Apple held its 26th annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco today. If you weren’t one of the 5,000-plus developers able to drop $1,600 on a ticket — and you missed both our live blog of the event and Apple’s live stream — not to worry, we’ve got you covered. While Apple did not announce a new Apple TV or any life-changing gadgets, it did unveil some new services as well as welcome improvements to its current lineup.
Here are the essential things you need to know.
Apple wants you to lend them your ears
The biggest and least surprising news from the conference was the announcement of Apple’s new subscription music service, which was described as “revolutionary” at least six times during today’s keynote.
Like the Beats music app it is replacing, Apple Music will let you customize the app by selecting your favorite genres or artists, then offer suggestions for other music you might also like. You can, of course, stream your own tunes or pick from playlists curated by professional DJs. A service called Connect lets you discover music from lesser-known artists, and the app will integrate with Siri, so you could say things like, “Play me that song from the movie Selma,” and it will figure out that you’re looking for John Legend’s “Glory.”
Starting on June 30, Apple Music will be available free for three months and $10 a month after that for individuals. Families can purchase a subscription for up to six users for $15 a month. And, yes, it will be available for Android phones later this year.
Your Apple Watch will run its own apps
The Apple Watch will soon be able to run apps independently of your iPhone, courtesy of the new watchOS announced at today’s keynote.
For example, you may be able to fast-forward through your day’s schedule by turning the crown on the side of the watch (a feature Apple has dubbed Time Travel). Watch apps will be able to connect Apple CarPlay and Home Kit devices, which means you may be able to start your car with a tap on the watch face or change your smart home thermostat’s settings by turning the crown. The watch will also let you talk to Siri and reply to emails via voice.
You’ll also be able to customize the watch face, adding your favorite photos or even time-lapse photographs. The bad news? You’ll probably have to wait until at least the fall before any of these apps actually appear.
Siri will be able to read your mind
Or at least she’ll be able to anticipate what you may be thinking, thanks to what Apple is calling a Proactive Assistant built into iOS 9.
Siri will know what you do at particular times each day, so if, say, you listen to audio books during your morning commute, she’ll launch them without asking. If you get an email confirming your dinner reservation, Siri will read it, add it to your calendar, and alert you when it’s time to leave. She can even make an informed guess as to who you might be calling, based on your schedule and emails, even if their contact info isn’t in your address book.
Your iPad is going split screen
For the first time ever, the iPad will be able to run multiple apps at the same time and even display two apps side by side. You’ll be able to cut and paste between them or view picture-in-picture videos while, say, checking your email. Those features will be available for select models of the iPad when iOS 9 ships — most likely next fall.
It will be easier to navigate your Mac
The successor to OS X Yosemite is named OS X El Capitan, and like its namesake, it’s smaller in scope than last year’s major overhaul.
The most welcome features are a streamlined Mission Control center for switching between applications, a split-screen feature for viewing two apps at once and moving stuff between them, and an improved spotlight search function that can respond to natural language queries — like “emails I ignored from Phil” or “docs I worked on last June.” The new OS will go into public beta next month and be available in the fall.
You’ll find your favorite Web sites faster in Safari
OS X El Capitan’s browser is also getting a slight brain boost. You’ll be able to pin your favorite websites à la Pinterest to your desktop and launch them instantly with a click. If you have a dozen webpages open and one starts blasting audio, you can quickly find which one it is or just mute them all with a single tap.
You’ll probably make your train on time
As expected, Apple has added transit information to its much-maligned Maps app, bringing it a little bit closer to Google Maps, which it booted from its mobile OS three years ago.
It will also show you what New York subway stations look like on the inside, allowing you to find the right platform or the closest exit. It will not, however, display the locations of crazy bag ladies. For that, you’re on your own.
Tile photography copyright Deanne Fitzmaurice.