Apple WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) came a week after Google I/O 2015 on Thursday June 2nd 2015.
Unlike Google I/O 2015, held a week prior on Thursday May 28th 2015 and Friday May 29th 2015 which gave us as glimpse into Google’s continued obsession with Android with their latest iteration, codenamed M and their projects for the future, Apple’s focus was purely on their continuously evolving Apple iOS and Apple Mac OS ecosystem.
Developers, the heart and soul of Apple, were the stars for most of the two (2) hour show. After all, 70% of App sales go directly to Developers. With their very strict rules as it relates to what Apps gets into the Apple iTunes Walled Garden, many are willing to comply.
So dear reader, all those rumours of coming updates to the Apple iMac and Apple TV can best be tossed out the window, as none of that was featured at Apple’s WWDC.
Still, some expected Apple to at least give some hint as to the actual sales figures relating to the Apple Watch, which analyst are predicting to be the next big thing in Wearables as concluded in Analyst IDC logs Wearables Profitable in Q1 2015 Fitness Tracker Business.
But that wasn’t featured, Apple fans! Instead, the focus was on improvements to Software to the benefit of Developers and more love was showered upon Apple users.
So what exactly are the details of their latest products for regular customers? Let me cut you a few slices so you can take a bite of the Apple.
Apple’s Swift 2.0 for Developers – Ebony and Ivory, Side by Side on my Piano
Apple migrated away from the strict use of Objective-C as their main programming tool for developing Apps towards a new language, called Swift. In true Apple style, Swift, which was designed in-house as a part of Apple’s plan phase it in as their standard Developer Tool, has been upgraded to Swift 2.0.
The IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that’s beloved by Apple will now be open Sourced and support usage on both OS X 10.11 as well as Linux OS. It’s still easier to use and conforms to Apple’s internal Standards allowing App Developers to consistently make Apps that are ripe for planting in their Walled Garden.
Because the roots of Swift are C, code written in Swift can be integrated into Code written in C, making the slow transition to the new language that much – swifter. Developers merely have to Shake it Off, Taylor Swift Style, and get with the flow of this new Apple initiative to have everyone on the same programming page.
OS X 11.11: El Capitan – Notification Center sidebar and Mail slim and trim like iOS
OS X 10.11, less officially called El Capitan, is the name of the latest version of Mac OS X. It carries forward the flatter App icons, translucent panels and the smoother gradient textures peculiar to Mac OS X 10.10 aka Yosemite.
Yosemite is currently being used by 55% of the Apple faithful who also love the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as noted in Apple iPhone 6 and Plus with 128GB Storage and Apple Pay is Biggest iPhone Launch!
Apple has made some changes with this latest version of Mac OS 10.11, dubbed El Capitan, has made some minor tweaks that’ll sit well with many long time users. Windows users for one will like the ability to split screen, Microsoft Windows 8 Style by simply holding the maximize button and dragging Left or Right.
Another major update is the addition of Metal 3D graphics SDK for Developers to improving Gaming and App on the desktop. It also will make Apps load 1.4 times faster and switching between playing multiple Apps will be noticeably faster.
Spotlight, that replacement for Finder that can locate almost everything, has a more human feel with contextual Search. Now, instead of finding files by name, you can enter general information about the file e.g. “Files I work on in January” and gradually help you to narrow down the search.
Finally, for those of you who lose the mouse icon often, shaking the mouse will enlarge the mouse cursor so that it shows up. The Safari Browser also gets a speaker icon, like Google Chrome so that you can mute that annoying music coming from a website. Finally, websites are now pinnable, borrowing a little action from Social Media website Pinterest.
Mac OS 10.11 will be available for Developers today but rolling out a public Beta for regular users in July 2015 with the full version coming in the Fall of 2015.
iOS 9: Siri is becoming AI, Apps have improved and Apple Pay is in more places
iOS 9 has also gotten some equally noteworthy tweaks, with Siri getting to do more for you than before with little need to touch your Apple iPhone 6. Aside from invitations with reminders and turn-by-turn map directions, its powers have been amped up and are a bit creepy.
On such new trick is its ability to guess the names of unknown callers from their phone numbers, play your music automatically when you connect your headphones and even recommend apps for download based on your actions.
The first thing you’ll notice is improvements in animation of the apps, the ease of scrolling through your various folders and screen views and the extended battery life, made longer thanks to a new Low-Power mode.
For the Apple iPad, which also uses Apple iOS 9, the QuickType keyboard now supports two-finger dragging. There’s also support for cut, copy and paste functions as well, something many multi-taskers will love.
You’ll also be able to have a better view of what’s running on your iPad with the inclusion of split screen with picture-in-picture view, which is on the Apple iPad air 2 only as well as a much-improved task switcher. Swipe from the right pulls out your email; swipe down brings out a thumbnail of all running apps.
