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WWDC 2014: iOS 8 Will be Huge for Users and Developers

Christian Keur

In their opening keynote on Monday, Apple stated that iOS 8 is their biggest update to iOS since its initial developer release with iPhoneOS 2.0. It sounds hyperbolic, but it isn’t—this year is huge, both for users and developers.

As users, we’re in for a treat: we’ll have experiences on iOS that were never before possible. And as a developer, I see a number of big themes coming out of iOS 8:

  • Improving the development experience
  • Extensibility
  • Adaptability

Improving the development experience

Apple has improved the end-to-end experience for developers. Starting with the new Swift programming language, developers will be able to write code more quickly and with fewer errors. The new Xcode has a lot of fantastic features to help with Swift development, and one of the most useful is the new Playground feature. Playgrounds allow for developers to quickly prototype and test Swift code, seeing the results of their code in real time. This new feature will be an indispensable tool to help new developers get accustomed to Swift, and we plan on taking advantage of this in our bootcamps in the near future.

At the other end of the developer experience, Apple has vastly improved the testing experience for developers. Now, internal and external beta testing is provided by Apple, and the experience will be much better than the (brilliantly) shoehorned experience that we’ve had to deal with in the past. There are so many other improvements that help during development, and I cannot wait to share these with you soon.

Extensibility

Apple has long been conservative with the degree to which third-party apps are able to interact with the device. With iOS 8, our apps can finally participate more fully in the user’s experience. Android has a similar feature called Intents, and Windows Phone’s is called Contracts.

Apple calls these Extensions, and they are certainly a game changer. There are several types of extensions. One type allows apps to share information with other apps. During the Keynote, Apple showed off posting to Pinterest directly from Safari. Another type of extension allows apps to have a Notification Center widget. Similar to the Stocks or Reminders widgets that we already have, developers can now create their own—and the possibilities are exciting.

Adaptability

A big focus for Apple this year is making our code more adaptive and more reusable. Too frequently, we write code or create interfaces for a specific device, screen size or orientation, and Apple has given us some amazing tools to free us from that bad practice. It’ll allow our applications to be written more quickly and more generally. I see this as one of the biggest changes this year. It’ll require thinking about your apps a little bit differently, but I promise that the results will pay off.

WWDC and Big Nerd Ranch

We at Big Nerd Ranch have been giddy all week. As a company, we are continuously learning and pushing our knowledge, and WWDC 2014 has elevated that to the nth degree. We are hungrily scarfing down all of the information we can get ahold of so that we can pass it along to you.

As Adam mentioned, our courses will have a Swift introduction very soon, with more big changes coming down the pipeline. It’s sincerely been an overwhelming week full of surprises, and we couldn’t be more excited to experiment with and learn more about them.

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