It has not been almost to the hour, exactly one week since the opening keynote for Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC).
Whilst many thought it was not that memorable of a keynote especially with no hardware, given it is a software developer focused conference, I thought it was better than we expected going into it but it was by far not the best one yet.
In this Top 10, I go over my top things announced at WWDC 2018, either during the opening keynote or in a separate WWDC session such as the Platforms State of the Union or other sessions during the week.
This list is also in no particular order.
1. iOS 12 Improved Performance
For a device such as the iPhone 6 Plus which is almost 4 years old, can be now getting up to 40% faster app launches, keyboard appearing up to 50% faster and accessing the camera from the lock screen up to 70% faster than on iOS 11.
This should hopefully get the performance closer to what it was originally back in 2014.
One of the many reason I chose to upgrade from my 5s to the iPhone X was because it was getting slow and laggy for me on iOS 10. Hopefully this will help keep people in the Apple ecosystem and be one less reason for them to switch to Android.
2. macOS Dark Mode In-Apps
Before I go any further, WHY NOT IOS??????
Well seriously, I can tell why it didn’t come to iOS 12. Due to all of the issues in iOS 11 they focused more on refining iOS as it is, developers can test and learn how to best implement dark mode on macOS Mojave (love how it’s pronounced) to then take similar practices to iOS next year and the dark mode might work better alongside the redesigned home screen in some shape or form.
Dark Mode however might have an even bigger impact for me as a daily MacBook Pro user, it would mean Xcode (possibly Android Studio), BBEdit alongside other apps I use regularly like Microsoft Office, macOS Mail, iTunes etc. will all look better with a dark mode and especially at night and for longer sessions.
This does get me thinking if an OLED MacBook is coming sometime soon to take advantage of the Dark Mode. Seems funny Apple has OLED on iOS devices with iOS not having a native Dark Mode, yet Mac hardware don’t have OLED but macOS supports native Dark Mode. OLED MacBook Pro would be slick!
3. Siri Shortcuts
I was hoping for major changes to Siri this year knowing full well it wasn’t going to happen, but Siri Shortcuts really got my attention during the presentation.
My immediate thought on this was that it looks like a stop-gap solution to show they aren’t abandoning Siri until a true Siri 2.0 comes out maybe next year, but the power of Siri Shortcuts could easily be something that is useful now and after the true Siri 2.0 comes out. To me this is why Apple likely accelerated this project to get it out this year so the true Siri successor can be delayed for as early as a 2019 release.
Siri Shortcuts will allow app developers to give users the ability to set custom or suggested phrases to Siri, then can carry out a series of actions if that is the case. E.g. instead of me having to manually typing an “On way” SMS to send, queue up an album to play and setup directions to take me home, I can now say to Siri “Heading Home” and it would do all of those for me in a couple of seconds. This is a massive time-saver, especially when you are running late or want to get on the road sooner to beat the traffic coming home.
The fact that the shortcuts app allows people to setup their own manual shortcuts, whilst I’d imagine everyone could benefit from it in someway, I question how many will actually do it. Being tech-savvy like myself, you’d be bound to setup at least a couple to use daily, but the average user may see it as though they shouldn’t need to tell their virtual assistant what to do for them.
4. Swift ABI Stability in 2019
Swift as a programming language was announced in 2014, and made open-source in 2015.
This time next year, Swift is expected to be finalized as no more changes to the language will be made.
This will be important for two major reasons. The first being it’ll be easier for developers to learn the language and get technical/programming support. The second which I find more important is that the frameworks that Swift calls upon can then be bundled into an upcoming version of iOS and not the specific version built into every app, which means a lot of apps will get a decrease in file size, which will result in faster downloads, faster updates, less Wi-Fi usage, less cellular data usage and less storage taken up on your device.
We have apps currently such as Facebook which is 330MB in size and YouTube being almost 140MB in size. Imagine if these were 30% smaller purely because of the Swift frameworks being included in the OS instead of each app. It would even more remove the need for people to go for the larger sized device, which also saves people money.
5. UIKit Support coming to macOS
This is the biggest for developers when it comes to announcements.
UIKit is the framework iPhone and iPad developers use to create the visual elements of their apps.
