Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

WWDC 2015 keynote: The fine print

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Trying to digest everything that Apple announces at a keynote is like cramming an entire pizza into your mouth—delicious, but inadvisable.1

Now that the main show is over, I’ve combed through Apple’s site and press releases to try and find more about those details that didn’t make the cut for the presentation, as well as those announcements that may have been glossed over.

Apple Music

Apple Music
  • The Apple Music $15/month family deal requires iCloud Family Sharing to be active. That service has had some…problems, which might be a deal-breaker for some.
  • You can download Apple Music albums and playlists to play offline, according to my former colleague Heather Kelly, but only if you’re a paid member.

  • If you’re already a Beats user, your account will transfer to Apple Music when that launches on June 30.

  • You can sync Apple Music tracks to your Apple Watch without your iPhone present.

  • This is how Apple explains Apple Music: “With an Apple Music membership, your entire library lives in iCloud. We compare every track in your collection to the Apple Music library to see if we have a copy. If we do, you can automatically listen to it straight from the cloud. If you have music that’s not in our catalog, we upload those songs from iTunes on your Mac or PC. It’s all in iCloud, so it won’t take up any space on your devices.” Clear as mud. So it replaces iTunes in the Cloud, presumably? But not iTunes Match, because …

  • … Apple says “Apple Music and iTunes Match are independent but complementary.” Okay. Uh. Great.

  • Despite being a one-stop shop for music, as Apple says it wants Apple Music to be, there are two different tiers here. Log in with your Apple ID and you can follow artists and view their feeds on Connect, listen to Beats 1 as well as Apple Music radio stations with limited skipping. Paid members will get unlimited skips on those radio stations, play and save Connect content (so I guess you can’t listen to songs or videos that artists share there?), unlimited listening from the Apple Music library and the ability to add that music to your library, use that offline listening mentioned above, and get those expert music recommendations.

  • In the keynote they mentioned very briefly that an Android app for Apple Music is coming this fall. That, I believe, marks the first Android app that Apple has ever built.2 However, Android users must be paid Apple Music subscribers—there’s no free tier for them.

watchOS 2

Apple Watch Activation Lock
  • The Apple Watch will offer Activation Lock as of watchOS 2, which should help avoid that issue where someone could essentially wipe and restart an Apple Watch without knowing the passcode.
  • Two of the five time-lapse faces for the Apple Watch are for China: Shanghai and Hong Kong. By comparison, one depicts a U.S. city—New York—one shows a European city—London—and one shows a non-urban U.S. location—Mack Lake. (And if that doesn’t give you an idea of where Apple is targeting its interest, consider the list of cities where mass transit directions roll out first: Baltimore, Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, New York City, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto and Washington D.C., as well as over 300 cities in China, including Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai [emphasis added].) (Update: It appears that China has a centralized source for transit information, which makes it easier to implement than the hodgepodge of sources they have to deal with elsewhere.)


  • Speaking of transit directions, Apple says Apple Pay will let Londoners pay for the Tube. I’m unclear on whether that means the phone itself will act as a card using NFC, or if you can simply top up your existing card using Apple Pay’s contactless payment. (The former was a previous Wish List item.) (Update: Numerous Twitter followers have pointed out that the turnstiles in the Tube are themselves contactless readers that let you use credit/debit cards at point of entry. So that’s how that works.)
  • Apple says you can now “double-click the Home button when your iPhone is locked to access Wallet and quickly pay with Apple Pay.” I’m assuming that’s to let you bring up loyalty or store cards that use barcodes, instead of the Apple Pay cards, which pop up when you get close to a contactless reader.

  • Unsurprisingly, you can save stories from the new iOS News app to read offline.

  • CarPlay now plays audio messages. I feel like the Venn diagram of CarPlay users and regular audio message users has a pretty small intersection, but sure.

  • That picture-in-picture video playback they showed off? It works for FaceTime video calls too.

