Apple announces next version of OS X, Apple Music streaming service

On Monday, Apple held its World Wide Developers’ Conference (WWDC), where it announced an assortment of new software features. While there’s more details here, I thought I’d throw in my two cents below on the most interesting highlights.

The next version of OS X: El Capitan

The next version of OS X, OS X 10.11, will be called “El Capitan,” named after a rock formation in Yosemite National Park. It’ll come with the usual incremental upgrades/updates, including major upgrades to Safari, Notes, and Mission Control.

I admit my first reaction was imagining a Ricardo Montalban impersonator stating “welcome to El Capitan” as a startup chime… dated “Fantasy Island” reference, I know.

El Capitan is expected to be released this fall.

Upgrades to iOS

iOS 9 will also be released this fall, promising similar incremental upgrades/updates as its OS X counterpart. Major changes will include:

  • A renaming of Passbook to “Wallet.”
  • A similar renaming of Newsstand to “News.”
  • iOS will take up less size on the iPhone.
  • Side-by-side split-screen app support for the iPad.
  • Improvements to Siri.
  • Apple Maps is getting transit information support. Sounds long overdue—I rely greatly on transit information in Google Maps.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay is coming to the UK in July. For my British readers, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this.

Apple Watch

Some software updates and a few new features are coming to Apple Watch, including WatchOS 2 being released this fall.

One more thing: Apple Music

The biggest news of Monday’s keynote was the announcement of Apple Music, Apple’s long-awaited streaming music service. Given the changing trends in digital music sales, Apple obviously doesn’t want to lose out on people moving to Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music, etc.

The new Apple Music service basically combines iTunes, Beats Audio, iTunes Radio, and a revived, long-thought-dead service: Ping. For those that don’t recall, Ping was Apple’s attempt to offer a social media service that was music related. Of course, nobody used it, and it was quickly axed. It’s been considered a failed Apple product as long gone as eWorld and the Pippin… at least until now. Rescued by Apple from the Island of Misfit Tech, Ping’s revamped “2.0.” incarnation is now called “Connect,” with musicians Pharrell and Drake promising unique content for their fans.

Other aspects of Apple Music:

  • The service offers a three month free trial, after which Apple Music will cost $10/month, or $15/month for a six-member “family” plan.
  • Paying users will be able to download and save tracks to devices.
  • A 24/7 DJ-run audio stream, “Beats 1,” will be offered. Said DJs will be based in Los Angeles, New York, and London.
  • For the first time, Apple plans to release an Android version of its new Music app. Music will debut on Apple devices on June 30, while the Android app will come this fall.

The new Music service will be folded into an upgraded version of iTunes—bad news for those hoping for a truly major overhaul (or disposal) of iTunes. Also bad news for Linux and Chrome OS users; while it’s great that Android’s finally included, the lack of a web player for Apple Music, unlike virtually every other streaming audio service, makes it a no-go for those users…including myself. One reason I switched my music to Google Play Music was for its cross-platform support on all of my devices, so a service that won’t play my music on my Chromebook or Linux Mint laptop won’t work. Another nitpick from some is whether there’ll be enough offered by Apple Music to motivate users to switch from Pandora, Spotify, etc., especially when it’s priced the same as Spotify’s paid service.

And that about covers the new Apple products. Do any of you plan to give Apple Music, El Capitan, etc. a try?

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