Apple made several notable announcements at its WWDC event this year. The headline-making news is that the tech company is shuttering iTunes, the platform that secured Apple’s reputation as an innovator in music. The next version of its macOS operating system will replace iTunes with three distinct apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. The move had long been rumored, and it reflects both how many hats iTunes was wearing and how personal entertainment has shifted from an ownership model to an access model.
The end of iTunes didn’t get a lot of fanfare during the WWDC keynote. That could be because many of the original iTunes features will remain in the Mac app of Apple Music. The app will import users’ music libraries, including files not purchased from iTunes, and that will exist alongside the Apple Music streaming subscription. The company hasn’t gone into much detail about the shift, but it seems likely that Apple will aim to make the experience on the Mac similar to that of Apple Music on mobile devices.
While the iTunes news garnered the most attention, audio had a few other notable developments in the presentation. One new feature is a hand-off capability, where a user can share audio from a movie or song directly to another person’s AirPods. This feature is also coming to the HomePod; holding an iPhone close to the smart speaker will transition the currently-playing audio from AirPods to the HomePod or vice versa.
Siri is also going to receive support for live radio. More than 100,000 radio stations, including broadcasts from iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Radio.com, will be accessible via Apple’s voice AI in the next update of iOS.
The final HomePod update is a long-awaited feature. The smart speaker will be able to distinguish between voices and will personalize its responses based on the person issuing commands.