Apple Music just announced a new feature to share your music preferences with friends

Apple debuted a brand new feature for its music service Apple Music at WWDC on Monday, even as rumors swirled that Apple Music’s high profile marketing chief, Bozoma Saint John, may be leaving soon.

The new feature is called Friends Are Listening To, which, as the name suggests, allows you to discover what music your friends on Apple Music are listening to. The feature can be adjusted to be public or private, so no worries if your music tastes lean toward the corny or embarrassing — you can control how you share your tunes.

In addition to the new feature, Apple also announced a big milestone for the music service: Apple Music now has 27 million subscribers.

And finally, Apple announced MusicKit, which will give Apple Music access to third party developers who want to integrate apps into Apple Music. One of the examples Apple listed was the ability to automatically add songs from your Shazam app to your Apple Music list. 

The absence of Saint John, who presented Apple Music at last year’s WWDC, is prominent considering the fact that Apple not only gave her the stage, but Saint John was also featured in a major Apple Music commercial. But despite the unexpected change in leadership, it appears that Apple Music is pushing forward in terms of competing in the new landscape of streaming music services. 

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The sequel to the amazing Monument Valley is now available for iOS

Apple had one surprise on stage that you can check out immediately – Monument Valley 2, the sequel to the amazing, beautiful isometric puzzle game from developer ustwo launched on stage, and can be purchased now.

The game is $4.99 on the U.S. App Store, and is optimized for both iPhones and iPads. The plot of the game revolves around game protagonist Ro introducing her daughter to the architectural puzzle world she occupies. The game doesn’t require you to have played the previous instalment, however; ustwo says you can jump right into the new version without missing anything critical.

If you’ve never played any Monument Valley before, you’re in for a treat; these games are stunning both visually, and in terms of sound design. You should definitely go ahead and plug in your headphones to enjoy it, though – it’s immersive and really helps with the overall experience.

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You really can’t go wrong picking this up, so go ahead and grab it at the link above. And then, if you haven’t played the original, go back and get that, too. It’s a lot cheaper than the new iPad Pros.

Apple announces new 10.5-inch iPad Pro

Apple announced a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro and a refreshed 12.9-inch model today at its Worldwide Developers Conference. They ship next week with the 10.5-inch model starting at $649 for a model with 64GB of memory, or $779 for a 64GB cellular version. The 12.9-inch version starts at $799 for 64GB of storage and Wi-Fi, or $929 for 64GB of storage with cellular connectivity. The can come with up to 512GB of storage. Both iPads are powered by the new A10X six-core CPU and include a 12-core GPU. They support HDR video with a 120hz refresh rate. Apple says this is ideal for the Apple Pencil because it’s more responsive and drops the latency rate to 20 milliseconds. That refresh rate dynamically adjusts depending on what you’re viewing for smarter power conservation. The True Tone display is also 50 percent brighter than earlier models.

The new iPad Pros also feature a a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera along with a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. Both should last for 10 hours on a single charge. In addition to the iPad, Apple is launching new sleeves and accessories, like a leather sleeve for both that start at $129.

The news follows Apple’s release of another new iPad earlier this year, that it simply calls iPad. That device is 9.7-inches and replaced the iPad Air 2. The price of the iPad has also dropped, too, with a 32GB Wi-Fi model starting at $329, and 32GB Wi-Fi and Cellular model going for $459.

Developing. Check out our WWDC live blog for the latest updates!

Apple Music hits 27M paid subs, adds MusicKit API and social listening

Ping is still dead but Apple Music is becoming more social, and more flexible so it can work with all your other devices or apps. This slew of new features will roll out with iOS 11 this September.

Image via Compub

Today at WWDC Apple announced that Apple Music now has 27 million paid subscribers compared to Spotify’s 50 million. This shows its pre-installation plus free trial strategy is helping Apple Music catch up to Spotify with its free ad-supported tier.

Developers will now be able to the new MusicKit API to use your Apple Music subscription to play full songs in their apps. Developers can access your Cloud Library, pull your For You recommendations for music personalization, surface Featured music and charts to bubble up what’s most popular, and search through playlists, stations, and categories.

MusicKit will will power Nike+ Run integrations with your playlists, the ability to instantly add songs to your library that you identify with Shazam, and let you DJ with all of Apple Music’s 40 million songs via podcasting app Anchor. MusicKit gives Apple Music a competing developer platform to Spotify’s range of APIs and SDKs that similarly let paid subscribers bring their music collection and all of Spotify’s songs to other apps.

