Apple's annual software showcase is all over. We got some big news today, including a music streaming service, a Google Now competitor, and much more. Catch up with it all here.
Jun 11, 2015
Apple loves to change the iTunes icon. It's just never satisfied. And it's hard to blame Apple for that: iTunes is one of the most important pieces of software it makes — a gateway into its revolutionary music and app stores, the home of most of your media, and the place you go to manage iPhones and iPads. All of which is probably why Apple seems to get bored every few years and tweak the iTunes icon to better fit the company's current vibe. And the latest iTunes icon — the one that's coming with OS X El Capitan this fall — may be both the strangest and the most fitting design yet.Read Article >
Read next: The OS X El Capitan review.
Jun 10, 2015Read Article >
There's never enough time during a WWDC keynote for Apple to enumerate all of the new features it's adding to its latest software, but this change in iOS 9 will be a most welcome and apparent one: the keyboard now shows lowercase letters when typing in lower case and uppercase letters when typing in upper case. Up until now, much like the physical keyboard on your MacBook, all letters were uppercase at all times. If the change seems like an obvious and overdue design tweak, that's because it is. Android keyboards have alternated thusly for many years, helping the user know what mode he or she is typing in without needing to reference the Shift key at the side of the keyboard.
Jun 9, 2015
Apple spent a lot of time at WWDC heaping praise on developers — the middle point of the keynote featured a video celebrating all of the apps and experiences enabled by the iPhone and the App Store in the seven years of its existence. Neil deGrasse Tyson called the combination of apps and handheld devices "a watershed moment in civilization." When Tim Cook announced that watchOS 2 would allow developers to make native apps for the Apple Watch, he told the crowd they would "change people’s lives." Heady stuff, to be sure, but deserved — there’s no doubting the impact of mobile and apps on our lives.Read Article >
Cook also said that Apple has now paid developers over $30 billion dollars since the App Store opened in 2008, which sounds like a lot until you realize that Apple posted profits of $13 billion and $18 billion in its last two quarters against revenues of $58 and $74 billion.
Jun 9, 2015Read Article >
Apple's upcoming iOS 9 has a bunch of under-the-hood performance improvements and new features, like a new, more intelligent personal assistant. While all iOS devices dating back to 2011's iPhone 4S will benefit from the new platform when it officially launches this fall, the iPad — and the most recent iPad in particular — is getting special treatment this time around. With iOS 9, Apple is taking the iPad seriously as a productivity device in a way that it never has before. The iPad is growing up, and Apple is setting the stage to make it an even more powerful device in the very near future.
Earlier this morning Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of product marketing, took the stage to introduce Apple News. She showed the app’s features and design, while also pointing out its ability to adapt to users’ tastes. "There are powerful machine learning algorithms that analyze the content of the articles" to determine which stories are surfaced for a given user, she said. It echoed a point Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, had made earlier about iOS 9’s new Proactive Assistant: smarter, more sophisticated computer algorithms are allowing Apple’s products to provide custom-tailored features that its customers have never had before.Read Article >
Less than an hour later, Jimmy Iovine took the same stage to introduce Apple Music, focusing his presentation on how the service uses hand-picked playlist curators and internet radio DJs to provide the best listening experience possible. Machine-curated playlists, he insisted, were a menace — so terrible they could even screw up your sex life.
Sometimes there comes a moment in every internet writer's life where a headline seems too perfect to be true — but really, truly is the greatest thing ever. Sure, many situations of ludicrously fun headlines arise and are shot down by important journalistic questions like Is this fair? Is this accurate? and Is this unnecessarily lewd?Read Article >
This is not technically one of those situations. Apple did, in fact, remove "50 gallon drum of lube" from an image shown on stage at WWDC. Only, it wasn't an actual 50 gallon drum of lube so much as it was the phrase "50 gallon drum of lube" (as verified by this Cleveland Indians tweet from June 2nd). For comparison:
Jun 8, 2015
As we all expected, Apple unveiled a new music app called Apple Music. It's coming out later in June, and Apple doesn't have it on display here at WWDC — in fact, Apple doesn't have any of its new software on display here. Instead, it's taking some journalists into a quiet, chill sort of lounge to get a chance to play around with the new app. We couldn't take photos or video, probably because some of the corners of the app like BeatsOne Radio weren't operational yet.Read Article >
But what I did see was a mostly functional and mostly straightforward music streaming app. I often get caught saying that a particular app or technology is boring, but that's okay — sometimes boring means reliable, predictable, and easy-to-understand. That definitely applies to Apple Music, which despite Apple's protestations is a streaming service amongst a large and growing set of other streaming services, virtually a commodity. But it's a good one. Apple Music is the guy you've been dating awhile getting a new haircut that's pretty good. He's growing a bit of a belly and constantly wearing a hoodie but he'll be good to you and sometimes there will be flashes of brilliance that remind you why you loved him in the first place. Except sometimes he drives you crazy by putting your favorite stuff in a random drawer.
