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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

The free upgrade to El Capitan -- now standard for Apple -- will launch this fall.

iOS 9, the annual update to Apple's mobile operating system, will feature some of the same polish as El Capitan but will also promote new functionality, Federighi said.

Siri, the iOS digital assistant, will try to catch up with Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana in that it will offer proactive suggestions and notifications. For example, Siri will remind an iPhone owner to leave for an appointment based on traffic conditions, just as Google Now does currently.

iOS 9 will also include a new API (applications programming interface) open to third-party developers, who will be able to tap into the search bar and serve up suggestions.

That "proactive intelligence" -- the phrase Federighi used -- will also extend to within apps. Plugging in headphones, for instance, automatically launches the Music app.

Dawson called out the intelligence angle as one of the important themes to this year's WWDC keynote. "The common theme was intelligence, whether more in Spotlight on the Mac or the more intelligent Siri on iOS."

Unlike its rivals, Siri looks only at data on the device, not data stored in the cloud, pledged Federighi. "We do it in a way that does not compromise your privacy," he said, repeating Apple's oft-used criticism of Google by asserting that his firm would not mine email or photos for use elsewhere on its platforms.

As with El Capitan, iOS 9 will make changes to some of the native Apple apps, including Notes -- sketching with a finger will be new -- and Maps, the two-year-old replacement for Google Maps, which got the boot from the first-party list. Support for public transportation, a long and loud request, will debut in Maps on iOS 9.

Federighi also touted News, a new app for iOS, initially for the U.S., U.K. and Australia only, that will serve as Apple's take on Flipboard and Facebook's Instant News. The personalized news will be delivered in formats that evoke the original -- a New York Times piece will look enough like one from the paper's own app that it's distinguishable -- and includes embedded videos.

Newsstand, Apple's former attempt to collect, if not collate, publications, goes away, replaced by News. Apple did not spell out how a media outlet gets onto the News aggregation app, or what those publications get out of the deal.

In iOS 9, the iPad will get some special attention, with improved keyboarding and a new multi-tasking role that features full-screen previews of running apps and a split-screen mode -- called "slide-over" by Federighi -- that was very reminiscent of Microsoft's Windows 8.1 (and Windows 10) on the Redmond, Wash., company's Surface Pro 2-in-1. Like Windows, iOS 9 on an iPad will offer either 50-50 or 70-30 splits.


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