AppKit is the framework Mac developers use to create the visual elements of their apps.
There are infinitely more apps created using UIKit instead of AppKit, so bringing UIKit to macOS will open the gateways to a flood of new apps coming to macOS, which could change how you use your Mac day to day.
Imagine if al of your favourite social media apps had a strong and frequently updated app on macOS. You’d be more inclined to keep those in your dock and use them when needed instead of having another tab in Chrome or Safari for each.
Apple has a few new apps using UIKit in macOS Mojave and developers like myself can access this from this time next year.
6. Digital Wellbeing Measures
There is no denying people are addicted to their technology.
Any of the projects I’ve worked on to date, have been about creating software to help improve your quality of life and not designed to be sat on for hours on end.
Apple’s now recognized this is an issue and that they may even result in less future iPhone sales as a result of people knowing their data.
I’m curious to see how much I actually use my iPhone and iPad on a daily basis, but very confident it is the majority of the time no-where near as much as others.
7. Xcode 10
The biggest improvements in Xcode 10 I’ve found for my usage include:
- Performance improvements to storyboard (on my wishlist).
- Performance improvements to autocomplete when typing code.
- Performance improvements to opening documents.
- Folding to code in the Source Editor has been re-added (on my wishlist).
- Dark Mode supported every-where, not just in the Source Editor.
To find out the top new changes, I recommend this video by Sean Allen highlighting the main changes.
8. ARKit 2.0
ARKit 2.0 brings support for:
- Shared experiences,
- Support for persistent AR objects for people to revisit in the future,
- USDZ file type for making ARKit visual objects quicker via Adobe Creative Cloud.
- From what I can tell, even more improved performance.
9. Redesigned Navigation for iPad
iOS 11 removed the need to use the home button on the iPad, but it’s navigation was not consistent with the iPhone X.
Now Apple has made all iPads running iOS 12 work by using the same gestures as the iPhone X. This includes swipe up and hold to now get multitasking, swipe up and let go to the home screen and swipe down from the top right to access Control Centre.
Now, I’m still not a fan of Control Centre being in the top right corner, but I would give these new navigation changes to iPad as the concrete conclusion that the gestures on the iPhone X are not going to change or at least any-time soon.
Therefore complaints on people wanting Control Centre to move are likely going to be a waste of time, because Apple does not see a better place for it.
Also, getting these new control gestures and redesigned status bar proves that a) an iPad Pro with no home button and Face ID included is coming likely in a few months and b) you do not need to get a new iPad if you literally want to use it all without the home button. You had to press the home button to unlock your iPad but now you can swipe up to unlock or to then put in your PIN.
I personally think this plus software update lifecycle being extended by another year, makes the new “iPad” designed more for the education market an even more attractive for value for money.
10. iOS 12 supports all iOS 11 compatible devices
We suspected this was going to happen given how buggy iOS 11 was (but wasn’t that bad for me), so this basically removes the need for me to upgrade my original iPad Air before the end of the year, just to get the latest version of iOS. This will likely buy me only one more year to determine what to do if I were to upgrade my own personal tablet.
Overall, I thought WWDC 2018 was great, but I came out of it better than I thought I would going into it given that we weren’t expecting much and I usually let myself down the past few years on expectations, so I kept them low this year.
I didn’t mention anything about watchOS 5 and tvOS 12 as I don’t think any of the announcements were that exciting, especially for how I use the watch and I don’t currently have an Apple TV. I likely only would for tvOS app development.
The way things are shaping up for Apple’s software right now, I can say that most rumours for next year’s software updates will be focused on the following:
- Full UIKit support for macOS
- Swift being finalized
- Redesigned iOS home screen
- Dark Mode coming to iOS
- Siri 2.0
If one of these happens at WWDC 2019, then it will be a great keynote (especially for developers), but we know the first two are in 2019. The new iOS home screen is rumoured to be delayed to next year, Dark Mode on iOS next year could be delayed as part of the home screen redesign to also improve iOS stability this year and Siri 2.0 is likely due in 2019 or 2020 given rumours and recent hires/acquisitions, including one of the top AI experts from Google.
What was your highlight of WWDC 2018? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.