Apple Music gets an overhaul, reaches 15 million subscribers

So the big news for us at Apple's 2016 WWDC was the announcement that Apple Music is getting a much needed overhaul. There's a simpler design, easier navigation, more prominent artwork and more curated playlists. "Clarity and simplicity" is now the key, says Apple, not something you could have said of the original Apple Music interface.

The first tab in Apple Music is now your Library, and it - along with the For You, Browse and Radio tabs - have been completely redesigned. In addition, there are prominent 'Downloaded' and 'Recently Added' sections and a new Search tab so you can more easily access your music. Lyrics are integrated into the app too, meaning you can sing along karaoke-style if you so choose.

But from what we can see the much vaunted @ Connect icon has disappeared. Connect is a space for artists to share exclusive tracks, snippets of videos and more with their fans. When we first reviewed Apple Music we found ourselves using this feature the least, so if it has gone, we won't exactly miss it.

As for the number of people listening, Apple claims it now has 15 million subscribers to Apple Music.

In other developments, WatchOS 3 will be released this autumn with faster apps (apparently seven times faster loading than watchOS 2), new watch faces (including Minnie Mouse) and a dock for quicker access to your favourite apps. Just touch the side button and apps in the dock will appear on the watch face.

Swiping up on the watch face gives access to the improved Control Centre, and swiping down brings up Notifications as before.

A new Scribble feature allows users to write words on the display and Apple watch will convert the handwriting into text.

Apple tvOS gets an upgrade too. There's single sign-in for pay-TV apps (US only for now), a new Apple TV remote app with touch navigation, a special 'Dark Mode' screen background for film viewing, and enhanced Siri voice search allowing you to ask for films by a specific topic - plus Siri search on YouTube.

Siri will also allow you to control Apple HomeKit via your Apple TV by, say, asking it to turn on the lights or turn up the heating.

And - no surprise here - Mac OSX is renamed macOS, and the new version being released this autumn is called macOS Sierra. The biggest enhancement? Siri comes to the Mac, so you can ask your Mac desktop or laptop whatever you like, and Apple Pay is coming to the web too. Want to buy something online? Sites offering Apple Pay will enable you to confirm the purchase on your Mac using your iPhone or Apple Watch.

As for iOS 10, again coming this autumn, the new 'raise to wake' feature means your iPhone or iPad will automatically wake from sleep as soon as you pick it up. And from the lock screen you can slide right for widgets, and left for instant access to the camera. Enhanced 3D touch means you can interact with notifications and messages directly from the lock screen, without having to hit the home button.

Apple has also announced that it will open up Siri to third-party developers, so iPhone and iPad users can use voice command on a much broader range of apps.

Andy Madden

Andy is Deputy Editor of What Hi-Fi? and a consumer electronics journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing news, reviews and features. Over the years he's also contributed to a number of other outlets, including The Sunday Times, the BBC, Stuff, and BA High Life Magazine. Premium wireless earbuds are his passion but he's also keen on car tech and in-car audio systems and can often be found cruising the countryside testing the latest set-ups. In his spare time Andy is a keen golfer and gamer.