So many slides, so little time
Monday’s World Wide Developer’s Conference keynote was jam-packed with info about Apple’s adoption rates, new partnerships, app features, and more, with info neatly presented in detailed slides that seemed to zip by a mere second or two after they hit the screen. Some of these slides went by so fast, that if you took your eyes off the live stream for one moment, you might have missed something fascinating—maybe not as exciting as new Apple hardware or software, but an interesting tidbit nonetheless.
Like this slide. Did you know that 80 percent of WWDC 2015’s attendees are there for the first time? Neither did we! Read on for more blink-and-you’ll-miss-it keynote moments, featuring Apple CEO Tim Cook (pictured here) and a few friends.
OS X Yosemite adoption crushes the competition...
Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, was quick with the zingers. Here, he compares OS X Yosemite’s adoption rate with that of Windows 8.1—55 percent versus 7 percent over an 8 month period after each operating system launched. Ouch.
...and iOS dominates, too
Federighi didn’t stop with Yosemite. Here, he compared the adoption rates of iOS 8 (83 percent) and Android 5.0 Lollipop (12 percent). However, our friends at our sister site Greenbot will be quick to tell you why this slide isn’t entirely fair—Google has numerous hoops to jump through with both carriers and phone manufacturers whenever a new version of Android is ready, which limits its reach.
Still, stats like this look awfully good during an Apple presentation.
Metal for Mac
Apple announced the launch of the next version of OS X 10.11—El Capitan—and one of its capstone features is its Metal framework, which was announed at WWDC last year for iOS. Metal makes OS X’s graphics rendering 40 percent more efficient, and its drawing performance for games can be up to 10 times faster. Apple has already worked with a handful of app developers and game studios (listed here) on bringing Metal to third-party OS X apps, so keep an eye out for those when the public beta opens up in July.
Metal versus OpenGL
Game developer Epic showed a Metal-based game it built, called Fortnite, and said its developers saw a 70-percent reduction in CPU use compared to OpenGL. Here, Federighi dissects Apple’s current Intel chipset usage, describing what it takes to run a graphics-heavy game with OpenGL.
Secure and private Siri
Besides El Capitan, we also learned more about iOS 9 and its biggest feature—a smarter, more “proactive” version of Siri. Siri will soon be able to understand natural language better than before, and she’ll be able to remind you when you need to leave for an appointment, queue up your favorite jams when you hit the gym, and provide lots of other useful info before you have to ask for it.
Federighi stressed that Siri will do all of this without mining your personal data, listing all of the privacy features that Apple will uphold. “We honestly just don’t want to know,” he said.
Apple Pay expansion
Man, Apple Pay just keeps growing and growing! Apple’s VP of Internet Services Jennifer Bailey took the stage to walk us through some of Apple Pay’s latest merchant partners, including Trader Joe’s, JCPenney, and Baskin-Robbins. Apple has also partnered with Square to build Apple Pay-ready credit card readers, which means we’ll soon be able to use Apple Pay at our favorite small stores and local businesses.
Apple Pay apps
Apple Pay has been integrated into more iOS apps as well, including Pinterest and its new Buyable Pins checkout system. According to Bailey, developers that have integrated Apple Pay within their apps have seen customer checkout rates double.
Goodbye Passbook, hello Wallet
Oh yeah, and Passbook has been renamed Wallet. Wallet will replace Passbook, but function in the same way: You’ll still store your concert tickets in Wallet alongside your Apple Pay card information. Your rewards cards for stores like Kohl’s and JCPenney will also hang out in Wallet, because Apple Pay will start supporting retail loyalty programs this fall. Here’s a look at the redesigned app icon.
Apple Pay is also rolling out in the United Kingdom this July, supporting about 70 percent of all British credit and debit cards. More than 250,000 locations will accept Apple Pay on launch day, including Boots, Waitrose, Post Office, and other popular stores and restaurants (all listed here). That’s more stores than initially supported Apple Pay in the United States, though as of next month, more than 1 million locations in the U.S. will accept Apple Pay. Another big difference between the British and American launches: You’ll be able to use Apple Pay on London’s public transit system, which still isn’t possible in the U.S.
Apple Maps, transit edition
Another new feature of iOS 9 is a big overhaul to Apple’s Maps app. Maps will include access to public transit directions, enhanced location detail, and the ability to discover nearby business and other points of interest. What we saw of the new app's public transit data was impressive—it can give you real-time route information and even tell you which entrance to use when navigating major transit hubs—but it will only be available in 10 major cities at launch...
