WWDC 2015 Keynote Wrap Up: Gender and Wrist Diversity Edition
In what was the longest keynote to date, Apple showed us a number of firsts. Apple’s Vice President of Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey, was the first woman to take to the Keynote stage, and for the most part, we got what we wanted in terms of small improvements across the board in OS X El Capitan, iOS 9, and watchOS. A few of the bigger changes are below.
OS X El Capitan
Continuing Apple’s penchant for un-pronounceable Californian place names, OS X El Capitan has a new split view that lets you put two apps side by side for maximum productivity, new data sources for Spotlight, and minor improvements to both Mail and Notes (the latter mostly so it stays on feature parity with the iOS version of Notes). With Photos for OS X Yosemite (and now El Capitan) already released earlier this year, Apple covered the other OS X cornerstone by including a bunch of new features into Safari, such as pinned tabs and the ability to silence audio regardless of which tab it plays from. Performance improvements and improvements to Asian languages round out the changes for Apple’s desktop OS.
There will be a public beta program for OS X El Capitan over the next couple of months, with a release by the end of August. Free for all customers currently running OS X Yosemite, with compatibility being the same as its predecessor.
Apple chose to lead the introduction of iOS 9 with Siri, its personal assistant software which now has a proactive component. Siri can suggest apps for you when you plug in a set of headphones, or find phone numbers from emails when you get a call from a number that isn’t in your address book. Importantly, all of this is done on-device, with any lookups done anonymously to safeguard your privacy.
The Notes app gets a pretty decent update with iOS 9, now supporting more than just plain text. Images and links are now able to be put into your notes, along with interactive checklists and other formatting. The keyboard in iOS 9 also supports gestures to move the cursor around, which should make text input and manipulation faster for people on-the-go.
Apple’s new News app is kind of like Flipboard, letting you choose curated websites for personalised news recommendations. After selecting a few of your favourites, News will tell you about stuff you’re interested in from a variety of sources, with beautiful typography and image galleries.
Apple’s Maps also gets public transport directions on OS X and iOS, although it’s only available in the US and China to start off with. Apple Pay also launches in the UK, with the new Wallet app on the iPhone replacing the Passbook of old, and now capable of storing reward and loyalty cards along with the usual boarding passes and credit cards, if you’re luck enough to be an Apple Pay user.
IPhone and iPad multitasking also got a bit of a boost with both a picture-in-picture mode, as well as Slide Over and Split View — the former being able to open an app without leaving the one you’re in, whereas the latter is true side-by-side, simultaneous multitasking for side-by-side (but only on the iPad Air 2).
IOS 9 will be supported on devices going back to the iPad 2, and will be released by the end of August with a public beta to come.
What Kevin Lynch introduced as watchOS 2.0 should have really been 1.0, but we’re not complaining. WatchOS ticks all the boxes, with third-party complications, custom watch faces from images, and native apps that run entirely on-device. There’s a new feature called Time Travel that shows you what’s coming up next, and developers get access to Apple Watch hardware such as the microphone, speaker, taptic engine, and the Digital Crown. Health data is also available to third-parties, right down to live heart-rate data for workout and activity-tracking apps.
WatchOS will be available for everyone by the end of August.
The decidedly un-developer part of Apple’s WWDC Keynote and Tim Cook’s One More Thing was the introduction of Apple Music, and for the most part, it’s the streaming service we’ve all been waiting for. Apple Music is the combination of a revolutionary music service that brings curated music selections for your enjoyment, as well as Beats 1, a new global radio station that broadcasts 24/7. There’s also Connect, which brings music creators and fans closer together — just as long as you’re not calling it Ping 2.0.
Apple Music launches June 30 in a very respectable number of countries, with a free three-month membership leading into individual and family memberships for US$9.99 and US$14.99 monthly.
That was Apple’s WWDC 2015 keynote in a nutshell, with two female presenters and the same number of people wearing the Apple Watch on their right arm.