Apple prides itself on thinking and being different to everyone else. It acknowledges competitors like Microsoft and Google only grudgingly, and usually in a way that only illustrates how much nicer and more prosperous its own Mac and iPhone platforms are. It will have hurt that pride, therefore, to have to announce today that the big new Apple initiative, Apple Music, will be available on iPhones, iPads, Macs, PCs, and Android.Read Article >
Until today's announcement, Apple's presence in the Google Play Store was only a technicality of its $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics, which had already released Beats Music on Android. With the unveiling of its ambitious new music subscription service, however, Apple is now a fully fledged Android developer. The only previous occasions when Apple had made an effort of this kind was when it brought iTunes and Safari (which has since been discontinued) to Windows. Besides iTunes, QuickTime, and iCloud Drive on Microsoft's desktop OS, Apple software lives only on Apple devices.
Apple's playbook is famous at this point. It finds a market that isn't living up to its potential — MP3 players, smartphones, tablets — and then marches in late with something way better that ends up bringing in way more money than anyone has ever made in that field before. It's a challenging strategy that relies on Apple's ability to regularly create remarkable products, but it's one that's been working for over a decade. And today, we learned about Apple's latest target: the streaming music business.Read Article >
This is an area that Apple, by many accounts, should have entered years ago. Spotify has been establishing itself for nine years; Rdio has been scraping by for almost five years; and even Google has been on the scene for two. But as digital music sales really start to decline, it's finally time for Apple to replace them. Subscription streaming services appear to be the future. To reach most consumers, they’re the obvious choice.
Jun 8, 2015Read Article >
Adding more digits to the password isn't a perfect solution, but the small change would mean a huge headache for anyone attempting to stage a brute-force attack in iOS 9, resulting in 100 times as many possible passwords to check. Current brute force PIN attacks take hours to work: ranging from 12 hours for simple attacks to a maximum of 117 hours for MDSec's more complex power-down attack. In each case, there's always the chance that attackers will get lucky and stumble on the password in an early guess. Adding the extra two digits increases the response time to the scale of days, giving victims ample time to use Apple's powerful anti-theft tools to either track down their phone or brick it remotely.
Jun 8, 2015Read Article >
One of the biggest features coming to iOS this year is intelligence. With iOS 9, iPhones and iPads are getting more capabilities and smarter processing, based on what Apple is calling "proactive assistance." Siri and Spotlight on iOS 9 work together more tightly than ever before, and Apple says they are the backbone to the underlying recommendation system behind iOS 9's new smarts.
Jun 8, 2015
Apple's CarPlay got precious little stage time in a WWDC keynote filled with announcements for every single platform that Apple services, but make no mistake: the few seconds that Craig Federighi spent talking about it was a big deal for the auto industry, and it's going to get even bigger over the coming years.Read Article >
Federighi announced, among other things, that CarPlay will begin allowing automakers to add apps into the system starting with the release of iOS 9 this fall. That means the system will be gaining a far tighter bond with the car in which it's running than it's had so far. An automaker's CarPlay app could, for instance, control the FM / AM radio or the climate control — functions that run very close to the car's hardware. At present, control of a car's most basic functions typically requires that a driver switch out of CarPlay and into the car's native user interface. For users, it's a jolting experience — if you're routing to a destination using Apple Maps and listening to music on iTunes (or, soon, Apple Music) but you want to up the cabin temperature one degree, you've got to bounce out to a system that looks completely different, then switch back into CarPlay when you're done. Theoretically, this new feature would prevent that kind of context-switching by turning all of a car's functionality into an app or two.
Jun 8, 2015
It didn't make it into today's WWDC keynote address, but Apple is adding an important security feature to watchOS 2. The new version of the wearable OS will bring Activation Lock — a feature that has been on iPhones since 2013 — to the Apple Watch.Read Article >
Activation Lock is an anti-theft measure that makes stolen devices less attractive to potential thieves. If someone were to steal your device and wipe it (something that can be done on a Watch in just a few taps), Activation Lock won't let the device be reactivated without first inputting the Apple ID and password that was originally used to set it up. It may not stop someone from stealing and selling your Watch for parts, and there's still no comparable feature to "Find my iPhone," but Activation Lock is a start.
Update: Read the Apple iOS 9 review.Read Article >
Today at WWDC Apple unveiled iOS 9, the latest version of its mobile operating system. While the standout features included the Flipboard replacement Apple News and public transport directions for Maps, no WWDC keynote would be complete without The Slide of Cool Things We Didn't Have Time to Talk About™. A staple for years, it's a way to get a sneak peek at what new tweaks and improvements will be waiting for users when iOS 9 finally ships, though this year it's a bit less feature-rich than in the past — in line with iOS 9's overall focus on creating a sturdier operating system that can work on all possible devices. Let's take a look at the 2015 version, which angled largely around the benefits developers will notice, and see what Apple has been working on for the past year.
