A Developer’s Take on WWDC 2017: What Apple Didn’t Tell You

6 Things You Didn’t Hear During the WWDC 2017 Keynote

What excites your average consumer at the WWDC isn’t necessarily the same thing that excites developers. Last week, thousands of the tech industry’s crème de la crème gathered at the WWDC in San Jose, CA for the yearly conference that reveals Apple’s highly anticipated products and software updates.

The conference’s highlight was the Keynote, where over the course of an hour and a half, the audience was delighted by the big news and the “you heard it here first” announcements for what to expect from Apple within the year. The WWDC isn’t just the Keynote, contrary to popular belief. It’s only one portion of an entire 4-day conference. Developers might have listened to the Keynote, but what really excites them is what Apple doesn’t reveal in their main Keynote event.

1. PROOF THAT APPLE’S ODD YEAR CONSOLIDATION RELEASES ARE TRUE

You might remember that iOS 10 was the bomb. Features included a completely redesigned Lock screen, rich notifications, quick interaction with apps, and expanded 3-D touch. iOS even years like iOS 10 and 8 really excited developers. However, the theory behind the Odd Year Consolidation Release is that on the odd years like iOS 9 and now iOS 11, Apple focuses on performance enhancers vs. adding new features.

Although iOS 11 promises a break into the deep learning algorithms, these developments are seen as just an enhancement, as opposed to a groundbreaking new feature. The new library of algorithms will be made available to developers. However, developers doubt the quality of the data collected. Apple, unlike Google, only collects data on their devices, whereas Google collects user data on their Google Cloud. Because deep learning algorithms rely on collecting massive amounts of user data, Apple could be stunting the quality of their algorithms because of their stringent privacy policy. A stronger privacy policy means that you have less data to leverage.

2. THEY TELL YOU WHAT THEY’RE ADDING, BUT NOT WHAT THEY’RE REMOVING

When you watch the Keynote address at WWDC, Apple focuses on exciting new rollouts but doesn’t cover what they won’t be bringing back. For example, when they announced the new iPad Pro 10.5-inch among the entire iPad family, viewers might have noticed that the iPad Pro 9.7-inch was nowhere in sight.

Even with the new features in core ML and 3-D programs, Apple doesn’t tell you which APIs will be deprecated.

Removing APIs affects current development because apps are continually being updated. Staying up to date on what Apple is both releasing and redacting makes sure that developers always know the new way of doing things.

As screen sizes on Apple devices are added and phased out, you would think that developers would be sweating right about now. How will you write code for the infinite screen sizes on the market for Apple products? Luckily, Apple developers write code that’s screen-size agnostic, designed to handle any screen size. With Apple’s constraint-based system, appearance on the screen is determined by how far apart objects are vs. where they should be on the screen.

3. iPHONE: EVERYTHING IS “A LITTLE BETTER” WITH INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS

Unlike the last few years, at WWDC 2017 Apple did not announce a new iPhone. The highly talked about iPhone 8 is still under wraps from Apple, despite some rumored leaked photos of the design prototype.

It will be interesting to see how Apple’s sales are affected this year, considering that a majority of their global sales come from the iPhone. Instead of launching a new iPhone, Apple announced improvements that will be rolled out in iOS 11 like updated camera settings for long exposure and photo and video compression.

4. IMPROVED SOURCE CODE EDITOR IN XCODE 9 WILL MAKE WRITING APPS EASIER FOR DEVELOPERS

Developers use an application on their Macs called Xcode to write mobile apps.

Xcode 9 is a completely re-written version of Xcode that features a brand new source code editor written in Swift. This is one of the biggest changes for developers because of many new features and support for Swift code formatting, editing, and refactoring.

Adding wireless coding allows developers to write code offline and still have access to the new drag and drop editor. The updated features also include faster indexing with the ability for Xcode to index a project while building. App writing just got a whole lot swifter.

5. IS THE NEW iMAC PRO A TRAP?

There’s a new Mac Pro being released in 2018? Where did you hear that? They didn’t announce it during the keynote. The new iMac Pro is a brand new Apple product that will not be released until this December. It’s going to look like the current 27-inch 2017 Mac Pro but painted in the sleek Space Grey matte finish. The new iMac Pro will have the option for an 8-core, 10-core, and 18-core Xeon processor with 4.5 Ghz out of the box. The new redesigned thermal cooling architecture with fans makes this beast of a machine all possible.

But who’s going to buy this ultra-high luxe unibody product that is not upgradeable? The vast majority of people who are buying a Mac for their desktops are buying an iMac. iMac Pro is above the current iMac, which means it could be great for content creators, video editors, and photographers. The downside is that the iMac Pro is not upgradable, so you’re stuck with it as-is for its entire life.

The Mac Pro on the other hand, with its modular design, is going to be released a few months after the new iMac Pro in 2018. All-In-Ones, like the iMac Pro, make it extremely difficult to make any hardware changes. Sleek design does come with a price, and if you are going to spend $5k+ on a desktop machine, you might as well wait for the new Mac Pro’s release in 2018.

6. HOMEPOD MIGHT BE APPLE’S BIG ANNOUNCEMENT, BUT DEVELOPERS REALLY LOVE ARKIT & MACHINE LEARNING TOOLS

Even though HomePod, the Apple competitor to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, was the announcement that everyone was waiting for, developers were thrilled for the release of an entire tool kit dedicated to Augmented Reality and Machine Learning. Now the 17 million Apple Developers will have access to tools that will help them utilize AR in the games and apps they develop.

The new system allows for 3-D objects to proportionally move and position in the phone’s camera field of view and includes breakthroughs in accessibility to Machine Learning intelligence algorithms, facial recognition software and language understanding and barcode detection.

Google began their AR journey with Project Tango in 2014 developing a mobile camera system with depth sensors that can plot surroundings in 3-D. A major difference is that Tango is only available on two Android phones and a few other Android devices with their latest system update. The beauty of ARKit by Apple is that it opens up this technology to the wealth of global iPhone users. It remains to be seen if Apple’s machine learning will rival the mass amount of data collected by Google, but the future’s looking bright.

With the many changes announced at this year’s WWDC, one thing is certain: Developers will have a lot of catching up to do. Luckily Apple has published an entire video library of the sessions from WWDC developer talks.

Click to View the Entire Library of Developer Videos at WWDC 2017


Haneke Design is a custom software development company in Tampa, FL.

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