Apple’s developer conference, WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference), kicked off with a keynote address last week that garnered thunderous applause for CEO Tim Cook’s announcements of all things shiny and new from the tech company. The keynote is designed to appeal to the press and general public as much as (if not more than) developers. And if you watch it, you may find yourself cheering along with the audience as new emojis, animated text messages, and fun music features are demonstrated for the first time.
While those announcements are entertaining, we’re more interested in the improvements made behind the scenes that do not make for splashy headlines and cute demos. This year was full of plenty of such changes on the software front – in fact, for the first time in as long as we can remember, the cool, new things were not in the form of hardware. The Apple software improvements are exciting though, because they will allow us to make apps more quickly, that run more reliably, and perform better at a lower cost for our clients. Here are a few highlights from Apple’s announcements:
Greater Consistency in Operating Systems. Apple now supports four different operating systems (iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS) and is striving to make them more consistent with each other. Improving consistency across platforms means that the code we write for one OS is likely to work without much modification on another. This is especially true for iOS (for mobile devices) and macOS (for laptops and desktops). The result is quicker development time for us and less cost for our clients. It also means less code for Apple to maintain, which should fuel innovation and advances across all of their OSs more quickly.
Swift Language Improvements. Swift, a programming language from Apple, was first announced two years ago at WWDC. Since that time, the language has morphed in a variety of ways—most for the better, but still resulting in a lot of code changes for developers. Apple will release major improvements to Swift 3 in conjunction with updates to the four OSs this fall. Swift 3 promises to serve as a great foundation for years to come as mandatory developer code changes should be nearly eliminated.
Upgrades to Apple’s Developer Tools. The tools that Apple provides to us get better and better every year, and this year was no exception. This year’s improvements will make it much easier for us to find and fix problems in our code, which means we can develop highly reliable apps even faster, getting apps into our customers’ hands more quickly.
Creation of Swift Playgrounds. We are excited about teaching the next generation of coders, and this iPad app looks like a fun way to do it! Swift Playgrounds allows new developers to learn and experienced developers to experiment and hone their craft. We will highlight this cool tool on our blog soon.
In addition to improvements on the developer side, a couple of software announcements may make a noticeable improvement on the consumer-facing side. Apple is introducing a new file system for the Mac that should be considerably faster than the one that has been handling that job for the last twenty or so years. Additionally, improvements in the next operating system should also help to free up more disk storage space for many users. Sierra, the newest macOS version, also includes Siri, adding “intelligent assistant” capabilities to your desktop that were previously available only on mobile devices.
While many of the announcements at WWDC 2016 felt incremental in nature, they are still significant in their combined ability to improve navigation and use of Apple’s ecosystem. This is important groundwork for some fantastic years to come, and we look forward to helping you take advantage of the latest and greatest.
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