Apple launches iOS9, WatchOS 2, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, News app for publishers and Apple Music streaming service

Apple launched a lot of new stuff at its WWDC conference. Here are the most important bits.

Apple has announced iOS 9. The update will support all of the devices that ran iOS 8, including the aging iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. In addition to a developer beta that's available Monday, Apple will launch a public beta for the operating system in July. It will ship in the autumn.

In iOS9, Siri, Apple's virtual assistant, now lets users set voice reminders that are triggered by events such as when a user connects their phone to a car or arrives at home. Users who want to get access to content deeper in their phone can ask the assistant something like "show me photos from Brighton" and have Siri pull up the relevant images from inside a user's photo library.

The iOS update also makes Siri more proactive, so that it will suggest applications based on where a user is, and what accessories are connected to the device. Siri will also automatically add calendar invitations to a user's calendar and then offer up reminders based on traffic conditions.

Apple also added support for searching within apps from iOS's Spotlight feature using a new API in iOS 9. For example, people can search for recipes inside food apps they have on their devices, without having to open them.

The built-in Notes app got an update that brings it into closer competition with Evernote and OneNote. Users can now add checklists to their notes, along with rich formatting and images. Notes also includes a new set of drawing tools that let people sketch diagrams on their iOS devices and then insert them onto notes.

Public transit users get a new view inside Apple's Maps app that emphasizes transit lines when a user needs to get around without a car. People can now get transit directions in selected cities that include multiple modes of transit. Apple has surveyed all of the transit stations in the cities included in the transit program, so that users get directions straight to the correct subway entrance or bus stop. The Maps update also includes a change to merchant pages that tells users if a particular location accepts Apple Pay.

Starting next month, Apple Pay will be available for use in the UK, with support from merchants like grocer Waitrose. Customers will also be able to pay their fares on the London transportation system using their iPhone or Apple Watch.

The iOS 9 update will also allow the use of rewards cards in Apple Pay. All of those cards will be stored in the Wallet app, which is Apple's new name for the Passbook application introduced in iOS 6.

Advertisement. Article continues below

iOS 9 includes a News app that pulls together articles from a variety of publishers. Users give the app a list of their preferred publishers and topics, and the app will create a personalised feed of articles for them. News can pull in information from around the web, but publishers can also create an article using a new Apple News format to bring in rich animations and other content.

The New York Times will be delivering 30 free news articles to users of the app every day, along with other content providers like Conde Nast (including Wired) and Vox Media. The app will first roll out to customers in the UK, US and Australia when iOS 9 launches later this year.

Apple also focused on improving the experience of using the iPad by adding the ability to multitask on the tablet. On the iPad Air 2, you can now run two applications side-by-side, so it's possible to compose email and reference the calendar at the same time.

Users of the iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3 and iPad Air 2 will be able to pull in content from other third-party apps alongside the app that they're currently using to quickly reference outside content. Apple also included support for picture-in-picture video, so people can keep up with what they're watching while taking care of business.

Developers will be able to create applications that run natively on the Apple Watch using a new version of the wearable device's operating system announced Monday.

That's one of the biggest new features coming this fall to WatchOS 2, the next edition of the software that powers Apple's recently-released wearable device. CEO Tim Cook announced the update during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote in San Francisco. The news drew cheers from the audience of developers, who will be able to do more with the Apple Watch than they could at the time of the device's launch in April.

All of the logic for an app on WatchOS 2 can run on the Watch with the new update. It's an improvement to the current state of Apple's WatchOS, which requires users have their iPhones on and within range in order to work with third party apps. That limitation has been criticized by both developers and reviewers alike, since it reduces the Watch's utility.

What's more, Apple Watch apps will also be able to connect with an iPhone over known Wi-Fi networks to sync information between apps, which will allow people to wander further away from their phone while still keeping everything up-to-date.

In addition to support for native apps, developers will get more access to the Watch's hardware, so they can provide force feedback through the Taptic Engine, record a user's heart rate using HealthKit and take in audio from the device's microphone.

