everyone as free upgrade this Fall.
Next up after the announcement of El Capitan was, of course, iOS 9. The goal for iOS 9 was to improve battery life, performance, security all at once.
Siri: A new “more proactive” Siri was unveiled that promises to be more intelligent than ever and better looking with a new design. The new Siri will offer more information than ever and interact with you in completely new ways. For example, if a user runs every morning, Siri can offer music to listen to when the user plugs in their headphones. And Siri is context sensitive and dependent on place and time so it may offer audiobooks or podcasts instead of music depending on the situation. Siri can now even search through email to try to identify a phone number not in the user’s address book. Siri can also search photos and create reminders based on the things you are looking at in your apps.
Notes: The notes app also received a needed revamp that brings new formatting options, photos, checklist options and drawing and sketching tools, and the ability to share notes from Share Sheets.
Apple Pay: Apple Pay can now be used to make purchases with your Discover card or store credit cards, such as Kohl’s Charge or JCPenney Credit Card. You can also add reward cards with membership benefits from Dunkin’ Donuts, Walgreens and Panera (with more to come) to your Wallet app and receive and redeem rewards using Apple Pay. Passbook has been renamed “wallet”, making clear Apple’s ultimate goal to replace our wallets.
Maps: Apple Maps – with 5 billion user requests per week – has gained even more capabilities. The most notable of which is the new map “Transit”, which emphasizes all the different transit lines – buses, trains and subway stations. You can even get step-by-step directions in between transit stops. You can also ask Siri for transit directions and plan a trip on your Mac and follow the route on your iPhone or Apple Watch.
News: Replacing the native Newsstand app, News is a Flipboard style app that lets users pick topics of interest and retrieves content from the likes of ESPN, Politico, the New York Times, Conde Nast publications and local news outlets and presents them in a beautiful layout.
Swift 2: Apple also announced an upgrade to its Swift Programming language with Swift 2 and received possibly the biggest applause of the day when it announced that it would be open source.
iPad: The iPad will receive some exclusive features in iOS 9 such as multitasking and a new QuickType keyboard. There will also be a picture-in-picture video screen so you can watch video from an app while in another such as Mail.
Low Power mode: The new Low Power mode “pulls levers you didn’t know existed” to help you extend battery life by up to three hours.
HealthKit, HomeKit and CarPlay also received enhancements. HomeKit will support new systems and you’ll also now be able to access all your HomeKit devices from iCloud. It was also announced that CarPlay will now be wireless, so users can keep their phones in their pockets while in the car.
iOS 9 will be available in the fall for the devices that support iOS 8. And to help with adoption, Apple has reduced the space needed to download iOS 9, from the 4.6 GB it needed for iOS 8 down to 1.3 GB.
Just six weeks after the Apple Watch’s release, the second version of watchOS has been announced. The new OS will feature third-party complications, native apps and a nightstand mode.
And with the new “Time Travel” capability, users can rotate the Digital Crown on their Apple Watch to see information for later in the day, including calendar entries, and weather among other things.
FaceTime audio and the ability to reply to emails will also be added with the new OS. The update will be available for all Apple Watches in the fall.
One more thing…
The long-rumored Apple Music was finally unveiled at WWDC. The app is aimed at discovering, listening to and connecting through music. The app will offer a streaming music service and 24-hour live radio station and also give artists the ability to share lyrics, backstage photos, videos or new songs for fans to comment on or share through social media.
Apple Music, which will be available for iPhone, iPad, Mac and PC on June 30, with Apple TV and Android apps coming in the fall and will cost $9.99 per month for a single user and $14.99 for a family plan for up to six users. Apple will offer a three-month trial free.
What wasn’t announced?
Leading up to the show, there was much talk of a new Apple TV model as well as a subscription television service geared toward “cord cutters” looking to abandon cable TV, but those unveiling plans were apparently scrapped.
With last month’s Mac announcements, there wasn’t much left in the way of hardware to be announced. In fact, Apple didn’t announce anything on the hardware front.
What did you think of WWDC? Were you surprised by any announcements or disappointed by the lack of hardware? Let us know in the comments!