But back to your Apple iPhone. You’ll notice some changes with a few of the pre-loaded apps and a few have also gone missing. Newsstand is gone, replaced by News, a new Flipboard-esque aggregation News app. The News is tailored to you and the News items are bookmarkable. The icons are animated and there is a Photo Mosaics display.
Videos are now included in the News app and the publishers will also be able to customize the layout. Finally, what you read on your iPhone stays on your iPhone; it’s not shared with your other News app on your other devices.
Speaking of the Cloud, TSV (Two Factor Verification) is now standard on Apple iCloud app. OTA (over the Air) updates are smaller, shrinking from 4 Gb to 1.3 Gb form the iOS 8 days.
The Notes App Toolbar gets some more options:
- Access to your camera roll and camera
- Automatic checklists
- Drawing tools
- Formatting options
You’ll also be able to share you links in your notes as well as preview attachments and gloss over thumbnails of your notes that capture those moments where you have great ideas.
For Commuters in NYC, there is now a Public Transit with routing, step-by-step directions with added walking time in the Map app. You’ll definitely love this, as it’s now a much improved Map that looks like a NTYC MTA overlay and is coming out globally for all Transit Train Stations all over the world.
Still on the Travel scene, the Passbook app has been renamed Wallet as it now has some new tricks; it can store Transit Cards, Reward Cards, Event and Travel Tickets, Coupons and even Frequent Buyer Cards. This new app reminds me a lot about Apple Pay, which is now rolling out on more apps such as Discover, Baskin-Robbins, B&H Photo and Square.
Apple iPhone users of Apple Pay in the UK will have the added ability to purchase pins on Pinterest as well as do transactions with Banks and 250,000 stores that Apple has signed up to accept their mobile wallet. If you frequent the UK Underground and the Chunnel, Apple Pay will work there, too.
Apple Watch OS 2 – Two months later and Apple Watch looks to be king of Wearables
Apple Watch is only two months old and already there is a Watch OS 2 operating system ready.
It appears to be mainly fitting the new Developer kits that Apple’s been putting out, such as:
- HomeKit to give you more control over your IoT (Internet of Things) connected gadgets
- HealthKit to keep track of your health
- GameKit for developing Games with built in physics such as obstacle avoidance
- ReplayKit for developing apps that that can capture and replay video game plays
- WatchKit with more Wi-Fi and access to more of the Apple Watch’s features
The diminutive size of the Apple Watch hasn’t stopped Apple for adding iOS 9 functionality into Watch OS 2, with Siri now on the Apple Watch to not only read but dictates responses to your emails. Like iOS 9, you can also play music, streamed to your favourite Wireless Bluetooth headset and watch videos, albeit I’m not sure why, as it’s rather pointless on such a small screen.
Transit directions in the Maps app is a good import from iOS 9. So too is Time Travel, a new feature allows you to get an overview of upcoming events and what’s poppin’ at the moment. Right now the Apple Watch looks set to take over from Fitbit and Xiaomi based on my article Analyst IDC logs Wearables Profitable in Q1 2015 Fitness Tracker Business.
The very latest comes from Analyst Slice Intelligence, who report is hinting at 2.79 million Apple Watches sold in April 2015 even as Apple remains mum.
Still, what’s not secret is that Developers can start tinkering with Watch OS 2 immediately as is the case with iOS 9 and Mac OS 10.11; consumers who have plans to purchase an Apple Watch can wait till September 2015 for Watch OS 2 to be fully rolled out.
Apple Music – One More thing that’s the only thing really new at WWDC
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook re-introduced the “one more thing” keynote with the announcement of Apple Music, their human-curated Streaming Music service. It basically allows you to stream your favourite artiste and watch their official videos and exclusive clips in HD.
Apple iTunes catalog of music is now fully streamable. There is also a new feature called Connect that lets unsigned artiste upload their music. Apple has also launched a Global radio station called Beats 1 for which Apple hired Zane Lowe to oversee the hiring of DJ’s from New York, Los Angeles and London to keep it jumpin’ 24/7.
This is all for US$9.99 per month, with a $14.99 family plan option that lets you share Apple Music with up to five (5) other people.
This isn’t much of a surprise especially after the acquisition of Beat Music from Dr. Dre in May 2014; what surprising is the launch date and availability. The Apple Music App is coming Tuesday June 30th 2015 and will be available on both the Apple iTunes Store as well as in the Google Play Store.
Apple is clearly trying to push their idea of music streaming to compete against the likes of Tidal and woo dissatisfied artist from competitors such as Spotify, which pay artiste little or nothing for their creative work.
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