Top 10: Announcements from WWDC 2018

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

siri1

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

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.

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WWDC 2018: Last Minute Predictions

In short, all software and 1-2 hardware announcements at most.

It feels slightly weird going into this WWDC compared to the past few, because we don’t know anything major that is happening and that iOS which always gets the most attention, will not be getting much development work this year.

Back in February this year (god feels a long time ago), I did a post every day about what I wanted to see at WWDC 2018 when it comes to software.

Based on recent rumours/leaks, we should be expecting at the very least when it comes to software:

  • iOS
    • Digital Wellbeing focus like in Android P.
    • Focus on stability and bug fixes, even if the initial betas are not that reliable.
    • Landscape support for Face ID
    • More Animojis (YAH!!!! – Said no one ever).
    • Animoji option on Facetime calls
    • Improved Do Not Disturb Mode
    • ARKit 2.0 Mode with Peer-to-Peer Multiplayer Support
    • Expanded NFC Capabilities
    • Redesigned Stocks App
    • Revamped iBooks app to be called Apple Books and look like iOS 11 App Store.
  • macOS
    • Name that is not related to Sierra but based in California.
    • True Dark Mode support
    • Apple News App Included
    • Apple FileSystem added for Fusion Drive Macs.
  • watchOS
    • Pride rainbow coloured watch face being available on your watch after the keynote has finished.
  • Development
    • Xcode 10/X
    • Swift 5 Released

At the time of posting being 15hrs away from the opening keynote, I want to go over my top 10 things I want to see at WWDC taking recent rumours into consideration, which I did not have much to base it on back in February.

1. True Dark Mode on macOS AND iOS

In a recent leak by developer Steve Troughton Smith, shows a short video of Xcode 10 running on macOS in what looks like an improved Dark Mode.

There are at least five ways you can tell that an improved Dark Mode is coming compared to what was introduced in OS X Yosemite.

  • Top Menu Bar of macOS is Darker.
  • Dock has an almost black background to it.
  • The Rubbish Bin is darker than before. Even in Dark Mode on High Sierra it’s an off-white colour.
  • The top row in Xcode is dark, which even if you set the source editor to be a dark background.
  • The storyboard background behind the view controllers shown is black, which can only be White in Xcode 9.4 and earlier.

None of this is showing that a Dark Mode is not coming to iOS, but if they are putting this much work into it for macOS, then the same team could likely be doing this for iOS.

I have been thinking lately, why has Apple not done this before now. It’s also rumoured that WebKit will support Dark Mode, so I suspect we might also see a JavaScript API to detect if the user is running Dark Mode therefore changing the look of the website to accommodate the dark looking OS. Worst thing of having a Dark UI is seeing a bright webpage.

Chance of Happening: macOS – 90% and iOS – 75%

2. iOS Apps on Mac or UIKit for Mac.

A lot of developers have been requesting heavily ever since rumours started, to get either iOS apps to be more easily ported to macOS, or allow macOS apps to be developed using the same UIKit used to build iOS apps in Xcode.

If they add one of these, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be doing the other. Doing so might mean the official Twitter app might come back to macOS, some stock iOS apps can more easily be ported, and popular apps like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube can get dedicated Mac apps with very little extra development work from the developers end. This alone would be the biggest disruptor to my day-to-day routine on my MacBook.

3. Any improvements what Siri is capable of doing

Siri is expected to barely get a look in this year, but I hope that we at the very least see some improvement to Siri.

If Apple does nothing or add one or two small features, it’s still going to get bashed by the developer community more so than the general public, but I see it as though Apple needs a stop-gap addition to Siri to tie then over until the true Siri 2.0 gets released, possibly next year.

We know Apple recently hired a top Aritificial Intelligence specialist from Google, so we know they’re aware that Siri is not that strong but major changes will take time. So I expect substantially more to be added to Siri next year than even the last 2 years combined, all likely next year. But please do something at the very least with it this year.

4. iPhone X Software Improvements

I still love my iPhone X. I do not regret getting it and next to never bothered me.

There are still a few things that Apple could do to the iPhone X which will be important for all the new phones they’ll announce in September. This includes:

  • Optional battery percentage inside the battery icon to the right of the notch.
  • Relocate Control Centre to the Multitasking screen with opened apps being at the top of the screen. Single swipe up to go home, swipe up and hold for control centre & multitasking.
  • Improved Face ID frequency for scanning your face or button to press to rescan manually.
  • Changeable icons on the lock screen. Camera one makes no sense.

