Yesterday, Apple kicked off their twenty-sixth WWDC conference with a keynote address from Tim Cook.
If you haven't already watched the keynote session, you can do so now directly from the WWDC page on Apple.com.
What follows are my thoughts and comments as I watched the presentation early this morning about the exciting new updates coming to OS X, iOS and watchOS.
Usually, the formula for an Apple keynote presentation is to welcome everyone and then run through a number of slides talking about how well Apple is doing. This year, Cook announced that 2015 is the twenty-sixth developer's conference. In addition to the live stream of the keynote, he also announced that for the first time ever, Apple will be live streaming 30 developer sessions this year to try and accommodate the developers who were not able to buy a ticket to this year's conference.
In short, Cook said "everything's great" and then turned the stage over to Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President, Software Engineering to talk about advances in OS X, iOS and the new watchOS.
Mac OS X El Capitan Update
- 55% of active Mac users have upgraded to OS X Yosemite
- Mac OS X 10.11 will be called OS X El Capitan; notice the lack of "10.11" in the product name
- Two major areas of focus for El Capitan: user experience and performance
The user experience performance should be thought of as a refinement of last year's bold new OS X design language in Yosemite. The tent pole features that were shown off include the new Informed Search features of Spotlight, refinements of the built-in OS X apps and window and workspace management with Mission Control, the Spaces bar and the new Split View windows control.
Of all of the new updates, I think I will get the most utility out of the new Split View controls. The windows snapping feature of Windows 7 is one that I use all of the time at work and the one Windows feature that I wished my Mac has built in by default. (The other was the smoky grey Vista Start bar, but that was addressed last year with the Yosemite dark mode menu.)
Informed Search in Spotlight allows you to use nature language text to help find things on your Mac. With Informed Search, you can now type in search terms like "Show me all of my photos from last June". That's pretty powerful because it lets us type in what we are looking for an let the computer figure out what we meant rather than us tying to remember some details about how, when or where we may have stored the files on disk.
There was also a brief demo of a new feature coming to Safari wherein that if a video, say an ad, starts auto-playing a video in a tab that you are not looking at, a speaker mute icon will appear in the URL/search navigation bar. Just click it and the audio is instantly muted. That will really become a handy feature as more and more websites start auto-playing video ads on their sites.
|There isn't enough time to cover all of the OS X El Capitan features
Apple has to pick and choose what features are going to be high-lighted on stage. Some interesting features that appeared in the "...and so much more." slide include:
- New system font - Yes, Apple Watch's San Francisco font is coming to Mac OS X
- Last search - Sounds like a really nice time saver
- Rename from context menu
- Time to leave reminders
- Redesigned Disk Utility - seems like an odd update; are enhancements to HFS+ coming?
- File copy resume
- Copy file path in Finder
On the OS X performance side of the house, Apple is bringing their Metal graphics engine that debuted on iOS last year "back to the Mac" El Capitan. Metal will give professional apps and game developers a higher performance graphics layer than the older OpenGL and OpenCL platforms.
Reportedly, all of Apple's first party apps are being enhanced to take advantage of Metal. I'm looking forward to the performance boost to things like the quick view feature that let's you look at a document without having to launch the app first. Oh, and when you do have to launch apps, Apple is working on making the time you wait for apps to launch must quicker.
The schedule for Mac OS X El Capitan is:
- Developers get a free preview starting right now.
- Public beta testers will get El Capitan next month (July)
- El Capitan general release will ship "this fall"
iOS 9 Update
- 83% of active iPhone users are running iOS 8 today
- iOS 9's major focus is "elevating" the foundation:improved battery life, better performance, and security enhancements
Just like with OS X El Capitan, intelligence and informed seraching is coming to iOS 9 and Siri. Siri can now understand more natural language requests like "show me pictures from ..." or create new reminders based on what you are looking at in an app such as Safari. Siri can even look up phone numbers for incoming calls that aren't in your contacts by searching your email and making a suggestion.
