Guess what sort of underlying theme did the Apple’s WWDC 14 express this year? Most of you would still remember that last year’s focus by Apple was on end user and User Interface changes and improvements (which by the way turned many iOS fans into a state of disappointment). However, things are different this year. With the introduction of over 200 new APIs for iOS developers and the announcement of HomeKit which could altogether create an entirely new app ecosystem for developers to build, Apple’s focus on iOS developers is clear. Here is why:
Things have gone nice and Swift
We can hide our emotions over this WWDC 14 announcement. Meet Swift, an innovative new programming language for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, that should make it easier for iOS developers to do so much more in so less time while create apps for iPhones and iPads. The idea behind Swift is to return the old flare and positive remembrance of developing mobile apps with Objective C while making it simpler, shorter, excluding the syntaxes that no longer matter and adding new ones coming from modern programming languages.
There is really no need to be broad on Swift here because Apple has published a great learning resource on iBooks free for download. We can just highlight some of the features that will make your code developed with Swfit more expressive:
- Closures unified with function pointers
- Tuples and multiple return values
- Fast and concise iteration over a range or collection
- Structs that support methods, extensions, protocols.
- Functional programming patterns, e.g.: map and filter
In case you want to educate more on Swift without going through lengthy documentation, you can do so with the video below:
An OS that “just works”. The new iOS 8
It is huge. Apple says that the iOS 8 is the biggest release since the launch of App Store which gives users incredible new features to try and developers the tools to create amazing new apps. iCloud Photo Library, a new Messages app, the QuickType keyboard and an entirely new Health app (Health Kit) is what Apple announced during its Worldwide Developer Conference.
One of the finest updates for both developers an consumers is the Health Kit which gathers the information you choose from your various health apps and fitness devices, and provides you with a clear and current overview in one place. For example, the Nike+ apps using NikeFuel will be able to pull in other key HealthKit metrics such as sleep and nutrition to build a custom user profile and improve athletic performance.
An overview of all compelling new features focused on end users can be spotted in this Mashable video:
Speaking about the iOS 8 and the focus on developers this WWDC 14 has given announcement for release of over 200 new APIs for developers, and one of the most exciting of those was Extensibility. This feature allows apps within iOS 8 to share information with each other and with the Notification Center. Demoed on stage, Extensibility allowed filters from third-party apps to be used directly on pictures within the Photos app and it also brought Bing translation to Safari.
Location-Based app suggestions on users’s Lock Screen
This is a great feature I would like to highlight separately as another great improvement and new chance for iOS app owners to get their apps noticed. Apple has a new feature in iOS 8 that will surface app suggestions on the bottom left screen of your locked iPhone depending on your location. These bring up contextually relevant software however, like allowing you to easily open the Starbucks mobile app when you’re in a Starbucks, or suggesting an app designed for a specific train station when you’re actually in that train station.
These features appear to work with existing software, so they don’t necessarily require any modification on the part of developers, but they do appear to work with apps that interact with real-world cash points, ticket machines and registers
Internet of Things era, reloaded at WWDC 14
Welcome to the new upgrade of the Internet of Things era. This WWDC Apple also announced a new initiative called HomeKit with promises to revolutionize your home and make it significantly smarter. The benefits of this technology could be magnanimous especially for developers who can now plug themselves in developing mobile apps for entirely new and emerging ecosystem of interconnected smart home devices and appliances.
Individual hardware manufacturers can integrate HomeKit into their own apps, but independent developers that would never have gone into hardware manufacturing or signed up for the MFI program will now be able to build standardized solutions for people looking to control various devices in their homes from one integrated system.
The star player of this technology will again be Siri, Apple’s voice assistant which combined with AirDrop, Apple’s NFC and file sharing technology will detect your iPhone whenever you arrive home and will enable you to deliver a customized set of commands to execute automated tasks such as turning lights and heat off/on, security notifications and breaches etc.
End-to-end encryption is enabled for HomeKit accessories and to maintain what Apple calls “complete” privacy and strong security. HomeKit APIs can only be used when an app is active or open in the foreground; there is no such thing (currently) as an app using HomeKit that works in the background without user interaction.
Better connectivity by putting people in charge
Another important announcement given during the conference was the new OX 10 Yosemite which includes not only a refreshing appearance with sense of familiarity and great set of new features including New Today view in Notification Center, browser and email improvements but a change in the entire way a user connects and engages with an iDevice. OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, your devices recognize when they’re near each other, enabling new features that let them work together in even smarter ways, bringing the best of each other out.
To make this possible has made some changes to its core inter-device sharing protocols in iOS 8, including AirPlay and AirDrop. AirDrop, which has been introduced in OS X Lion and iOS 7, now works between Macs and iOS devices; and AirPlay, the video and audio streaming protocol that plays back music and movies from iPhone, Macs, etc. on Apple TV and approved accessories, will apparently work without requiring a shared network once the update hits.
The purpose is clear –Apple wants to make a multi-device transition experience feel smoother. Users must not thing about what types of communication protocols are used once they decide to run a task they have initially started on their iOS device and later decide to complete it on their MacBook. In other words – users want sharing that extends beyond their network. This is about the right transit tech for the right moment, and it prefaces a future where we don’t care how our devices are connected, and instead just take for granted that they are when and where we need them to be.
From all we can see above, there are few more great reasons why not only end users but existing developers also will keep sticking with iOS and why many more will join one of the largest development communities of the planet. Unlike the last year where the focus was purely on User Interface improvements and end users, this year’s WWDC focus has been on developers and integration that will give smoother and more natural multi device experience to end users.
Let us know what you think about these updates