Apple Watch native apps, OS X El Capitan announced

Apple Watch

Apple kicked off its Worldwide Developers Conference with a focus on updates to its popular operating systems Monday, including the announcement of native apps for its new smartwatch.

Apple CEO Tim Cook walked out to raucous applause after a humorous opening video starring Bill Hader. Cook did not provide a laundry list of Apple's recent performance, as the executive typically does, eschewing the chance to divulge early sales of the Apple Watch.

"I'm going to dispense with the usual (business) updates to tell you everything is going great," Cook said.

Cook then ceded the stage to fellow executive Craig Federighi, who explained changes coming to the next version of Apple's desktop operating system, OS X, which will be called El Capitan after a Yosemite National Park landmark. El Capitan will have advanced search capabilities, one-click muting of audio from websites, and a new programming technology called Metal that is expected to enhance the performance of video games.

Developers from more than 70 countries traveled to San Francisco to attend the conference, Cook said. Jason Hao, an app designer from China, said ahead of the event Monday morning that he expects announcements for the smartwatch Apple launched earlier this year, as well as news on an updated mobile operating system.

"The first generation of the Watch is just so-so. It's too thick, too heavy and the battery is not strong enough," Hao opined. "They'll expand the Watch to connect with the Internet of Things so that it can run devices around your house," he predicted.

Cook and other executives are expected to spend a lot of time in Monday's keynote on the Apple Watch, the first new product category Apple has entered since the iPad tablet computer. The gadget is finally catching up to consumer demand, with devices expected to land in Apple's retail stores this month after previously only being available online. Cook confirmed early in Monday's address that Apple update the software kit developers use for the Watch to allow them to build apps directly for the wrist-worn device; currently, Watch apps are an extension of iPhone apps.

Apple is also expected to detail a new streaming-music offering. iTunes helped legitimize digital music after the rise of Napster, but subscription streaming services like Spotify have become more popular, so Apple is expected to show off a revamp of the Beats offering with a monthly fee and access to a wide swath of the iTunes catalog.

"Apple is arriving late to the music streaming business, due in part to Steve Jobs' refusal to believe that music subscription services would ever work," Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said in an email Monday. "But the writing is on the wall: Digital downloads don't make sense for consumers that are connected wherever they go."

Sony Music CEO Doug Morris confirmed the announcement Sunday, telling a music industry festival in Cannes, France, that Apple would describe the service in Monday's keynote.

"My guess is that Apple will promote this like crazy and I think that will have a halo effect on the streaming business," Morris said, according to a report from VentureBeat's Chris O'Brien.

Beyond those announcements, Apple is expected to show off new versions of its operating systems and a host of other, mostly software-related updates.

"There probably won't be any surprises unless they announce something about in-car technology, which would be cool," said Mark Mucha, a developer from Seattle.


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