WWDC 2015 Keynote

OS X El Capitan, iOS 9, Apple Watch, Apple Music

OS X El Capitan on MacBook
OS X El Capitan Public Beta will be available in July. Check back here for installation guides. Courtesy of Apple

First up at the WWDC 2015 keynote address was OS X, which was a bit of a surprise as we're used to seeing Tim Cook start the show by presenting a rundown on how well Apple is performing. Instead, Tim just told us it's doing great. If you follow the company, you know that may be considered an understatement.

OS X El Capitan is the new name for OS X 10.11. Although I predicted the name would be Mojave, El Capitan is a fine moniker.

As expected, El Capitan concentrates on performance and stability. But we knew Apple wouldn't stop there, and there are a handful of new features and user interface changes.

OS X El Capitan: New Features

My favorite is probably one of the more minor changes, but something that will make it so much easier to use a Mac: a cursor that automatically enlarges so you can find it more easily. When we're trying to find a wayward cursor, most of us will jiggle it with our trackpad or mouse. El Capitan will recognize that jiggle as a new gesture, and enlarge the cursor to make it easier to find. A simple change, but it really fills a need for many of us.

Safari gains a new pinning feature that places the sites you choose to pin into an area of the tab bar. Pins, shown as just the site's favicon, are automatically loaded whenever you launch Safari. This provides instant access to the sites you visit all the time.

Safari also gains an easy way to mute those annoying video or audio components that tend to automatically run on many websites. It's even more annoying when multiple sites are open, and you have no idea which site is making the noise. The mute function only affects the volume for Safari. Now, if Apple would only add a "do not auto-run videos" feature, I would be very happy.

Spotlight includes smarter searches. For example, when you enter a search for weather, Spotlight will show the current local weather forecast. Need to find a specific image in your photo library? Spotlight understands natural language, so a search phrase of "pictures of El Capitan taken by Brian" will produce the desired result.

Spotlight, of course, provides the same smart search function in most of the Apple-supplied apps, as well as in the Mac’s Finder.

Windows got a Microsoft Windows feature: with a snap to either side of the screen, a window or app can be anchored to one side or another. When windows are snapped to opposite sides, the system will split the two windows to take up the display space. Want one window larger than the other? Just grab the handle between the two windows and adjust them to meet your needs.

Metal comes to OS X. Metal, introduced last year for iOS, is a high-performance API that gives developers almost direct access to underlying graphics hardware. Metal replaces Open GL and Open CL. Performance increases have been reported as high as 10x according to Epic when they demonstrated Fortnight, their newest game.

OS X El Capitan will be available for free in the fall of 2015.

Apple also announced that a public beta will be available in July. If you haven't signed up for the public beta, you can do so at Apple’s Beta Software Program.

iOS 9

iOS 9 was introduced during the WWDC 2015 keynote. As expected, there are a great deal of new capabilities and, just as important, improved efficiency to allow your iOS device to run longer between charges. You can discover all of the new iOS 9 features with Sam Costello (iPhone and iPod Expert), and ​Daniel Nations (iPad Expert).

iOS 9 will be available as a free upgrade in the fall, and just like OS X El Capitan, there will be a public beta available in July.

Apple Watch

The news for Apple Watch includes the release of watchOS 2, which will allow developers to produce native apps that run on the Apple Watch. You can find out more about the Apple Watch announcements from Emily Price (Apple Watch Expert).

One More Thing…

Apple Music

Apple Music is a new service from Apple that aims to be your go-to source for all of your music needs. Apple Music is a separate service and doesn't replace iTunes or any of the music you've already purchased or loaded into iTunes. Instead, Apple Music will provide three music services: My Music, Beats One, and Connect.

My Music provides access to all of the music you've purchased on iTunes, and all of the playlists you've created, as well as the ability to stream any music from Apple’s iTunes library.

Apple Music can also learn from you, and create playlists for you to explore, a great way to discover new music, genres, and artists. With the entire iTunes catalog available for streaming, you have access to one of the largest music catalogs in the world.

Beats One is a live global radio station broadcasting on the Internet from New York, London, and Los Angeles. Beats One isn't an automated playlist, nor an algorithmically generated music list, but live music curated by Beats One DJs. Beats One plays music live 24/7 in 100 countries.

Connect allows any artist to upload their creations to Apple Music to share with everyone. That’s any artist, from the garage band down the street, to top-tier artists. If individuals or bands want to share their music, videos, or stories, it can be found on Connect.

My Music, Beats One, and Connect, collectively known as Apple Music, will be available on iOS, OS X, and Windows later this month, and on Android devices in the fall. The price for Apple Music is $9.99 per month or $14.99 for a family pack (6 user accounts). The first three months will be available for free.

Missing From Today’s Keynote

Apple TV. There were mixed signals on the reveal of a new Apple TV, with a few sites speculating that it wasn't yet ready to be revealed. My guess is that Apple hasn't yet sewn up all of the deals needed for the content that would come with a new Apple TV.

I’m still betting that we'll see a new Apple TV this year, perhaps in the fall. I know I’m ready to replace our Apple TV 3 with a new model; how about you?

Published: 6/8/2015

Updated: 7/2/2015