The new AirPlay 2 bakes multi-room audio speaker control directly into iOS via HomeKit so you can easily play songs in specific parts of your house with Apple Music. The new watchOS 4 also comes with some Apple Music improvements, including a better interface, multiple playlist syncing, and a simpler AirPods experience.

Apple Music user profiles are becoming more social. If you connect with a friend via Apple Music, you’ll be able to see what they’re listening most or hearing right now so you can tune in to the same jams. For privacy, you’ll be able to choose whether your listening activity is public or private. Again, this replicates the social listening features Spotify debuted with Facebook back in 2011. Friends will also be able to add music to your Up Next queue, which is like a lightweight veresion of Spotify’s collaborative playlists.

Image via Cody Crouch

Apple appears to be taking Spotify’s platform and social playbook, and making these features accessible in the layman’s streaming music app. While Spotify focuses its own algorithmic music discovery playlists like Discover Weekly, Apple is trying to convert former MP3 buyers into a new generation of streamers by focusing on simplicity and adaptability.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin

Apple’s WatchOS 4.0 improves activity tracking, adds intelligent Siri watch face

Why it matters to you

If you’re an Apple Watch owner — or thinking of becoming one — the device is about to get a lot smarter and easier to use.

Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the latest and greatest iteration of WatchOS, its smartwatch operating system. WatchOS 4, as the new version is called, was unveiled at Apple’s WWDC, and boasts a number of great new features.

Perhaps the biggest change to WatchOS comes in the form of a slew of new watch faces, and the smartest and most interesting of those has to be the new Siri watch face. As the name suggests, this face intelligently selects information that you might need at any given moment — and that information will change throughout the day. The face will pull from apps like the Calendar app, as well as the Home app, to offer controls for smart home devices that you often use at a certain time of the day.

The Siri face isn’t the only new watch face — Apple also continued its partnership with Disney, and will offer watch faces for Toy Story’s Woody, Jessie, and Buzz, as well as an update to the Kaleidoscope watch faces, which offer a slightly less intelligent but slightly more visual take on the Apple Watch watch face.

Of course, one of the most important features of the Apple Watch is its fitness tracking, and Apple has improved the watch’s Fitness and Workout apps. The Workout app now supports custom workout algorithms for high-intensity training, which will be helpful for those who prefer to work out at the gym rather than going on runs or swimming.

You can also now much more quickly and easily start a new workout while you’re already in a workout — simple swipe left and hit the “+” button, then scroll through the workouts available. Apple is also now working with gym equipment manufacturers to deploy NFC chips — meaning you’ll get the information from gym equipment on your watch, which should make for more accurate tracking.

The last major update in WatchOS 4.0 comes in the form of the Music app, which will now automatically update selected playlists and favorites that you can play using your AirPods.

The WatchO 4S update perhaps isn’t as big as previous updates to the operating system, but the changes that are coming should help refine the Apple Watch experience a little more.

Apple debuts iMac Pro with beefy specs, real ports, $5K starting price

Hardcore Mac fans may have had their fingers crossed for the return of the Mac Pro, but an extra “i” slipped in there somehow, and Apple instead has produced an iMac Pro. It’s a wallet-busting all-in-one workstation, and it looks handsome and sinister in a dark grey finish.

The iMac Pro has more or less the same look and feel as the 27-inch, 5K iMac we first saw in 2015 (though now it’s more like the $5K iMac, am I right?). But the engineers at Apple have once again reinvented the thermal qualities of the case — hopefully a little more carefully this time — in order to accommodate some hot new specs.

You get an Intel Xeon processor and, depending on how much you love cores, you get 8, 10 or 18 of them. The GPU is a Radeon Vega setup with up to 16 GB of VRAM — great for developers, especially in VR. Perhaps excessive is the up to 128 GB of system RAM you can get, but I’m sure someone out there is saying “finally!”

The one spec that didn’t really impress is the storage. A 4 terabyte SSD will fill up mighty fast if you’re really doing the HD video editing and game development Apple expects you to. External drives, NAS units and all that other stuff will be must-have add-ons.

Considerately, there is a nice little spread of ports on the back:

That’s your SDXC port, 4 USB 3 ports, 4 Thunderbolt (not Lightning) ports, Ethernet and — is that a headphone jack? Courageous!

