Apple unwraps streaming service, adds intelligence to iOS and OS X (video)

$10 per month Apple Music subscription service launches at end of this month

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He also boasted of performance increases in El Capitan, including underlying architectural improvements such as "Metal" -- which landed on iOS last year -- to significantly boost graphical rendering and reduce battery life on graphics-intensive applications and games. Metal will replace OpenGL on the Mac for those chores.

The free upgrade to El Capitan -- now standard for Apple -- will launch this fall.

iOS 9, the annual update to Apple's mobile operating system, will feature some of the same polish as El Capitan but will also promote new functionality, Federighi said.

Siri, the iOS digital assistant, will try to catch up with Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana in that it will offer proactive suggestions and notifications. For example, Siri will remind an iPhone owner to leave for an appointment based on traffic conditions, just as Google Now does currently.

iOS 9 will also include a new API (applications programming interface) open to third-party developers, who will be able to tap into the search bar and serve up suggestions.

That "proactive intelligence" -- the phrase Federighi used -- will also extend to within apps. Plugging in headphones, for instance, automatically launches the Music app.

iOS 9: A 'more intelligent' Siri

Dawson called out the intelligence angle as one of the important themes to this year's WWDC keynote. "The common theme was intelligence, whether more in Spotlight on the Mac or the more intelligent Siri on iOS."

Unlike its rivals, Siri looks only at data on the device, not data stored in the cloud, pledged Federighi. "We do it in a way that does not compromise your privacy," he said, repeating Apple's oft-used criticism of Google by asserting that his firm would not mine email or photos for use elsewhere on its platforms.

apple maps transit

Maps will include information on public transit.

As with El Capitan, iOS 9 will make changes to some of the native Apple apps, including Notes -- sketching with a finger will be new -- and Maps, the two-year-old replacement for Google Maps, which got the boot from the first-party list. Support for public transportation, a long and loud request, will debut in Maps on iOS 9.

Federighi also touted News, a new app for iOS, initially for the U.S., U.K. and Australia only, that will serve as Apple's take on Flipboard and Facebook's Instant News. The personalized news will be delivered in formats that evoke the original -- a New York Times piece will look enough like one from the paper's own app that it's distinguishable -- and includes embedded videos.

Newsstand, Apple's former attempt to collect, if not collate, publications, goes away, replaced by News. Apple did not spell out how a media outlet gets onto the News aggregation app, or what those publications get out of the deal.

split screen

The iOS 9 for the iPad will include a split-screen mode.

In iOS 9, the iPad will get some special attention, with improved keyboarding and a new multi-tasking role that features full-screen previews of running apps and a split-screen mode -- called "slide-over" by Federighi -- that was very reminiscent of Microsoft's Windows 8.1 (and Windows 10) on the Redmond, Wash., company's Surface Pro 2-in-1. Like Windows, iOS 9 on an iPad will offer either 50-50 or 70-30 splits.

Another new multi-tasking feature will be picture-in-a-picture, where a video watched in full screen shrinks to a smaller size within another app when the latter is called up.

iOS 9 will support all the devices able to accept iOS 8 last year -- as far back as the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, both from 2011, both now discontinued -- without dropping the oldest, as has been the practice. "We want everyone to get iOS 9," asserted Federighi.

More for the Apple Watch

Cook circled back from his first moments on stage to announce native apps for the Apple Watch. "For us, this is a giant moment," he said, comparing it to 2008 when co-founder and then-CEO Steve Jobs laid out the App Store, the iPhone's stab at third-party apps. Apple dubbed the software upgrade "watchOS 2."

Outside developers will also be able to craft their own "complications," the watch industry term for the small widgets that show on a face along with the time itself, and prime real estate on the dinky screen.

With watchOS 2, users will be able to reply to email from the device, and fitness apps will be able to run natively on the Watch, not just on the partnered iPhone. Developers can also access more on the Watch, including its microphone, speaker, accelerometer and the Taptic Engine, which provides haptic feedback analogous to a tap on the wrist.

WatchOS 2 will, as with iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, ship to developers today, and release as a free upgrade to all Watches this fall.

"From the developer perspective, watchOS 2 is a huge deal," said Dawson, "as it will make third-party apps much better."

A replay of Monday's WWDC keynote can be viewed on Apple's website.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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