The following is a guest post.
Unless you were among the lucky developers who snagged an invite to Apple’s WWDC in Cupertino, CA, last week, you might be still be in the dark as to what’s up next for the tech giant. With the event now over, it’s time for the rest of us to analyze the announcements. Here’s a brief rundown of Apple’s new powerful portfolio for all those less than in-the-know:
With Apple’s answer to Spotify you’ll be able to stream the upwards-and-growing list of songs available from iTunes. You can now find U2 and all the rest on Apple’s 24/7 radio station as well, and hear from the artists themselves on the company’s forum for communicating virtually with musicians, the obviously-titled “Connect.” It’s predicted to shake a few things up big time, in one way by bringing real life DJ’s back to the Inter-air. Using sophisticated algorithms, playlist generators have largely taken over the web – predicting what listeners will enjoy through a matrix of robotic calculations, rather than transferring living, breathing auditory passion. Apple’s over it, and hopes its investment in Human Curation will payoff with the dollars of the finicky Millennial generation, and their even less popular successors, ‘Generation Z.’ A subscription to the service will cost $9.99 monthly – the same as most competitors – after the initial 3 month free trial.
OS X El Capitan
Apple promises even more spectacular vistas with the release of the next OS X, dubbed “os x El Capitan.” With new options for streamlining your desktop and improved graphics overall, this upgrade smooths out some rough edges and gives the whole Mac experience a slightly smoother, slicker feel. The arrival of “San Francisco” as the official font is another minor design change.
Functionally, the OS primarily serves to introduce a tool for multitasking while working across apps. The “Mission Control” screen show each window and apps side-by-side, to make things easier for those of us who consistently balance 3, to 13 to 35 tasks simultaneously.
In Mail and in Finder you can also now deploy searches with some very relaxed natural language – “concert tickets from South Korea that have ‘Animal’ in the title”, will work for example. You can also “pin” sites in the Safari browser and easily mute offending audio in auxiliary tabs.
As it stands, Apple’s HomeKit is still in flux – the framework has expanded its features but still stands to grow considerably as the market ramps up. Now connected to the iCloud, HomeKit can adjust more home controls and accessories than ever before. Capable of working with an array of home security platforms as well as LED lights and window coverings, it’s gradually broadening to include every aspect of the home.
Users will also soon be capable of communicating with their homes from their wrists – the next Watch update (which will also bring other native apps to the device) is slated to include a HomeKit app. Siri is still compatible of course, although now homeowners can talk to her and create custom “triggers” to activate the ever-growing list of HomeKit enabled devices and home security systems. Developers can now tell the system to set off certain gadgets based on increasingly complex instructions. While Apple’s answer to home automation hasn’t come without its bumps, insiders predict additional functionality and possible iPhone compatibility will arrive soon.
The Watch is getting a facelift, with a new design and additional new features, which improve both its overall look and functionality. There are three new watch faces to choose from: Time-Lapse, Photo Album and Photo. The first shows time-lapse videos shot during 24 hours in five global cities. Photo album and Photo allow for a personalized image or gallery display.
Native apps are finally coming to the device, which make things much easier for developers looking to expand beyond the current scope of limitations. With watchOS2, the need to be tethered to an iPhone disappears – developers can now access the accelerometer, heart sensor, microphone, and animation APIs in their apps.
Audio recording and video display capabilities are two additional new goodies that come with the arrival of the update.
The WWDC gave a preview of what to expect from the powerful new iOS release. Siri, and its ability to recognize and respond to natural, context-based queries was at the forefront of the discussion, as well as the announcement of an Apple News app. As with Apple Music, with the new News app the company will abandon algorithms and return to hand-picked, human curated content. News editors will be responsible for tracking stories that occur both in leading newsrooms and within the obscure corners of social media. iOS 9 will also bring “Proactive”, Apple’s answer to Google Now, and an improved Maps to the iPhone. With Proactive, iPhone users can receive suggestions based on their Calendar events and habits, with the new Maps, public transit directions are back in Baltimore, Chicago, NYC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington DC. Toronto, Berlin and London internationally.
Beth Kelly is a blogger for securitychoice.com. Currently based in Chicago, she is a writer specializing in tech and home automation topics, as well as a freelance photographer. In her free time she trains for triathlons.