WWDC 2017: What’s Next for Mobile App Development?
Apple opened WWDC 2017 with a new video providing 5,300 developers in attendance a glimpse of what the world would look like without apps- and they didn’t like what they saw.
In the video, attendees witnessed a terrifying future of 10-car pileups in a world with no Uber or Lyft apps. There were people selling portrait selfies on the street and angry homeowners barricading the door yelling, “This isn’t an Airbnb!” The video closed with a quote, “Keep making apps. The world is depending on you.”
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook began the keynote by reassuring the audience that this would never happen but one thing is true: we’re living in an app-driven world. They’ve become so ubiquitous in our everyday lives that we rarely think about a life without them. This staggering, yet comical video showcased the important role apps play in our everyday lives.
This year, Cook announced several exciting innovations during the WWDC keynote presentation to kick off the conference. Some key takeaways include:
- Unveiling of watchOS 4, macOS Sierra, and iOS 11
- Launch of new Macs, some of which will support VR
- New speaker called the HomePod that offers Siri integration
On the mobile front, Apple introduced their latest operating system, iOS 11. Some of the new native mobile features in iOS 11 include the ability to send money to friends and family in Messages using Apple Pay, better Siri intelligence, as well as a redesigned App Store. This post outlines some key announcements that were made at WWDC 2017 and what they mean for the future of mobile app development.
iOS 11 Updates
Apple announced many new capabilities of their latest update for iOS ranging from new Photos updates to Maps integrations. We break down some notable updates for iOS 11 that will roll out later this year:
A Redesigned App Store
The App Store will have new updates in iOS 11, bringing a more seamless experience to finding the newest apps. Apple has added a “Today” tab that shows a curated feed from the App Store team to help showcase interesting apps on a daily basis. There’s a new product page with a subtitle, the option to add three autoplay videos to show off your app, as well as promote and sell in-app purchases directly from your app’s landing page. Search has also been upgraded with a new UI and algorithm to showcase developers, in-app purchases, categories, collections, and more in the search results.
The new store layout includes tabs at the bottom of the screen which will help users to filter by categories including Games, Apps, and “Today”. The new Today tab offers a way for apps to showcase their creative design and functionality. Starting in iOS 11, App Store ratings are lifetime ratings, not based on the version of the app. Additionally, you can now perform a phased roll-out of your app, releasing to customers slowly rather than all at once.
Apple says the new App Store on your mobile devices is ‘designed for discovery’ and is a way to make app downloading exciting again.
ARKit: Augmented Reality on Mobile
Augmented reality is top of mind for many companies. With the continuous release of AR integrated apps, there’s no surprise that development of augmented reality will continue to skyrocket. In 2016, PokemonGO proved that AR technology has great potential to influence consumers in engaging and meaningful ways. This year, Apple unveiled a game-changer that will help developers build more immersive experiences with the new ARkit.
Source: Artificial Reality News
Apple’s new ARKit gives developers the ability to blend digital objects and information with the surrounding environment. ARKit takes apps beyond the screen to interact with the physical world in new and engaging ways, particularly useful for gaming and retail apps.
Facebook, Google, and many other companies are recognizing the value of AR and Apple is no exception. Now, hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads will have AR capabilities, which makes Apple the largest AR platform globally.
Siri Gets More Intelligent
Apple also announced a new version of its well-known Siri voice assistant.
Now, the assistant can learn users’ search patterns on their device to better accommodate their needs. If Siri notices you’ve been spending a lot of time searching for “restaurants in New York,” it might bring up some related articles in Apple News.
Apple has also used machine learning to create more natural voices for both the male and female versions of Siri, adjusting pitch, emphasis, and tempo while speaking.
Users are demanding more personal experiences and Siri’s upgrade to better understand context and offer relevant results reveals Apple’s commitment to deliver on this.
The MusicKit API allows developers to extend the functionality of Apple Music to third-party applications. Developers can now interact Apple Music and a user’s local music library with the MusicKit APIs. These APIs allow you to access information from Apple Music, such as songs, albums, and playlists. What’s more, is that user can even opt-in to allow an app to access their local music library, where you can access information such as recently listened to songs and play them with the media player.
Business Chat for Customer Service
Improving customer service is a top priority for many companies. Business Chat allows real customer service representatives to communicate directly with users, as the feature is entirely separate from existing AI chatbot systems.
The idea is that when a consumer is looking up business information, instead of simply being presented with a phone number to call on a Google search result, they’ll instead have the option to start a chat session using iMessage.
Using Business Chat, your customers can get answers to questions, resolve issues, and complete transactions on their iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
Business Chat signals Apple’s attempt to move into a space where the main social networks such as Facebook and Twitter dominate. This new update will help companies communicate with their users and deliver effective, immediate customer service wherever they are.
Money Transfer in iMessage
Apple Pay is now expanding to include person-to-person payment features when you upgrade to iOS 11. This allows users to make and receive payments with friends and family instantly on their phones.
Users can send money and receive a payment through Messages, or command Siri to pay someone, using the credit and debit cards they already have stored in Wallet.
When users get paid, they receive the money in their new Apple Pay Cash account, which they can send on to someone else, or make purchases using Apple Pay in stores, apps, and on the web.
Drag & Drop Functionality
The new Drag and Drop functionality has been included in iOS 11. It works system-wide and can be used both within an app and across multiple apps. Multi-touch functionality allows users to select multiple items at once by tapping them.
Core NFC has also been added to allow developers to automatically detect NFC tags and read NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) messages. These APIs are in addition to apps that utilize NFC technology. With the new Core NFC framework, Apple is enabling third-party developers to make use of NFC in different ways.
tvOS, watchOS, & macOS
tvOS: Amazon Prime Video is coming soon to Apple TV and Apple’s new TV app. Tim Cook didn’t say too much but promised more updates around tvOS later this year.
watchOS 4: Apple also announced a new version of watchOS with a few exciting new features. One being a new Siri-powered watch face that uses machine learning to customize its content in real time, including reminders, traffic information, upcoming meetings, news, smart home controls, and so on.
New fitness features include smarter workout controls, more prompts to set goals and two-way workout data exchange with certain gym equipment, via partnerships with major manufacturers. The watch face can also be used as a flashlight or blinking light during late night runs. The Apple Watch will also be able to better connect with other hardware gadgets via Bluetooth. These updates will develop this coming fall.
macOS High Sierra: VR is on the top of Apple’s agenda as they displayed new hardware designed for VR apps on the Mac. macOS High Sierra featured new and improved APIs for developing virtual reality experiences. Developers can utilize technology such as Unity and Visual Studio to Mac to create immersive VR applications. Apple also added support for the Apple File System to macOS, along with some new APIs for AirPlay 2 and Core ML.
These new features in macOS, watchOS, and tvOS will be exciting additions to the Apple ecosystem that expand the capabilities developers can use to build innovative apps.
What Do These Updates Mean for Mobile App Development?
Apple continues to open up APIs and features that have not been available previously. The new iOS, TVOS, watchOS, and macOS upgrades will allow developers to build more personalized apps for users as they demand more relevancy. This year’s WWDC proved that Apple is committed to offering developers the tools they need to meet user needs in this app-driven world.
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