Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference is upon us. San Francisco's Moscone West will hold the conference starting tomorrow (June 8), and as usual Apple will kick the event off with a keynote showcasing upcoming product releases. Last year the company primarily focused on updates to its iOS and OS X operating systems. Expect more of the same this year, along with some other potential surprises.
How to Watch
If you have an Apple device, you can watch the WWDC livestream starting at 10am PT at Apple's live event page. You'll need Safari 6.0.5 or later if you're on a Mac, iOS 6.0 or newer on mobile, or a second generation or newer Apple TV with software 6.2.
If you're not on an Apple machine, you can watch the event using the VLC player app for Android or Windows. After selecting Media > Open Network Stream on the Windows app, or tapping the radar icon in the Android app, you'll have to paste in this link to start watching.
Beats Reborn: Music Streaming Service
A new subscription music service from Apple is all but certain to be announced during this year's keynote. The day before WWDC, Sony Music CEO Doug Morris, appearing at a music industry event, said that Apple's new service is "happening tomorrow," according to a Venture Beat report.
Recently, Apple released its iOS 8.4 beta. Along with that came a new Music app with a slightly different interface. We expect this app to be integrated into Apple's relaunch of Beats -- the Dr. Dre-backed music service it bought in 2014 -- as a new music streaming service. The new service could incorporate iTunes Radio, and it will likely be built directly into iTunes.
Early rumors suggested the service could cost $7.99 per month, but now it will most likely be $9.99, just like tiers of Spotify and Rdio. A week before WWDC, the Wall Street Journal reported on the final shape Apple's rumored music service is likely to take. The Journal says it will be a $10-a-month service while enhancing its Internet radio offering with curated programming from DJs. The same day as the Journal report, the New York Post said that Apple was in the process of lining up celebrity DJs such as Drake.
An Apple/Beats mashup takes on an already crowded music streaming arena, which only became more cramped with the recent launch of Jay-Z's service Tidal.
Don't expect to see a dramatic overhaul in iOS 9. While not much is known about the next major update to Apple's mobile OS yet, the company will likely focus on optimization and stability improvements rather than aesthetic changes. If iOS 9 is unveiled at WWDC, it will follow the standard procedure for Apple OS updates. Developers will get a first pass at it before users can download the update in the fall, timed to arrive at the same time as new iPhones.
Mac OS X 10.11
Mac OS X Yosemite just arrived last October, but if the past few WWDCs are anything to go by, Apple could announce the next version of its other OS in June. There's little known about the new features of the impending upgrade, but if announced, Apple will likely show off a demo and then let developers experiment with it over the next few months.
Recent updates to OS X have focused on incorporating iOS features and smoothing out interactions between your computer and your mobile devices; that may continue with this update. One thing, however, is almost certain: Apple will name the next OS X after a California landmark like it did with Yosemite.
HomeKit, Apple's development tool for integrating smart home products into iOS, made its debut at last year's WWDC, and the 2015 show could be where we see some of the fruits of developers' labors. In May, Apple swatted down a report from Fortune that HomeKit's launch would be delayed by stating that the first HomeKit-enabled devices would arrive in June. "HomeKit has been available for just a few months and we already have dozens of partners who have committed to bringing HomeKit accessories to market and we’re looking forward to the first ones coming next month," Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told the Wall Street Journal on May 14. "Next month" just happens to be the same time that developers will convene at WWDC. It's not too much of a stretch to imagine Apple using a portion of its WWDC keynote to highlight some home automation tools controlled by iOS devices to get developers excited about HomeKit's possibilities.
Apple TV Service
Rumors of an Apple television streaming service have been swirling for a few months now. Reports suggest it could offer 25 channels, including ABC and Fox, and cost between $30 and $40 per month. This would expand on Apple's recent partnership with HBO, which allows users to stream HBO's catalog of shows via Apple TV for a dedicated $15 per month.
If Apple does launch a streaming service, it would be similar to Sling TV, which offers the same kinds of channels for $20. Apple would also likely have the service available on most or all of its devices, meaning you could potentially stream TV shows from an iPhone or iPad as well as an Apple TV, which is overdue for an update of its own.
However, plans for any kind of TV unveiling have been mostly squashed. Recently ReCode cited sources in an early June report that says any subscription-based TV Apple is working on won't be unveiled at WWDC, as the company is still in negotiations with broadcasters. In addition, 9to5Mac recently reported that we likely won't see any hardware updates to Apple TV this time around, citing sources that claim the product "was not ready for prime time."
Apple Watch Updates
The Apple Watch may have just gone on sale, but there's still plenty of work ahead for Apple's first smartwatch, particularly in terms of apps. Apple put out a developer SDK for creating Apple Watch apps last November and has reaped the benefits, with developers creating a multitude of apps in advance of the watch's April 24 ship date.
Developers will also be able to do more with the watch, according to a top Apple executive. Speaking at the Code Conference in May, Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, said that a native SDK for the Apple Watch would be out at WWDC. "We’ll release a preview so that developers will be able to write code natively and have access to sensors, and we’re really excited about that," Williams said in a TechCrunch report on the Code event. A new report from The New York Times suggests Williams could be referring to the heart rate and motion sensors in the Apple Watch, which would mean that more in-depth apps using those monitors could come from developers in the near future.
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