After what can only be described as a cringeworthy, but oddly not too bad introduction video by a director attempting to make a developer conference something we’d only expect out of some odd musical, but all doesn’t go well so they have to restart with a signature Apple dung and have to resort to basics, so out comes Tim Cook and let’s begin WWDC 2015. You can watch the event below, then check out our recap below that.
Just like last years WWDC 2015, Tim Cook claims everything is “everything’s going great” instead of his usual updates wheel made famous by Steve Jobs, to focus on OS X, iOS and watchOS including native apps, which in itself got a decent cheer.
OS X El Capitan
After an almost euphoric cheer, out comes Craig Federighi to talk through OS X and iOS, first being OS X 10.11 codenamed ‘El Capitan’. El Capitan builds upon Yosemite, but focused mainly on refinement and use of the operating system, from building on performance and efficiency, as well as improving the experience for using the operating system in everyday use.
As a name, El Capitan may seem like a rather strange name, but similar to Snow Leopard, as a name it relates closely to Yosemite as El Capitan is inside Yosemite. Whilst the user features may not be big, but incredibly useful.
One useful feature added in El Capitan is the ability to simply and easily locate your mouse wherever you are on your Computer. A typical scenario we mostly use to find a cursor is a gesture where we basically swipe the mouse everywhere and hope it shows up … well, do that in El Capitan, and your cursor will enlarge temporarily until you stop, meaning you’ll never lose your mouse cursor again.
Aside from some further enhancements to Spotlight functionality, one of the most impressive improvements in Search throughout OS X was contextual. Whilst typically to find anything you have to search either for the title of something, a tag, or given prefix to find anything, however in OS X El Capitan you can type as you’d write.
For example if you want to find Presentation documents about El Capitan, you could type “slides about El Capitan”. This functionality also works throughout the operating system, so in Mail you could type “Mail I’ve ignored by …”, or “what have i missed” etc. Of course, once we’ve had hands on with the beta we’ll obviously see how seamless this is, but so far this is looking incredible and a massive step forward from Spotlight since it’s beginning in OS X 10.4 Tiger.
Other than the contextual Search built in to the OS, within Mail you can now use iOS style gestures within the program with your Trackpad to Delete, Mark or Flag, and they all work in the same way, drag to the left to Delete / Archive, drag to the right to Mark.
Mail in full screen will also incorporate the same functionality as on the iPad, where you can drag down a Compose window and access other Mail. However, on the Mac you will also be able to Tab and create multiple Emails at once.
Aside from general improvements in performance, Safari now as pinned sites, simply drag any opened tab to the far left of the window and the website favicon will appear, allowing you to quickly access the site at any time. This is nothing we haven’t seen on other browsers and we’re not entirely sure how useful this will be, but it’s there.
The Mac has always been the leader in window management, from Expose and what became Mission Control, it’s simple and easy to get at whatever windows you’ve got open, whether through multiple desktops, applications and more. Whilst the competition has copied nearly all of those in to their latest release Windows 10, one feature Microsoft has had ahead of Apple, and one they took to the next level in Windows 8 is ‘Snap’, until now, Snap essentially is now available on OS X El Capitan.
To use this feature, simply click and drag on the Green icon and you’ll be able to select a side, then once that’s selected it will ask which application to fill the following side and you’ll be left with a split view.
This will also work in Full Screen mode as well, and using Mission Control you’ll be able to drag windows in to Full Screen apps or desktops and use them in Full Screen split view, nice to see on the Mac, and implemented very simply. Just as you’d expect, sides can be adjusted accordingly and both active apps are active.
So that’s the improvements coming in El Capitan, the next half of El Capitan is all about improving the performance and efficiency of your Mac, and here’s just a few ways Apple are doing this.
