Coming at WWDC 2015: New Apple Watch SDK, Quality-focused/refreshed iOS 9 & OS X 10.11, Apple Music

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Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference is about to kick off. On Monday, June 8th, company executives will take the stage at San Francisco’s Moscone Center to provide their annual roadmap for Apple’s software, services, and devices.

Traditionally, Apple has used the conference to introduce major upgrades to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system iOS, as well as the Mac operating system OS X, along with new services. Of course, 2015 will be no different. Apple has been preparing a new version of iOS 9 codenamed “Monarch,” a release of OS X 10.11 codenamed “Gala,” a new streaming Apple Music service based on Beats Music, and updates for the Apple Watch.

Over the last several years, we have provided advance reports on the lion’s share of announcements that will be made at WWDC, as well as a comprehensive roundup ahead of the event. Read on for our roundup of what’s coming, along with fresh new details not found in our earlier reports.

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Mystery solved: Apple vans gathering next-gen Maps data, grabbing Street View storefronts + 3D images

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Three years after Apple launched its own iOS Maps app to replace Google as its iPhone and iPad map provider, the Cupertino company is readying its first major enhancements to the service. While Apple was known to be gearing up for the launch of a mass transit directions service this fall in a handful of cities, sources have revealed that it is also developing its first entirely in-house mapping database to reduce its reliance on TomTom, using a fleet of mysterious vans to take still photos of business storefronts to replace Yelp photos, and building a 3D Street View feature. Apple has been using the sensor-equipped vans in cities such as Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York since earlier this year, and, below, we detail how the vehicles are advancing Apple’s plans for the future of Maps…

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Apple’s ‘Proactive’ to take on Google Now with deep iOS 9 search, Augmented Reality Maps, Siri API

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After several years of quiet development, Apple is readying a major new iOS initiative codenamed “Proactive,” which will leverage Siri, Contacts, Calendar, Passbook, and third-party apps to create a viable competitor to Google Now for Android devices. Like Google Now, Proactive will automatically provide timely information based on the user’s data and device usage patterns, but will respect the user’s privacy preferences, according to sources familiar with Apple’s plans.

As an evolution of iOS’s Spotlight search feature, Proactive is the fruit of a long-term initiative that involved the acquisition of small app developers, and integration of core iOS apps. It will also work with Apple’s Maps application to display personally relevant points of interest using an augmented reality interface, and integrate with a third-party Siri API codenamed “Breadcrumbs”…

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Opinion: Should AAPL stockholders be worried about Jony Ive’s more backseat role?

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The Apple world this morning seems divided between those who seemingly haven’t grasped the implications of Apple’s ‘promotion’ of Jony Ive, merely taking Cook’s memo at face value, and those switching into full-on ‘Apple is doomed’ mode. The reality is, I think, a little more nuanced.

It seems pretty clear that this move is, as Seth outlined earlier, about Ive taking more of a backseat role – and especially being able to spend a lot more time back in England. Apple’s decision to announce the news on a day when the US markets were closed was obviously not coincidence.

Apple didn’t want to see a knee-jerk panic reaction on Wall Street setting its stock diving. But is there reason to panic? Or is it all much ado about nothing? Or something between the two … ?  Read more

Ex-iOS SVP Scott Forstall ‘delighted’ by Apple continuing to launch ‘great and beloved products’

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Scott Forstall, former Senior Vice President of iOS and one of the main creators of the iPhone and iPad, has finally spoken about Apple for the first time since leaving the company in the fall of 2012. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal primarily centered around his work on Broadway, Forstall briefly commented on Apple:

Asked about the split, Mr. Forstall said he was “so proud of the thousands of people I worked with [at Apple] and with whom I remain friends. I am delighted that they continue to turn out great and beloved products.”

Forstall’s admiration for Apple remains following a very public breakup between the executive and the company following problems with iOS 6 Maps application and the iPhone 5 launch. Since Forstall’s departure, Apple has publicly poked fun at skeuomorphic design, which was a cornerstone of Forstall’s iOS and OS X releases.

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Ex-Apple SVP Scott Forstall is now a producer on a Broadway musical

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Less than 24 hours after a report surfaced revealing Scott Forstall began serving as an advisor to Snapchat last year, the former iOS chief has announced via his Twitter account an unrelated project: a Broadway musical.

I’m thrilled to be co-producing the Broadway musical Fun Home opening this Sunday. Bravo to the phenomenal team!

The announcement is especially notable as it marks the first time the former Apple executive has surfaced in public since his ousting at Apple under current CEO Tim Cook in late 2012. Read more

1Password for iOS updated w/ Touch ID lock screen improvements & more

Apple SVP Craig Federighi featuring 1Password at October Apple event

Apple SVP Craig Federighi featuring 1Password at October Apple event

Apple gave a prominent shoutout to the 1Password secure wallet app earlier this month when Craig Federighi, who leads the OS X and iOS teams, mentioned the password management app’s support for Touch ID in an iOS 8 review on stage. AgileBits, the developers behind 1Password, mentioned the shoutout in their latest release notes for an updated version of the iPhone and iPad app which brings a list of new improvements.

