WWDC: Apple Unveils OS Enhancements, Opens Siri to World

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off yesterday in San Francisco with a two-hour keynote that introduced new enhancements coming to iOS, watchOS, tvOS and Mac OS X (now called macOS). Developer previews of the operating systems are being made available now, with public betas to follow next month, and integration with Apple devices by fall. Among the highlights: live channels and YouTube search are coming to Apple TV, Siri is coming to the desktop, a new SDK invites developers to create Siri apps, iPhone users can dump unwanted apps, Apple Pay is expanded to Safari, Apple Music gets a new interface, and watchOS 3 loads apps seven times faster.

The biggest news for most of the 5,000 assembled was likely that Apple is opening its tools such as Siri and iMessage to developers. The company is making “it easier for app developers to tap the full power of Apple’s technology — from its Siri voice assistant to instant messaging and Apple Pay — in their own apps,” reports The New York Times.

“Apple said it was allowing access to two of its crown jewels — Siri and its messaging app, iMessage — hoping that the creativity of outside developers will spur a round of innovation to make the iPhone seem as magical as it did when the first apps were introduced eight years ago.”

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Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company has reached a new milestone: 2 million apps on the App Store, which have been downloaded 130 billion times. “At last year’s WWDC, Apple said apps had been downloaded 100 billion times and had paid out $30 billion to developers,” reports TechCrunch. “That latter figure has now grown as well, to nearly $50 billion, said Cook.”

Ahead of WWDC, Apple announced an App Store overhaul including features such as app discovery and search ads. The company hopes that the updates will help its 13 million registered developers turn a better profit and remain loyal to the brand.

New notifications, an expanded role for 3D Touch, and redesigns for Music and Maps are among the many updates to iOS, what Cook described as “the mother of all releases.” Also with iOS 10, iPhone users can now delete many of the preloaded apps such as FaceTime, iBooks, Compass and Stocks (see the complete list here). However, you’ll need to keep iMessage, Safari and a few others.

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Apple’s new desktop operating system — macOS Sierra — will provide improved interoperability between Apple devices, enhanced integration into iCloud, a new Tabs API and, in the race to compete with digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Sierra will include Siri.

“The idea is that you’ll be able to use Siri much like you already use Finder and Spotlight, the traditional Apple desktop search engines,” notes Wired. “You can ask Siri to search for files, switch between apps, and do quick math. It can also query the Internet and allow you to drag and drop those results into other apps running on your desktop.”

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Apple unveiled new features for tvOS and its Apple TV set-top box, including the addition of live channels, a single sign-on feature, and YouTube to Siri’s universal search.

The company’s Eddy Cue demonstrated a “reworked iPhone remote app that includes all the same features as the bundled Siri Remote,” reports The Verge. The tvOS update also adds “a few nice features like folders, voice dictation (useful for entering logins and searching for apps), and support for iCloud Photo Library and Live Photos.”

While Apple has not been able to offer its own pay TV service, the company announced at WWDC that the Sling TV service will be coming to Apple TV. “Apple’s box will be the first device featuring a new interface for the TV subscription service,” explains Recode. New Sling customers who order at least three months of service can save $60 on an Apple TV purchase.

“Sling lets users watch live TV and video-on-demand from an array of channels including ESPN, CNN and AMC,” notes the article. “While Apple TV users have previously been able to watch live TV from subscription apps like HBO Now and ‘TV Everywhere’ apps like WatchESPN, this will be the first time they’ve been able to use a service that bundles multiple TV channels together, like traditional cable TV does.”

Apple is bringing its payment system to the Web. “You’ll be able to use Apple Pay to make payments online through Safari,” The Verge reports. “Authentication will work through TouchID, either through your phone or Apple Watch, eliminating the need to type credit card details.”

The Verge also lists the following key announcements:

  • The Apple Watch gets faster and adds new features
  • Apple News gets a redesign and supports subscriptions
  • Apple Music gets a discover playlist and a complete redesign
  • Maps is redesigned with navigation in mind
  • Messages get snazzier
  • Photos takes on Google Photos
  • Voicemail transcription comes to iOS 10

Related:
Apple’s WWDC Keynote in 10 Minutes, The Verge, 6/13/16
Why Apple Wants to Be the Smart Home’s Nerve Center, TechCrunch, 6/13/16
Apple’s ‘Differential Privacy’ Is About Collecting Your Data — But Not Your Data, Wired, 6/13/16
Apple Developer Conference: A More Open Siri, and Other Upgrades, The New York Times, 6/13/16