Apple’s WWDC 2015: Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary
Last week saw Apple’s much-anticipated WWDC conference and the tech world waited in eager anticipation to see what the leader in mainstream consumer-facing technology would unveil to the masses. The frenzied event came and went, and the overall consensus to how this impacts the development world at large was…evolutionary improvements, not revolutionary improvements.
We asked our team of developers to share the biggest impacts that emerged from WWDC 2015:
App Thinning. | In iOS 9, Apple had added a new capability called App Thinning with three variations to help app developers slim down their apps and the resources needed to run them. Developers will be able to upload a bundle to the App Store and Apple servers will build the final apps that users will eventually download.
– App Slicing. | Apple can build multiple versions of your app with only the resources and code needed to run on a particular device. Instead of a larger universal binary, users can download the smaller version specifically targeted to their device. This will impact how developers test builds, in that they can build variants locally to test multiple configurations.
– Bitcode. | Developers can upload apps in a intermediate format and then Apple servers will do the final compilation and optimization. Apple can rebuild an app when new optimizers are added without a new submission from the developer.
– On-Demand Resources. | Developers can mark and manage resources in their app to reduce the footprint on a device. This gives them the ability to load and unload these resources from the device based on whether they are needed for the current state of the app. Imagine a game with multiple levels – an app may only need a few levels at a time to be available, and On-Demand Resources will allow the developer to download or remove them at the appropriate time.
Swift 2. | Swift, the programming language for iOS and OS X, continues to evolve and mature. Apple has been listening to developer feedback and is moving to make Swift an equal of Objective-C (the most used programming language for iOS development). Swift 2 features a new error handling model with a try-catch syntax, improved error messages from the compiler, syntax improvements which include new, powerful flow control options, new safety features, and better Objective-C interoperability. On top of all of this, Swift 2 will be open-sourced by Apple, which will lead to community contributions that will continue to make it stronger.
Apple Watch OS 2. | With the new OS for the Apple Watch, the full potential of the wearable starts to be available to developers. Mirroring the release of the iPhone, the launch of the Apple Watch provided very limited access to the hardware’s capabilities. With Watch OS 2, developers can start to push apps beyond the vision that Apple wished to project for launch.
Why this matters – Apple continues to focus on making all of their devices a natural and productive part of our lives, and now they are opening the doors for a new and expanded developer community to contribute. These improvements allow us more flexibility, ease, and functionality to create digital experiences that speak directly to the end user.