For a WWDC keynote in which essentially nothing "new" was announced, there sure was a lot going on today at the Moscone Center. We didn't get any new hardware: the Apple TV was apparently scrapped at the last minute because either the hardware, the content agreements, or both, aren't ready yet. And all of the upgrades and services announced for iOS and OS X are iterative. I suppose the native SDK for watchOS is new, but it was completely expected. So, boring, right?
OS X El Capitan
OS X 10.11 (awkward numbering, there) is called El Capitan. It's a little hard to say out loud but it's a good name. And if nothing else it makes for a really nice desktop wallpaper. The features in El Cap are what's exciting. Along with the usual gang of performance and security improvements we're getting some cool UI stuff.
There are new touchpad gestures that will let you swipe on emails to mark them read or delete them – not sure if that's customizable to archive instead of delete, but it certainly should be. I'm very excited to have pinned tabs in Safari. And the ability to mute audio in tabs (looking right at you, Macworld, with your insufferable auto-playing videos) from the address bar is nice.
I am also very excited about the split-screen window management. I often have TweetBot and Safari open and would really like a better way to see both than clicking between windows or swiping between full-screen spaces. It's definitely a first-world problem but it will reduce friction and frustration.
Apple also announced they're bringing Metal to the desktop in 10.11 which should give significant performance improvements in games and in high-end apps like Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop. Indeed, Adobe has announced they will incorporate Metal in all of their Mac apps soon.
iOS doesn't get cool, California names so it's just boring old 9. It is very cool that this latest mobile OS will be available on every device that iOS 8 can run on today will run iOS 9 when it is available. How well it runs on older devices is yet to be seen, however.
Siri continues to get better with improvements in accuracy and performance. And Siri is getting smarter with improved search and even predictive, contextual suggestions. She's even creepier than before! To be fair, I have been using Siri more lately and have noticed a big improvement.
Maps is getting better, too. Apple is really upping their mapping efforts to improve accuracy. They're also adding public transit routes. Maps will even understand the layouts of subway stations and integrate walking directions to get you where you want to go faster.
As expected, Apple is adding more banks and merchants to its Apple Pay system. And they announced that Apple Pay will go live in the United Kingdom next month. And you can use it on the Underground. No more Oyster card for us, Mr. Fish!
Believe it or not the thing I was am excited about with iOS 9 is the updated Notes app. Notes is getting added to share sheets so you can easily add web links and photos. You will also be able to make checklists in Notes and even make sketches right in the app. It's going to actually be useful now.
Apple introduced a new app called News that will have content from publishers available for free. So, I guess there is something new. Please disregard the first sentence of this post. There you will have stories from Wired, ESPN, New York Times, and a bunch of Conde Nast publications. It looks a bit like a Flipboard-type service. You can bookmark articles for reading later, as well.
The iPad is finally getting real multitasking. No. For real. Honest-to-goodness side-by-side apps. Every iPad running iOS 9 will get a SlideOver function where you can pick an app (the new Notes would be handy here, as would Twitterrific) that you can, well, slide over the side of the active app. True split view multitasking like that coming in OS X El Capitan is limited to the iPad Air 2, though.
I'm also very excited about the Picture-in-picture feature coming with iOS 9. Finally I'll be able to watch baseball and check twitter at the same time! Looks like developers will have to use the new API to make that work, though, so some might not support it right away.
They announced improvements in battery life, the install size of updates, and streamlining app resources for each device (because, no, it does not make sense for a universal app to install iPad-size images on an iPhone). There are also many under-the-hood improvements as well as APIs and frameworks for developers to use.
Apple announced watchOS 2. Eh.
I'm sure I'll care more about the watch when I have one but I don't think Apple will be able to convince me of its usefulness any time soon. Until then: Eh.
With Apple Music they have taken the best parts of the Beats Music service and the best parts of iTunes Radio/iTunes Match and smashed them together in a single app. And it looks really good. You'll have access to all of your music like you do know through the Music app with iTunes match but you can also seamlessly stream anything you want on demand as you can now with Beats.
The radio function looks nice, too. There will be one live, 24/7 station hosted by real live DJs (without ads) called Beats1. In addition there will be a bunch of other stations that cover the gamut from Top Trends to Americana to Electronic. And you can create your own custom stations based on a song, an artist, or an album just like you can now with iTunes Radio.
There is a Connect part, too, where you can follow your favorite artists but I think that's for a younger demographic than myself. I just want the music.
Apple Music will be $9.99 a month (the same price Beats Music is now) or $14.99 a month to add up to six family members. I suppose that means up to six Apple IDs in a Family Sharing plan. You can listen to Beats1 and other Apple Music stations for free, but paying for membership gets you unlimited skips on the stations (other than Beats1, obvs) as well as features like unlimited listening from all of the Apple Music library, offline listening, and expert music recommendations.
They announced that Apple Music will launch on June 30 and everybody will get a three-month free trial. I have a feeling a lot of people will want to keep it after three months.
Just wanted to mention a few other things about the keynote. This was the first time I can remember Apple having female executives on stage during a keynote. There were two: Jennifer Bailey, who heads up Apple Pay, and Susan Prescott, VP of Product Marketing. They both did an excellent job and it was refreshing to see more than the standard group of middle-aged white men up there.
All of the videos that Apple showed at the keynote were really good. From the intro video starring Bill Hader (and many other comedy personalities) to the Beats1 promo, they were all very well done. I enjoyed them much more than the normal Jony Ive aluminium videos.
OS X El Capitan, iOS 9, and watchOS are available now as developer betas. So, if you are brave and have $99 you can install them today. OS X and iOS 9 will be available soon as public betas if you're only slightly less adventurous. As per the usual, I will be waiting until full releases in the Fall and I recommend pretty much everybody to that.
The last part of the keynote, the "One more thing...", was all about Apple Music. They went over the same points so many times that I thought I was going crazy. First Jimmy Iovine went over everything. Then Eddie Cue went over everything. Then, for some reason, Drake came out and talked about the Connect part of Apple Music. It really seemed like dropping the Apple TV from the keynote made them stretch the Apple Music stuff to fill time (but, why?) and that stuff was hastily thrown in. It was painful to bear by the end but the performance by The Weeknd at the end was really good. I like that guy.
Apple fixed the iOS keyboard shift key. Our long, national nightmare is over. When you see how simple the fix was you will wonder what the hell they've been doing in Cuptertino for the last eight years.
Links of Interest
Some links to stories about the keynote that you may be interested in:
Everything you need to know about the WWDC 2015 keynote | iMore
Thoughts on the WWDC 2015 keynote itself, but not the actual contents of the keynote, because I need more time to think — 512 Pixels
Six Colors: WWDC 2015 keynote: The fine print
Apple - Music - Membership
Daring Fireball: Move to iOS