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Mammoth Launch By Apple Leaves Fans, Critics Divided

Mammoth Launch By Apple Leaves Fans, Critics Divided

Some media attendees professed to be disappointed that CEO Tim Cook didn’t unveil any new gadgets – but new gadgets are a rarity indeed at WWDC: this is an event aimed at app developers and how they can use Apple’s latest technology to bring stunning new features to iOS, Mac OS and Watch OS screens.

And on that score Apple certainly didn’t disappoint.

Biggest announcement was the arrival of Apple Music, a streaming service that will compete with Spotify and Pandora. It will be available on iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, Macs, Apple TV and – a little later – Android smartphones. There’ll also be a new 24/7 Beats1 “radio station” anchored by DJs based in New York, Los Angeles, and London.

Apple Music will be available from June 30 in 100 nations, including Australia; US pricing is $9.99 a month; Australian pricing has yet to be announced, but the first three months will be free.

The Apple Watch gets a major update, Watch OS2, just six weeks after its launch – and yes, you’ll be able to watch video on it, though you may have to squint if you have the 38mm display version. Twitter’s Vine mobile video app will come to the Internet-connected wrist gizmo later this year.

Developers for the first time will have full access to key hardware features like the digital crown, taptic engine, heartrate sensor, accelerometer and microphone.

On the Mac, there’s a new version of Mac OS. Since it follows last year’s Yosemite version, it’s dubbed El Capitan – the name of the 3000ft sheer rock, pictured, that rises in the Yosemite National Park – and was memorably featured in Star Wars: the Final Frontier.

Major features include a Pinterest-type system for “pinning” favourite Web sites to the display; a new mute button to quickly silence browser audio from any tab; and a smarter version of Spotlight, Apple’s search system.

El Capitan will be available as a beta in July or a final version in the Australian spring.

New catch-up features on iOS, Apple’s operating system for smartphones and tablets, include true multi-tasking, allowing iPad users to work with two apps simultaneously side-by-side or, with a new picture-in-picture feature, to keep watching a video while browsing the Web.

Virtual assistant Siri is also getting smarter, automatically suggesting apps to launch or people to contact based on usage patterns, and notifying users when they need to leave for appointments.