Apple WWDC 2015 Keynotes highlights

Apple WWDC 2015 Keynotes highlights


Apple’s annual WWDC Keynote event is probably one of the most highly anticipated event in the tech industry since it always bring with it major news and announcements regarding their products and traditionally, newer versions of iOS and OS X. This year’s event was no different. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most important announcements made at this year’s WWDC 2015 Keynote.

Apple WWDC 2015 Keynotes highlights

SWIFT 2 with a number of new features

Probably the biggest announcement for iOS developers at this year’s keynote was the news that Apple would be introducing a newer version of the highly popular SWIFT programming language called SWIFT 2, with a number of new features like advanced error handling, availability checking and syntax enhancements (among others) that will enable iOS developers to write even better code. Even bigger news was that SWIFT 2 would be open source and would be available for OS X, iOS, watchOS and even on LINUX, later this year.

iOS 9

Another major announcement was that of iOS 9, which brings with it a number of refinements that enhance existing features rather than introducing new ones. Below are some of the most important ones:

  • Installation space – iOS 9 take up far less space than its predecessors, needing only 1.5 GB of space as compared to iOS 8, which needed a good 4.5 GB of free space on devices.
  • iOS 9 also brings significant improvements in performance since many of the iOS graphics APIs, including Core Animation and Core Graphics are now using Metal instead of OpenGL ES on the iOS devices that support Metal. This greatly reduces CPU usage by apps and will improve the overall smoothness of the UI as well as battery life.
  • iOS 9 also has better multitasking and a new feature called Split View for the iPad that allows two apps to be open and active at the same time on the same screen. The Split View feature is only available on the iPad Air 2 for now, most likely due to its higher available memory (2GB of RAM).
  • iOS 9 also features an improved Quicktype keyboard that makes typing and editing much more intuitive and faster.
  • The Newsstand app has been rebranded into an all new News app in iOS 9, which will bring a customizable news experience to users in the US, UK and Australia for now, with wider availability to be announced soon. The News app is pretty similar to Flipboard and uses animations, typography and images to provide an improved user experience. Like Flipboard users can select their favorite publications and they’ll get a personalized news feed from those sources.
  • The Notes app in iOS 9 has also been updated with new features and more functionality. It now allows you to add photos, to-do lists and drawings, by using your finger to draw a sketch or doodle.
  • Apple Maps with Public Transit Directions – Apple Maps also got a huge update with the introduction of public transit routes. With iOS 9, Apple Maps will support transit directions for bus, ferry, subway, and train routes. These will be enabled on a city-by-city basis starting with some of the world’s major cities.
  • Apple Maps in iOS 9 will also show information about popular nearby stores (among other features). For example, you can search by category and view detailed info about businesses in the area, such as their operating hours, phone numbers, and whether they support Apple Pay.
  • Enhanced Spotlight Search – Another major change that iOS 9 brings is a completely revamped Spotlight Search which is now much smarter. This new search screen will be accessible by swiping to the right on your first home screen.
  • And finally, iOS 9 brings a fix for the low battery life that iPhones suffer from (as compared to Android phones) by introducing a new Low Power mode that significantly improves battery life by providing an extra 3 hours of usage on low charge.

Watch OS 2

The Apple Watch also got a huge update, in the form of a new OS, the Watch OS 2, which will be available free as an update. It brings a number of new features like:

  • New and customizable watch faces including Time Travel, which gives you an overview of upcoming events as well as current activities, events, to-dos, etc.
  • HomeKit integration via SIRI, which will enable you to directly control lights and other things in your home from the Watch
  • Full support for HealthKit
  • More interactivity by using SIRI for different tasks, like replying to emails for example
  • With Watch OS 2, Watch apps will be able to access the Watch’s microphone and accelerometer, play audio via the built-in speakers and even utilize the digital crown.
  • For Watch developers, Watch OS 2 bring the ability to move application logic from iPhone to the Watch OS, in order get better performance from Watch apps
  • Ability to get transit directions via Apple Maps

Apple Pay – Coming to the UK in July

Apple Pay also got its share of updates like new partners, including JC Penney and Trader Joe’s and support for rewards cards. Apple also announced that the payment processing company Square would also be launching a new Apple Pay-compatible reader this fall. But the most important announcement was that Apple Pay would be coming to the UK and in July no less. It will initially partner with 8 eight banks and a several British brands, and will also work with the London transportation system. Apple’s Passbook meanwhile was rebranded to Apple Wallet.

Enhanced Spotlight Search

Another major announcement was related to a vastly improved Spotlight Search, which is much smarter than the old one. In the keynote it was introduced as being part of Siri, and in iOS 9 it’s accessible by swiping to the right on the first home screen. Spotlight Search will now enable users to make text searches for information that they could previously access via voice using Siri. So for example, you can search for sports scores or weather updates by just typing a single search term. The search results will appear on the same type of cards that you see in Siri. In addition to search, this new screen will also show information based on external factors like your location and the time of day, similar to Google Now. For example, it can show nearby restaurants and stores and can also suggest applications to launch or people to contact based on your daily routine.

Apple Music

Apple saved the biggest announcement for last in their traditional One More thing style. And as had been widely speculated, it was about Apple Music. This new service will allow you to stream your favorite artists, watch music videos and video clips in HD and listen to curated playlists. There’s also a feature called “Connect” that lets unsigned artists upload and share their music. Apple Music also offers a global radio station called Beats 1. All of these features will be available for $9.99 per month, along with a slightly pricier $14.99 family plan that allows you to share Apple Music with up to 5 other people. The service will be available on iOS from June 30th and most importantly, it’ll be coming to Android and Windows in the fall.

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