By Husain Al-Badry and Calvin Lai
Apple’s WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) is arguably the most anticipated developer conference in the world. Apple uses the event as a platform for making big announcements and showcasing key milestones within the company and the wider tech industry. Eight years ago, Steve Jobs presented the iPhone to the world at WWDC, and a year later he followed up with the App Store: the tool that gave birth to digital giants around the globe.
More recently, the event has focused more on Apple’s software changes, and this year was no different.
Needless to say, the keynote did not disappoint on news from the technology giant. The highlights were:
- Announcement of OSX 10.11, El Capitan, containing a series of enhancements focused on user experience and performance.
- Announcement of iOS 9, packed full of features such as a smarter Siri and multi-tasking for the iPad, as well as a gambit of toys for developers that really showcase the maturity of iOS’s native development platform.
- Announcement of watchOS 2, which finally allows native apps to run on the Apple Watch, making it more independent from the iPhone.
- Announcement of Swift 2, now becoming an open source language that also runs on Linux (yes, Apple is doing open source). This is huge news that could see Swift becoming a real Java competitor.
- All the developer tooling becoming free, including developer accounts which will now use a freemium model.
- Steve Jobs’ famous “One More Thing…” moment at the end of the keynote to launch Apple Music, a new music streaming platform that combines Dr. Dre’s Beats Music, Beats 1 Radio (a global radio station), and Beats Connect (a social platform for artists).
While the keynote was more consumer-oriented, it gave developers insights into the vast number of new features they’ll have access to, and will need to adjust their apps for. The follow up session was the Platforms State of the Union, which gave a developer-focused view into the new features under the hood in OSX El Capitan, iOS 9, watchOS 2, and Swift 2.
For iOS 9 in particular, there were some enhancements that really showcase the maturity of the tooling. This includes Crash Logs, which now integrates all the way from XCode into the App Store to track app crashes and provide a way for developers to track the issue fixing lifecycle end to end: a strong enabler for Continuous Delivery. The benefits of this extended issue tracking will help developers provide better support to customers and an improved experience for end-users.
Apple wrapped up the day with the Apple Design Awards, which give the industry the benchmark for designing innovative, beautiful, engaging apps that focus on the user experience in great detail. Some really stunning apps and games were showcased here, with developers and designers who demonstrate their passion for applying great design thinking to create app experiences which delight users. These awards were something every developer in the audience should have drawn inspiration from and aspired to achieve.
The days that follow will focus in on the details. This WWDC is lined up to be a cracker, and for developers, this really is the WWDC of watchOS. We’re looking forward to bringing our insights home with us and sharing them with customers.