Earlier this month, Bilue was lucky enough to be invited to attend Apple’s WorldWide Developer Conference where we got to experience a tour of the new Apple Developer Centre, a tour of Apple’s brand new employee campus ‘Apple Park’, 1:1 sessions with Apple engineers and designers as well as learn first hand about all of the new changes coming to iOS, iPadOS, macOS and watchOS over the coming months.
What is Apple’s WorldWide Developer Conference?
Apple’s WordWide Developer Conference (WWDC or ‘dubdub’) is a chance to come together once a year to hear about the upcoming changes to Apple’s development platforms, allowing engineers to start preparing their applications with the new features and updates by asking questions to Apple engineers, attending labs and connecting with others in the industry. WWDC is comprised of three main events: the ‘keynote’ where engineers hear about the new features Apple has been developing that will be made available to developers along with information about the new versions of operating systems (iOS, watchOS, macOS, iPadOS), the ‘platform state of the union’ – a deep dive into what was announced in the keynote and advances in other areas that developers should be made aware of and the ‘Apple Design Awards’ – a showcase of some of the best app design achievements with winners picked annually. In short, WWDC is a very exciting time of the year for developers who engineer on the Apple platform.
What was special about this year’s WWDC?
With 2019 being the last ‘in person’ WWDC due to Covid, this was the first chance for developers to come together once again in person to celebrate WWDC. This year’s event was a much more scaled back, but still very welcome transition towards what is usually a jam-packed event. Some of the main changes this year included:
- A single day event instead of what is normally a week long event
- A significantly reduced amount of developers attending WWDC in person
- The first time Apple has invited developers to visit and tour Apple Park.
What was it like being at Apple Park?
As Apple Park is normally closed to the general public, being at Apple Park felt really special. It was amazing to see the ‘spaceship’ shaped campus in person and just marvel at the pure size and incredible landscapes that surround it. We were lucky enough to do a tour of the ‘Apple Park Hills’ where we learnt about the different kinds of trees, wildlife and some incredible facts about how Apple Park came to be and just some of the amazing considerations that needed to be taken into account when designing Apple Park. What also made this feel special was the fact that this was the first time Apple had invited developers to visit Apple Park to view WWDC, we knew how much of a privilege this was to attend and the likelihood that this may very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
What’s new in SwiftUI?
Following on from Apple’s announcement of SwiftUI in 2019 and the recent updates since, Apple continued to expand its offering to developers by introducing Swift Charts – a native SwiftUI approach to supporting charting in applications. This was huge and got a loud cheer by developers as most have experienced the pain of having to create a custom charting solution or rely on a third party to deliver something that is so common in applications. SwiftUI also delivered more gifts to developers by introducing custom view support, bottom sheet support, system share sheet support and multiple date support. There’s also better control for the keyboard, system gestures and in-app navigation.
What else was announced at WWDC?
We got a preview of iOS 16 which introduces a new customisable lockscreen to users and a look at the changes to WidgetKit that enable developers to support this in their applications. We also got to see the App Intents framework and how it can be used to better integrate existing applications deeper into iOS, iPadOS and watchOS in areas such as Spotlight searching and Siri.
Apple also announced ‘WeatherKit’ and a Maps server API to allow developers to bring more valuable information into their applications, as well as introduced ‘RoomPlan’ – a new API that utilises the devices camera to capture a 3D floor plan of a room. There’s a new ‘Shared with You’ framework and collaborations API to assist developers in supporting shared experiences in FaceTime and Messages and a Focus filter API so developers can ensure their applications are respecting the users Focus settings within their applications. Developers can now also utilise a Live Text API enabling them to interact with text, detect data and translate straight from video frames and images within their applications.
As a quick side-note, some of our engineers have already had the chance to play around with the weather API and charting capabilities in SwiftUI and within an hour or so integrated the two into a proof of concept application.
Was there a ‘one more thing’ ?
Apple announced its intentions of killing off passwords in-place of a much more secure approach ‘Passkeys’. Based on industry standards, Passkeys allow users to sign into applications and websites across all platforms without the need to ever input a password. Passkeys are non-guessable and non-reusable by nature and are individually linked with the service they were created for to prevent phishing.
What should I look at bringing across to my application?
Well, that really depends on what your application does and if any of the new announcements this year can be introduced back into your own application. To quote the keynote: “Swift and SwiftUI offer the best way to build an app”, so a great starting point could be to explore if your application is making use of Swift and SwiftUI or if there’s any areas you could look at integrating SwiftUI to replace existing components. You may find that by doing this, you’ll be supporting more platforms without even being aware (for example engineering widgets on watchOS in SwiftUI which can now be used on the iOS 16 lock screen) whilst also having more of a reliance on reusable components and in turn creating a stronger codebase.