Performance is expected to see a well need increase in El Capitan, with typical tasks increasing by 1 – 2x typical performance levels for tasks you do everyday such as app launching and switching, something which is going to be fantastic for those running on Macs such as us which have taken a bit of a slow down since the launch of Yosemite. So, that’s for typical everyday tasks, what about further graphically intensive applications pro Mac users use all the time, well for everything else, there’s Metal;
Just like with Metal on iOS, on OS X, Metal builds a performance and graphics API delivering both all in one to vastly improve performance in ways not before possible. Developers like Adobe and game developers such as EPIC Games are seeing performance increases up to 8X, and 10X faster draw calls for graphics in Games. It goes without saying, that Metal is a big deal for Macs moving forward.
To demonstrate this, Apple brought up EPIC Games, who have almost become a regular at WWDC, to show off graphical improvements thanks to Metal. Whilst in reality these improvements would likely be possible already due to Macs with dedicated graphics, time will tell how big this will be once Games get built in with this functionality, those that odd few which aren’t ported from Windows of course.
One key advantage of Metal’s iOS origins of course, is how easy it is to bring Gaming Engines already brought to iOS to the Mac, which could be a big deal for Mac Gaming going forward, as it could definitely do with a boost.
So that’s OS X 10.11 El Capitan, as we expected it shares on values we saw back in 2009 with Snow Leopard, whilst it’s not too aesthetically different to what it follows, and may seem to not feature much, the real handy work is underneath with the vast improvements in performance, something none of us are going to argue about once we feel it.
OS X El Capitan is available TODAY for registered Developers, July for public beta testers (http://beta.apple.com) and of course, “The Fall” will be full release. All updates will be available on ALL Yosemite capable Macs.
iOS 9 can be described in four headings, whilst yes it does like El Capitan feature a list of many ways of improvements, it also features so much more;
Aside from getting a UI update similar to how it looks on the Watch, Siri now has the same contextual Search functionality as found in OS X, as well as improvements to Reminders and more, as well as now being what Apple brands a Proactive Assistant.
To deliver a proactive assistant, Apple are basically taking a leaf out of Google Now, by letting iPhones interact with everyday scenarios as they happen, including making predictions, suggestions and preparing tasks for you without doing anything based on typical daily patterns.
One example of this is by simply plugging your headphones in at a certain time of the day, your iPhone will automatically have Now Playing ready to instantly listen to Music, connect to Car it will remember what you were listening to or doing before. Another could be if you get a Text or Email confirming you’re coming to an Event, your iPhone will automatically add that to your Calendar and set Reminders to make sure you don’t miss it.
Similar, but not entirely, to what Google introduced in KitKat, is the ability to receive a Call from a number not in your Phone book, your iPhone will now be able to search around your device for that number. Unfortunately, unlike Google’s method, it doesn’t use, well, Google or any internet search, so it’s unlikely it will recognise what the number is, but it’ll sure try.
Whilst all of these and more are useful, we’re more hoping for a stop switch. Whilst we understand the convenience factor of these kind of features is sky high, who actually uses them after a while. I don’t know any Android users still using the full capability of Google Now other than Search, and we expect Proactive will end up the same way. Clever, but likely never wanted or used.
Search is all new in iOS 9, in fact it’s one of the most noticeable UI changes throughout the operating system. Back to where it used to be through a left swipe, Search on iOS now combines Search for Siri, Recent contacts and Apps Used, as well as Nearby which offers a service similar to that of the now debunked Local Scout from Windows Phone 7.
The Search panel can also feature the latest News and more which can be added using an all new Search SDK which will be available for Developers to get involved, searching your iPhone will never be more easier, especially as theses searches will include App Linking.
Search built in can now Search for even more, even videos from Vimeo or Vimeo and play them in Search, or Sports scores and more, and as we mentioned an API for Search can find content from apps for apps in the background and show them in the results. Search for iOS is now even more powerful than Spotlight on OS X, and also includes all features as before, and whilst you can still use Siri to get to them, you can now finally type them too.
