Top 3 Developer Takeaways from WWDC 2015

iOS 9 running on iPhones. Image credit: Apple.

iOS 9 running on iPhones. Image credit: Apple.

By Calvin Lai

By now, technologists have likely heard about what Apple unveiled about WatchOS 2, iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan during WWDC last week. There was plenty of buzz in Apple’s keynote for consumers, as we talked about in an earlier blog, but here are our top three things developers should know about the event.

1. iOS 9 + iPad Multitasking

iPad Air 2 multitasking

Multitasking with iOS 9. Image credit: Apple.

For productivity, the biggest difference between OS X and iOS apps has been multitasking. iOS traditionally runs a single app at a time, taking up full screen. While that works for apps that require focus, iOS 9’s new multitasking features lets you view two apps simultaneously for improved productivity. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to do research on the web while writing, or you want to watch a video while browsing your Twitter feed, you can do that in iOS9.

When running apps in multitasking mode, apps will have higher demand on an iPad’s processing and memory resources. For developers, this new mode of consuming apps necessitates new techniques to get your apps to work responsively as multitasking constrains resources.

A session titled “Optimizing Your App for Multitasking on iPad in iOS 9” deep dives into the details on what developers can do to design responsive apps. Topics covered include how the operating system manages memory during multitasking, lazy loading techniques that balance processor and memory resources, and a Memory Mapped Data API that allows developers to take advantage of a flash storage-based virtual memory system.

2. Stack View for iOS

Auto Layout provides a powerful tool for developers to build complex user interfaces. Traditional Auto Layout however requires developers to create and maintain voluminous layout constraint rules that can add complexity when building user interfaces.

With the new addition of NSStackView in iOS 9, developers can now lay out views arranged in a column or a row without going through the lengthy process of creating layout constraints on individual screen elements. Under the hood, stack view leverages Auto Layout transparently to create views that can respond to screen size, device orientation and available space changes.

In the session “Mysteries of Auto Layout, Part 1”, Apple introduces new Stack View support in XCode Interface Builder, the how to of building complex UIs by nestings multiple Stack Views, and tips and tricks for productivity with Interface Builder.

3. watchOS 2

Apple’s watchOS2 is the star of the show in this year’s WWDC, and with the new OS comes native watch app support. To date, third party watch apps have needed the phone nearby to work correctly; WatchKit for watchOS2 introduces enhancements that allow watch apps to function richer independent of a nearby phone.

Apple introduces the new OS in the session titled “Introducing WatchKit for watchOS2”. With the new animation APIs, developers can now build apps with more dynamic and fluid user interfaces. API access to video and audio recording will allow you to build apps that weren’t possible before. And the addition of Taptic engine and Digital Crown API allows for apps with richer, tactile experiences.

What’s next

You can learn more on what’s new from the recorded videos of all WWDC 2015 sessions. Apple is building a smarter and more expansive ecosystem, from what you wear on your wrist to the computing devices we use daily. These videos give us a glimpse on what’s next in the Apple ecosystem, and it’s now our turn to build compelling experiences with it.

Calvin Lai is an App Practice Lead for Datacom’s Mobile Innovation team. 

Day One at WWDC 2015


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.