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Apple unwraps streaming service, adds intelligence to iOS and OS X

Gregg Keizer | June 9, 2015
US$10 per month Apple Music subscription service launches at end of this month

Apple Music will launch June 30 on iOS, OS X and Windows in more than 100 countries -- on Android and Apple TV this fall -- for $9.99 a month, $14.99 for a family plan of up to six, after a three-month free trial.

Dawson and others gave Apple a solid shot at unseating the current leader in paid subscriptions, Spotify.

"[Apple Music] will be installed on hundreds of millions of Apple devices," Dawson said. "And the three-month trial is generous. If only 10% of the Apple device user base subscribes, it will already have more subscribers than Spotify."

"I think Apple has a built-in advantage," echoed Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "Apple has so many different points of marketing, including all their retail stores and on all of their devices. But they are coming into the market late."

For those who don't care for music -- the few, the far, the in-between -- or who have committed to another streaming service, Apple had other news.

Craig Federighi, who leads OS X and iOS development, unveiled the upgrades to iOS and OS X, which will be less about massive revamping and more about polish. Both are to be seeded to registered developers today, with public betas in July -- a first for iOS from the get-go of a new edition -- and a final release this fall.

OS X, now tagged as "El Capitan," will be the successor to last year's Yosemite. Federighi again demonstrated his comedy talent by returning to last year's spoof of how the name came to be, showing a blurred image as he touted the marketing team's "Bare-bottom Friday" attire, or lack thereof.

El Capitan, as expected, was selected because the new edition is less a revamp and more a polish of Yosemite. "We wanted to build on the strengths of Yosemite," said Federighi. "So the name came from within Yosemite."

"There was a certain symbolism there. This is an incremental upgrade," said Dawson, who cited the 2009 naming of OS X Snow Leopard, following Leopard from two years earlier. The former also lacked a large number of visible changes but focused on performance and stability.

Federighi blew through a few demonstrations of El Capitan's new features, saying that the upgrade would offer changes to Spotlight, the baked-in search engine; enhancements to Apple's first-party applications; and improved windows management, including a new split-screen mode.

He also boasted of performance increases in El Capitan, including underlying architectural improvements such as "Metal" -- which landed on iOS last year -- to significantly boost graphical rendering and reduce battery life on graphics-intensive applications and games. Metal will replace OpenGL on the Mac for those chores.


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