  • The iPad productivity features rolled out today are truly fascinating, but here’s a question: how does the new “multitouch keyboard works as a trackpad” mesh with “better hardware keyboard support”? My first instinct says that they’re mutually exclusive.

  • The new Reminders feature that can ping you when you get to your car? Yeah, I have no idea how that works. I mean, my car is generally parked right outside my house. Are the location services really that sensitive? (Update: Numerous Twitter followers have suggested that this works by noting when your phone connects to the Bluetooth system in your car—should your car actually have one. That seems by far the most sensible answer, though I’m still a little confused how it knows you’re connecting to a car and not just, say, a set of Bluetooth speakers. Many cars, like mine, essentially show up as headsets/Bluetooth audio. Presumably Apple could hardcode the device names for all the major car manufacturers, but that leaves out third-party systems and it’s just plain messy.)

  • When you start writing an email to someone, the proactive intelligence features on iOS will suggest other people you usually email at the same time.

  • I love the feature where, when you get a call from an unknown number, iOS will scan your email and make suggestions about who it might be. Mostly because I got two unknown calls during the keynote itself, and it would have been great to know who was bugging me.

  • In addition to iOS updates being smaller, you can now have your device update overnight, à la OS X, or when Apple thinks you’re using your device the least. (Based, presumably, on those same proactive features.)

  • The new power management capabilities can use the light and proximity sensors to figure out when an iOS device is facedown on a table and not light up the screen for incoming notifications. Which is a pretty darn smart way to save battery life.

  • Passcodes on iOS devices that support Touch ID are now six digits by default, instead of four. That ups it from 10,000 possible combinations to 1 million, which is a significant security increase. Great move, though I wish it applied to those iOS devices that don’t have Touch ID too. Better security is always a plus.

  • Speaking of security, Apple briefly mentioned two-factor authentication during the keynote. What that apparently means is that when you sign into a new device (or into a browser session) with your Apple ID, you’ll have to verify it with a code from another device. That’s optionally available for iCloud users now, but I think this means it will be mandated and more deeply integrated.

iOS Migration App

  • Not mentioned at all in the keynote: there’s a whole new app for migrating from Android to iOS. (The second of Apple’s Android apps.) Download it onto your Android device and it wirelessly and securely moves “contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and DRM-free songs and books.” It’ll even scan for apps you’ve installed on Android and suggest you download iOS counterparts for free apps, like Facebook or Twitter, and add paid apps to your Wish List. Shades of Migration Assistant. This will also, I imagine, be super helpful to Apple Store personnel helping new iPhone users set up their handsets.


  • In Mail on OS X, you’ve long been able to hover over a date or time and click on it to create a calendar event. OS X will now cut out the middleman—i.e. you—and create a suggested calendar event. Although I can see that this might yield a lot of events you don’t want to accept.
  • Adding contacts from Mail messages has also been streamlined down to a single click. And it can update you when one of your contacts changes their email address.

  • You can swipe right on Mail messages to mark them as read or unread. I’m hoping that, as on iOS, you’ll also be able to use this for flagging messages instead of read status.

  • Speaking of Mail, I’m curious about how Craig Federighi’s example of “show me all the emails I’ve ignored from Phil” knows what “ignored” means. Messages not replied to, presumably?

  • Third-party photo-editing extensions are now available on the Mac; they were previously limited to iOS.

  • There are streamlined workflows for identifying locations and faces in Photos on OS X.

  • You can AirPlay audio from “compatible” (presumably H.264 or other supported formats) videos in Safari without having to show your screen with AirPlay mirroring, or switching all of your audio output.

Safari Mute Tabs

  • The Safari mute tab feature—possibly one of the best little features shown off today—can also be used to mute all tabs from your browser.
  • There are new fonts and input methods for Chinese and Japanese text, including improved drawing characters on a trackpad and quicker word recognition for Japanese text entry.

  1. Please do not cram an entire pizza in your mouth. 

  2. But it’s actually one of two! See below. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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