Relocating Control Centre like I said would also help with people transitioning from their Touch ID based iPhone to one without because that is another gesture that will be very similar, even if not identical.

5. Redesigned Volume HUD for iOS and macOS

There is nothing more annoying than when you are watching a video or reading an article and you need to alter your phone’s volume for various reasons, it covers the content.

Especially on the iPhone X, it should be relocated to the left or right of the notch for the couple of seconds it’s needed.

On macOS it should probably be moved to the top right corner where notifications come in, or even in the top menu bar with the volume icon being extended horizontally for a couple of seconds.

I understand having it in the middle makes it more obvious for users, but if you alert them to the change, you’ll get a lot of people supporting the decision, even if they did not think of the idea beforehand.

6. Xcode 10’s storyboard being re-engineered in Swift

In Xcode 9, the source editor where you type your Swift code was re-engineered from the ground up with Swift to get faster performance etc.

I am hoping this year that Apple does the same to the Storyboard because that I feel needed more performance improvements compared to the Source Editor, especially if you have more than half a dozen view controllers on the screen, it can some-times take 5-6 seconds to switch to it on my computer. It’s that slow, it’s made me even look into upgrading my MacBook even though it’s perfect for everything else I do.

I sometimes even get quite a bit of lag when it comes to dragging elements around the screen etc., so yes the storyboard needs to be rebuilt.

7. Opt-in Always On Display for OLED Devices

One of the biggest recent differentiators between iPhone and the majority of Android flagship smartphones is an Always On Display.

I would imagine Apple has not added this to the iPhone X because of battery life concerns, but I can tell you straight up now, I’m getting 2-2.5x more out of a single charge compared to my iPhone 5s.

I practically find it impossible to full diplete the battery in a single day, so I’d be more than happy to use a little extra juice for a feature I could benefit from. Heck, it could even save me battery not having to wake up the phone every few minutes. Not to mention it would also make a great bedside clock.

8. Xcode 10 re-adds collapsable methods to the Source Editor

In Xcode 8 and earlier, you could click a little button to the left of methods in the source editor and will minimize that method to take up only one line, regardless of how long it is.

This is more useful for developers that have thousands lines inside each file and especially when they only need to focus on a couple of methods and not the dozens that are in each file, making scrolling to the right content that much faster.

9. AirPower Release Date/Window Announced

I’ve only really put this on my list because I’m getting sick of people saying “When’s AirPower being released??”

AirPower allow you to charge up to 3 devices at the same time on one charging mat.

I predict that this will not be announced on stage but silently on their website, unless the first product in the next section is announced and will probably cost around as much as the AirPods.

10. Hardware: iPhone SE 2 and Beats Speaker with Siri

Lots of people are predicting the iPhone SE 2 will be announced at WWDC 2018.

I thought it was certainly a possibility it would happen, but didn’t really believe it was coming with the iPhone X like design for a iPhone SE design.

Rumours suggest that the next version of the iPhone SE will have the iPhone X design, but if they did this and release it at WWDC, the price will have to go up to more like current iPhone 7 pricing, which is a few hundred dollars in your local currency roughly than the current iPhone SE.

Gene Munster also predicts a Beats Speakers is coming that has Siri support built-in, essentially being a cheaper HomePod.

I struggle to understand why Apple would do this, if anything I would understand a HomePod Mini but not a Beats Speaker that has Siri integrated. The Beats brand should just be kept to selling dedicated speakers and headphones that don’t have an interactive Apple technologies besides the W1 chip for better pairing.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Will the next Xcode be X or 10?

I’m predicting Apple will call it Xcode X but pronounced Xcode 10, as they have a history of the iPhone X and OS X being called 10 instead of X. When they go back V11 presumably in 2019, it’ll likely then be called Xcode 11 instead of Xcode XI.

Will there be any hardware updates, including Mac upgrades?

I’m all for wanting upgraded Macs to come, but I somehow don’t see it happening given the late rumours.

If iOS 12 is not meant to be a feature heavy release, what will be their tone in presenting it?

I suspect Apple will present it as though iOS 11 has a lot of great features and they want to build on that for iOS 12. E.g. turn a negative into a positive.

