The Best Features of Apple’s Upcoming Software

OS X v10.11 Code Name: El Capitan

Finder: A new, larger mouse cursor that temporarily displays when a computer is awoken from sleep.

Safari: Users will be able to pin sites, reducing them to an icon. And a new audio icon allows users to mute websites and identify which tab is playing sound. And finally, AirPlay can now play video from a Web page to your Apple TV without showing everything else on the desktop.

Mail: Identifies events and contacts in email messages; offering to add them to your calendar or contacts list with a single click. This is probably just an enhanced interface for Apple’s long-standing Data Detectors technology, but if exposing it differently is what’s necessary for people to make use of it, great.

Photos: Apple is now promising a few heavily requested features for its replacement for iPhoto and Aperture. Most notable among these is support for third-party editing extensions that will be available from the Mac App Store and accessible within Photos itself. It doesn’t sound as though that will enable external editing in Adobe Photoshop, say, but it will go a long way toward enhancing the editing capabilities of Photos.
Apple also says that it will be possible to add a location to a single photo or to an entire Moment, and you’ll be able to sort photos within albums by date, title, and other metadata. Finally, a streamlined workflow is aimed at making it faster and easier to identify faces.

Maps: Apple has finally added transit directions to Maps, and while the feature has been a long time coming, it looks like the company has done a nice job. When you ask for transit directions, the display focuses on public transit lines instead of roads, and in places like New York City, where a subway station might lie under several city blocks, Apple has put a lot of effort into identifying exits in order to provide useful walking directions once you emerge, blinking, into the sunlight. Transit directions will be available in 12 cities around the United States and Europe to start, plus another 12 cities in China, and Apple said over 300 more were in the works.

Performance improvements are also a key part of El Capitan, with Apple saying that OS X will offer two-times faster performance when switching apps or getting messages in Mail. Opening a PDF in Preview, meanwhile, is said to be 4 times as fast as in Yosemite.

Details: At the moment, all we know about El Capitan’s availability is that it will arrive “this fall” and will be free. Give Apple’s past performance, that points toward a mid-to-late October release. Nothing was said about hardware compatibility at the keynote, but it turns out that El Capitan will run on all Macs that run Yosemite, Mavericks, and Mountain Lion. That’s an impressive record of backward compatibility.

iOS 9 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

Smarter Siri and Search: A key feature in the new Siri is enhanced intelligence: The personal assistant can now access photos, know when you get into your car, or connect Safari links to reminders.

"Siri Suggestions" also offer apps and contacts based on contextual information, such as recently downloaded software, or apps usually used around that time of day.

Search is also improved, with live sports scores, video search of popular video sites, and a dedicated API for search, allowing users to find content from apps installed on their device. Search results are also deep-linked into an application to provide quick access to information within apps.

Another feature of iOS 9 is to show "Now Playing" as soon as headphones are plugged in. This is contextually aware, so when plugging into a car, the iPhone might instead offer up an audiobook the user has been listen to.

In iOS 9, incoming calls can also help to identify unknown contacts. The new capabilities were showcased at WWDC on Monday by Apple software chief Craig Federighi.

In a demonstration, Federighi showed how he could read a text message, then tell Siri to "remind me about this later," and the system would automatically connect the two.

Spotlight Search in iOS 9 is once again located with a swipe to the left of the main home screen. There users can search, see Siri Suggestions, find recommended nearby information, and more.

Privacy is a key feature of the revamped Siri, with Apple noting that the data is anonymous, and is not associated with an Apple ID. Data is sent with a randomized identifier, and it's not linked to other Apple services or shared with third parties.

Application changes and improvements: Native apps in iOS 9 will be tweaked and improved, including two major changes to Passbook and Newsstand. Specifically, both will be renamed, to Wallet and News, representing broader capabilities for each.

The new iOS 9 Wallet will include credit cards, tickets and passes, but will also add support for store-specific cards. Apple also announced that transit in the U.K. will have compatibility with Apple Pay.

News, meanwhile, is a personalized way to access information, including interactive and personally curated content, much like Flipboard. Using a proprietary intelligent system, News learns what content you like and delivers it.

Beyond print and traditional news outlets, News will also support local newspapers, blogs, specialty publications, and more.

Notes has also been improved with the ability to sketch and include images within the app. Share Sheet support allows users to quickly add a link back into their notes. And a new attachments view shows everything included in a note.

Apple's Maps will also include built-in transit information, including buses, trains, subways and more. It also features multi-modal routing, allowing users to combine forms of transportation.

Apple Maps will also include step-by-step directions with estimated walking times. These include underground maps for subway stations and more, allowing users to more easily find where they are going.

