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WWDC 2015 preview: 5 huge announcements we expect from Apple on June 8

Caitlin McGarry | June 4, 2015
Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference is always chock full of announcements. We're guaranteed to see previews of the next versions of iOS and OS X--after all, that's why developers flock to San Francisco for the event. But this year, substantiated rumors are swirling around a new streaming music service, a refreshed Apple TV, and truly game-changing new iOS features.

The Cupertino company is reportedly still working on finalizing the terms of licensing deals with the major record labels, but we still expect to see Beats Music (perhaps rebranded as Apple Music) to shine at WWDC.

Maps, rerouted

No Apple service has disappointed more in recent years than its native Maps app for iOS, which replaced Google's in 2012. The app was half-baked at best and a disaster at worst, routinely leading people to wrong destinations. Maps also lacked public transit directions, making it basically useless for people plotting their route without walking or driving.

That's about to change — Maps is getting a tune-up for iOS 9. The most obvious fix is the addition of mass transit information for major cities like San Francisco and New York. The company is also working on an augmented reality overlay that would show you information about a business when you point to it on a map. Another feature called Browse Around Me would tell you about nearby places that might be interesting to you, based on previous searches or preferences.

Apple is also reportedly moving ahead with plans to add indoor maps, 3D maps, and a Street View competitor, but those features could be years away.

Siri smartens up

Google's personal assistant, Google Now, is improving all the time. I'm not gonna lie, I felt a pang of jealousy when the company showed off the capabilities of Now on Tap, an ultra-intuitive new feature in Android M that recognizes the context of whatever you're looking at and responds accordingly. Sometimes Siri can't even understand what I'm saying, let alone figure out what I'm looking at.

A May report from 9to5Mac detailed an Apple initiative called Proactive that would unite Siri, Spotlight, Calendar, Maps, and other apps to serve up information throughout the day without you even having to ask for it. The new assistant would be anchored to the left of your home screen and accessible with a swipe. Spotlight search results would be pinned to the top, while information from apps you regularly use would populate the rest of the screen and change depending on time of day.

The initiative sounds like a promising and necessary move for Apple, so we hope to hear more about it at WWDC.

Native Watch apps

Apple Watch apps need to get a whole lot better before the device becomes a must-buy, which is exactly why Apple plans to open up an SDK to developers that will allow third-party apps to run natively, instead of chugging along on your iPhone. That's not a rumor — it came straight from Jeff Williams, the Apple operations chief leading the Apple Watch team.

 

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