Apple expected to use WWDC to unveil streaming music service, Watch software updates, more stable iOS

The opening keynote of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) annual Worldwide Developers Conference today is likely going to include the unveiling of the iPhone maker's new streaming music service, according to multiple reports. Apple has already teased that it will announce new software tools for the Apple Watch, and rumors indicate that Apple will be announcing a digital assistant competitor to Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Now.

According to a VentureBeat report, Sony Music CEO Doug Morris said in an interview on Sunday at the Midem music industry conference in Cannes that Apple will announce its new music streaming service today at WWDC. "It's happening tomorrow," Morris said during an interview, the report said. The keynote starts today at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

The Wall Street Journal and other outlets have reported that the service, meant to be a competitor to Spotify, Pandora and other streaming service, will be subscription-only and cost $10 per month. The WSJ reported that the service will let users listen to any song or album they choose, and Apple is also expected to change its free iTunes online radio offering by adding new channels programmed like traditional radio stations. Apple is expected to promote the new streaming service with a lengthy trial period and a major advertising campaign, the report added.

WWDC has traditionally been where Apple has announced new updates to its iOS and Mac OS operating systems, and that is likely to happen again, but the iOS updates are expected to be refinements rather than a major overhaul. Reports have indicated that the new iOS will contain big fixes and more stability, as well as public transit directions for Apple Maps and maybe even split-screen multitasking.

Jeff Williams, Apple's senior vice president of operations, confirmed in late May that Apple will announce a new software development kit that will allow programmers to write apps natively for the Apple Watch. Until now, developers have been able to customize their iPhone apps to let customers take some actions on the watch. The new tools should make Watch apps faster and less buggy.

Meanwhile, 9to5 Mac recently reported that Apple will soon launch a new iOS enhancement called "Proactive," which will leverage Siri, iPhone contacts, calendars, Apple's Passbook app and third-party apps to create a competitor to Google Now. According to the report, which cited unnamed sources, Proactive will automatically provide timely information based on a person's data and device usage patterns, but will respect the user's privacy preferences. That feature could also debut today and would come on the heels of other recent developments in the digital assistant market.

Last month Google unveiled a new feature called "Now on Tap" that will access Google's Knowledge Graph of more than 1 billion entries to give users answers to search queries within apps and provide them with actions they can take. When users tap and hold the home button, Google gives users the options that are a best guess of what might be helpful in that moment. Users can also say, "OK Google" from any screen and any app to get answers; so if they are listening to a song on Spotify, users can ask "Who is the lead signer?" and get an answer. 

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) also recently announced it will be bringing its Cortana digital assistant to Android and iOS. Cortana will also be a central component of the Windows 10 platform.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this VentureBeat article
- see this AP article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this The Verge article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Business Insider article

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