Apple updates iOS 9 with new apps, more intelligent search and Siri, and details Apple Music streaming service
iOS 9 will include more powerful Spotlight search, a more intelligent Siri and enhanced iPad capabilities, particularly in the area of multi-tasking, Apple has revealed at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.
Although some of the features will require the iPad Air 2, Apple’s most recent tablet, iOS 9 will be available to owners of the iPhone 4S or later and iPad 2 or later as a public beta from July and as a commercial release in the Autumn.
Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, told the audience that the company’s priority was to improve the security, battery life and intelligence of the platform.
Developers now have access to Spotlight search APIs, boosting third party support, while Siri can now set new kinds of reminders. iOS 9 can also create calendar events based on emails, while the platform itself learns to perform certain tasks at certain times. For example, if it knows you are running it will automatically play music, or if it detects you are in a car, it can play an audiobook.
“You see how we’ve added intelligence to iOS 9, but we don’t compromise your privacy,” said Federighi, echoing the recent comments of CEO Tim Cook. He said much of these capabilities were performed on-device and if any information had to be sent to the cloud, it was anonymised. ““We honestly, just don’t want to know.”
The Notes app now supports checklists and hand-drawn images, while Apple Maps has now been updated with a new Transit mode for public transportation users. Transit maps, directions and information is available for a number of cities – including London.
The iPad has received some special attention, with new actions such as copy, paste, attachment and formatting options added to the ‘shortcuts’ bar, while two applications at once with an iPad Air 2. Users can also view video in other apps or on the home screen with a new ‘picture in picture’ mode.
Music and News
Apple also took the wraps off its long-awaited music streaming app, simply called Apple Music, detailing its Beats1 radio station, recommendation system and social features that allow artists with all types of fan base to connect with fans. The service will cost $9.99 and the first three months will be free, with a family account supporting up to six users for $14.99.
The service will launch in 100 countries on 30 June and will be available on iOS, Mac and Windows – with an Android version set to arrive shortly after.
The company has also built a new ‘News’ application, a Flipboard-style application with content from various publishers including ESPN and The New York Times. Users can choose publications and topics they are interested in, with recommendations based on user preferences. It will launch in the US,UK and Australia and Apple says it wants to get as many publications on board as possible, including blogs, niche press and local newspapers.
Under the bonnet
Apple was keen to point out it has done some work behind the scenes, promising that users will enjoy an additional hour of battery life with “typical” use and would have access to a ‘low power mode’ capable of extending life by up to three hours.
Developers will have access to new game development frameworks, while smart home apps will benefit from new HomeKit capabilities such as support for window shades, home security systems and other sensors. In addition, HealthKit will now measure hydration, UV and reproductive health, while CarPlay has also been updated.
iOS 9 will also take up less room when installing than its predecessor. Whereas iOS 8 needed 4.6GB to install, the new version will take just up just 1.3GB.
However arguably the loudest cheer (admittedly from a group of developers) of the evening greeted Apple’s announcement that Swift 2, the latest version of its programming language, would be made available as open source.
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