As with all of these security features, iOS 9 keeps all of your data private.
|Craig Federighi discussed personal data privacy in iOS 9
Some other cool features that Federighi showed off, include:
- iOS' swipe to the left of the first app launcher screen is coming back and has been enhanced to offer contextual suggestions
- Search has been enhanced to include new categories of information
- iOS 9 searching has a new Search API that can be used to search across installed apps and provide deep linking to specific content and take you back to search results
- Apple is building in intelligence into iOS, but they are not data mining; all information stays on device
- Look ups for information is all anonymous, not shared - you are always in control of your data
|ZDNet's iOS 9 beta lock screen
One of the nice features coming to iOS 9 that didn't get highlighted in the presentation is that Apple is improving iOS security by increasing the number of digits in a PIN from 4 to 6. By adding just two additional digits to the PIN, iPhones and iPads will become all the more difficult to "hack" using a brute force attach. ZDNet had a nice little write up about this feature.
|Jennifer Bailey talks about how Apple is simplifying the wallet with Apple Pay
To talk about the updates to Apple Pay in iOS 9, Apple brought out VP, Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey! I was really surprised to see Apple giving a woman "FaceTime" (sorry about the pun) on the WWDC stage. It would appear that Apple really is trying to show that it is a diverse company and not just a company run by "old 50-something white dudes".
In addition to launching Apple Pay in the UK later this year, Bailey went on to talk about the upcoming changes to Apple Pay in iOS 9. They include:
- Discover Card is coming to Apple Pay this year
- Square is releasing a new NFC Apple Pay reader that will be in stores this fall
- Store loyalty and reward card support is coming to Apple Pay
- Passbook is being renamed to "Wallet"
It's that last on that I feel is kind of cheap. Apple clearly has the head start on all of the competing mobile payment systems. That's not to say they arrived first - just that they have an early success advantage. Switching to Wallet from Passbook, to me, makes it sound like Apple is chaing after Google.
Maps, an app that has been steadily improving year-over-year, is also getting updated to include support for public transit information, specifically:
- Adding a new Transit map (buses, trains, subway stations) with departure times
- Step by step walking directions
- Siri is being integrated to the new Maps transit information
I'm glad to see that Apple is adding public transit information to Maps. Android users have had this information via Google Maps for a long time now. Apple Maps has had a rough start, but it is clear that Apple is committed to enhancing their mapping service over time.
With iOS 9, Apple is included an all new pre-installed application called "News". News will bring "beautiful content from the worlds best world's greatest sources, personalized for you." To help introduce and demonstrate News, Apple brought out the VP Application Product Management, Susan Prescott.
Let's just stop for a minute and let it sink in that Apple now has had two high ranking women on the WWDC stage showing off some of their newest software with the world watching. This is the new-new Apple.
|Susan Prescott shows off the all-new News app for iOS 9
I'm really excited about the new News app for iPad and iPhone. I read the Wall Street Journal on my iPad most days in the WSJ app. I'll probably still do that because I have a subscription, but the News app has a lot going for it. I can see in the future, the News app taking the place of Newsstand in the future.
With News, you tell the app a little about what websites you like to visist and the kinds of articles you like to read on them. Form there, News will aggregate a feed of news articles, beautifully rendered and laid out for you to read. The app updates each time you launch it so there will always be fresh content to read and presented in a visually stunning way.
Up until now, I have this on again off again relationship with Facebook. I've recently started using it again after having liked the WSJ and New York Times pages so that I get news added to my Facebook feed. I've never really been happy about liking pages on Facebook because of all the creepy things they are probably doing to collect my data. With News, all of that is gone!
The high points on New include:
- News updates each time you launch it. The more you read the better News can be about learning
about what you like to read
- News will ship for both iPad and iPhone
- News will have privacy built in from the start. There will be no sharing of data with Apple or third-parties about what you are reading
- This is, in my opinion, a direct shot at Facebook instant articles and I'm glad to have an Apple alternative
- When News goes live, there will be 30 New York Times articles published a day for News.
