Sci & Tech

Apple Introduces Online Services

Apple Introduces  Online Services Apple Introduces  Online Services

Apple CEO Tim Cook has unveiled a suite of new upgrades and initiatives at San Francisco's Moscone Center for the 26th annual Worldwide Developers Conference, according to Wired.

WWDC is traditionally a place for big OS and software upgrades rather than hardware, but that does not mean the show was short of news. Among the announcements were the launch of Apple's long-awaited streaming music service, based on Dr. Dre's erstwhile Spotify competitor Beats.

New upgrades for iOS and Mac OS X were also announced, as was the release of Apple Pay for UK customers, public transport directions in Maps and split-screen multitasking for the iPad. But it was some of the smaller announcements -- Apple Music launching for Android -- where the real surprise was found.

  Apple Music

Apple has finally announced its reboot of Dr. Dre's Beats streaming music service -- Apple Music -- described as "one complete thought" on music.

Apple Music will offer access to millions of songs curated by a range of celebrity musicians, editors and DJs. It will also feature a global streamed radio station, and offer backstage access to favorite artists (as long as they provide the content). And it will not just do it for iOS users -- it will be available on Android too (in the Fall) and launch in 100 countries. It will cost $9.99 per month (or a family pack for $14.99), with a free three-month trial.

Apple Music will also recognize that "a human touch" is required to deliver the right songs and the right playlist "at the right moment," all on demand. It also emphasized that its service was for musicians of all types -- not just millionaires. Unsigned artists are able to share their music too and connect with their fans.

  iOS Update

In addition to the new music service, Apple's new version of the operating system on which the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch depend is less outwardly shocking than some previous releases, and focuses on design polish, refining some of the rougher edges and adding new and genuinely useful features.

Apple said it wanted to improve the "foundations" of the platform, including improving battery life, adding "intelligence" through the device and improving the iPad experience.

iOS 9 will be available in the autumn, as expected. However Apple said the upgrade would take just over 1 GB for users to install as an over-the-air update, rather than the notoriously unwieldy 4 GB+ for iOS 8 that was seen to have held back adoption rates. All current iOS devices are supported -- every device that upgraded to iOS 8 can use iOS 9.

  Apple Pay in UK

Online payments are slowly expanding out of the US with the UK finally getting access to Apple Pay. It will launch in July with eight banks, 250,000 locations and retailers like Boots, Marks & Spencers and the Oyster Card system in use by Transport for London.

The banks at launch include: M&S Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Ulster Bank, Natwest, American Express, Santander, RBS, Nationwide, HSBC, First Direct, TSB, MBNA and Lloyds Bank.

"Apple Pay has quickly become a big part of millions of users’ everyday shopping routines, providing a simpler, faster and more secure way to pay," said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services.

"We’re thrilled to bring Apple Pay to the UK with support at launch from the most popular banks, an incredible roster of merchants and many of our users’ favourite apps."

  OS X "El Capitan"

Apple has explicitly turned away from major desktop OS releases and now focuses on free annual upgrades that add genuine value, but not necessarily revolutions in computing all in one go.

So it is this year; Mac OS X 10.11 looks like another clean, useful upgrade but not one that will determine the future of the company -- unlike Windows 10 and Apple's greatest historical competitor.

In Iran, Apple users will be able to upgrade their iPhones, iPads and computers as soon as the new software goes live. Iranian users will not, however, be able to use the paid music service unless they use a VPN service and prepaid Apple vouchers.

Apple Pay will also not be available in the Iranian market for the time being, considering sanctions are placed on transactions between Iran and outside payment outlets.