Siri is also compatible with transit in Maps, but transit support will be limited at first to a handful of cities across the world.

Maps in iOS 9 also include easy search for nearby merchants, and even show if those businesses accept Apple Pay.

iPad-specific improvements: iOS 9 will have a number of features specific to Apple's iPad lineup. These include special shortcut buttons for cut, copy, paste and more in the QuickType menu bar.

Users can also use two-fingers to drag a cursor around conveniently. There are also new enhancements for hardware keyboards, like quick app switching and more.

Apple is also introducing split-screen multitasking for the iPad, including a feature dubbed "slide over" that allows quick access to built-in apps like Messages, Notes, Calendar, Photos, and more.

In addition to an overlay mode, users can also display two apps at once on the screen, pinning one app to the side. Both apps can then be interacted with at the same time, offering multi-app multi-touch.

iOS 9 also includes a picture-in-picture mode that allows users to watch a video, listen, and even resize it while accomplishing another task. Videos can even be pushed off the screen to prevent obstructing content, and the video can be removed with a quick tap.

Developers who have adopted auto layout and slide classes in their iPhone app will be able to easily support slide over. Slide over will be available on the iPad Air and newer, as well as all iPad mini models, while split-screen simultaneous apps are limited to the iPad Air 2.

Performance improvements: iOS 9 will offer on average an extra hour of uptime on the iPhone, thanks to improvements. Apple is also introducing a new low-power mode that can extend battery life for an additional three hours.

The amount of free space required to upgrade to iOS 9 has also been improved, drastically reducing from over 4 gigabytes for iOS 8 to 1.3 gigabytes for iOS 9 along with Automatic Overnight Updates.

Availability: iOS 9 will be supported by all devices that can run iOS 8. Developers have access to the first beta starting today, the public beta will start in July, and the official launch of iOS 9 will be this fall.

AppleWatch OS 2: 3rd-party complications, nightstand mode, native apps, more: Apple has a new feature called nightstand mode, which allows the Watch face to be viewed on its side for charging. When resting like this, the Digital Crown and side button can be used to snooze and end an alarm in the morning.

Starting with watchOS 2, developers will be able to create their own watch face complications. These will offer users the ability to add glanceable custom information like upcoming flights or sports scores.

Complications will also feature a new capability called "Time Travel," where users can rotate the Digital Crown on their Apple Watch to see information for later in the day, including calendar entries, weather, and more.

Friends can also be added more easily to favorite contacts in watchOS 2.

Siri will also be able to start workouts, without a user needing to touch the Watch to begin an activity. And third-party workout apps will be able to run natively on the device, and workouts will count toward goals in the Activity app.

Apple Pay on watchOS 2 will also include store cards and rewards cards, just like in iOS 9. Mass transit capabilities in Maps will also work on Apple Watch with the next gen operating system.

Apple Watch to get Activation Lock with watchOS 2: Apple's upcoming watchOS 2 will bring Activation Lock to the Apple Watch, the company quietly revealed on Monday via a new webpage for the operating system.

As on devices with iOS 7 or 8, Activation Lock will prevent someone from re-activating a lost or stolen Watch without a previously-linked Apple ID. One difference is that owners will need to turn on the feature using the Watch's companion iPhone app.

The lack of anti-theft measures for the Watch has been a recurring complaint. While there are some security measures in place, such as pass codes, Find My Watch, and automatic data wipes, these are more focused around protecting personal information and won't stop a thief from reusing or reselling the product, which can cost anywhere between $349 and $17,000.

Watch OS 2 will add a variety of features, such as native app support, third-party complications, a Nightstand mode, new faces, and public transit directions. Third-party apps will also have access to more hardware features, such as the accelerometer, microphone, and Digital Crown.

An early beta of watchOS 2 is currently available for developers, but the final software won't reach the public until this fall.

Apple's 'Move to iOS' app transports user data from Android to iPhone: With an eye on easing the transition from Android to the iOS ecosystem, Apple plans to offer switchers a special Android app that wirelessly transfers personal data, downloaded apps and other information over to a new iPhone.

According to Apple's iOS 9 preview webpage, Android users can rely on the Move to iOS app to transfer contacts, message history, photos and video, Web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars and even wallpapers. Certain content, like DRM-protected songs and e-books, are not eligible for transfer, though DRM-free media will be moved over automatically.

Not simply a bulk data mover, Move to iOS analyzes a user's free Android apps and makes suggestions to rebuild their catalog with iOS versions. Titles determined to be paid apps are added to their iTunes Wish List for later purchase. 

It is not yet clear when the app will be available, but the wireless transfer process appears to rely on iOS 9 assets.