- If all of this reading is anonymous, and there is no data sharing with publishers, who's footing the bill for the stories?
iPad iOS 9 Enhancements
With iOS 9, Apple shows the iPad more love than it's seen in the last two releases. It's clear that Apple is looking to bolster how their industry-leading tablet is both viewed (it's not just a really large iPhone) and used (now with more productivity and multitasking enhancements).
|iOS 9 brings the Shortcut Bar to the iPad keyboard
iPad gets the new Shortcut Bar as part of the new iOS 9 keyboard of iPad. Not only does the keyboard give you predictive text for what you might be typing, but now you have access to text tools right in the keyboard. The new Shortcut Bar provides convenient access cut/copy/paste functions as well as the ability to add bold, italics and underlined text. You can even add an attachment if the app support it.
If you're not convinced that Apple is trying to cater to people who want to use the iPad as their only computer, a new two finger gesture allows you to move the insertion point cursor around the screen when you place two fingers over the keyboard and move them around as if you were using the trackpad on a MacBook. This should be a pretty handy feature for people who become frustrated with how you move the cursor around the screen. I know a lot of people who will be happy to have this feature. I have to wonder if the new iPad Air 3 will feature a Force Touch screen unlocking even more functionality of the track pad-like feature of iOS 9.
iOS 9 bring Multitasking to the iPad
Adding iOS 9 to an iPad Air 2 you are able to begin using the new Split Screen feature. Split Screen was first rumored last year to be a part of iOS 8. With iOS 9, Split Screen is now a reality.
|The iPad Air 2 running iOS 9 will be able to use Split Screen
In Split Screen mode, both halves of the screen are running separate applications simultaneously. You can also grab the slider in the middle of the screen to resize the two windows according to what you are working on. Regrettably, Screen Split is only available with the iPad Air 2 and will not work with the iPad Air. Personally, I think that's a mistake, but no one asked me.
In addition to Split Screen, is Slide Over. With Slide Over, you swipe in from the right edge of the screen to open a new column that takes up about one-third of the screen.
|The iPad Air 2 with a Slide Over pane open
As with Split Screen, both apps are live at the same time. This feature is really hand if you are working with data in the first two-thirds of the screen and you want to use the last third of the screen to go look something up. When the Slide Over pane is visible, you will see a Notification Center style tab at the top of the screen. When you pull down on this tab, an app picker appears of the running apps that you can choose to snap in and replace the current app that is in the Slide Over pane.
|The iPad Air 2 Slide Over open app selector
Slide Over is not a hardware exclusive feature tied to the iPad Air 2 and will also work on the iPad Air, iPad mini 2 and the iPad mini 3.
Lastly, you can double-click the Home button (or Touch ID button on the new iPad Air 2) to bring up the new iPad Task Switcher. Unlike the card view used today, running applications are presented on a sort of digital carrousel.
|The iPad Air 2 using the new Task Switcher
While the new Task Switch looks new and refreshed, nothing that we saw in the demo showed any new features.
All the Reset of iOS 9
There's so much good stuff coming in iOS 9 it's hard to catalog it all in this single post. Some of the more important goodies include:
- A new iOS 9 Low Power mode will extend battery life for up to three hours (estimated)
- iOS 9 will only require 1.4GB of free space needed to upgrade - iOS 8 required a whopping 4.6GB of free space to run the upgrade
- HomeKit gadgets can now be securely connected your iPhone over the Internet via iCloud. Very very cool.
- Wireless CarPlay what a snoozer. I'd just like to have CarPlay support in my 2015 Honda Accord EX. Oh well, maybe in three to four years when my current least is up Apple and Honda will have their collective acts together. (I'm so glad that Honda was a CarPlay launch partner.)
- Swift 2 has gone Open Source - now anyone can use it. A standards compiler and support for iOS, OS X and Linux will be available later this year. Notice that Windows is missing from that list.
The release schedule for iOS 9 is:
- Developers get a free preview starting right now.
- Public beta testers will get iOS 9 next month (July)
- iOS 9 general release will ship "this fall"
Lastly, iOS 9 will install and run on all of the current iOS hardware, which is: iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and yes, even the iPod touch 5th generation.
watchOS 2 Update
It's hard to comprehend that Apple Watch and watchOS 1.0 have only been shipping for about six weeks now and already Apple is pushing forward with enhancements to existing features and native application support with watchOS 2. (I'll have my Apple Watch review post up before watchOS 2 ships, I promise.)
Here are some thoughts on what's coming in watchOS 2 later this year.
