Apple announces some new music features at WWDC

Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference is a virtual thing this year thanks to you-know-what. So instead of having the standard live presentation, the company’s opening day presentation featured a fast-moving pre-recorded video that outlines dozens of new announcements for macOS (the new version is called Big Sur), iOS (version 14), iPadOS (version 14) and Apple Watch.

I’ll leave it to the tech blogs to parse through the whole presentation–and there’s a lot to digest–but here are a few music- and audio-related notes.

  • Apple HomePod smart speakers will soon be able to access third-party services like Spotify.
  • While watchOS 6 measured ambient sound levels and how long you’re exposed, watchOS7 will monitor how loud your headphones are if you’re listening through their iPhone, iPod touch, or Apple Watch. It’ll nag if if you’re listening too loud too long. It will also track the volume of your listening over the course of a week.
  • AirPods will soon switch seamlessly between devices.
  • AirPods Pros will feature new “spatial audio with dynamic head tracking” which will “bring a theatre-like experience” to users of AirPod Pros. You’ll be able to apple direction audio filters so that sounds can be placed anywhere resulting in something more immersive.
  • There’s a new feature called Headphone Accommodations, which “amplifies and dampens certain frequencies to help music, movies, phone calls, and podcasts sound crisper and cleaner.”
  • Apple Music’s search function will be improved.
  • Siri will soon offer better translation services.

There’s also a big switch away from Intel processors. Watch for these new changes to roll out over the next two years.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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