Apple made quite a big note of this, all the features and functionality we’ve mentioned and more which is featured in, is done and sync through your device and on your device, Apple do not receive or know anything you’re doing on your device
Alongside some further support in the United States, their were two major updates with Apple Pay, biggest being, and especially for us, UK support for Apple Pay will FINALLY come starting in July. The following banks will be supporting Apple Pay starting in July when it will launch through an upcoming iOS 8.4 release;
One surprising emission from the list is Barclays, which is surprising as they’re Apple’s UK Partner for purchasing Apple products through a 12, 18 or 24 month plan, but we’ll have to see if they change their mind moving forwards. To re-itterate, American Express, First Direct, HSBC (for now), Nationwide, Nationwide, RBS, Santander and Ulster will be supported at launch in late July. The ‘Coming soon’ will be in the Fall with iOS 9, those include Bank of Scotland, HBOS (Halifax), Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, mbna and TSB.
Apple have also announced a ton of applications will be supporting Apple Pay in the UK as well including: Addison Lee, Argos, Booking.com, British Airways, Dice, Dominos, Five Guys, Hail, Harris Hoole, Hotels.com, Hungry House, JD, Just Eat, Lastminute.com, Selfridges, Smith, Ocado, Thetrainline.com, Top10, TOPSHOP, Uncover, Veiling, Yplan, Zalando and ZARA, with more to be announced.
Of course the big question on everyone’s lips : “WHERE CAN I USE APPLE PAY?”. Well a simple question warrants a simple answer, anywhere with the following icons for either Contactless Payments or more explicitly an Apple Pay logo, although Contactless Payment is the main one to look for. Simply set up your Card in Passbook (soon to be Wallet in iOS 9) then as soon as you put your device close to a terminal you’ll be promoted to authenticate, the boom you’ve paid.
Apple Pay is available on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as iPhone 5 and later for those with an Apple Watch. iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2 can join in when it comes to paying in-app. It does bare a sense of warning however that in the United Kingdom, unlike the United States, there’s still a £20 per transaction limit on Contactless Payment technology which Banks have been forced to admit will be the case with Apple Pay as it too grants this standard.
Other Apple Pay updates
- Store / Discount cards
- Passbook renamed to Wallet
Notes now has Formatting options, easy access to Photos and Checklist functionality, plus you can now share items in to your Notes using Share Sheets. You can also now finally draw within Notes, essentially an iCloud OneNote.
New Scrubber at the bottom allows you to swiftly browse through next and last Photos whilst looking at a Photos.
Transit is coming to Maps, from Bus, Train and more including a specific Transit Map of your given location. Transit will be at first only available at capital cities at launch, but will be expanding further moving forward.
You will be able to get smart walk and Transit searches through Maps as well, or through Siri.
Search in Maps has been vastly improved, and will also let you know if a location supports Apple Pay which is useful going forward, as well as categorized Searches available which can be linked to Location.
For some reason Apple has also decided to bring another app to iOS and the Mac, News. Functionally and visually the app works similar to way that any typical RSS reading app already can, and this is naturally is Apple’s response to applications such as HTC’s BlinkFeed or Samsung’s equivalent.
As far as working around the app itself, like all aggregators, we’ll have to wait until the app is available for use before we can give a realistic look, especially as News isn’t in the current Preview build so we’ll have to see.
Whilst most people are hoping for Apple to introduce a File Manager for iOS, even though out of the box even Android doesn’t come out of the box with a File Manager, the closest thing to this introduced in iOS 8 is of course iCloud Drive. Only problem is, iCloud Drive is only available through a Document Picker, until iOS 9 where with a simple Toggle in Settings bring iCloud Drive viewer to Home Screen
IMPROVED iPAD FUNCTIONALITY
When it comes to the iPad in iOS 9, no Apple didn’t introduce an iPad Pro before anyone asks, Apple have really taken the iPad experience to the next level and this is great for us the users and the industry as it pushes that forward.
The first update coming to the iPad is a QuickType update on the iPad. Whilst usability doesn’t change that much, it’s amazing how just a few features can completely alter the experience on the iPad and I think you’ll agree these are big changes;
In addition to the suggestions bar already present through iOS 8, now in iOS 9, the iPad now has easy access to cut copy and paste, attachment adding as well as format controls, yes a small add but one which is going to make the experience to much easier in day to day typing activities.
