Most tech firms would be laughed out of the building for saying they’re taking on Spotify – but if there’s one firm that stands a chance it’s Apple
In the tech space, June can only mean one thing: Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). The keynote kicked off the conference at 10:00 Pacific Time (PT) yesterday morning with Apple’s usual aplomb, outlining everything we can expect from the tech giant in the next couple of months. Whilst some of the releases were incremental in nature, there were also some game-changing announcements. The most significant of these, without a shadow of a doubt, was Apple Music, the tech giant's new streaming service.
Apple Music certainly looks promising in principle. It holds its own against the competition both on price and catalogue – like Spotify, it provides access to around 30 million tracks for a wallet-friendly $9.99. Users can browse the catalogue to their hearts’ content, check out recommendations or listen to curated playlists. The Beats Music brand lives on in Beats1, Apple’s new 24/7 global radio station that will be based out of Los Angeles, New York and London. Lastly, Connect will bring a social element to Apple Music – essentially it's Soundcloud meets social network, allowing users to interact with artists, access shared content and build closer connections with the music they’re listening to.
But music wasn’t the only focus of WWDC 2015. The latest versions of OS X and iOS – El Capitan and iOS 9 – got an airing. They both come with some interesting new features, including split-screen multi-tasking, Spotlight searches and Siri commands that understand natural language, not to mention a beefed up Notes app that now allows the storing of photos, videos, map locations and checklists, a la Evernote.
iOS 9 also has some exciting exclusives – News is set to take over from Newsstand, providing a Flipboard-esque stream of recommended articles based on your reading habits. Meanwhile, fullscreen options have been tweaked to allow you to quickly glance at other apps whilst watching video or even continue to watch picture-in-picture whilst you tap away at your emails.
Also receiving a bit of an upgrade is watchOS. Its had a bit of a facelift – not only can users now have scrolling photos or sumptuous timelapses as their wallpaper but developers now have the option of adding complications to custom faces. In theory, this means that data from any App Store app can now be displayed on the Apple Watch’s face, potentially including anything from the number of Twitter followers you have to the latest football scores. Lastly, Apple has added a ‘Time Travel’ mode, meaning users can skip forward using the Digital Crown and check out what’s coming up ahead, whether that be looming meetings or how the weather will pan out.
Last but by no means least, WWDC 2015 included some particularly good news for those of you based in Blighty. It seems Apple Pay is to be released in the UK next month, allowing users to pay for goods or even the Tube, buses and trains with a swipe of their iPhone or Watch. This will open up some interesting possibilities for small and mobile businesses so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Just your typically quiet summer for Apple then. Chances are it'll probably have a new iPhone out soon. Watch this space.