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Highlights from WWDC 2018

By Chloe Horgan, Michael Cengarle, Nate Udren, and Bryan Norden

This year’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicked off with a keynote by Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook. He introduced all the updates for iOS 12, including grouped notifications, group FaceTime — which supports up to 32 users!! — and the Memoji, which lets users create customizable emojis — and with tongue detection.

Similar to Android P and against the backdrop of growing concerns, the predominant theme of iOS 12 revolves around digital health and attempts to reduce smartphone overuse. For example, the new dashboard allows users to input limits on app-use and screen time, and it provides detailed data about app and phone usage. However, and unlike Google’s version of the feature, iOS 12 allows users to ignore and snooze screen time limits. Do Not Disturb was also enhanced with the intention to eliminate distractions and notifications, and there are family monitoring features for parents concerned about their children’s phone use. The updates are ultimately meant to help users make more informed decisions regarding their phone and app usage while encouraging downtime.

Siri also gets an update with suggestions and shortcuts. The shortcut feature allows users to add their own actions and customize Siri commands based on their personal activities. A single shortcut can be multi-step as well as multi-app. For example, if you order your coffee from the same app every morning, Siri will suggest you make this action a shortcut. If you’re about to head home, you can tell Siri, which will shortcut to your HomePod to adjust your thermostat, iMessage your partner to tell them you’re coming home, and so on. This feature works anywhere Siri does, iPads, HomePod, CarPly, and any app that supports Siri.

Apple announced the new edition of ARKit, which includes a persistent multi-user AR experience. With AR World Map, users can set anchors and develop spatial awareness in the app for repeated and multi-person AR experiences: Two or more people can share and interact with the same virtual space and its’ objects. The map can also be saved so that previous anchors can be recalled and used for a further virtual experience.

Last year Apple released Core ML, this year we get Create ML. Create ML is a machine learning framework native to Swift that allows for simple machine learning training. Nearly any user with access to a Mac can train vision and natural language data with custom data to create a machine learning model.

Aside from improved performance, Xcode 10 updates include multi-cursor editing, custom instruments, custom code snippets with support for languages besides Swift and Objective-C, and added collaboration features. Now, Xcode can be used with GitHub, GitHub Enterprise, Bitbucket Cloud and Server,, and GitLab self-hosted. Developers will be able to see changes made by another developer in the gutter, and changes that have yet to be pulled into the project. For a visual update, Xcode now supports dark mode. Developers can create dark apps for macOS and can easily switch between modes for debugging; there are also light, dark, and high contrasts. Xcode 10 includes Swift 4.2, allowing developers to compile software quickly. In Swift, Apple announced SDK improvements and removed boilerplate code. The marriage between Xcode and Swift also speeds up debugging while using incremental build settings in larger Swift projects. Basically, the latest Swift compiler allows developers to build large apps faster and more efficiently.

Apple also announced their universal framework, nicknamed Marzipan, which likely won’t be offered to developers until 2019. But we do know it will allow developers to make iOS apps available on MacOS by bundling universal frameworks. Marzipan will then greatly reduce development time.

A handful of updates come along with watchOS 5: Users can challenge their friends to a fitness or activity competition, podcasts are now available on the Apple Watch, and there is a new walkie-talkie feature. The watch can provide alerts for personalized coaching, pace monitoring, and automatic workout detection.

In line with every other company, Apple is now enhancing its security and privacy. Users will need to grant permission for any app or website that wants to access the camera, microphone, location, system cookies, and more! Users will be able to make these permission changes in the Security and Privacy section of System Preferences, and there will also be push notifications that request user permission. Additionally, device settings will become private so that every Mac looks identical to a 3rd party. There will also be a built-in password manager that syncs across devices and conducts audits.

Bryan, Mike, Nate, and Chloe are all Agile iOS Software Engineers at TribalScale, representing both the OC and Toronto teams.

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