What Apple’s iOS 12 means to developers
It’s that time of the year again. iOS 12, Apple’s newest mobile operating system, will be coming to your iPhones soon. This means that we, mobile developers, are preparing ourselves and our work for this major update. We are making sure all our apps will sail smooth at launch, but it also means we get new features to play with! We installed the new beta as soon as Apple gave us access and have been looking into cool new things we can start using soon. In this article we’ve highlighted the ones for you that will impact the daily use of iOS 12 the most.
Less tapping, more talking.
Last year we looked into voice assistants quite a lot, with Siri being one of them. Unfortunately Apple has been holding us developers back, limiting the amount of features we can use the assistant for. For instance we could only use a standard set of features, like adding items to your shopping list or requesting a taxi ride.
Up till now! iOS 12 will change this with the introduction of Siri shortcuts. This new feature allows developers to open up certain app functionalities to Apple’s voice assistant. A great example is MKB Brandstof’s Parkeren app. Imagine driving away and having not yet stopped your parking session. Normally, you’d have to stop your car and pause your session manually but with Siri shortcuts we can finally open this functionality up to the user. Stopping a session can now be done safely with a quick and easy voice command!
The only downside is that the user needs to activate the shortcut himself. This means the user has to go to the shortcut settings, find the shortcut you as a developer have enabled, and set a custom phrase for it. Only then the user will be able to use Siri with your app. It’s something we’d have to create awareness for. Nonetheless still pretty cool we can start using Siri more with our apps!
Passwords can be a pain to deal with for many. Apple’s password autofill feature Keychain aims to help you by suggesting and saving a password that’s a lot safer than your usual
nameofpet-yearofbirth combination. In iOS 12 developers can now link all their password requirements to the password autofill feature. This means the system can automatically create a strong password for the user that matches the requirements you have set. This will boost the user experience, since the user doesn’t have to go through all the requirements and set the password. Save it to your keychain and create more time for things that really matter.
This post would like to send you notifications
It took a while, but Apple finally changes the way notifications are shown in iOS 12. It does this in the form of grouped notifications. Instead of having to scroll to an endless list of unsorted notifications, iOS 12 groups them per app. Influencers among us will definitely love this feature.
One of the most interesting ones for us developers is the option to deliver notifications without explicitly asking for permission. These so-called ‘quiet’ notifications only show up in the notification center but won’t alert the user on the lockscreen. To deliver such notifications we don’t need the users permission: a.k.a. a provisional permission.
However this is where it gets risky. Notifications are essential for many of our apps, but these
can we pleaseeeee send you notifications? popups are as annoying as door-to-door salesmen. On the on the other hand we don't want to spam their notification center without asking. We'll need to find a good balance between the two.
iOS knows what you want!
Have you ever tried searching for
dog in your Photos app? This functionality is powered by Apple's machine learning SDK: Core ML. Core ML is a library Apple offers to developers which makes it easy to add machine learning capabilities to their apps. For instance, we can add data-trained models that start recognising images. With iOS 12 comes the release of Core ML 2 which focuses on a few improvements:
- Smaller size
Since machine learning with Core ML fully runs on the device itself, the performance and smaller size are welcomed improvements!
Machine learning is something we’re looking into more and more and we are already experimenting with it in several apps. We can’t wait to have this in production soon!
More testing, less failure
With the introduction of iOS 12 there is also the release of a new Xcode version, the software we use for the development of our iOS apps. One of the most welcomed features is parallel testing: the possiblity to run tests across multiple device types. We make use of UITests to test certain flows and make sure nothing breaks while adding or changing functionality to the app, but these can take a long time to run. 30–60 seconds per test is not uncommon and they can add up rather quickly.
With parallel testing we will be able to run multiple clones of the simulator, making it possible to run multiple tests at the same time. This will result in shorter testing times and enabling us to spot issues faster.
iOS12 will be released later this month. We can’t wait till it’s here so we can start putting all of this into production! We’re mostly looking forward to Siri Shortcuts and the new machine learning capabilities. These two improvements bring something new to the table and and let us build next-level apps for our clients!
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