In terms of features announced, iOS 11 had 15+ which was more than normal, but this year they might do 5-7 key features, even if they aren’t very big ones, they’ll talk them up to add more padding to the keynote presentation.

What time does it start?

The opening keynote starts at 10am Monday 4th June in San Jose California USA, but here in Australia on the east coast, it starts at 3am Tuesday 5th June.

The developer community seem to have what I believe is a very different view on Apple today compared to the general public, because if the general public sees about 20 things that need fixing, we as developers see more like 100-200 things that need fixing.

Whilst this list may look like I’m desperate for changes, I’ve learnt that we all should keep our expectations low in the lead up to the opening keynote.

Apple 2018 Software Wishlist: Conclusion

A couple of days I just wrapped up my first series of posts on a particular, where I post daily for an entire month.

If you missed a post, here is the entire list in order of day of release, not necessarily order of preference for what I want to see.

  1. All – Provide more information on the condition of batteries for ALL devices
  2. iOS – Relocate Control Centre on iPhone X
  3. iOS – Dark Mode API
  4. iOS – Improve reliability on older devices, due to Apple battery debacle
  5. Mac – Allow iOS apps to run on macOS
  6. iOS – Music App Search Consistency with iTunes
  7. Xcode/Development – Reducing App File Sizes
  8. iOS – Relocating Volume HUD
  9. iOS – Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in Control Centre
  10. All – Improve Security
  11. All – Consistent Siri Experience across all devices & continuity support
  12. All – Make Siri less reliant on web search results
  13. All – Reduce Siri’s need for Apple’s servers for all commands
  14. All – Offline Siri Voice Interpretation
  15. iOS – Ability to hide home bar on iPhone X
  16. iOS – More flexible home screen layout.
  17. iOS – Increase Face ID frequency for scanning your face
  18. iOS – Option to fade between songs like iTunes
  19. Xcode/Development – Re-add collapsable methods to Source Editor
  20. iOS – 3D Touch on Music Icon Changes
  21. iOS – 3D Touch on Messages Changes
  22. Xcode/Development – Rewrite Storyboard component of Xcode in Swift
  23. iOS – Battery Percentage always visible on iPhone X
  24. watchOS – New Watch Face that’s a mix of modular and Siri
  25. watchOS – Re-arrangeable toggles in Control Centre.
  26. Xcode/Development – Native stand-alone watchOS and tvOS apps
  27. iOS – Changeable icons on the lock screen on iPhone X
  28. iOS – Always On Display for OLED Devices

Continue reading “Apple 2018 Software Wishlist: Conclusion”

Apple 2018 Software Wishlist (28/28): iOS – Always On Display for OLED Devices

If there is one feature that multiple Android devices now have, that the iPhone X does not have, it’s the Always On Display (AOD).

The AOD is where if your phone is locked and put to sleep, the screen will show at least on the Samsung Galaxy S8:

  • Time & Date
  • Battery Percentage
  • Notification Badge Icons

Having this feature on a smartphone, is what would likely reduce half the times people wake up their smartphone to check notifications, time and battery level.

Continue reading “Apple 2018 Software Wishlist (28/28): iOS – Always On Display for OLED Devices”

Apple 2018 Software Wishlist (23/28): iOS – Battery Percentage always visible on iPhone X.

I knew going into getting the iPhone X that the battery percentage would not always be visible in the status bar, but is visible if you swipe down from the top right to show Control Centre.

If you move Control Centre to the multitasking screen like one of my previous posts suggested, it would make it even harder to see.

The more and more I use my iPhone X, the more I feel that Apple could easily add an option to display battery percentage instead of the battery icon.

Continue reading “Apple 2018 Software Wishlist (23/28): iOS – Battery Percentage always visible on iPhone X.”

Apple 2018 Software Wishlist (21/28): iOS – 3D Touch on Messages Changes

I had not experienced 3D Touch properly until I got my iPhone X to see how it fits into my usage.

The feature I probably use most is 3D Touch on Settings icon to go straight to battery to see screen on time usage.

I am more than willing to use 3D Touch more on other apps from the home screen at the very least, but at least on stock iOS apps they don’t provide a great experience.

The second one that deters me from using it, is the messages app.

Continue reading “Apple 2018 Software Wishlist (21/28): iOS – 3D Touch on Messages Changes”