Apple Pay in UK, new OS X: Five things we learnt from WWDC 2015

PCR rounds up all the news including details of Apple's new music streaming service
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Apple made a string of big announcements at its Worldwide Developers Conference 2015, including details of Apple Pay in the UK and fresh operating systems.

Here's five things you need to know from this year's event: 

1. Apple Pay is coming to the UK next month

Apple announced that from July Apple Pay will be available to customers in the UK, letting them pay in shops using their iPhone or Apple Watch by placing it next to a contactless reader (while keeping a finger on Touch ID).

At launch, over 250,000 locations will accept Apple Pay, with support from eight of the UK’s major banks, as well as all of the top credit and debit card networks, and several apps.

When adding a credit or debit card, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple servers. Instead, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and stored in the Secure Element on your device, and each transaction is authorised with a one-time security code.

iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch users will be able to make purchases anywhere contactless payments are accepted. When paying for goods and services within apps, Apple Pay is compatible with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3.

2. New OS X El Capitan boasts improved performance

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Apple has revealed OS X El Capitan, a new version of OS X that aims to refine the Mac experience and improves system performance. El Capitan introduces enhancements to window management, built-in apps and Spotlight search.

Metal, Apple’s graphics technology, is integrated into El Capitan, which Apple says is improving performance gains and enabling games and pro apps to tap into the power of Mac graphics processors.

OS X El Capitan refinements begin with the new system font, San Francisco, designed for a Retina display. When the desktop gets crowded, users can drag a window to the top of the screen to access the new Spaces Bar in Mission Control and create a new 'Space', OS X’s way to group applications. 

Safari now features Pinned Sites to keep favourite websites open and active in the tab bar, and a new mute button can quickly silence browser audio from any tab. Mail introduces Smart Suggestions, which recognise names or events in an email message and prompts the user to add them to their contacts or calendar with a click. You can also now swipe to delete messages, like in iOS.

3. Apple Music will feature a 24-hour global radio station

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Apple has unveiled Apple Music - a streaming service designed to rival the likes of Spotify.

Apple Music gives users access to the full Apple music catalogue of more than 30 million songs, as well as programmed playlists and a 24-hour live radio station, Beats 1, headed by former BBC Radio One DJ Zane Lowe (who joined Apple earlier this year). Users can ask Siri for certain songs, for example, 'what was number one in February 2011?'.

Starting on June 30th, users will be invited to a three-month free membership, after which a $9.99 per month subscription fee will apply (UK pricing has not yet been announced). There will also be a family plan for up to six users priced at $14.99 per month. It will be available on the usual Apple devices first, then come to Apple TV and Android phones this autumn.

4. iOS 9 will let you split the screen to view two apps at once

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Apple has previewed its next mobile device operating system - iOS 9 - boasting improved search and Siri functions.

New multitasking features designed for iPad allow users to work with two apps simultaneously, side-by-side or with the new Picture-in-Picture feature, to keep watching a video while browsing the web, composing email or using any other app. 

iOS 9 also features 'battery optimisation' promising to provide a typical user with an additional hour of battery life, and a low-power mode to help further extend battery life. 

Siri features an all-new design in iOS 9, contextual reminders and new ways to search photos and videos. iOS 9 can also learn what you usually listen to in a certain location or at a particular time of day, so when you plug in headphones at the gym or hop in the car before work, it can automatically display playback controls for your preferred app. 

There are updates to the Maps app with support for metropolitan transit systems and schedules, with underground train station entrances and exits, plus the Notes app adds the ability to draw a quick sketch using your finger. A revised News app 'combines the rich, immersive design of a print magazine with the interactivity of digital media', combining articles from a variety of publishers.

iOS 9 will be available this autumn as a free software update for iPhone 4s and later, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and later. 

5. Apple Watch is getting an upgrade

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Apple has shown off watchOS 2, the first major software update for Apple Watch, letting developers build faster and more powerful apps for the smartwatch. Developers can now access the Digital Crown, Taptic Engine and heart rate sensor, along with software APIs, to build new apps.

The new OS will be available to Apple Watch users this autumn, and will also include new watch faces, third-party app information as watch face complications and new communication capabilities in Mail, Friends and Digital Touch.

A new Time Travel feature lets users scroll with the Digital Crown to explore events in the future (and past) including upcoming meetings or activities, the temperature for the week, and information from third-party apps, such as upcoming flight information.

Additional watchOS 2 features include:

  • Nightstand Mode that transforms Apple Watch into a bedside alarm clock, with the Digital Crown and side button serving as snooze and off buttons for the alarm;
  • The ability to use merchant rewards and store-issued credit and debit cards with Apple Pay, which can be added to Wallet;
  • Support for Transit in Maps, so you can view transportation maps and schedules, including walking directions to the nearest stations with entrances and exits
  • Workouts from third-party fitness apps contributing to your all-day Move and Exercise goals;
  • Using Siri to start specific workouts, launch Glances and reply to email
  • Activation Lock - this lets users secure their Apple Watch with their Apple ID, preventing another user from wiping or activating the device if it is lost or stolen.

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