Many hoped that Apple might unveil a new iPhone at WWDC, but that wasn’t to be. Instead, Apple detailed iOS 9’s new and improved features, introduced Apple Music, and shared some news about Apple Pay expanding to the UK.
iOS 9 was understandably a focal point of the keynote. It is now available to developers, and will be available to the public in July as part of a public beta. Its final release is expected in September alongside a new iPhone.
Siri will be smarter, quicker, and more accurate in iOS 9. Apple’s virtual assistant will be able to work out what “it” or “this” refers to depending on the context. For example, if you’re talking about something with a friend in iMessages and ask Siri to “Remind me about this later today,” it’ll scan the open app and try to understand what “this” means.
Siri will also offer different features immediately based on your detected location. If you plug in headphones while at the gym, the Now Playing interface will be available from the lockscreen. Meanwhile, Siri will be able to tell you when you need to leave to make an appointment if you plug your phone into your car.
One of the benefits that Microsoft has lorded over Apple with its tablets is the ability to multitask. Apple is set to make multitasking possible in iOS 9. The new operating system introduces Split View and picture-in-picture viewing. Slide Over lets users open a second app without leaving the app they’re using. Split View will only be available on the iPad Air 2, but the other views will be available to all other iPad users.
There are a few minor, but useful tweaks too. iOS 9 should be kinder on a device’s battery life, while it also brings an improved QuickType keyboard to the iPad.
Apple also spent time discussing Apple Pay. This payment service is rolling out to the UK in July, letting iPhone owners pay for purchases up to £20 just by tapping their phone on a dedicated NFC terminal. Apple hasn’t said when it might arrive on this side of the water.
Finally, Apple introduced Apple Music, its new music streaming service. Apple Music will launch on June 30th, letting you stream music from your iTunes library as well as Apple’s own catalogue. Apple didn’t mention any artists that have signed on exclusively to the service, and it’s unclear if Taylor Swift’s music will feature, but the catalogue contains more than 30 million songs.
One of the more intriguing features is Beats1, an online radio station that offers news and interviews as well as an assortment of music. The likes of Zane Lowe, Blame Ebro and Julie Adenuga will be hosts on the station that will broadcast 24/7.
Apple Music will offer a 3-month free trial. After that, the service costs $9.99 a month. There will also be a family plan available for up to six family members for $14.99 a month.