But what makes this even better is if you swipe with two fingers, the keyboard will transform in to a Trackpad allowing you to select text for Copy or Paste, or even just to move your Cursor around, that is very useful.
Of course some people sometimes add a physical keyboard to an iPad, in which case Apple have now added a quick way of finding out all the keyboard Shortcuts you can use, as well as much more optimized functionality through the OS including a physical keyboard only App switcher, which looks identical to CMD+Tab in OS X.
Probably one of the biggest features in iOS 9 is Multitasking on the iPad, this is the single feature that’s not only gonna make you want the latest iPad Air 2, but also is the biggest reason to want iOS 9 on it.
If you scroll back up, you were probably looking at Split view applications coming in OS X El Capitan and thinking, wouldn’t that be great on an iPad, well let’s just say here’s some features finally coming to the iPad. *what we will note is which features are available only for certain hardware, look out for the magic star basically.
New app switcher
First new feature in iOS 9 is a new completely full screen app switcher, allowing you to quickly and boldly switch between your Applications, which will also be on the iPhone, explaining why your Recent Contacts is now in Search.
Now is when things start getting very interesting so let’s cover these in brief.
From anywhere on any app running full screen, you can swipe in from the right and you can access Slide Over, a third display view of any application allowing you to perform a quick task such as view Tweets, respond to a Message, then quickly resume where you were. To switch between Slide Over apps, simply tap the top icon and do so.
*Slide Over supports iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 only.
Split View is the full iPad Multitasking we’ve all been waiting for, just like announced on OS X El Capitan, you can use two apps at once and it’s naturally adjustable. To get in to Split view, simply tap on the divider and you’re in. Applications can also whilst in Split View open applications they’re attempting to open in Split View so you can do both at the same time.
**Split view is only compatible with iPad Air 2
Picture in picture
Whilst watching any full screen video on your iPad, you can now access any other apps video that’s been playing and have it in use anywhere on your iPad, which is incredibly useful. You can of course move that video around whilst it’s active around your screen, and of course either return to that full app experience or close.
*Picture in picture supports iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 only.
But how does it work, what do Developers need to do. Well, the good news is, not much. Any application that’s been updated for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will have been rendered using both ‘Auto layout’ and ‘Size classes’, so they will automatically work through Slide Over, and with minor updates will work with Split View as well.
Just like with OS X El Capitan, iOS 9 brings upon the foundations of performance of your device, something which will be key for those running on A5 processors such as the iPhone 4S, iPod touch 5G, iPad 2 or original iPad mini. Even in the first beta it’s clear to see a lot of ironing out has been made to iOS 9 already which is great to see, and Apple claim the same 2x performance increases from OS X, when comparing iOS 9 to iOS 8 on same hardware.
What’s decent performance without the battery life to keep it going, thankfully just like OS X El Capitan, iOS 9 too includes major battery improvements, from gaining an average 1 hour extra battery life compared to iOS 8 and more.
Low power mode
iOS 9 also features a low power mode, which will disable all background activity, lower network speeds and a few other underlining changes, at which Apple claim “could” gain you an extra 3 hours of battery compared to system defaults, of course usage will vary as with any battery estimate.
Other needed changed finally in iOS 9
- iCloud Security – 2 factor authentication for iCloud
- Software Updates – Upgrading to iOS 9 from iOS 8 will drop from the massive 4.6GB bulk of iOS 8, to just 1.3GB, which Apple really needed to do with the number of 8GB iPhones around.
- App thinning – Optimizes apps downloaded for that particular device (e.g. iPhone 4S won’t download iPhone 6 Plus level sized apps data, again useful for 8GB devices)
Among a collection of updates coming in an update to the Swift programming language simply branded ‘Swift 2’, one of the biggest things Apple announced what that they will be making the language Open Source, no really.
Swift will be available, out sourced and be usable for iOS, OS X and Linux. Linux compiler will be available Early 2015.