Advertisement. Article continues below

In addition to the developer news, end users will get a bunch of improvements. WatchOS 2 brings updates to the device's watchfaces, including a new face that shows time lapse video of scenes Apple recorded around the world and one that lets them set the time in front of one of their photos. In addition, third-party developers will be able to create their own "complications" -- bits of information that display in addition to the time -- that people can keep on watchfaces to get quick access to information like sports scores.

WatchOS 2 also includes a new "Time Travel" feature that lets people scroll time forward on the watchface, using the Watch's Digital Crown, to see future information like upcoming events and weather forecasts. (It won't allow people to see future stock prices, though.)

The update also includes improvements to the Watch's communication features. Users can set up multiple friend groups, and add friends to those groups right from the Watch, without having to open the Apple Watch app on an iPhone. The Digital Touch feature, which lets users send drawings to their Apple Watch-toting friends, now supports drawings with multiple different colors of ink.

Apple's long-awaited new streaming-music service, Apple Music, isn't just a shot at the dominant player, which has 60 million active users. The new app challenges the way people get songs from Apple itself, which has long placed a high premium on its iTunes digital download storefront and emphasised how that platform revolutionised the music industry.

Apple's new service makes 30 million of the expansive catalogue's songs streamable. That's millions of songs on demand, right alongside the music you already own. You can comb through the iTunes catalog to find tracks you like or want to save for later.

Then there's For You, a recommendation tool that serves up songs and artists based on the genres of music you tell Apple Music you like. You can use Siri to call up a song or playlist and immediately launch it in Apple Music, even if you don't know the exact name. "Play that song from Selma," for instance, calls up John Legend's Glory.

Apple Music has the standard streaming service features - a big library, playlists curated by activity, offline listening - and it has the standard streaming service price tag in the US: $9.99 per month, or $14.99 per month for families with up to six people. Apple says UK pricing will be announced nearer to te launch on June 30. But unlike Spotify, Apple Music will feature a 24/7 live radio station, Beats 1, anchored by three DJs based in New York, Los Angeles, and London respectively. Former Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe will lead the effort.

Every listener around the world will hear the same handpicked songs, plus celebrity interviews, pop culture news, and other musical nuggets. Apple is clearly hoping the celebrity curation element will turn Beats 1 into a bigger draw than iTunes Radio, which also relied on human curation but never caught on.

Connect is a new social networking feature that lets fans follow artists.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Apple's next version of OS X, version 10.11 - aka El Capitan, named after a peak in Yosemite National Park.

in it, the Safari browser adds pinning, letting users keep particular pages readily available. The sites will be regularly updated in the background to keep them up to date. In a feature that received plenty of applause among the audience, Safari will now make it easy to reveal which tab or tabs is playing sound, and let audio be muted with a single click on in its tab.

Apple emphasised new gestures that borrow from iOS, such as swiping left in Mail to reveal a Delete button that can be tapped. There's also a new option for hiding windows within an app without minimising them. Dragging a message to the bottom of the screen docks it, with its window bar still available. An image can be dragged from a message being viewed onscreen into the docked window.

The new release provides better options for working among multiple apps through Spaces Bar, a slightly revamped multiple-desktop management system, and with better use of full-screen mode. Clicking and dragging the green window-resize button uses Exposé to show other available apps. Drop onto another app, and El Capitan creates a full-screen, side-by-side working view of both.

Spotlight also receives tweaks. The results window can be resized and moved--Federighi joked "that's innovation!" But Spotlight now encompasses more natural-language queries, like "documents I worked on last June."

Apple also emphasized performance improvements to address ongoing complaints about delays, spinning cursors, and other odd lags in speed in Yosemite, sometimes in comparison to previous releases of OS X. Federighi said that apps will launch up to 1.4 times faster, switching between apps will be twice as fast, and PDFs will open in Preview four times as fast.

On the graphics side, Apple is bringing its Metal framework to OS X, making graphics rendering 40 percent more efficient. For games, drawing performance can be ten times faster. Game developer Epic showed a Metal-based game it built, and said its developers saw a 70-percent reduction in CPU use compared to OpenGL.