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Apple WWDC lowdown: iOS 9, Siri updates, open source Swift & more


Apple has announced the next major version of if its mobile operating system iOS 9 along with an upgraded OS for the Apple Watch, as well as an upgrade to its OS X called El Capitan. The company also announced the next version of its programming language called Swift which will be open source. It will also open up Carplay with APIs.

Here is a quick lowdown of all the new developer and consumer features announced on the first day of Apple’s WWDC 2015 (Worldwide Developer Conference) yesterday:

iOS and Apple Watch OS:

Maps update: Apple has finally updated its Maps (in iOS 9) to include the transit feature, which offers turn-by-turn directions for buses, subways, trains and ferries. Other than this, the app will also display restaurants, activities and shops close by, and even tell commuters where subway entrances and exits are. The feature will initially launch in limited locations in the US, China, UK, Germany, Canada, Mexico etc. This feature will be available on the new Apple Watch OS 2 as well.

Data-driven Siri: Siri will now be able to source all the data from the user’s phone, including app data and user contacts, to make voice search better. For example, the voice assistant can now search for photos based on the date and location it was taken, set contextual reminders, integrate with Apple Music etc. Apple also upgraded Spotlight, its search for OS X and iOS 9, with better natural language processing to understand terms like “Open photos from my vacation last year.”

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Split screen and Multitasking:  The OS upgrade brings a few interface improvements as well. iOS 9 users using the Apple Air 2 will be able to split screen two apps on the tablet, a mode called Split View. Happily for older device users, multitasking won’t be limited to Split View on the Air 2 and instead will come in the form of Slide Over on iPad Air, Air 2, Mini 2, and Mini 3, which acts like an app switcher. OS X users will also be able to snap windows on Macs, something Windows users do since 2007.

Content aggregation: Apple introduced a new news app called ‘News’, as a part of its latest version of iOS. The company mentions it has roped in 20 publishers on board for its application and includes The New York Times, Conde Nast, ESPN, CNN, Bloomberg, Time Inc, and Hearst with 50 more titles joining. Read more here.

Music subscriptions: Apple announced Apple Music which will be available from 30 June and cost $10 a month. The platform will combine music downloads, radio streaming and music streaming on a single app and Apple claims that the app will recommend songs based on your previous listening experiences. Read our full coverage here.

– Apple’s new iOS update will also lets users set 6 digit pins to unlock their phones, instead of the now standard 4 digit ones.

Android app to help ditch Android: Apple really wants people to ditch Android for its ecosystem, and for this the company will launch an Android app that will let Android users wirelessly transfer their contacts, message history, camera photos, videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpapers, and DRM-free media to their iOS device. The app will likely be released along with iOS 9 later this year.


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Open Source Swift 2.0: For developers, the company announced an updated version of its programming language calling it Swift 2.0. The biggest news is probably that Apple will open source this programming language and will contribute to ports for OS X, iOS and Linux. The platform also introduces several new technical features outlined here.

CarPlay API: CarPlay will be updated by the company to use different display sizes and high-DPI screen. Automakers can also make apps to control the car now using CarPlay APIs. This is significant since if manufacturer do make such apps, users will be able to control air conditioners, locks and a variety of car functions through CarPlay itself.

Metal on Mac: Apple is taking its iOS graphics engine Metal to Mac, which the company claims can make games run 10 times faster on desktop boxes. The platform will now come integrated into Unreal Engine 4 game engine. The company, which had launched this platform at the WWDC last year, claims its platform to provide 50% better rendering and 40% better efficiency than the Open CL graphics standard.

Homekit to support more devices: Apple is also upgrading its smart home platform Homekit to enable developers to control security systems, motion sensors, CO2 monitors and window shades etc. The company is also looking to let users access the devices remotely through its iCloud service. The new update will also let developers make apps that enable Apple’s Watch to control these devices.

Image source: Apple

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