WWDC Week 2017 Recap

This is for business owners and technology leaders who utilize, or are adjacent to, Apple technologies. WWDC is Apple’s yearly developer event where they announce what’s in store on their platforms. This post will highlight the key themes of WWDC Week. I spent the week in San Jose talking tech and enjoying the sunshine so you don’t have to. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

Here are some of the key themes

Investment in development environment

Apple revealed impressive investment in their build tools. Developers have been complaining about the current state of Apple’s development tools. Swift development has been particularly hampered by poor tool support. The long compile times and Xcode crashes have hurt developer productivity across the board. Apple has listened and announced significant improvements for their Xcode development environment. Developer response to beta versions of these improvements have been overwhelmingly positive.

New frameworks for iOS and Mac developers

Apple announced some new frameworks that allow developers to integrate complex functionality into their apps with less effort. Here are some highlights.

Core ML

Core ML brings Machine Learning (ML) processing to the device. This greatly streamlines the ability for companies to use advanced ML algorithms within their apps. Core ML opens he door for many new apps to use ML. Previously, running a ML model usually required integration with a cloud provider like Google or Azure.

CoreML especially benefits these types of apps

  • Apps that generate large datasets that are problematic to send to a cloud provider
  • Apps that faster feedback
  • Apps that need to work offline

Previously, ML could be used offline and without cloud support but it required writing the algorithms by hand. Core ML integration makes this process much simpler.

ARKit

ARKit allows developers to add virtual experiences to the real world. This is known as Augmented Reality. Instead of an expensive wearable device like Microsoft’s Hololens, Apple is providing a solution with devices already in the hands of millions. ARKit reduces the effort needed to build Augmented Reality experiences in iOS apps.

For examples of ARKit in use, check out the madewithARKit twitter feed. The developer community has created impressive demos.

iPad

The iPad begins to blur the lines between desktop and tablet. Apple announced changes that move the iPad closer in functionality to Microsoft’s Surface and Google’s Chromebook. Some examples of this is the improvements multi-tasking and addition of drag and drop functionality. This allows users to switch data between apps in ways that used to be difficult. This allows more people to use an iPad as a primary device without relying on a companion Mac. Line of business iPad apps should explore how to increase their users productivity.

AltConf

AltConf is an independent conference held at the same time and city as WWDC. While WWDC show us Apple’s announcements, AltConf shows us how announcements from previous years are being used in the industry.

Swift As A Server Language

Swift has made huge steps forward as a viable server language. There are now multiple backend frameworks for Swift that have mature features and solid communities. Capital One is releasing one of its services running Swift. The beacon.party app released during WWDC was also Swift from app to server.

A major driver of adoption is the ability to use the same language for server and client apps.

Hosting options have improved with Heroku now supporting Swift apps. Swift can also run on most Cloud providers (Amazon/Azure/BlueMix) via a Docker container.

As with any new technology, hosting Swift apps has rough edges. Unless your company is dedicated to investing heavily in Swift as a language, you will find more stable platforms a better fit for development options. Most companies will want to stick with more mature options.

Swift for IoT

Swift for the Internet of Things is still a ways off, but there are active projects in development to allow Swift code to run on IoT devices.

This years WWDC provided many new ways to improve apps to better server their customers. Think any of these new announcements can grow your business?

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Originally published at Sharp Five Software.