- Seeing "watchOS" on a slide makes me immediately think of Palm's now defunct "webOS". Old habits die really hard I guess.
- watchOS 2 will bring native apps to the platform. These apps can run without an iPhone within range of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
watchOS 2 will being new watch faces to the current list of watch face styles. Photo Face and Photo Album Face are new watch faces that will allow you to pick a photo to use as your watch face or a Photos album to randomly display pictures from each time you activate the watch face. Another cool animated watch face will be the new Time-Lapse face. Apple will pre-build time lapsed "slideshows" of a select set of cities like London and New York that will animate when the watch face is on.
Apple also promised that in watchOS 2, software developers will be able to add their own "widgets" or "complications" to watch faces. Complications are the little blocks of information on the wathc face like the date, upcoming apponintments, battery level and fitness tracking rings.
Lastly, while you are looking at the watch face, you can scroll the digital crown to see calendar events that happened earlier today or that will be coming up later in the day.
watchOS 2 also adds:
- Night Stand mode: when the Watch is charging and turned on it's side withwith the digital crown and button facing up the screen will work like an alarm clock.
- Email replies using Siri dictation
- Make and receive FaceTime audio calls directly on the Watch
- Siri voice command support for activating the Workout app - "Start a 30 minute run in the park."
- Siri voice command to display a specific glance on the Watch face
With watchOS 2, we are really going to see the flood gates open with regard to what developers can access on the Watch - native apps, new complications, system level access to microphone and speakers and the on board sensors - and all new apps to dream up and make available for use.
Lastly, as you might have already guessed, watchOS 2 will be a free upgrade coming "this fall."
On more thing... Apple Music
I appreciate that Apple is once again using "One more thing..." in their presentations. It's a classic move that Steve Jobs would use to whip up the crowd into a frenzy before showing off one last software package, some new hardware or a new Apple service.
Yesterday, Tim Cook returned to that familiar place to talk about Apple's upcoming Apple Music service and Beats 1 124/7 live radio station. Naturally, Apple's fans when nuts.
|Apple's Jimmie Iovine introduces the new Apple Music streaming service
Tim Cook kicks off the last segment of the WWDC keynote by introducing Apple Music and Jimmy Ivone to tell us about what Apple Music is all about.
|Apple Music is a new streaming service, 24hr live radio and fans connecting with to artists
Apple describes Apple Music as:
- A new revolutionary music service
- 24/7 live radio service broadcast around the world
- A new way of connecting fans with artists
With Apple Music, you will have all of your music all in on place. Your iTunes library meets the full iTunes Music library streamed to your iOS device, Mac, Windows PC and before the year's out, Google Android devices.
I have to say, when Iovine started talking about a "revolutionary new music service" I'm pretty sure I heard echos of Steve Jobs introducing the original iPhone back in 2007. (You can watch Jobs introduce the iPhone below.)
Apple also made a short video featuring Trent Reznor, Artist/Apple Creative, to tell us about the new music service.
Next up, is Beats 1. a live global radio station with Zane Lowe and his team of real DJs working as hosts around the clock from New York, Los Angles and London. To help introduce Beats 1, Apple played a short video featuring Zane Lowe talking about how Apple put together Beats 1.
All of the music recommendations and playlists from Apple Music and Beats 1 are curated by humans to deliver the best possible listening experience for whatever music you want to listen to.
And last, but not least, is @Connect, which allows artists to upload and share what they are doing directly to their fans. To help understand how Connect brings fans and artists - big and small - together, Apple brought Drake out to talk about his experience with Connect. Yet another win for diversity on the Apple stage.
The schedule for Apple Music, which includes Beats 1 and Connect is:
- Rolls out with iOS 8.4 on June 30, with new versions of iTunes for Mac and Windows PC. Android support coming later this year.
- The first three months of Apple Music are free. After that, it's just $9.99/month for an individual subscription.
- For family of up to six people, a sharing subscription is just $14.99/month and each person has their own library, playlists, recommendations, et el.
To close out the keynote presentation, Tim Cook invited The Weekend up on stance to perform a new single. I'm sure it will be on the iTunes Music Store before long.