Apple’s WWDC 2018 came to a close last week, and this year’s keynote showcased several new updates that will undoubtedly shake up mobile app development.
Here’s what you need to know.
To no one’s surprise, Apple unveiled their next mobile operating system – iOS 12. This year’s emphasis is on speed and performance, specifically, extending performance capabilities to Apple’s older devices from 2013, like iPhone 5S.
In his opening address, Craig Federghi, Apple’s VP of Software Engineering, announced that the deepest focus for iOS 12 is optimizing the system when it’s under load. On older devices, iOS 12 offers a few key improvements to several common device operations.
However, enhanced performance was only the first of this year’s WWDC iOS 12 announcements.
At WWDC 2018, the push for Apple to remain the most powerful platform for augmented reality was clear. Apple’s goal for AR is to extend the benefits of the technology across the entire iOS system. In collaboration with Pixar, Apple created a new file format for AR: USDZ.
USDZ is a compact, single-format file which is optimized for sharing while retaining stunning 3D graphics and animations. With USDZ, AR can be used across the whole iOS system from the Files app to Messages, Mail, and Safari.
For developers and designers, Adobe Creative Cloud offers full native support for USDZ, so creatives can continue to use the programs they know and love to deliver AR experiences. It’s now possible to bring any design asset from Creative Cloud into a native AR environment, creating a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” editor.
ARKit is the technology that powers so many AR experiences, and it opens up the world of AR to hundreds of millions of mobile users.
“We are on a relentless pace of advancement with AR, and that continues today with ARKit 2.”
– Abhay Parasnis, Adobe
ARKit 2 delivers improvements to face tracking, rendering, 3D object detection, and notably, shared experiences. For the first time, developers can use ARKit 2 to create multi-user augmented reality experiences with individual perspectives on a shared virtual plain.
Over a trillion photographs are captured and shared on iPhone each year. At WWDC this year, Photos gets additional sharing capabilities. Users can build private, encrypted libraries which they can share with other Photos users.
iOS 12 offers users an additional interface in photos called For You. Essentially, For You collects photo memories, displays feature photos, makes effect suggestions and highlights a user’s shared album activity. For You also makes sharing suggestions. For example, if you take photos at a particular event, face recognition technology identifies what people are in the photos and For You will send a suggestion notification to share the photos with those people.
There is little to be said about the new additions to iPhone Messages. Animoji adds four new critters to the line-up: koala, tiger, t-rex, and ghost. Also, Apple has added Memoji, which essentially capitalizes on Snapchat’s Bitmoji concept, but makes the avatars interactive.
Apple also amped up FaceTime this year. The feature now allows up to 32 simultaneous participants on a call. FaceTime also has a new Messages integration which will enable users to jump from a group chat to a group call easily.
To catch up to the other brands dominating the voice technology landscape, Apple added new capabilities to Siri. The best of the Siri’s updates is the Shortcuts App, which is similar to Reminders but powered by voice. Essentially, the app lets users program common behaviors and learns from usage patterns so Siri can make suggestions in between. From Shortcuts, users can drag and drop personalized steps to make personalized shortcuts.
Borrowing a similar sentiment shared at Google I/O this year, Apple has created a new suite of apps focused on promoting digital wellbeing.
Apple now gives users more control over what notifications they receive with a feature called Instant Tuning. This new feature allows users to adjust notification settings and pick which notifications they’d like to bypass and send straight to Notification Center. Users only have to press into a notification right on the lock screen, and they have the option to bypass the notification or turn them off altogether. Siri will also make suggestions to turn off notifications for apps a user is no longer using. Grouped Notifications is now available, as well. Notifications that all fall under a particular theme are grouped and users can swipe away a package of notifications at once.
Similar to the new Android operating system, iOS 12 comes equipped with an Activity Report. Comprehensive reports show users the time they spend in apps, usage data across categories of apps, how many push notifications they receive, how many times they pick up their phone and what’s drawing them in. Users also have the option to set a specific time limit on apps of their choice.
watchOS 5: Most of the watchOS 5 updates are fitness related; however, overall the Apple Watch is now a more reliable companion for fitness, communication, and easy access to information. Some notable feature updates include Activity Sharing competitions, Apple Podcasts, Walkie-Talkie, auto-detect workouts, and third-party app integrations.
Walkie-Talkie appeals to the kid in all of us and allows for quick communication to any Apple Watch wearer. This new watch-to-watch communication feature is fast and connects to any Apple Watch around the world using Wi-Fi or cellular data.
tvOS 12: AppleTV 4K is enhancing the cinematic experience with Dolby Atmos. tvOS 12 will be the only streaming device both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certified. Also, Apple is simplifying the onboarding experience by allowing users to log in to their subscription services without using any sign-in credentials.
macOS Mojave: In macOS Mojave, a new Dark Mode which enhances user content. The new Stacks feature cleans up even the messiest desktops by organizing files into neat stacks. Familiar iOS applications like Stocks, Voice Memos, News, and Home are now compatible with macOS. As well, the Mac App Store received a complete overhaul. The Mac App Store redesign showcases new and updated apps in the Discover Tab, and includes new tabs like Create, Work, Play, and Develop to help users find the apps they need.
This year, the new Focus App Suite will be a particular concern for developers looking to market their products and reach new user bases. As people become more conscious of how they’re using their phones and try to limit screen time, developers will need to explore new methods for attracting and retaining users aside from push notifications. However, with the right marketing strategy in place, this is an issue that can easily be overcome.
In 10 years, the App Store has completely changed the way we live: its enabled countless new businesses, created millions of jobs, and generated entirely new industries. As of 2018, the App Store has over 500 million weekly visitors. Although the mobile app development landscape is constantly changing, the demand for mobile apps still exists and will only continue to grow.