One of the biggest Apple (AAPL) events of the year just wrapped up. At WWDC 2015 in San Francisco, Apple Music — the company’s long-rumored music streaming service — was finally unveiled.
In addition, new iOS and OS X updates were demonstrated, Apple Pay was announced to be expanding, and WatchOS 2 was shown to bring new capabilities to the Apple Watch.
However, there was no sign of a new Apple TV or a streaming TV service at WWDC 2015.
Apple’s ambitions for launching its own streaming music service was already one of the worst-kept secrets in the tech and music industries, but Sony (SNE) Music’s CEO confirmed it the day before WWDC and even gave away the name: Apple Music.
Apple CEO Tim Cook stretched out the anticipation, leaving the Apple Music announcement to be the infamous “One More Thing” at the tail end of WWDC 2015. And it seems Apple’s effort to capitalize on Beats Music is finally here.
Apple Music includes live DJs on live radio streams from 150 countries, curated playlists, music videos and the ability for artists to interact with listeners with Connect. Beats 1 is Apple’s own 24/7 global radio station.
Subscribers can still access their iTunes library, as well as tens of millions of tracks in the iTunes Store.
The big questions, of course, have been when and how much?
At WWDC 2015 we finally got the answer. Apple Music is coming to more than 100 countries on June 30 and will cost $9.99 per month with a three-month free trial, or $14.99 for a family subscription. Apple Music will also be released for Windows and Android in the fall.
OSX 10.11 (El Capitan)
After last year’s OS X Yosemite –which Apple says had the fastest adoption rate of any PC operating system in history — this year’s version has the unlikely moniker of OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Improvements are largely under the hood for better performance, but also include new gestures (shaking the mouse makes your cursor bigger), a split-screen feature called Split View and improves Spotlight search functionality.
Metal, the graphics API first introduced for iOS, is coming to the Mac, making for faster performance in gaming and other applications.
The El Capitan public beta starts in July with a free upgrade to Mac users in the fall.
The new iOS software Apple will be releasing is iOS 9, and WWDC 2015 attendees got a preview.
Apple says Siri is 40% faster and 40% more accurate in iOS 9 and now has the best voice recognition rate in the industry.
In iOS 9, Siri is also offering intelligence functionality that puts it closer to Google (GOOG,GOOGL) Now. Siri gains contextual capabilities like automatically booking appointments based on invitations in e-mail messages, offering a suggested playlist when headphones are plugged in, or alerting a user of when to leave for an appointment based on current traffic conditions.
Maps gains public transit features (directions for subways, buses, trains and ferries), making it a very useful tool for commuters and travelers. Reflecting the importance of the Chinese market, Transit will be supported in 300 cities across China.
News is a new app for iOS that displays a curated selection of articles based on a user’s interests and favorite web sites, a feature putting iOS in competition with Facebook’s (FB) newsfeed plans.
The big news for iPad users is that iOS 9 will finally support multiple window multitasking with Split View (iPad Air 2 only), and picture-in-picture capability.
Besides overall performance improvements, battery life improves, too — an extra one hour for an iPhone 6 with the new iOS software, and an additional three hours using a low power mode.
A big emphasis was put on privacy, with Apple stressing anonymity and the user being in control of their data.
Expect the new iOS 9 to be available as a free upgrade in the fall. All devices that got iOS 8 will be able to upgrade.
Discover (DFS) has announced it will support Apple Pay, meaning the mobile payment service is now supported by all the major credit cards. In addition, Square will launch an Apple Pay reader in the fall, for small business.
Apple Pay will be accepted at more than 1 million U.S. locations by next month, four times the launch numbers. The service will be launched in the U.K. in July — but still no word on Canada. Apple Pay will also support retail reward cards (automatically selecting the correct card).
Reflecting the emphasis on financial transactions, Apple is renaming its Passbook app to Wallet.
HomeKit was rumored to be a major focus of this WWDC, however it received just glancing mention. Apple noted new HomeKit-compatible devices are launching (including security systems). With iCloud Remote Access, HomeKit devices can be accessed remotely, and the Apple Watch will be capable of controlling HomeKit devices.
After noting that the App Store has marked its 100 billionth download and that the average iOS user has 119 apps, it was announced that the Apple Watch will now support native apps and new features with a new version of the WatchOS operating system, WatchOS 2.
Time Travel uses the Digital Crown to go forward and back in your events up to 72 hours, while WatchOS 2 will also let third-party iOS app makers include widgets to show info snippets on the Apple Watch. Siri can now be used to reply to e-mail, Wi-Fi is supported (so an iPhone is not required to communicate) and video can be played on the Apple Watch.
The big no-shows for WWDC 2015 were the Apple TV and Apple’s streaming TV service. Apple Music and the new versions of OS X and iOS should be enough to keep Apple fans happy for the moment, but expect another Apple special event in the near future focused on the living room.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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