so it’s that time again… swarms of Apple developers flock to San Francisco to attend the coveted event. unfortunately i was unable to go this year, but hope to make it next year. fortunately they nailed the live stream this time around.
as usual the event started with the usual Keynote where apple execs introduce some of the major features coming in upcoming releases of their platforms. in my opinion, this is the public demonstration mostly for the press and the real WWDC starts when the Keynote is over and the guests and press take off.
i’m talking about the Platforms State of the Union, which really kicks thing off by providing an overview of all the new technologies and APIs developers can now tap into. it doesn’t go too deeply into details (that’s what the sessions are for), but gives developers enough to get excited and start planning which sessions you want to attend (or watch). there’s a lot of stuff announced every year, so you have to pick what you’re interested in and start planning according (or just wait until WWDC is over).
there were numerous things that got me excited this year (some of which i had been hoping to see for a long time). i’ve put together of my favorites.
Native Watch Apps (and watchOS 2)
this is exciting as it’ll mean a lot faster apps that are installed and run directly on the watch, as opposed to the logic running on the iPhone then updating UI on the watch. developers will also gain access to the hardware like the sensors, microphone, button, crown and even the Taptic Engine from within their apps. the announcement of watchOS 2, only 6 weeks after it’s released, shows this was something that’s been in development right up to the announcement (and lot more in the pipeline). Go Watch Team!
Improved Developer License
Free Native Development on your own devices
this was very smart and addresses my complaint when i first started developing iOS apps: why the hell can’t i test on my device without a developer license? the removal of this hurdle will welcome a lot of new developers to the platforms. there’s nothing like seeing your first app (usually a Hello World) run on your device. it’s like that first hit. you like it so you do it again, makes a couple changes, add more views, start navigating between view controllers. before you know it you’re hooked.
Single Developer Program
no more need for iOS and Mac license to submit their app stores.it used to cost $99 for each. this is something i thought made no sense to begin with and as a result never built any OS X apps for the Mac App Store. now that it’s including i may be tempted to do so, especially that the device integration is getting much tighter.
Ages 13 and up
i don’t know what the minimum age was before, but have to assume it was 18 given Apple felt need to highlight this during the presentation.i think all children should be learning program, just like they learn to read and write. i’m looking forward to what the generation that grows up coding comes up with.
Swift going Open Source
this is a suite of post-submission binary optimizations that greatly reduce the size of apps, which in turn speeds up downloads and installations. if you’ve been following Apple’s recommendations over the last few years (since iOS 6) like AutoLayout, Asset Catalogs and other options they’ve offered to make apps more adaptive, you automatically benefit from this. i believe that these are the same technologies responsible for reducing the install size of iOS by minimizing the binary to contain minimum features required for the targeted device.
Video: WWDC 2015: Platforms State of the Union (3:40)
this optimization literally slices your submitted binary into devices specific builds, packaging the assets and optimizing the compilation of the build for the devices it will run on.
On Demand Resources
Video: WWDC 2015: Platforms State of the Union (5:40)
this is a wish of mine come true. when Apple rolled out the Asset Catalog, i speculated it was a step in this direction to solve the bloat problem that surfaced with release of the iPad and universal builds, which got worse with retina screens. universal builds until now had to include assets for every device you were targeting.this option allows developers to specify specific assets to be stored in CloudKit to be loaded just before they’re needed. this can be anything from additional graphics to videos that may not be needed until much later on in the use of the app or game. when the resource is no longer needed, the system can reclaim the space, keeping the footprint of an app as small as possible.
Video: WWDC 2015: Platforms State of the Union (6:40)
through an intermediary step in the binary submission process, the App Store will optimize your build for each device. this provides ability to gain benefits of future system and compilation optimizations without need to resubmit a binary. this is enabled by default in iOS 9 and mandatory in watchOS.
i’m still looking forward to watching the session videos as they become available for a deeper dive into all of the new goodies. maybe i’ll write a follow up post as i catchup.