WWDC 2015 Top Ten
While the 2015 WWDC didn’t have the type of announcements that made general users excited, there was quite a bit that was annouced for developers that is cause for excitement. Throughout WWDC 2015, I was able to learn of Apple’s new features directly from the source. Below are a few of my favorite new features and updates for iOS 9 and Apple Watch.
1. Protocol Extensions
By far my favorite session of WWDC was Protocol-Oriented Programming in Swift where Apple provided in-depth explanation of the new Swift 2.0 language feature. There are too many benefits of protocol extensions to go into detail here, but one small example is the ability to add default implementations to classes conforming to a protocol. Chris Eidhof gives a great example in this blog post where he details how to modify system types to support JSON. I’m convinced that protocol-oriented programming is the future.
2. OpenSource Swift
In a move that surprised all, Apple announced that they are opensourcing Swift and the Swift Standard Library this fall. This is a monumental step forward in the language that brings tremendous value to all Swift developers and is a great sign that Apple is listening to the developer community.
3. Universal Back Button
It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
The universal back button is a little feature that has had a profound effect on my daily usage of iOS. Navigation between apps feels much more natural. I am more inclined to pause what I’m doing and respond to notifications immediately because I know that the app I was just using is only a quick tap away. I’m convinced that without this button, bigger features like Universal Links, Deep Linking, and Spotlight Search wouldn’t be enjoyable to use.
4. Introducing watchOS 2
Native apps. Watch face complications. Tetherless networking abilities. Taptic engine API. Heartrate monitor access.
This is a big update that enables developers to bring even more innovative and creative apps to the Apple Watch. Hopefully, we will see less of this on a daily basis:
5. Xcode Testing Improvements
Apple seems to be pushing us from developing iOS apps to engineering them. Really exciting times.
Apple understands that testing is an essential part of engineering great software and is focusing on providing developers with the tools to do this efficiently and effectively. Features such as UI testing, code coverage, and address sanitizing empower developers to create even more robust apps.
AutoLayout is great but not the easiest to work with. New to iOS 9, UIStackView makes it a lot easier to create great looking UIs that are 100% backed by layout constraints. UIStackView automatically manages the constraints for you, letting you focus your time and energy on making the best UI possible.
7. Metal Improvements
Metal is coming to the Mac and along with it Apple has redesigned the Core Animation and Core Graphics frameworks on both the iOS and Mac platforms to take full advantage of the speedup improvements it brings. Expect to have even more silky, smooth, and fluid interactions in your everyday life.
8. iPad Multitasking
The iPad is on the cusp of becoming a completely new computer. This is not an overstatement. Anyone who uses the iPad enough has known for a long time that the device could be capable of a lot more, and iOS 9 is Apple’s answer.
Multitasking will fundamentally change how many people use and interact with the iPad.
9. Availability Checking
Swift 2.0 introduces compile time safety of API availability checks. This makes it safer, easier, and faster than ever before to support software across multiple OS versions. Gone are the days of runtime exceptions caused by calling incompatible APIs.
10. HTTP/2 Support & App Transport Security
HTTP/2 makes the web a faster place and NSURLSession will bring full HTTP/2 support to Apple devices this fall. Check this out for an interactive demo of the speed advances it brings. Additionally, Apple is requiring all apps to explicitely opt out of HTTPS, bringing greater safety to the apps we use every day.
Honorable Mention: Phil Schiller Appearance on The Talk Show
During the WWDC 2015 week, Phil Schiller appeared on the live broadcast of The Talk Show. John Gruber made the most of his appearance by focusing on both light and hard hitting questions. I hope this is a sign that Apple is opening up more and that we continue to see Apple executives make similar public appearances.