The service, called Apple Music, was expected since last year when the electronics company paid $3 billion for Beats Music. The new subscription product, out June 30, will cost $9.99 a month — or $14.99 for a “family plan” that requires iCloud Family Sharing — after a three-month free trial. It will be available to Android phones this fall.
Apple Music will be “one complete thought” says music mogul Jimmy Iovine who joined the company with the Beats deal. “Online music has become a complicated mess of apps, services and websites,” he adds. “Apple Music brings the best features together for an experience every music lover will appreciate.”
Users can pick the songs they want to hear or give commands such as “Play me the best songs” from a particular year or period. It also will offer curated programming, including a full time worldwide radio-like station — Beats 1 — that will have outposts in New York, Los Angeles, and London. In addition to music, it will offer interviews and shows. The service will offer human-picked suggestions based on users’ playlists. Performers can directly upload work, including videos.
This is the biggest announcement from the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference — which offered few surprises and nothing about Apple’s long-awaited TV streaming service. Apple shares are down less than 1% this afternoon, while new rival Pandora’s shares are off 3.7%.
One of the most noteworthy new developments is a news reader, called News, that looks a lot like Flipboard and replaces Newsstand. ESPN, Conde Nast, Time Inc., The New York Times, and Hearst will provide content, but still offer their own apps. News will track users’ reading habits to anticipate stories that might interest them.
The company’s Apple Watch has a new watchOS that supports native apps, and will invite developers to write for it. “For us, this is a giant moment,” CEO Tim Cook said about the company’s latest device. Users will be able to reply to emails directly from the watch, and see transit info including the time for the next subway arrival. Apple added watch faces, and will enable users to create their own from personal photos or album covers. Owners also can select the kinds of info they want to see.
The OS X operating system for Macs, to be called El Capitan, will be available in the fall and improve search capabilities within emails and across programs.
The new iOS 9 for iPhones and iPads, also available in the fall, will make Apple’s Siri search system more proactive. For example it will be able to look through your emails to tell you who’s calling. The company also promises that it will extend battery life by an hour.
iPad Air 2 users will be able to multitask, use the keyboard as a track pad, and plug in a keyboard.
Apple will work with payments company Square to develop a near-field communications device making it easier for small businesses to use Apple Pay with iPhones. Apple Pay also will come to the UK next month.