At WWDC, Apple Unveils New OS X El Capitan, iOS 9 and More

Apple adds a wealth of new features and refinements to its desktop and mobile operating systems, and delivers lots of new developer tools.

Apple, OS X El Capitan, iOS 9, Siri, Safari, developers, WWDC

Apple users will find lots of new features and performance updates and other enhancements in the next versions of Apple's OS X and iOS operating systems, which the company unveiled June 8 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

The upcoming changes in the iOS 9 mobile operating system are wide-ranging—including new built-in transit maps that will first be available in a select group of cities, improvements aimed at extending battery life on mobile devices, and an expansion of services using the Siri personal digital assistant.

The next version of Apple's OS X desktop operating system, now called El Capitan, will bring users faster performance and new gestures in the Mail application that will allow them to read or delete messages by swiping them.

Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, introduced the new OS X and iOS versions at the event, noting that the improvements in both are aimed at providing Apple customers with better experiences and performance. Both new versions will be available to users for free in the fall.

In OS X El Capitan, the Mail application gets a number of improvements and ease-of-use features, including the ability to delete messages or mark them unread by swiping them side-to-side, while a new button on the browser tabs will identify which tabs are playing sounds so they can be quickly shut off.

Also new in El Capitan is improved windows management and a mission-control interface to allow users to customize their experience.

Performance of OS X El Capitan will also be improved and optimized throughout the system, with app launches that are expected to be 1.4 times faster than the existing OS X Yosemite version, app switching that's expected to be twice as fast and PDF opening in preview mode that will be four times faster than today's OS, according to Federighi.

iOS 9

With the next version of Apple's mobile operating system, the company wanted to "elevate the foundations," said Federighi. To do that, iOS 9 will include improvements that will extend battery life on mobile devices, bolster personal security, expand the use of Siri and introduce built-in transit maps for iOS users. To start, transit maps will only be available in Baltimore, Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto, Washington, D.C., and in China, but more cities will be added over time.

The upcoming iOS 9 will also gain the ability to let users work in side-by-side windows on the iPad; many users have wanted this feature for some time.

One key change for Siri is that the personal assistant will become more proactive rather than reactive, Federighi said, by automatically adding an invitation to a user's calendar without any intervention.

Siri will also gain the ability to see a phone number of an unknown incoming call by looking at a user's emails to see if the person calling is identifiable through a phone number in a previous email. "Now, Siri can look in your email and tell you who it might be," Federighi said.

The upcoming iOS 9 will also be able to bring up apps automatically for users based on their use history, such as starting up a music app when a user plugs in their headphones.

Adding such intelligence, however, won't leave users vulnerable to privacy concerns, he said. "We're adding intelligence in a way that does not compromise your privacy," said Federighi. "[The data] is all on the device, and it all stays on your device, all under your control. If we do have to do a data lookup on your behalf [for traffic or other conditions], it is anonymous."

Apple Pay

Apple Pay is also expanding in iOS 9, with the ability to add store credit cards in the app, said Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay. You can already use debit cards and credit cards with the app.

Apple Pay will also add storage of a user's store loyalty and rewards cards so that the information is automatically presented when making a purchase, she said. In addition, Discover credit cards will be accepted by Apple Pay starting in the fall, while Square will begin accepting Apple Pay in July. Apple Pay will expand to the United Kingdom in July, as well.