It’s a nod to the professionals who love Macs but were dismayed by the recent MacBook Pro refresh making a clean sweep of all the “legacy” ports — i.e. ports used by millions in industries where “legacy” hardware and software is deeply embedded. Had Apple released an iMac Pro with 8 Lightning ports I think there might have been riots.

The price for this beast of a computer starts at $4,999 for a base configuration and, as you might imagine, rises precipitously from there. (Apple was careful to compare it to similarly priced workstations, not all-in-ones or ordinary desktops.)

“That iMac pro really is pretty badass,” said Tim Cook after the reveal. It ships in December.

Everything you need to know about macOS High Sierra

Wait no more, the new macOS is finally here. And it’s getting high. 

Apple unveiled the latest version of its Mac operating system at the June 5 WWDC in San Jose, California, and there are plenty of updates to get excited about. 

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, told the crowd of gathered developers that the new macOS is the “fully baked” High Sierra.

He went on to address all the new updates and refinements coming with High Sierra, starting with the Safari web browser. The big news is that it will now come complete with auto-play blocking. That means the High Sierra native browser will stop videos from playing as soon as you open up a new web page. 

It's high!

It’s high!

Image: Apple

Federighi also addressed privacy concerns, saying that “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” will come standard in the latest version of Safari. He clarified that this is not an add blocker, which Google is planning to add to its Crome browser, but rather works to increase users’ privacy as they surf around the web. 

Mail also got some updates, with Federighi noting that search in Mail now uses Spotlight. What’s more, there’s now an option for full-screen split view in Mail. Oh, and Federighi also gleefully explained that going forward “Mail [will use] 35 percent less disc space for storing you mail.”

Photos also got a big update, with the addition of neural networks capable of identifying and recognizing the faces of friends and family in your pics — which will then be synced across your devices. There’s also a bunch of new editing tools inside of photos, and 3rd parties are going to offer printing services for photo books straight from Photos.

Apple Files System is coming to High Sierra as the new default file management system, hopefully making that pesky task of managing your files just a bit easier. Notably, AFS has built-in crash protection, and native encryption. 

High Sierra is moving beyond the current video-compression standard of H.264 to a new standard of H.265. H.265 supports 4K, and is said to have 40 percent better compression than 264. This is a huge win for people with reams of video hoarding space on their hard drives.  

Federighi dropped a new version of Metal, known as Metal 2, noting that “Metal is not just about graphics, we’re also using it for machine learning.” Metal 2 can now be used for external graphics, as well as for virtual reality. 

In a nod to the gamers in the audience, Federighi announced both that Steam VR is coming to the Mac and that Unity and Unreal are bringing their engines to High Sierra. 

MacOS High Sierra is available today as a developer beta, with a public beta coming later this month. It will be available to everyone later this fall. 

WATCH: Adele’s Amazing Anniversary Surprise

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Apple introduces iOS 11

iOS 11 was the least surprising announcement of WWDC. Apple has announced new versions of its mobile operating system at its developer conference for years. While the final version of iOS 11 won’t be available until September, here’s what Apple has in store for you with iOS 11.

Apple CEO Tim Cook started by saying that iOS 10 is installed on 86 percent of iOS devices. Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi then introduced us to iOS 11’s new features. “There’s a big focus on technologies with iOS 11, but also new features,” Federighi said.

With iOS 11, stickers and iMessage apps are now more accessible with a shortcut drawer — there’s no need to tap multiple times to send a sticker. Now, conversations are automatically synchronized with iCloud and stay in sync. If you delete a message, it goes away everywhere. So say goodbye to the good old avalanche of outdated messages on your Mac when you come back from vacation.

When it comes to Apple Pay, you can now send money to other Apple Pay users — think Venmo or Square Cash. It’s built into iMessage when you want to send money. And if you receive money, you get an Apple Pay Cash card with a balance. You can spend this money using Apple Pay, send this money again or withdraw it to your bank account.

Siri is one of the big new updates in iOS 11. Siri is used on 375 million devices every month. With iOS 11, the voice sounds more natural with better inflections. You can now ask for translations using Siri — starting with Chinese, French, German, Italian and English.