Ready for China
...oh yeah, and Maps’ transit data will be available in more than 300 locations in China, too.
No more Newsstand
The much aligned Newsstand app will retire with iOS 8, as iOS 9 will introduce a new media app called News. News will take a combination of existing content and sites you select personally, and then combine that with algorithmic discovery of other articles of interest, while repackaging everything into a flowable format that works on a variety of devices. Much like what was promised with Siri, Apple vows to keep your data (and reading list) private.
Multitasking on the iPad
iOS 9 has some special iPad-only features in store, giving this device a much-needed productivity boost. Enhancements to the iPad's QuickType onscreen keyboard include new shortcuts, and the whole keyboard and turns into a trackpad when you place two fingers on it. You’ll also be able to take advantage of a new picture-in-picture feature, which lets you watch a video from one app while working in a different app.
These new features will only be available on more recent iPad models, listed here.
Split View, but only for the iPad Air 2
The coolest iPad-only feature, Split View, will only be available on the iPad Air 2. Split View lets you actually use two apps side-by-side—you can control each app independently, transferring information from one to the other using simple gestures, and quickly change the program running inside each panel using a brand-new app switcher.
Native apps for iOS 9
As the iOS 9 portion of the event wrapped up, we got a quick reminder of every new native app and feature that we can look forward to.
Open developer kits
Federighi went over the various app development kits and tools developers can work with.
All of these HomeKit devices can work be accessed from outside the house with iCloud, bringing users a streamlined experience, as illustrated by this lovely flowchart.
And here’s a little something just for the dev community: An optimization comparison.
We were introduced to Swift, Apple’s programming language, during WWDC last year in 2014. Here’s a snapshot of several apps that have been built with Swift since launch—a whole lot of apps!
Okay, this moment was hard to miss: Federighi announced that the next version of Swift, Swift 2, would be completely open source, and the crowd went wild. Look at him, drinking it all in.
Back to iOS 9
When iOS 9 launches later this year, it will be available on every device that’s compatible with iOS 8—every device on this list (and perhaps some new devices as well).
Just six weeks after the Apple Watch was released, Apple unveiled some exciting new features found in the next version of WatchOS. Apple’s VP of Technology, Kevin Lynch, walked us through WatchOS 2, with its more notable features displayed here: Timepiece, new contact management, better integration with the iPhone’s Health app (plus other Workout improvements), Apple Pay improvements and Wallet integration, Watch-based transit directions from Maps, and open microphone access for developers.
Native apps for iPhone and Apple Watch
WatchKit in the current version of WatchOS keeps app logic on the iPhone, with the user interface on the Watch. In WatchOS 2, you can have the app logic running on the Watch itself, which makes it more responsive.
Lynch acknowledged that developers have had a lot of access requests since WatchKit was announced in 2014. Here’s a list of the most common Watch features that developers want to work with—and many of these will be open for development with WatchOS 2.
One more thing! One more thing!
C’mon, you know you got excited when Cook came back out and flashed this slide. What could it be?
One more thing: Apple Music. Here’s Jimmy Iovine, record producer and Beats co-founder.
Streaming, radio, fan connection
Iovine mapped out Apple Music’s three focal points, and kept referring back to them throughout the presentation. Apple Music has the standard streaming service features—a big library (around 30 million songs), playlists curated by activity, offline listening—and it has the standard streaming service price tag: $9.99 per month, or $14.99 per month for families with up to six people.
Apple Music will also feature a 24/7 live radio station, Beats 1, anchored by DJs based in New York, Los Angeles, and London. Former BBC personality Zane Lowe will lead the effort.
Connecting fans with artists
Apple Music subscribers will have access to content shared directly from the artists themselves through a feature called Connect, and it could be more than just the occassional previously unreleased track. Here’s Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, showing off some exclusive content from Pharrell Williams.
A little bit of iTunes, a little bit of Beats
Apple Music debuts June 30 on iOS, OS X, and Apple TV, and has plans to open the doors to Windows and Android users this fall. The company is offering a free three-month trial period to give you a taste of what Apple’s take on streaming is all about.
That's a wrap!
And that’s it! Tim Cook took the stage one last time to thank everyone for coming, flashing a final slide that mapped out Apple’s family of operating systems.
Today's Best Tech Deals
Picked by Macworld's Editors