Gadgets

5 Times That Apple Reinvented The Wheel Last Night

Okay, so that headline is a little cruel. 

Last night in San Francisco's sprawling Moscone West conference centre, Apple kicked off its annual World Wide Developer Conference in suitably hyperbolic style. Apple Music - the worst kept secret since Fifa's black soul - stole headlines, while a smattering of other announcements raised a collective "whoop" from the assembled tech types.

But much of what Apple showed off last night was its own shiny, beautiful version of things that are already out there in the digital market. Here are some of their most important announcements - some playing catch up with the crowd, others pushing ahead.

Apple Music

Taking on: Spotify, Deezer, Rdio, SoundCloud, Tidal

The "One more thing" of Apple's announcements, their finally-finished music service is a carefully blended cocktail of a streaming subscription base (with packages available for single users at $10 or groups of six for $15), a radio service called Beats 1 with DJs from New York, LA and London (which will feature Zane Lowe - so make of that what you will), a selection of curated playlists, exclusive videos and clips, and basically everything you'd expect from an Apple music offering. 

In order to compete with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music will be available for both Apple and Android users - though UK price points are yet to be announced, which you'd think would be the major make-or-break point for tempting users away from the streaming service. It has a potential edge over Spotify on Apple devices, syncing seamlessly with the massive force that is iTunes. There's still a place for the likes of Rdio and SoundCloud, which are arguably more personalised in their music curation services than Beats 1. Interestingly, there's no word on high definition service within Apple Music (though iTunes allows you to download some songs in high quality), so Tidal can rest easy for now. 

Apple Maps

Taking on: Google Maps, Bing Maps

Apple Maps is far from new, but the addition of transit information will see it finally compete with the likes of Google Maps. That is, however, so long as you live in London.

Public transport data - from bus timetables to train and underground times - is set to be rolled out across some cities in Apple Maps. Cities like San Francisco and New York. And Beijing. And London. And Paris. Sure, they'll add more as the data comes in - but this is where Apple is having to play catch up. Google Maps is much, much further ahead in terms of offering local transit information. If you live outside of the UK capital and want to find out when the number 32 is coming, Apple Maps can't help.

Siri Proactive

Taking on: Google Now On Tap, Cortana

Thanks to the new mobile iOS 9, Siri will be getting a lot smarter. Much like Google Now (set to be upgraded even further to 'On Tap') and the Windows phone Cortana assistants, Siri will now be 'proactive', using data collected by your phone (so long as you turn the settings on) from location to times to diary appointments to help fine tune your searches and fling you useful reminders.

It's not enough of a game changer to see non-Apple users switch to Apple products, but now iPhone users won't feel left out when their friend's Android phone annoyingly nudges them about taking an umbrella to work, before proceeding to show them three different bus routes they probably won't take. 

News

Competing with: Flipboard, Feedly

Newstand is dead. Long live News.

A new addition to iOS 9, News will provide a ruddy gorgeous space for reading articles and publications, filled with rich animations, photos and videos that could even make the stylish format of Flipboard blush. 

Big publishers are already on board to produce specific content for the app, like The New York Times and various publications from GQ publishers Conde Nast, but you'll be able to add your own topics and interests to the assortment of jazzy offerings.

And then get annoyed when they fill it with advertising in a year's time. 

Apple Pay

Competing with: Google Wallet/Android Pay, Samsung Pay

This is where Apple is set to get its nose out in front - in the UK at any rate.

While Google's Wallet (soon to be replaced by Android Pay) and Samsung Pay are yet to get up and running for UK contactless payment systems, Apple Pay - which sees you add your bank details to your iPhone 6 and slap it about to pay for things under £20 - will arrive in the UK in July. It'll let you pay for stamps, London Transport things, and there are some interesting partnerships coming with Pinterest.

Having a fingerprint reader on your iPhone is about to make a lot more sense. 

(Images: Apple)