Apple’s integration of song identification service Shazam was among a host of new features introduced along with two new operating systems at its Worldwide Developers Conference on June 2. But company executives onstage never mentioned newly acquired headphone vendor Beats Electronics or streaming service operator Beats Music, even as they introduced hip-hop producer and Beats co-founder Dr. Dre as a new Apple employee.
In its newly redesigned mobile and tablet operating system, iOS 8, users will be able to ask the voice-activated Siri personal assistant to identify songs via Shazam. A tie-up with Shazam was reported in April.
“We have song recognition with Shazam, so now if you just start up Siri and there’s a song playing around you, it’ll tell you what it is, and you can even purchase it right there, from within Siri,” said senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi during the onstage presentation at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
Shazam takes a referral fee from Apple for songs that a user purchases from the iTunes store after identifying them with its app. The London-based company has raised $120 million to date, including $20 million in March 2014 at a $500 million valuation.
Federighi briefly touched on Siri’s new features, including a hands-free activation that a user can trigger by saying, “Hey, Siri,” into the phone. Federighi implied, but did not say explicitly, that the iPhone’s microphone will always be turned on in order to pick up the user’s command.
Apple paid $3 billion to acquire Beats in a deal revealed last week, but none of Apple’s executive presenters alluded to its acquisition, save for the introduction of Dre via a demonstration of a new desktop-as-speakerphone feature.
Federighi and CEO Tim Cook showed off a revamp of its OS X operating system, dubbed Yosemite, that included the speakerphone feature, as well as desktop caller ID and other integrations with a nearby iPhone.
The OS X Yosemite update includes various tweaks, including cloud-based document-sharing system iCloud Drive, the MailDrop system for sharing large attachments via email, a new Spotlight search function integrated with apps, and an updated notification center. Apple also revamped its Safari browser.
The company’s Continuity feature now includes iPhone-to-Mac wireless tethering, and a function called Handoff that shifts content -- “what you’re working on,” Federighi said -- from one device to another.
For iOS 8, Apple displayed a revamped messaging system that includes voice recording, video, and an improved group-text function that allows users to add and remove themselves from a thread or mute it entirely. The new OS also features improved notifications, search functions, and a predictive text system that learns a user’s frequently-used words and phrases.
Elsewhere, Apple introduced an improved cloud-based photo app, a family-sharing system that includes parental notifications for app purchases, and an integrated health app that allows patients to create profiles, log personal metrics, and communicate with doctors.
Cook said the previous version of OS X, dubbed Mavericks, has been adopted faster than any other system in history, reaching 51% of users since it was introduced last fall. He poked fun at Microsoft, noting that adoption of Windows 8 has reached 14% since its launch in October 2012.
Apple wowed developers with a new programming language, Swift, described by Federighi as a next-generation version of the Objective-C language “without the baggage of C.” Programmers typically use Objective-C, a language that has been around since the early 1980s, to build apps for Apple’s operating systems via its application programming interfaces, or APIs. Objective-C itself was built atop C, which dates to the early 1970s. Federighi described Swift as faster than its predecessor, with a feature that allows programmers to preview the effects of code easily as the code is being written.
The conference’s history now spans nearly 25 years. Apple hosted 1,300 developers at its first conference in 1990, Cook said; the company now has 9 million registered developers, up 47% since last year.