The latest version of 1Password for iPhone and iPad brings an improvement to the app’s lock screen when using Touch ID. Specifically, 1Password now moves the lock out of the way when using Touch ID as seen on stage in Federighi’s demonstration. This change means users unlocking 1Password to access stored passwords using the Touch ID fingerprint scanner can see more of the lock screen artwork. The update also brings speak improvements to the lock screen as well as folder syncing improvements for iCloud users and additional improvements.

1Password for iPhone and iPad is available for free on the App Store (a $9.99 in-app purchase unlocks pro features), and you can read the latest change log below. Read more

Apple developing iOS 8.1, 8.2, & 8.3 in shift for 2015 launches

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Starting with iOS 5 in 2011, Apple has released a major new iOS version each fall and a notable follow-up update early in the following year. For example, iOS 6 launched in September 2012 and was updated to iOS 6.1 in January, and iOS 7, which was launched in September 2013, was updated to iOS 7.1 with CarPlay and interface improvements in March 2014. But starting with the recently released iOS 8, it appears that Apple has a different development schedule for 2015 and perhaps beyond. According to sources, Apple is already hard at work on three major follow-up versions to iOS 8: iOS 8.1, iOS 8.2, and iOS 8.3.

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We’ve confirmed that these major new versions are in development via two means. First, a developer of a major hardware-connected iOS application has shared with us their analytics, and this data indicates that all three versions are in testing by Apple employees in or around Cupertino, California. Second, and much closer to home, our own Google Analytics for 9to5Mac.com show that iOS users are visiting our website via iOS 8.1, iOS 8.2, and iOS 8.3 devices. iOS 8.1 hits to 9to5Mac.com started appearing even months before iOS 8.0 launched, but 8.2 and 8.3 visits only started picking up following iOS 8’s release in mid-September.

8.3 9to5iOS 8.3 visits to 9to5Mac

While Apple works on several iOS features and enhancements over the course of several years, it typically only begins wholly testing major new releases close to the ship dates of the preceding release. Apple working on three significant follow-ups to iOS 8 is a shift from the usual development cycle, one which would normally indicate Apple to be working on just iOS 8.1 as well as iOS 9.0. It’s possible that iOS 9 is also in the works, and of course Apple is always working on nominal bug fix (x.x.1 or .2 or .3) updates, but the fact that 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 are all in simultaneous development raises some interesting possibilities:

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Live blog: Apple’s Eddy Cue and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine interviewed at Code Conference

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Cue on the right, Iovine on the left

Earlier today, Apple announced that it has acquired Beats Electronics and Beats Music for a total of $3 billion. Tonight, two of the masterminds behind the deal will be interviewed about a range of topics at the Code Conference. Apple Senior Vice President of Software and Services Eddy Cue along with Beats co-founder and music mogul Jimmy Iovine will be interviewed by Re/code’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. Previously, Cue was scheduled to be interviewed alongside Apple Senior Software Vice President Craig Federighi, but it appears that the acquisition’s announcement changed up the plans. We are on hand for the interview and we will be providing live coverage below. The interview starts around 8PM Pacific/11PM Eastern Standard time:

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Apple confirms WWDC 2014 keynote to be held Monday, June 2nd at 10 AM PT; new hardware likely

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Apple’s Craig Federighi (Getty)

This morning, Apple revealed the schedule for next month’s Worldwide Developers Conference. To start things off, an Apple keynote will be held from 10AM to 12PM on Monday, June 2nd at Moscone West. Apple typically holds keynote addresses to kick off WWDC, but this schedule serves as the first direct confirmation from Apple. The event will likely be led by Apple CEO Tim Cook with assistance from Senior VPs Craig Federighi and Eddy Cue, who have some new software and services announcements, respectively…

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iOS 8: Apple considers Notification Center + Messages tweaks, removing Game Center app

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Besides adding new Maps, Healthbook, and iTunes Radio applications, Apple plans to enhance and refine the functionality of some of its current pre-bundled applications and features for iOS 8. Here is a list, provided by sources, of some of the refinements Apple is considering for select applications and system functions in iOS 8:

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iOS 8: Apple polishes Maps data, adds public transit directions service

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Apple is readying an upgraded version of its iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch Maps application for the next major release of iOS in an effort to battle Google for mobile maps supremacy, according to sources briefed on the plans. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Senior Vice Presidents Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, and Maps head Patrice Gautier are using the new app to move toward fulfilling a promise to users that the iOS Maps application will eventually live up to the “incredibly high standard” of Apple’s customers…

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