'Everything's Going Great'
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Any event from Apple has fans and the media practically frothing at the mouth with excitement, and this year's Worldwide Developer Conference, WWDC, in California was no exception. It's where Apple reveals future plans, updates to products, new opportunities and tools for app makers, and more. Notably, this year there was even a woman executive on stage, which is a bit of a first. Here's a roundup of what was announced:
El Capitan Is Here
After a quick hello from CEO Tim Cook, Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, took over to run through changes to OS X, the operating system for the Mac. Changing its name from Yosemite to El Capitan, Apple is improving experience and performance of the operating system with some new features and tweaks.
Safari users will be able to pin websites in the browser; spotlight search will understand natural language to find files; multitasking Windows-style will be supported, and the 3D graphics kit will add more power for heavyweight gaming. Users will get a free upgrade.
A Day In The Life Of iOS 9
Apple claims to have extended battery life and enhanced security. There are also more intelligent features introduced in this new version of the OS for the iPhone and iPad. Siri is said to be smarter, being able to understand natural language better. "Show me photos from Utah," should bring up the relevant results from the device's camera roll. There are also enhanced and detailed search features and reminders that are reactive to location. Starting from the morning and playing your favourite meditation tunes to reminding you when to leave for a meeting, to what to pick up for a party tonight, Siri is becoming rather Google Now, though here, the capability is called Proactive.
Pay It With Apple
Apple Pay, the company's bid to replace the physical wallet was reintroduced by Jennifer Bailey, who heads this initiative. Apple claims paying through the iPhone or Apple Watch is now available in a million locations, with 2,500 banks supporting 50 million card members. Apple Pay isn't in India yet, though and is in fact headed to the UK next, in July.
Google has had its own news app from the beginning, and of course there are hundreds of rich news apps on the App Store, all lead by the pioneering Flipboard, the app you can use to create your own magazine of news and content. But now Apple is to have one of its own. It will let you choose sources and topics but also suggest content. This app will include video, animations and photographs in a neat and easy format. This is launching elsewhere at first and not yet in India.
The iPad Gets Some Goodies
The iPad market has been going down of late. It will be interesting to see whether elevating the experience on this category-starting tablet will change that. Apple has tried to make it an easier device to work with. A pain point has always been inputting text, and to address this, a QuickType keyboard has been introduced which includes predictive text with shortcuts for cut and paste and even a virtual touchpad.
Multitasking, a much wanted capability has finally come to the iPad, though perhaps not all versions. Android has had multitasking for many years, but Apple is catching up with a slick rendition of split windows, slideovers and picture-in-picture modes with which a user will be able to smoothly interact with apps simultaneously.
The Watch That Will Change The World
"We believe in technology on the wrist," say the Apple execs announcing a new version of the operating system for the Apple Watch, WatchOS 2. This brings native apps and many other additions to the watch Apple and fans believe will change the world.
Starting with fancy customisation to the watch faces, there is enhanced communication with which you can do FaceTime audio calls, read and reply email, and send messages and drawings to contacts. There are also plenty of Google Now style features with flight times, travel and navigation enhancements included. The calendar will be an interactive feature called Time Travel, and with it you'll be able to go backward and forward in time to see what you need to do.
The Apple Watch will have enhanced health and fitness features, being able to pull in data from third party apps and integrating that into a comprehensive dashboard of activity. Siri will be able to start exercise sessions, time them, and make suggestions customised for the user. Siri will also give virtual and shareable badges for exercise, encouraging fitness habits.
The Apple Watch will also, again through Siri, be able to interact with Apple's Home Kit devices, the company's Internet of Things project. A user will command Siri to talk to the Home Kit and control devices in the home even when the user is not around. The Home Kit is another part of the Apple ecosystem not yet available in India, as are the individual devices.
One More Thing
Using Steve Jobs' favourite line, Apple announced a "new chapter in music." This is the expected launch of its steaming music service via iTunes. This service will include the user's own uploaded music plus song and playlist suggestions. This service will most likely not be available in India. Another music service is Beats 1, a global radio broadcasting 24/7 from New York, London and Los Angeles. Connect, also a part of this music service, will connect listeners with artists.