Apple Music streaming service announced in San Francisco

Tech firm also unveils iOS9, OS X El Capitan at developer event

Apple kicked off its developer conference by announcing a new streaming music service that chief executive Tim Cook described as "the next chapter in music".

Largely predicted to be announced at the event, Apple Music combines a streaming music service with a global radio station and also allows artists to connect with fans. Accessed through the Music app already on the current version of iOS, the new service opens up access to the iTunes library of millions of songs for $9.99 per month.

When the service launches on June 30th, it will have access to 30 million tracks and will be available to iOS, Mac, Apple TV, PC and Android users.

"It's an eco system; it's built to fit together," said Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine, who took to the stage in San Francisco to help explain how the new service would work.


The service will also include its own radio station, Beats 1, which has lured DJ Zane Lowe, broadcasting from London, New York and Los Angeles.

Artists can also share things with fans, such as photos, lyrics and comments, through the platform.

Gain ground

Apple is betting that the service will help it gain ground on firms such as Spotify and Deezer, which already offer monthly streaming subscriptions around the world.

“It will change the way you experience music forever,” Cook said.

As expected, Apple showed off a new version of its mobile operating system, iOS 9, and a Watch operating system that is slowly reducing its dependence on the iPhone with native apps that run independently on Apple’s smartwatch.

iOS9 will bring a News app to the operating system that takes content from major outlets such as Wired and the New York Times, integrating images and video into the app.

"News is smart, so the more I read the better it gets at showing me stories I'm interested in," said Apple's Susan Prescott.

Also getting a update are Passbook, which now becomes Wallet and can store loyalty cards for customers, and Notes, which can now add in media such as images from the camera roll and handwritten notes. Apple’s Maps app is also adding transit information for major cities such as London and New York.

The iPad, meanwhile, will get multitasking with the next update, allowing users to work with apps side by side.

The company has come in for criticism in the past due to the amount of space the over-the-air updates require on iOS devices. Apple's Craig Federighi revealed that the next version of the software would take up less space than its predecessor, requiring only 1.3 GB of space compared with iOS 8's 4.6GB requirement. It also comes with an ultra low power mode, something the iPhone's Android rivals have already introduced.

However, the company has also moved to make the iPhone smarter, putting the digital assistant Siri to work and allowing it to learn from your daily routine and predict what you want it to do, such as start playlists when you plug headphones into the device for your daily workout.

The tech giant also unveiled the next version of its Mac operating system, dubbed OS X El Capitan, named after a rock formation in Yosemite National Park. It brings improved interfaces and search, and according to Apple, dramatically improves the user experience of the Mac.

Apple customers will be able to get the updated operating system later this year, with an autumn release date pencilled in. In the meantime, an open beta will be available in July to allow Apple fans to test drive the software.

Meanwhile, Apple Pay is being rolled out to more retailers in the US, and will also launch in the UK later this year. The service will add debit cards and loyalty cards to its system from next month.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist