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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iOS 9 Transit Maps to launch in a handful of cities in North America, Europe & China

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While Apple plans to debut its own mass transit directions service for Maps in iOS 9 as soon as June, the rollout will not be as ambitious as some users may have hoped. In its first iteration, Apple’s Transit service will only support approximately a half-dozen cities across the United States, Canada, and Europe, in addition to China, according to sources…

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Google Maps for iOS adds POI quick facts, upcoming events for select venues, more

Google is packing even more useful information into the latest version of its Maps app for iOS. Google Maps 4.3.0 for iPhone and iPad adds several contextual data points to locations like nearby businesses for address searches, quick facts for notable locations, and even event information for select venues. 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.

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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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Google Maps for iOS updated with lane guidance, improved offline maps, Uber integration

Google released a major feature update to Google Maps for iOS today bringing a handful of useful features for navigation and travel with your iPhone and iPad including integration with the private transportation service Uber.

First up is a feature found on many dedicated GPS devices: lane guidance. The feature will present which lane is necessary with current directions to help you avoid missing important turns. Notably, Apple’s Maps software does not currently offer this feature. Google says lane guidance is currently only available for users in the US and Canada… Read more

Everything to know about iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 (Roundup + New Details)

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While Apple only officially announced its 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last week, we have been reporting all of the known information about what Apple plans to unveil at the event over the course of the past few months. Now that WWDC is official, we have compiled a roundup of everything we know about Apple’s next-generation iOS device and Mac operating systems below, and we’ve also included some new tidbits not found in our earlier reporting. You can find out what there is to know so far about iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 below:

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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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Google Maps coming to iPad this summer, updated with new design, improved rating system, in-app offers, much more

We showed you significant updates to Google Maps which leaked early this morning, and Google just announced updates to Maps at Google I/O.

Google also announced that its Maps API is used by over 1 million active sites and accessed by 1 billion unique visitors weekly.

Maps will now feature a 5 star rating system for locations across all platforms. Users can now swipe across results in a simple, gesture user interface. Zagat reviews are now more prominent with badges and cards simplifying its appearance. These cards now include a new Offers experience with partners including Starbucks.

Google Maps for Mobile also includes improvements to rerouting in transit and explore features. Google Maps for iPad was demoed during the keynote, which we expect to see with the iPhone update this summer. Read more