Last night Apple kicked off their annual developers conference with a Keynote chaired by chairman Tim Cook. Here’s what was announced, and my thoughts in our WWDC 2015 Review .

I’ll keep this review to the non-developer topics so it’s on point for my readers (also, within my own area of knowledge!), and I’ve tried to list the stuff in some sort of order of importance/interest (which may be different to you of course).

Apple Music

Coming: June 30th

What’s new: Streaming, and (proper) 24×7 Internet radio hosted by industry favourites like Zane Lowe

This was the “one more thing” announcement, which Tim Cook seems to have adopted now, and the single item that the most time was dedicated to (around 40 minutes).

It’s a huge change for Apple, moving to streaming (in 100 countries, including the UK), although they will continue to support purchased music going forward. Think of it as a major competitor to Spotify. Pricing is likely to be £9.99 per user, or £14.99 for a family (I believe this will be part of Family Sharing – if you need help with that, contact us) per month, which works out favourably against the competition’s current pricing, at least until they get chance to try and match prices. The big advantage is that the first three months will be free, and from that point on you will be billed through iTunes like any other music or app purchase.

One of the big talking points in music is ‘new music discovery’, and this is why Apple has set up its own Internet radio station. The details are sketchy right now, but it sounds like there’ll be one worldwide station broadcasting all the time. I assume there’ll be shows focussed on new music (like Zane Lowe’s old show on Radio 1), and other shows dedicated to certain genre’s.

Apple have also integrated some of the features from the Beats Music service they purchased, allowing discovery of new music by picking your favourite genre’s and artists. My take on this is that it’s similar to Genius playlists, but even more tightly controlled by your personal tastes. One of the key points is that Apple will be curating playlists, not just using machine based algorithms like Genius playlists, but with real human music experts. We’ll just have to wait and see how that pans out, but if it’s as promised it should be great.

The one fear I have now though is for “Connect”, which seems like a Facebook/Twitter replacement for musicians to connect with their audience. Sound familiar? Yep, very much like Ping, which failed miserably. Let’s hope that Apple do a much better job of this version, but I do have to wonder why they felt it necessary.

At this stage I’m not sure how Apple Music will pan out when it’s released, but if Apple do a good job overall, it might kill off Spotify (especially if Android users migrate when Apple release its Android client later in the year).

iOS9 / OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)

Coming: Probably October(ish)

What’s new: performance improvements, Siri enhancements, Maps with public transport, iPad Multitasking

Seriously. El Capitan? That’s the next version of OS X…….I’m not sure what to say.

Overall the next versions of Apple’s operating systems are definitely minor changes compared to Yosemite and iOS 8, which isn’t a bad thing. Apple seem to have concentrated on refining the platforms this time round, which should bring some stability over the next year.

On iOS, expect to see Apple’s version of Google Now……with privacy. The concept of Google Now has always been great, but like many, I’m loathe to divulge all my information to Google (I’ll never move to Google Mail or Google Photo because I just don’t trust that my information remains private). With Apple’s ‘proactive’ features, you’ll now get alerts based on your diary and location (‘best leave for that appointment now, traffic is bad’) for instance, or when you get a call from a number not in your contact list, the phone will try to match the number to someone in your mailbox (and will show as ‘maybe Joe Bloggs’ on the call screen). Unlike other services, all your data remains on your device and is not shared with anyone, including Apple.

Apple will begin introducing public transport information in Maps with the next release. There’ll be a limited number of cities covered initially, but London is one of them. Hopefully this will include live timetables but we’ll have to see when it comes out…..

Finally on iPad’s, we’ll finally be able to see some multitasking. The iPad Air 2 will get the ability to have some two apps running simultaneously, and older models will allow you to have a pop out tab showing the contents of another app. We’ll also get the ability to have a video window running as an overlay (picture in picture) so, for example, you could watch a sporting event while continuing to work on your iPad. It’s not clear at this stage what hardware requirements there are for this feature unfortunately.

On OS X, the major new feature seems to be performance improvements, particularly with regards to graphics. Siri will be getting more features, Safari and Mail will get some additional functionality to make you more productive and more improvements to Spotlight will allow more specific searching.

Apple Pay

Coming: July

What’s new: United Kingdom!

Finally, Apple Pay will hit the UK. Users of iPhone 6 devices will be able to pay securely for products and services from 250,000 UK outlets initially without getting their physical cards out. The bad news is that if you bank with Barclays or Lloyds they don’t seem to have signed up for the initial launch!

For banks supporting it see here, and for outlets taking Apple Pay see here.

Think of Apple Pay like using an Oyster Card at the checkout. You hold your phone over the terminal and it deducts the money from whichever account you are using. Unlike using a normal card, your exact card details are never transmitted so it’s impossible to ‘clone’ a card when you pay this way. Oh, and if someone steals your phone, they wouldn’t be able to use the phone to pay for anything, because you also need to approve the payment with your fingerprint!

Finally, unlike touch payments with contactless cards that you might be using right now, there isn’t a £20 limit on the transaction, so the days of waiting in line at a supermarket while the person in front of you rummages through their backpack looking for a wallet may finally be over soon.

This is huge in my opinion, and I can’t wait to try it out.

Other Stuff

Apple Watch’s OS will be updated later in the year, adding more flexibility for developers to add functionality. Expect better fitness apps, and, as apps will finally run on the Watch instead of your phone, speed should be improved.

iOS9 will also have a “News” app, something akin to Flipboard. Apple doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to apps like this (Newstand and Daily News?), so it remains to see what we’ll make of this new feature.

Roundup

Unlike previous announcemnts that have been broadcast, this was very much a tidying up exercise. The release of Apple Music has been much talked about for probably a year or more, so little of the news was groundbreaking or exciting. But I feel that a period of stability and incremental improvements is a good idea for Apple. With Apple Watch beginning its long road to customer approval, and Apple Music finally about to see the light of day, I think there’s enough for Apple, the developers and clients to get their teeth into until Apple’s next revolution is ready.

And that will probably be television (but don’t count on us getting it in the UK immediately!)……