And Siri is getting better at understanding the context, your interests and more. Apple calls this “Siri intelligence” and it affects the entire operating system. When somebody asks you “how far are you?”, iOS will look at your calendar to see where you’re supposed to go and suggest the answer in Messages. If you’ve been looking at Iceland travel tips, it’ll add Reykjavik to your autocorrect dictionary, suggest news stories about Iceland in the News app and more.

The camera app now also supports HEVC (also known as h.265). It should let you shoot better quality video with a smaller file size. And it looks like the image processing layer is getting an update as well as you should get better photos with the same old phone. You can edit live photos to choose a different main still photo. And just like Instagram’s Boomerang, you can make live photos go back and forth or loop. Apple added the Memories tab to the Photos app last year. With iOS 11, the company is adding new smart albums, including a #TBT album.

Control Center is receiving a major update. It looks completely new and features a ton of buttons. Apple doesn’t want you to swap between multiple tabs. For instance, you can adjust the brightness and pause the music on the same page. And if you want more details, you can 3D touch on a widget to get more features.

Apple updated the driving direction in Apple Maps with iOS 10. Now, with iOS 11 you get detailed maps for malls in American cities and airports — Americans are going to love this.

When you’re driving, iOS recognizes that you’re connected to the audio system with Bluetooth or uses the iPhone’s motion sensors to activate a new ‘do not disturb’ mode. With this mode, you don’t get any notifications and you can configure an auto-reply if somebody texts you.

AirPlay is receiving a major update. With AirPlay 2, you can connect multiple speakers using WiFi and control multiple speakers using your iOS device. Libratone, Devialet, Bose, B&O and more are all going to support AirPlay 2. But that’s not all. AirPlay 2 gets a developer API. Developers can finally play with AirPlay.

Developers will also be able to work with Apple Music thanks to a new MusicKit API. For instance, Shazam will be able to auto-add songs to an Apple Music playlist (finally).

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Phil Schiller talked briefly about App Store changes. The most important one is that the App Store is getting a brand new design. It looks a bit more like Apple News. ‘Today’ is going to give you the personalized app recommendations, while games get their own, separate tab. There will also be an ‘Apps’ tab to see recommendations from the App Store team.

Based on the demo, there will be a ton of text, images and content in general. It looks cleaner with a better layout and less taps. This redesign is long overdue anyway.

And that’s about it for iOS 11. Beta starts today and you can expect more tweaks over the summer. Everybody will be able to download iOS 11 for free in September.

Update: It turns out that Apple had a bunch of new things in store. At the end of the keynote, Federighi came back on stage to announce iPad-specific features. On the iPad, there’s now a dock at the bottom of the screen so that you can switch between apps more easily. And if you need to use two apps at once, you can drag and drop an app and snap it on the side using Split View.

Talking about Split View, the app picker is completely new. It features Control Center shortcuts as well as previews of recently opened apps. It’s much better than the tiny column of icons in iOS 10.

There’s a new Files app that lets you browse your files on your iPad and on your cloud services. And then you can drag and drop files between Mail and the Files app. Apps don’t work in silo anymore and it’s a big revolution for Apple.

You can now draw in the Notes app using the Apple Pencil, and Apple will make this text searchable using OCR. The camera app is also receiving native document scanning. When you take a screenshot, a tiny pop-up appears in the corner. If you tap on it, you can crop your screenshot and annotate it without having to open the Photos app.

In many ways, iOS on the iPad feels more like a traditional computer. There are floating windows, a dock and more. This is how Apple plans to make the iPad more powerful.

iOS 11 is going to work on iPad Air and later, iPad mini 2 and later, iPad 5th gen and later, iPhone 5s and later.

iOS 11 lets you send and receive money via iMessage with Apple Pay

Apple just announced on stage at its Worldwide Developer’s Conference that Apple Pay is getting person-to-person payments. The feature will come in iOS 11, which was announced on stage, and will be available later this year.

It’s an obvious swipe at the part of the payments market that apps like Venmo, PayPal, and Square Cash have cornered. But there’s a catch — P2P payments with Apple Pay will live inside iMessage, and it’s unclear if Apple will let users perform them outside of its messaging app. Also, the money will be transferred to something called an “Apple Pay Cash Card,” and Apple didn’t say if that can then be transfered to your own bank account. That means Apple is not only coming for the Venmos of the world, but maybe the banks themselves.

Developing. Check out our WWDC live blog for the latest updates!