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WWDC18 – What does today mean for your Engineering Team?

Matthew Strickland

The eyes of the world are on San Jose as thousands of developers, including half a dozen nerds, gathered for Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference. This year’s announcements did not feature any hardware updates but there were several software updates that you will want to keep your eye on. Let’s take a quick look at a few updates your engineering team will want to be aware of in the months ahead for Siri, CoreML, ARKit, and Swift. Finally, let’s also take a glance at a major opportunity in 2019 for bringing your iOS App to macOS with a few musings from yours truly.

Siri Shortcuts

With the advancements of Alexa & Google Home, it was only a matter of time before Apple opened up more of Siri. With Siri Shortcuts, Developers can open parts of their app for users to take advantage of. Apple showed off shortcuts involving ordering coffee and making travel plans. Siri can then suggest these actions, or shortcuts, to the user at a time they are likely to need them.

As you think about how your apps function, we encourage you to isolate core functionality and open up those abilities to your users to take advantage of with Siri Shortcuts.

CoreML 2 & ARKit 2

Machine Learning is evolving quickly and Apple today put another stake in the ground for it on their platforms. CoreML 2 comes with new training scenarios and faster processing for any application. Apple is encouraging us all to use Machine Learning even if we are not an “expert”.

Augmented Reality continues to be a focus for Apple with this update to ARKit. Persistent reality, shared experiences and object tracking are sure to give us Developers lots of toys to play around with.

Apple will also be releasing a new Measure app aimed at allowing you to measure physical objects in the real world using your iOS device. As a user this is a nice to have natively on the device but also gives Developers another hook into the average user’s life to begin showing off what Augmented Reality can do.

Swift 4.2

Xcode 10 will now only support Swift 3.0, 4.0 and 4.2. Apple is encouraging all developers to upgrade their code to 4.2 as 3.0 will be deprecated next year. With Swift 4.2, Apple touts significant improvements to compile times by utilizing various Debug and Release build settings. If you are not already on the Swift train, now is the time to jump to Swift 4.2 and be ready for Swift 5 in 2019.

iOS + macOS?

Uncharacteristically, Apple teased its Developers today with the announcement of being able to bring iOS apps to macOS in 2019. Apple is learning first hand how to do this with 4 App Releases for macOS: News, Stocks, Voice Memos and HomeKit. Apple’s hope is to learn from this experience to bring a better experience for all developers next year.

For now, we can sit back and relax but I would encourage you and your teams to begin thinking now how your iOS Application may work on the macOS so that you can be ready for the 2019 arrival of UIKit to macOS. With the potential of iOS apps flooding onto macOS, this should make 2019 a revival year for Apps on the Mac.

A few final thoughts

Not much changed today for your average user or Developer for that matter. Having installed iOS 12, I was hard-pressed to wonder if my family and friends would even notice it was running an updated version. This is a good thing because Apple wants this release to be all about performance and subtle feature improvements. It is definitely faster. Apple aimed at performance and that already shows.

For your Engineering team, the updates to iOS 12 should mostly be pain-free. I would encourage you to spend a lot of time integrating with Siri and the new Shortcuts features while giving real thought towards CoreML & ARKit. There are several improvements to Xcode, tooling workflow that you will enjoy. Editor improvements like code folding, over-scroll, source control as well as Instruments performance sharing should keep you and your team happy and more productive this cycle.

As always, we here at Big Nerd Ranch will be here to partner with you as you level up and look forward to seeing this week progress during the sessions.

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