If there's one reveal people were hoping for at WWDC, it was Apple's long-rumored music service. On this count, Tim Cook delivered, promising to “change the way that you experience music forever" with a new streaming platform. It's entering a crowded market, and Apple seems to be banking quite a bit on star power and exclusive access — Drake showed up to promote Connect, a platform that lets artists upload music or photos for subscribers; Apple is touting radio stations where a "team of experts" picks music instead of an algorithm; and Canadian artist The Weeknd wrapped everything up with a song.Read Article >
Flashy as the whole thing was, though, it followed two hours of low-key but fairly solid tweaks to Apple's software products, from new versions of OS X and iOS to updates of its car, home, and watch software. This fall, Apple product users of all stripes can look forward to a lot of refreshed apps and, if the company delivers on its promise, all sorts of Siri integration. They might not make headlines quite as well, but little changes like Maps public transit support can make a big difference in the long run, too.
- Read Article >
True to form, Apple unveiled its new music service, Apple Music, with a brand new ad, and it was as glossy as you could ever expect. Here, the company gives us an abbreviated history lesson on music sharing and distribution, starting with the victrola in 1888, moving on up to radio and records, and eventually landing on digital music and streaming. (But what about the Walkman?) It's pretty clear that it wants their new platform to be as revolutionary to music as the innovations that came before it. Of course, it needs to beat its competitors before it can achieve revolutionary status.
Aubrey "Drake" Graham took the stage at WWDC this afternoon to break down the Connect feature in Apple Music, Apple's new streaming service. And, in a moment calling back to Tidal's unveiling, Drake announced that his next album will be released through the new service.Read Article >
It's being shown off exclusively on iPhones at Apple's WWDC 2015, but the new Apple Music service will be spreading out beyond the Apple realm, including a release on Android later this year. The new subscription service — costing $9.99 per month — will first be available on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and PC starting June 30th, and will make its way to the Apple TV and Android phones this fall.Read Article >
Where Apple Music users on Apple devices can listen free to radio stations such as BeatsOne with limited skips, Android users of the service have no free tier, and must be paid subscribers to listen to music. Other than Beats Music, an Android app that Apple acquired with the company bearing that name, there are no Apple apps on the Android platform. But the determination to make Apple Music the universal destination where fans go to listen to and connect with their favorite artists has led to a change of strategy. Apple now makes Android apps.
"Performance will be great. Responsiveness will be great. It'll be a great new frontier for your Watch," Apple's Kevin Lynch said on stage today.Read Article >
Apple is also going to let developers start creating custom Watch complications. That's a huge addition: complications live right on the watch face and show tiny bits of information. So while they may not do much, they're the most prominent and helpful element of the Watch. Letting developers take advantage of that should make the Watch much more useful — whereas apps at the moment are a bit obfuscated.
Jun 8, 2015Read Article >
A year ago, Apple unleashed its first fitness tracking app onto the world. "Health," the iPhone app that makes use of the HealthKit platform, was able to track your weight, steps, blood glucose, and even your inhaler use. It could be used for almost every metric a human might think of — if you forget, as Apple did, that some humans menstruate fairly regularly. Now Apple is changing that; it's introducing reproductive health for everyone.
The Apple Watch is getting a software upgrade. Today at WWDC, Apple has announced the next version of the Watch's OS, henceforth known as watchOS. It's the first major update to Apple Watch — a moment big enough that Tim Cook himself is announcing it himself at WWDC... before handing it off to Kevin Lynch for the nitty gritty details. The flagship feature? Native Apple Watch apps — but there's a lot more, too.Read Article >
The developer beta is available today, and wide release is coming this fall. Yes, for free.
Apple's smart home platform is learning how to do a number of new tricks. At WWDC, Apple announced that HomeKit will soon be able to control a number of new types of smart home products, including security systems, motion sensors, carbon dioxide monitors, and window shades. Right now, HomeKit only covers the basics, including locks and lights. Apple is also making it easier to control HomeKit devices from outside the home. HomeKit currently requires an Apple TV to do that, but it sounds like that won't be necessary soon — devices may just need to hook into iCloud. It sounds like these features will all roll out with iOS 9.Read Article >
HomeKit is Apple's smart home platform. Any product that's built for it is able to be controlled by the iPhone through Siri and third-party apps. Rather than building a specific HomeKit app, HomeKit basically works as a backbone that ties all of these products together and allows individual apps to control many of them at once. When Apple updates watchOS this fall, HomeKit devices will even be able to be controlled through Siri on the Apple Watch.
Jun 8, 2015
Tim Cook skipped his usual stat updates at the beginning of the WWDC 2015 keynote, but now he has just announced that the App Store has passed 100 billion app downloads in the seven years since it was first announced. He also said that the company has paid out $30 billion to developers since it launched.Read Article >
Craig Federighi also announced that over 55 percent of Mac users are running OSX 10.10 Yosemite, compared to 7 percent adoption of Windows 8.1. Surely we'll find out at next year's WWDC the just-announced OS X El Capitan fares in adoption compared to Windows 10.