At the WWDC event in San Francisco earlier this morning, Apple announced new operating system versions for both its mobile and desktop platforms. There was no watch or Macbook Air with Retina or any other rumored device that we had been hearing for over the last few months, but Apple did announce some great new features that will make the experience with the devices better and open up new doors for developers. Here’s a quick run down of all the changes announced at WWDC.
A new programming language: Swift
Apple wants to cut the “baggage” Objective C brings along with it. So it has developed a programming language of its own, called Swift. And as Apple puts it, “it totally rules”. So far the company relied on Objective C to develop apps for its iOS and Mac platform. Apple says that with Swift, developers will be able to see the results of their programming in real time. The language utilizes OS X Cocoa API set and Cocoa Touch frameworks for iOS, and will possibly offer new syntax and capabilities. You can check out more about it on the website. The company has made the documentation available on an iBook, which you can download from here.
More openness, more APIs
At the event, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, said that iOS 8 alone features over 4,000 new developers APIs.
This is a lot more than what Apple brought with iOS7 which was around 1,500 APIs. It’s not only bigger in terms of numbers, but in functionality as well. Apple is now allowing the developers to let their app communicate with other apps – something which wasn’t possible earlier, in most of the cases. “This will be able to extend the system, and offer their (developers’) services to other apps.”
Extensions and Widgets
As noted earlier, Apple is now letting a third party app establish communication with another third-party app. Furthermore, the company has introduced interactive notifications – a feature that has been available on Android for ages. With extensions and widgets, developers can decide what information they want to share with other apps.
Given how the notification center has been revamped, developers can make even better use of it. Also, the third party keyboard clients are also supported in iOS.
Touch ID for 3rd Party Apps
Introduced with iPhone 5S, this feature gave users yet another feature to lock down their content and app’s access, with possibilities of it letting you do app purchases and other transactions in future. Touch ID will now be accessible to all third-party application. Developers can now make use of this biometric fingerprint sensor through their apps.
A new application HealthKit was released for iOS devices. This application includes new set of APIs and storage that makes sure to put all the other health information from other third party applications at one place. These information will be accessible to other apps as well. Hence now an app doesn’t have to support a specific fitness device in order to get certain information about a user.
Anticipated by many, HomeKit allows you to control your smart devices – be it your security camera, or your home’s door from your iPhone. It also integrates with Siri, letting you perform operations by voice commands. Users will also be able to group several of the devices together. Apple says that it will run a certification program for this service later this year.
Similar to HealthKit, CloudKit will allow developers to securely store and retrieve their app’s data from iCloud service. CloudKit is the new framework for all the Apple’s iCloud products. So how exactly does it concern a developer? With CloudKit, developers will be able to integrate their apps with cloud services, without having to flip hundreds of pages to understand the architecture and file sharing paradigm at the server’s end.
SceneKit and SpriteKit
If you’re into game development, Apple has something interesting for you as well. It has introduced SceneKit, a new 3D graphic framework which will help developers create 3D animated scenes and effects in games. Furthermore, it offers a physics engine which will let the programmer create shape objects easily. It will also let them put effects like gravity within the app, among many other features.
Introduced with iOS 7, SpriteKit has added several new features.It now featues ES shaders and lightning which will allow users to create scenes using Xcode.
Many users have demanded this feature for so long. And finally Apple has fulfilled their request. Handoff will allow users to resume their work from several apps while switching from tablets/phone to computer. Basically, you can start an activity on your Macbook, and resume that on your iPhone later.
App Bundles and App Previews
Apple has made several updates to its App Store as well. Developers will now be able to group together several of their application into one utilizing a feature called App Bundles. This feature will let users download bunch of apps at once. Think it this way, you download Microsoft Office and get Word, PowerPoint, Excel and others.
Whereas, App Previews is a video teaser that gives the developers a chance to showcase all the features of their apps.
Furthermore, the company has introduced a new premium feature that changes the way one discovers an app. Also it has added an “explore” tab that it touts will help users find the apps they’re looking for in much easier way.
The App Store will now feature top trending searches, and says that there has been couple of changes that make the the search through scrolling faster. The new version, iOS 8 is available as a Beta for now.