Apple Inc. spent almost two-and-a-half hours introducing new software and services at its annual conference for the developers building apps for iPhones, iPads, Macs and other devices. While the highlight of Monday’s event was Apple Music, a brand-new unlimited streaming service, the company also gave updates on iOS, OS X, Apple Pay and Apple Watch, and introduced some new features.
There weren’t any new phones, tablets, computers, or the much-rumored TV product. But make no mistake: Today’s event was all about giving consumers hard-to-resist reasons for buying Apple’s hardware products, which are projected to fuel almost $232 billion in revenue for the business year through September.
“Apple’s next-generation product ideas appear poised to further expand its consumer tentacles over the coming years, with the right products at the right time to execute as a leader in the devices and services space,” Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Research, wrote in a note.
This year’s event was also notable for the inclusion of more women, compared with previous years —especially after Google Inc.’s developer conference last month featured more female-led presentations. Here’s a look at everything that Apple announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco:
Apple wants to own everyone’s digital-music experience—that’s the clearest message from today’s event. Apple owes much of its current success to smart moves it made in the music industry, from introducing the groundbreaking iPod in 2001, iTunes in 2003 and close relationships it has nurtured with musicians, most notably U2.
Now, with new streaming services such as Spotify Ltd. and Pandora Media Inc. making gains with new (and younger) listeners, Apple is fighting back with a streaming service of its own. Even though Apple remains the largest music retailer in the world (via iTunes downloads), it’s essentially admitting that the future of music will most likely be in streaming services, thanks to fast, ubiquitous mobile network connections that gives people access to a vast library of songs.
Apple Music will debut on June 30, cost $9.99 a month after a three-month trial period, and give people access to more than 30 million tracks. It will be available on iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, Macs, Apple TV, computers and—in an intriguing twist—Android smartphones running software from Google.
“They’re making Apple Music available pretty much everywhere because they want to maximize the uptake,” said Ian Fogg, an analyst at IHS Technology. “Clearly, Apple sees Apple Music as a strategic play.”
Oddly, up to now, Apple didn’t call any of its money-related products a “wallet,” possibly because Google was already using the word for its own digital-payment products and services.
That changed today. Apple is merging its apps for debit and credit cards with the one for loyalty and point cards into a single offering called Wallet. The company, which also announced more retail and financial partners, also said Apple Pay would debut in the U.K. at 250,000 locations next month, as Apple prepares to expand the global footprint of its mobile-payments service.
At stake is a market that’s likely to process $67 billion worth of sales this year, and may increase to $142 billion by 2019, according to Forrester Research.
Apple especially needs its new smartwatch to succeed—it’s the company’s first new product category in five years and the first developed entirely under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. That’s why the company is updating the device’s software so shortly after it first went on sale. It’s also introducing tools that will make it easier for engineers to develop new, faster applications for the product.
That would go a long way toward addressing a major complaint, which is that the Apple Watch is slow to respond to gestures and call up information, defeating the whole point of having a gadget to deliver information at a glance.
Notably absent were any sales figures for the Apple Watch. The new operating system will be available to users for free in a few months, according to Kevin Lynch, head of software for the product.
While the announcement of Apple Music and other services may have grabbed headlines at WWDC, the operating system for iPhones and iPads is the glue holding everything together. It’s hugely important, if for no other reason than it’s what most users will see when they use apps, listen to music, look up information, and read messages and articles on their mobile devices.
The next iteration, iOS 9, will reach users later this year. It will incorporate a new feature that Apple calls Intelligence, which suggests music when the user is going for a run, or apps that might be useful at specific times of day. This new proactive personal assistant follows Google’s own predictive mobile software, called Google Now.
Photographer: David Paul Morris Photographer: David Paul Morris
The new version of iOS will also include multitasking for iPads, which will let users run two apps side-by-side, or view videos while doing something else. That, combined with new typing features designed for larger screens, all point toward the introduction of a new, bigger iPad model, which is widely expected to debut later this year.
Apple also seemed to pay special attention to a new update for OS X, its operating system for the Mac line of computers, judging from the cheesy marketing jokes that accompanied the presentation. The product name, El Capitan, comes from an imposing 3,000-foot tall granite rock formation in Yosemite (the code name for the current version of OS X). El Capitan is mainly a bunch of small visual enhancements on top of some basic rewiring of the software that will make it easier to create rich, detailed graphics.
Apple also introduced a new app called News. It’s an innocuous-seeming piece of software designed to deliver a clean, easy-to-read look for articles on iPhones and iPads. The stories will come from news outlets including ESPN, the New York Times, Wired, the Atlantic and Bloomberg.
The app resembles Flipboard, a popular app that pulls content from users’ social media accounts, and presents it as a sleek digital publication of its own, allowing people to read the links they’d see on Twitter in a kind of digital magazine. Flipboard Inc. CEO Mike McCue says the startup’s app is different from Apple’s because of its focus on social networks and sharing with friends. He says he isn’t worried about the competition. “We’ve had Google ship a supposed Flipboard killer; we’ve had Facebook do that with Facebook Paper; we’ve seen Yahoo do that, and now Apple,” McCue said in an interview during Apple’s WWDC event.
Apple also introduced enhancements to Swift, the programming language that the company developed to make it easier for developers can build applications for iOS and Mac devices. Swift was designed to enable faster apps, and save time on development. One new twist: Apple is making Swift open source later this year, essentially turning it into a free and customizable piece of software that should make it available for even more developers.
Apple events are also notable, sometimes, for what isn’t mentioned. Specifically, there were no announcements around a new TV product or services. Apple didn’t mention a new, larger iPad, or any significant Mac updates. Still, it was a marketing spectacle, like any other Apple production. The company even managed to get some publicity out of a baseball play.
As usual, Apple executives gave few hints of what’s on the horizon. The company usually begins talking about new iPhones in September and other products—if it’s planning any—shortly thereafter, in preparation for the year-end shopping season.
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