So, that’s iOS 9, be honest a much bigger update than you were expecting. Just like OS X El Capitan, iOS 9 is available now for Registered Developers, as well as July for a Public Beta (http://beta.apple.com) and full release in that dreaded term, ‘The fall’. One big feature of iOS 9, which isn’t really an iOS 9 feature, but the fact is iOS 9 will support ALL iOS 8 COMPATIBLE DEVICES, so that includes iPhone 4S and later, iPad 2 and later, as well as the iPod touch 5th generation.
Apple did, as we expected, also bring some software enhancements to the Apple Watch, which believe it or not, is still just a few months old, something we just can’t quite believe and we’re wearing the dang thing. Whilst this is no Apple Watch review, we must say the device has surprised a lot of our expectations, from battery life, to feel on the arm, to really how much we’re using and enjoying using the device overall, things we never thought we’d be saying about the thing, and now with ‘watchOS 2’, things are finally getting kicked up that extra notch.
Native app support
Finally, Apple is allowing developers the freedom for all their applications to not necessarily rely on the paired iPhone exclusively to not only run, but initiate. This isn’t just a big deal in terms of preference as it will all go down to the Apple S1 processor to run the apps more quickly, but it’s great for apps that may literally just want the tiniest of Watch hardware access, such as Shazam which can now access the Watch microphone and not have to rely on the iPhones, third party messaging apps can now be used to respond, this is a massive update which is going to take the Apple Watch even further than the leader in its own right it already is.
Native apps will also be able to access, as well as the microphone, the full processor, heart rate sensor, health information with consent and so much more.
New Watch faces
It was always going to be coming, Apple have some extra Watch face options you can choose from, whilst Apple still aren’t completely allowing full access for Developers to create custom Watch faces, Apple pretty much are covering the boundaries for what the average consumer would likely want from the current ones.
The two major change in Apple’s Watch Faces is a big update to the Photos Watch Face, which displays a digital clock and date aside from an image, which currently is just 3 pictures of weird flowers. Now, with watchOS 2, you can now only pick any Photo of your own or a Slideshow Photo Album, but you can select some animated Timelapses of cities around the world.
Time travel is actually a pretty useful feature coming to the Apple Watch. Whenever you’re on the Clock face of your choice, you can scroll the Digital Crown and it will take the current time forward as far as you go, whilst this alone wouldn’t be useful at all, all the Complications on the Apple Watch, such as Calendar / Weather etc, will also update as you do this, giving you a much quicker and easier look at your current day. Tapping the Crown will bring you back to reality as it were.
Third party Complications
Whilst Apple aren’t entirely letting Developers create their own Watch faces, they are allowing them access to the Apple build Faces and allowing apps to share their Data through the Complications, which is actually a really neat compromise for now, although in many ways will be all most people would really need.
Whilst this maybe more aesthetically pleasing than anything else, whenever your Apple Watch is charging, simply tapping the Display or Crown will give you a new Nightstand mode, which clearly displays charge level, Time in a large clear font, date as well as any Alarms that you’ve set for the following day.
This one is quite frankly the biggest and most surprisingly not talked about because it’s finally here feature of watchOS 2, Activation Lock for Apple Watch!
Activation Lock has been key for preventing crime with Apple devices, making iOS devices practically useless, the ability to track them down and more, incredibly useful for cases where your device should unfortunately get lost or stolen. Finally, now with watchOS 2, this comes to the Watch.
With Activation Lock for Apple Watch, the Watch will require your Apple ID User Name and Password for it to go back in service, granting the Watch useless for those who wish happen to Steal the device. Unfortunately tracking we don’t believe is possible in the current Apple Watch configuration but this alone is lightyears ahead of what Google have brought with Android Wear, which is really nothing.
Other Watch features…
- Colourful Sketches – You can now use multiple colours in your Sketches to other Apple Watch owners
- Add more friends to the Friends list with Groups
- Reply now works in Email
- Siri can do more, as iOS 9
As far as a “one more thing” is concerned, this is Apple’s biggest music announcement since the iPod in 2001, and this just is that, it’s music, Apple Music.
