Apple’s WWDC 2015

Last week we took a look at the Google I/O and everything new in the Android world. This week let’s see what’s happening in the Apple Universe. Apple’s renowned developer community came together at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last week in San Francisco to learn about the future of iOS and OS X.

The 26th WWDC kick started with attendees from over 70 countries, which included 350 student scholarship winners, the youngest being a 12 year old kid from NY. With over 100 sessions and 150 labs, Apple engineers used this conference to answer any and all questions related to Apple.

The current operating system, the big, bold Yosemite, has the fastest adoption rate for any PC Operating System ever, at 55%. Evolving from this, Apple introduces the new OS X, ‘El Capitan’. Focusing on experience and performance; the spotlight search has become more knowledgeable, the built in apps more enhanced and major advancements can be seen in how you manage Windows on the system.

Starting off with the basics like finding the cursor, by just shaking to enlarge the cursor which comes out to greet you, a lot of little gestures were introduced to make your iOS experience much more enjoyable. With the Safari, browsing has become effortless. You can now pin sites to the tab bar with a simple drag and drop to save them for later. These pinned sites reload instantly when you close and open the window.

Another feature Apple showcased in the context of browsing was being able to find the music playing in the background, making it easier to mute background tabs. While this was well received by the crowd, we can’t help but point out that the Windows OS already has this option.

Spotlight search has become more contextually aware while giving you the results. It also has an impressive smart search capability that helps you find exactly what you’re looking for in your own words. This works great even in apps like mail and finder. You can pin point your search with specific phrases like “Mail I ignored from Phil” or “Documents I worked on last June”. The amazingly specific search function works well while searching for photos as well.

With El Capitan, Mission Control has become beautifully simple. You can work in new windows with a simple drag and drop and even split screen to juggle many apps at once. You can adjust the split view to just how you want it with an adjustable frame view.

Focusing on the performance, there’s a faster response in opening PDF files, getting mails, launching apps and switching between them. On the architectural side, we now have Metal on OS X which combines the computational power of OpenCL and graphics power of OpenGL to create a new API that does both. Metal makes everything you do, faster. It’s a great addition to the system for all the gamers out there, accelerating the graphics on high performance games. Metal opens new opportunities for a rich and engaging gaming world.

With iOS 9, Apple promises extended battery life, improved performance and enhanced security. Adding intelligence to the user experience enhances the way you use the device without compromising your security.

Starting with Siri, a new UI and better response rate makes it a great assistant. Siri has become better at taking reminders and is more sensitive to the context that you are in. iOS 9 now has proactivity throughout the system. It automatically includes event invitations to your calendar and leaves reminders for you. When there’s an incoming call from a number not present in the address book, your phone looks through your emails to help you figure out who might be calling. iOS 9 tries to anticipate your needs and provide them, like a good assistant would.

iOS 9 is hitting privacy hard. Everything is done ON device and it stays on device, under your control. Everything done through the apps to help you is anonymous, not associated with Apple ID or linked to other Apple services and not shared with third parties.

Apple has been hard at work to replace your wallet and brings you a super easy, secure and private way to pay with Apple Pay. A large number of merchants are joining in with Apple Pay to make your shopping experience more straightforward. There’s a great momentum within the Apple Store as well. Apple Pay is incredibly easy to use with apps, redefining new and simpler ways to pay. Bringing Apple Pay to the UK, commuters can even pay for fares on the London transportation system. The iOS 9 also renamed Passbook to Wallet – the one place for all your debit and credit cards, loyalty cards, boarding passes and more.

Moving on to the commonly used apps, Notes allows for formatting options, checklist options, adding photos to the notes and introducing drawing and sketching tools. Searching, finding and organizing notes has become much better with thumbnail previews.

Turning to Maps, the focus has always been on the drivers. With the new updates, transit has become a priority. The transit option in Maps helps you navigate using public transports like buses and subways.  Now this is an update that should have been there years ago. Most of the people using an Apple device seem to have Google Maps installed on their phone to make up for the lack of functionality with the built in maps. The Google Maps already provides all the new features that Apple Maps is only beginning to introduce with iOS 9. It’s about time Apple caught up with their competition.

Apple brings a new app called News. As the name suggests, it brings the news updates from the world’s greatest sources, personalized for you. Some of the features include beautiful content, gorgeous imagery, custom layout, fun animations and rich typography. You can also explore new topics suggested to you based on your reading habits.

Elevating the iPad experience, the keyboard has many more shortcuts for formatting and also enables you to use it as a track pad to make selections. Multitasking reaches a whole new level with the iOS 9 for iPad. You can “SlideOver” and select apps that you want to work on and enable “SplitView” to work on apps side by side.

Apart from the great features, iOS 9 also has amazing foundations. The new “Low Power Mode” option extends the battery life for up to three hours. And in the area of security, user data is protected with a two-factor authentication in iCloud.

For the developers out there, iOS 9 is indeed a fantastic release. With GamePlayKit, HomeKit, Health metrics, CarPlay and Swift, the developer world can cross all barriers, especially now that Swift, the next big programming language, is open source.

Talking about the next opportunity to transform the world, native apps are now coming to the watch with a new version of watchOS. With the first version made available just six weeks ago, it’s pretty amazing to be discussing the new version already. The enhancements on watchOS include great new timepiece functions, improvements in communication, health and fitness, and support for new capabilities in Apple Pay, Maps and Siri.

Coming to the last chapter of the conference, Apple introduces the Apple Music. On Apple Music, all the ways you love music can now live together. You can now stream from the millions of songs on iTunes, anytime and on demand. Broadcasting worldwide, everyday, is ‘Beats One’, Apple’s new 24/7 radio station, anchored by famous DJ’s from LA, New York and London.

In many ways, this year’s WWDC was similar to Google’s recent I/O keynote. Apple hit it big with the Apple watch capabilities and Apple Music, amazing functional advances like split screen, better capabilities with a smarter Siri as a personal assistant and a more powerful OS X and iOS 9. However, some of the features that users take for granted such as Maps, should have had the transit features from the get go. This is one area where Apple seems to fall short when compared to Android.

The new iOS 9 and the OS X are available to developers today. A public beta begins in July, and it will roll out free for everyone by September.

Contributed by Manju Gopinath