The Five Big Things to Watch For at Today's Apple Event

Giving app developers easier tools

Can Apple’s Late Entry Revolutionize Streaming Music?

Software will be the star of Apple Inc.’s big event today.

The maker of iPhones and iPads will introduce software improvements for its computer and mobile devices at its annual developer conference for more than 5,000 engineers in San Francisco. The conference, called WWDC, starts Monday with a reveal of new updates, including the introduction of a revamped streaming music service, people familiar with the plans have said.

Apple depends upon third-party app developers to create software that help make its devices popular. The annual event allows Apple to encourage its partners along with directing them toward future developments. Apple application developers were paid $10 billion last year and $25 billion since the App Store was introduced, the company said in January.

“Apple needs to maintain its momentum and thought leadership coming out of WWDC,” Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester, wrote in an e-mail. Here's what to look for:

The Beats Go On

Apple’s new music app will be home to the subscription service, downloads and a revamped version of iTunes radio, people familiar with the effort have said. It will include some exclusive, behind the scenes video. Apple has hired executives to help shoot and produce video from recording sessions with willing musicians. The app will also feature artist pages — mostly seen as being promotional — that they can use to host videos, songs and other things for free. This is part of a program called Apple Connect. Apple will compensate the artists and labels for songs it gives away, as it has done with iTunes' "Free Song of the Week" feature.

Going Native

A software development kit will be previewed that will give engineers the ability to write programs on the new Apple Watch directly and access to the device’s sensors, Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, said last month at the Re/code conference. That new ability could help speed up third-party apps on the Watch, one of the big gripes since the device went on sale in April.

Apple Pay

Apple’s mobile payment service, which began last year, may get some enhancements including a rewards program that is seen as a way to keep consumers using the service, the New York Times reported.

A key question is whether Apple will disclose any numbers on usage, and whether the company has had any success in signing up more financial partners. 

Seeing Double

The new mobile operating software may for the first time allow for two apps running on an iPad to be shown at the same time, according to 9to5Mac. This could be helpful later this year as Apple pushes for more sales to business customers with the introduction of a larger-screen iPad.

Operation

Both OS X and iOS may see improvements to enhance performance. IOS 9 may look similar to the current mobile operating system but include  such items as beefed up security and additions to Maps, including mass transit directions, according to 9to5Mac. Apple may also have a competitor for Google Now, essentially a predictive personal assistant, code named Proactive that works to better integrate data on a user’s device, the website reported.

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