WWDC 2014: An Overview of Apple's Developers Conference
On Monday, June 2nd Apple took the stage at its annual WorldWide Developers Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco.
The company talked about three main products/categories: iOS, OS X, and a special section meant especially for developers.
Lets get things started by talking about iOS. Apple's senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi took the stage to announce iOS 8, the company's next version of their mobile operating system.
iOS 8 does not bring the same level of design changes as iOS 7 did, however, the release is packed with new features. The company announced interactive notification, which allows you to interact with the notification straight from the banner. For example, if you get a text message you can pull down on the notification and quickly write a reply without the need to launch the app.
The company also revamped the Mail app with Mailbox-style actions, allowing you to easily delete a message with one swipe. In addition, iOS 8 brings a much improved keyboard, with predictive typing recognition, along with the option to finally be able to install third-party keyboards.
iMessage now allows users to send voice and video messages with a quick and easy to user gesture. Spotlight in iOS 8 also gets an upgrade with the ability to search more places.
Apple announced continuity between iOS and OS X. For example, if you are working on a Pages document on your iPhone and you go to sit at your Mac, you will get a dock icon that will prompt you to open that document. If you click the icon you will pick up right where you left off on your iPhone.
Health along with Health Kit allows you to collect all your health data from your fitness tracking devices and store it all in one place. Developers can start integrating by using Health Kit.
The App Store is receiving a huge update along iOS 8, with the ability for a family to share one credit card. This means that once one family member purchases an app, it will be available for free to the remaining family members. Family Sharing can be used among 6 people. Developers now have the ability to beta test their app, using TestFlight, with up to 1,000 people. In addition, developers can now choose to bundle apps together for one price.
Apps in iOS 8 will now be able to interact with other apps (of course there will be some restrictions). Siri also received an update which allows users to activate Siri by saying "Hey, Siri," however this feature will only work if the device is connected to a power source. Siri also gains Shazam song recognition, streaming voice recognition, 22 new languages, and the ability to purchase iTunes content.
iOS 8 will be available as a free update sometime this fall for the iPhone 4s and later, iPad 2 and later, and the fifth generation iPod Touch. If you are a registered developer, Apple has already made the first iOS 8 beta and SDK available from developer.apple.com.
OS X Yosemite
Apple also unveiled the next update to its desktop operating system and it's called Yosemite. This year, Apple focused on design, clarity, and continuity throughout its desktop operating system. Even though it appears Apple is trying to make iOS and OS X more and more like each other, Federighi referred to as "fundamentally still Mac."
The design of Mac OS X was updated to take some design elements from iOS, but still keeping it a desktop OS. Window menus and the dock are now translucent, giving a greater sense of depth throughout the OS. There is even a new "dark mode," giving the option to change the translucency to a shade of grey.
iMessage was updated to bring greater syncing support between multiple devices. You can now respond to text messages from your Mac and make/answer voice calls as well.
Mail was also updated with some new features, including the ability to send email attachments as large as 5GB, but more will probably be shown off in the Fall.
Apple also introduced changes to Spotlight, making it easier to search for things in more places, and Notification Center, allowing developers to create widgets (reportedly to eventually replace dashboard). AirDrop now works between iOS and OS X.
Mac OS X Yosemite will be available to the public in the fall, but registered developers can get their hands on a developer preview now from Apple's developer portal.
Seeing as this is a developer focused event, Apple's last part on stage focused on developers. The company showed off Xcode 6, which brings a new design for Yosemite.
Apple surprised everyone and announced a new programming language called Swift. The new programming language brings modern features like closures, generics, type inferences, namespaces, and multiple return types.
Swift comes with a new feature in Xcode called Playgrounds which allows you to write code and see results instantly, no need to manually compile or run your code. The new language is fully compatible with Objective-C, since it is using the same LLVM (Low Level Virtual Machine) compiler. Developers can now write apps for iOS and OS X in Swift, Objective-C, C, or all three at the same time.
Swift is a language that I believe will be great in education and I hope to see teachers use this language to teach their students. We will be taking an in-depth look at Swift in a later article.
Developers can download the beta of Xcode 6 and start playing with Swift right now from developer.apple.com.