GUEST BLOG* : Impressions for Apple's WWDC

Guest Blog* from Reuben Bijl, Co-fouder at Smudge Apps . Smudge are a TUANZ member and was born at the start of the smartphone revolution.  They have been building mobile apps for the last 6 and a half years with clients such as Vodafone, SKY TV, STUFF and YELLOW.

"Apple hosts about 4 keynote events annually, and of these, WWDC (dub dub) is the odd one out. The focus for the week long event is what Apple’s software engineer’s have been working on over the last year and what that means for the scores of people who develop on Apple’s platforms.

I like to look at the announcements and changes through two lenses to interpret what the changes mean for us. These are; what are the things that are connected and are iterated on, and what are departures from the status quo.

The iterations

One constant since Apple introduced Mac OS X from the acquisition of NeXT has been it’s refinement and improvement. The shared software stack across iOS, OS X and now watchOS is a key strength for Apple and the relentless development of this stack shows it’s importance to Apple as the foundation of their software platforms.

Included in this software stack are all of the toolsets that are used to develop software. Apple has continued to refine and take ownership over all aspects of this stack most obviously starting 10 years ago with the introduction of their own compiler LLVM, to innovations like ARC to the introduction of Swift with no signs of slowing down with Swift 2 already this year.

Multitasking for iPad is another piece of the software toolchain that has had continuos improvements over the last few years. The first of these being the ability to support multiple screen heights with iOS 6 for the iPhone 5, followed by a set of technologies called Auto-Layout and Size Classes in iOS 7 and iOS 8 respectively that all contributed to making multitasking possible. The stage is set for new iPad’s that take full advantage of these new software features.

The Music app on iOS hadn’t been touched for a long time, however, I see Apple Music as an iteration as it shares many of the same features as the app it replaces combined with the features from the Beats Music App that was purchased as part of Beats last year.

This culture of taking something existing and making it better goes right through the stack. An example of how deeply Apple care about making the best products was revealed in their announcement that they had improved touchscreen technology. Apple was already the industry leader in how quickly the device can recognise a touch input and for most people it was good enough. Apple weren’t content with that and refined touch even further to halve the latency in recognising touch input. They made it twice as fast even though it was already the best in the industry.

The Changes

The conscious decision to include veteran senior female staff as presenters marks a new era of prioritising diversity. Alongside comments from both Phil Schiller and Tim Cook I am expecting to see a lot more in this space with the belief that this will impact both the products and the culture around the technology industry for the better. A major mark of this commitment to creating a variety of industry role models was that it was the first of the last fifty keynotes that Phil Schiller has not presented.

Creating a first party News app is an interesting departure from a folder of 3rd party News and Magazine apps with Newsstand. In a few months iOS 9 will most likely be on half a billion devices and this new approach from Apple has the potential to accelerate users away from both news sites and apps.

Another massive change was that Phil Schiller was interviewed live on an enthusiast Podcast by John Gruber called the Talk Show. He candidly answered questions about a range of topics, from the storage capacity of the entry level 16GB iPhone to the trade off between device thinness and battery life. For great insight into Apple culture and the thinking behind various topics I would highly recommend watching the video at https://vimeo.com/130510366.

For anyone that makes their living off Apple platforms the next 3 months give insight into Apple’s iteration at work as we get new version of watchOS 2, iOS 9 and el capitan every 2-3 weeks as they prepare for the next keynote and public launch of their work.

*Guest Blogs do not necessarily reflect TUANZ official position but are posted to encourage debate and discussion on pertinent issues.