Following Apple’s purchase of Beats Music, we’ve all been waiting for what could come out of it, and this is the end result, Apple Music.
Whilst functionally and out of the box, it doesn’t offer much differences from competitors such as Spotify, it too offers your own “on device / My Music” collection as well as the ability to Stream everything and everywhere by any Artist with a Subscription, music and playlists can also be downloaded for offline listening when needed. Should you not have an Apple Music subscription you’ll have the opportunity to purchase from iTunes and listen to a usual preview.
But, what’s different about Apple Music?
Just like Spotify, Apple Music has Radio built in, but this is no Internet radio or curated playlist, this is live radio which you can listen to at all times and anywhere in the world. Representing the UK side of Apple Music is former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, who might we add for unfamiliar viewers was one of the not many decent DJs left on Radio 1, or any BBC Radio station for that matter.
Beats 1 will be live as we said 24-7 and worldwide, and will be accessible for free on all Apple Music or iTunes capable devices. Of course time will tell how popular Beats1 will be, it goes without saying Apple are holding a lot on this thing, so we’ll have to see how it goes moving forward.
It learns with you
With Apple Music, the app and service learn what you listen to, and in occasion when you listen to it, to create a playlist or even a Shuffle which is much more personal to your Musical taste or mood, meaning hopefully you will be able to start listening to music and get in to the mood for the songs, and that not be interrupted by that one odd song you’ve to get up and skip.
With Connect, Apple Music will allow anyone, from a hopeful in their bedroom, to worldwide Artists know by everyone to not only add their Music to the Apple Music collection, but Share everything they’re doing with you, their followers, who can have a one-stop place to stay up to date with your Artists through their Facebook, Twitter and Apple Music feeds … now, we all know what you’re thinking, isn’t this just Ping mark 2, and in a way it kind of is, but hopefully this gets the recognition as Ping did do some things right.
Of course if the device you happen to be running Apple Music on so happens to be an iOS one, Siri is hard-wired in to Apple Music, meaning Siri can now only get to your local music, but perform the multitude of options which await you through Apple Music and the streaming collection it allows and brings for you.
Apple Music will be launching in many countries starting in July, so not that long away and will launch initially through an iOS update iOS 8.4. Once you have iOS 8.4, the Apple Watch will also be able to access Apple Music too
iTunes on both Windows and Mac OS X will also see an update adding all the functionality of Apple Music in to the native iTunes experience in July also.
A surprise addition to the Apple Music availability list however is Android. Yes, Apple will be bringing the Apple Music experience over to the world of Android, it will be very interesting to see how the service plays out over there, as to be honest it’s actually a really good service, it’s just Android users typically are rather arrogant.
The last point to make, and in many ways the biggest part to getting someone on to any new service is of course how much buck they’ve to lose to use it. Well, with Apple Music, you won’t lose a penny for 3 months as Apple is offering a 3 month Trial (likely limited promotional offer only) but after that of course it’s when the pricing comes in, and really the pricing couldn’t be simpler. At this moment in time, only US pricing has been unveiled, but we’ll update with UK pricing once we know.
$9.99 – Single per month
$14.99 – Family pack, up to 6
So, to be fair with those prices, Apple Music is actually very in line with how much other streaming music services charge, in fact when you put in the up to 6 Family pack, it’s actually very good value for money!
Well, we think that’s just about it. Don’t let anyone tell you Apple didn’t announce a ton of things this WWDC 2015. We’ve very decent updates coming to iOS with iOS 9, especially for iPad. OS X El Capitan is just going to accelerate the Mac in all the right under the hood ways it needs, similar to the Snow Leopard improvements we enjoyed (after the patches admittedly). Native apps on the Watch really doesn’t need an explanation as it writes itself, this is the big Watch update we hoped for. Then, there’s Apple Music, if it takes off it will be huge and a problem for competitors, however if it doesn’t it’ll just be Ping all over again, though this time we see much more potential and I’m hopeful of this one.
But, what do you think of Apple’s WWDC 2015, let us know below.