At the end of an exhaustive product launch in San Fransicso, Cook borrowed a famous line from Jobs by saying the firm had “one more thing” to show off.
“Today we’re announcing Apple Music, the next chapter in music,” he said.
“It will change the way you experience music forever.”
Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine then appeared on-stage to discuss the software, which will enable users to stream from iTunes as well as listen to playlists and Beats One, a 24-hour radio station anchored by DJ Zane Lowe among others.
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It is an update to the existing Music app on iOS. The app will support videos as well as audio.
“There needs to be a place where music can be treated less like digital bits and more like the art it is ... not just the top-tier artists but the kids at home, too,” said Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor.
The service has playlists that have been created by humans as opposed to an algorithm. The Beats One radio station will be based in three cities — Los Angeles, New York, and London — and broadcast 24 hours a day.
The Beats Connect feature will enable artists to connect with fans using any media they like — photos, video and audio. Artists can now post images, lyrics, and videos to Connect, similar to a social network — but can also link to Facebook and Twitter.
Artists, both unsigned and major stars, can even post full songs to the Connect area of Music.
Rapper Drake appeared on stage to discuss the new feature. “The dream of being a new artist like myself five years ago and connecting directly with the audience has never been more real,” he said.
“Focus on your body of work. Instead of having to post your stuff on these different and sometimes confusing places, it’s all in one place: Connect.”
The new app will also have a For You section, which will recommend music based on the music you listen to, and these will be curated by real people, a point Apple was keen to emphasise, rather than relying on computer algorithms. The interface of this feature has red bubbles, each one representing an artist or genre that get bigger when you tap them to show a preference.
Lowe, who left BBC Radio One to join Apple, will anchor the Los Angeles version of the Beats One radio station. Siri can also be used to play songs, including songs in the charts from certain years. Apple’s Eddy Cue demonstrated the app playing the “top song from May 1982”. It can also be used to find songs in movie soundtracks.
Cue confirmed the service will launch on June 30 in 100 countries, as well as Windows and Android versions later this year.
The service will cost $10 (€8.85) a month, but will be free for the first three months. There’s also a family version for up to six family members for $14 a month.
Meanwhile, Apple has “gone within” to name the next version of its desktop software, unveiling OS X El Capitan at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.
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The new software will work on Apple’s desktop and laptop range, and appears to be a more measured update compared to last year’s.
A new split-screen feature was shown off, which will enable users to organise different programme windows so they can all be seen at once, as well as neatly combine them into a split screen. Apple said the aim is to boost productivity for every day users.
El Capitan is a mountain in Yosemite National Park in California, Yosemite having been the name of last year’s update. The iPhone maker has adopted the tradition of naming its software after landmarks in California in recent years.
Beginning his speech, Cook called the event “the epicentre of change for the industry”.
Dispensing with the usual figures and sales updates, Cook said simply that “everything is going great”.
The firm’s Craig Federighi added that OS X Yosmite had the fastest adoption rate of any desktop software ever; showing a graphic on-screen that had the rate for Apple’s software at 55%, compared to 7% for perennial rivals Microsoft and its Windows 8.1 software.
Federighi also unveiled the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system: iOS 9.
The update focuses on Siri, and the Apple voice assistant becoming more “proactive”. Demoed on-stage, the software was shown to be able to understand context, with music playing when you plug in headphones and start running, and suggest apps based on the users’ habits.
Cook also launched new Apple Watch software, called watchOS, saying: “We believe in technology designed for the wrist.”