Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference starts today, and it is a must watch for any fan of the brand
It might be the shiny new gadgets and the “one last thing” moments that grab all the attention, but in terms of driving Apple forward, it is at the tech giant’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that the real action happens.
At the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, the people who build the Apple software, the developers, will today hear what new offerings chief executive Tim Cook and his team have for them. Given the audience, the event often revolves around software, and advances made to the core operating systems.
As well as the operating systems on desktops computers and mobile devices, there is now the separate watchOS giving the army of nerds a whole new platform to build on.
Apple is a relatively secretive company, with little ever leaking regarding its new products. A lot of what Apple watchers have to go on is therefore rumour and speculation trickling out from Silicon Valley.
However, Apple is expected to launch a new media player to push forward the firm’s attempts to get into the growing music streaming market.
Since iTunes revolutionised music consumption by making individual songs available for purchase online, it has been outflanked by the popularity of streaming service Spotify. Having purchased rapper Dr Dre’s Beats music firm, Apple will use the acquired technology for a new Apple Music streaming service. A subscription is expected to cost $10 (£6.50) a month.
Amazingly for a company that has been so strategically determined to drive people into its own ecosystem and keep them there, some reports have suggested that Apple Music will be available as an app on the rival Android mobile operating system too. If confirmed, it would be the first time an Apple app has appeared on Android, and would prove that Spotify, not Android maker Google, is the real target of the move.
Apple is also expected to announce that its Apple Pay mobile wallet, which allows contactless payment using the iPhone or Apple Watch, will finally be launched in the UK. It allows users to buy products by touching their phone to a reader, similar to using a contactless credit or debit card. Figures released in February showed that contactless spending in the UK trebled to £2.3bn last year.
It is also likely that Apple will detail an upgrade to the mobile iOS operating system. Those updates are rumoured to allow iPads to operate in a split screen mode, running two apps at the same time, allowing greater multi-tasking.
There will also be a significant upgrading of digital personal assistant Siri to work alongside a new feature called Proactive, which will try to seriously challenge Google Now in predicting the information that users want.
Updates to desktop and laptop operating systems are also expected, but are unlikely to be major.
Given the fanfare with which it arrived, it is likely that Apple Watch will be a big focus of tomorrow’s proceedings. Apple is reportedly going to announce that it will give developers access to the code of the watch operating system itself, meaning that apps can be created to work directly through the watch, not a linked phone.
The new gadgets may be what grab the attention, but if you want to know where Apple is going in the year ahead, tune into WWDC.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
■ Apple Music – A streaming service to compete with Spotify, to cost $10 a month.
■ Proactive – A new feature using Siri and the Spotlight search function to predict the information you want.
■ Apple Pay – Brits could finally have access to the system that allows contactless payment via iPhone or Apple Watch.
■ More apps for the Apple Watch – Apple needs the product to be as compelling, and as useful, as possible.
■ Split screen on iPad – So you can do create a spreadsheet and watch Netflix at the same time.