Apple first began its annual Worldwide Developers Conference to provide news and technical updates to Cupertino’s developer community. However, the massive popularity of the iPhone and other Apple products made it yet another source for announcements on new devices and platforms. While developer topics reign supreme in the various WWDC sessions related to crafting software for iOS and Apple’s other mobile operating systems, most of the attention focuses on hot new gear.
This year’s Worldwide Developers Conference offered a minor exception to this rule, as information on the products ignored at WWDC 2023, most notably Apple’s new VR headset, garnered a strong measure of buzz from the typical tech news sources. Still, the announcement of the new iOS 16 offers iPhone developers enough new features and functionality to attract interest. Of course, many devs already had access to betas of iOS 16 to prepare their apps for the release of the new mobile OS.
So let’s take a high-level overview of Apple WWDC 2023, but with a focus on announcements of interest to mobile app developers. Use these insights to make sure your team is ready for the changes, while keeping your current iOS projects on schedule. Perhaps a new feature might highlight a new mobile app development trend for 2023 and inspire some additional functionality for your next mobile app?
Important iOS 16 Changes For Developers
While iOS 16 offers a host of new features for consumers, most notably a new lock screen with widgets and support for personalization, Apple developers also enjoy fresh functionality in which to sink their programming chops. Of course, any new iOS feature requires analysis from your developer team to see if it makes sense to support it in your company’s older apps.
Ranking at the top of this list is Live Activities, which provides an enhanced widget for devs to target with notifications from their apps. Note that this feature also allows users to actually control apps from the lock screen, with new screen design concepts as a result. So consider quickly adding support for Live Activities in your apps where notifications are relevant.
Somewhat related to that last point, Live Activities leverages the same WidgetKit API used on the Apple Watch. This inspires the possibility to share functionality between iOS and watchOS apps. Additionally, new collaboration-related enhancements to Messages are now available to third-party developers. Keep this in mind if your company has any current apps with similar collaborative functionality.
New APIs and Xcode Enhancements to Intrigue Mobile Developers
Expect nearly all iOS developers to thank Apple for the new feature set in Xcode 14. Most notably, builds now process 25% faster with a significantly smaller Xcode installer also part of the new version. Additionally, Apple now provides built-in simulators for watchOS and tvOS, a boon for testing apps written for those platforms, if you don’t have the relevant hardware device.
Another critical enhancement helps cross-platform developers using SwiftUI. Apple’s now lets you target iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS with a single SwiftUI interface. This feature offers the hope of greatly optimizing projects targeting all four of these Apple operating systems with a mostly singular codebase. SwiftUI also offers live previews inside Xcode, allowing the developer to quickly make UI changes and see the results for each different platform. Needless to say, this makes crafting UIs for different Apple platforms an easier process.
Speaking of Swift, Apple really wants any developers still using Objective-C for iOS development to switch to the newer language. In addition to the SwiftUI features mentioned above, Apple added faster language processing capabilities to Swift, including regular expression support. Regex coding remains the bane of many programmers, mobile or not.
SwiftUI also added Custom Layouts, which makes it easier to design a bespoke flow and custom interface for an app. Swift Charts, another new feature, facilitates the process of building charts and other graphical reporting elements in a mobile app. Keep this functionality in mind if you are working on mobile software with similar functionality.
Interested in adding weather reporting to your next iOS app? Apple just added a new WeatherKit API, which allows mobile developers to use the same weather reporting functionality that powers the Weather app in iOS, slated to be added to iPadOS 16. Swift and REST APIs are available with up to 500,000 monthly API calls included with each membership in the Apple Developer Program. Of course, more calls are available for an additional price.
iPadOS 16 Provides Desktop-Level Multitasking
The line between the iPad and the Mac continues to blur. As such, iPadOS 16 adds enhanced multitasking capabilities, but only for iPads using Apple’s M1 chip. If your company wants to build a tablet app with desktop computing power, keep this in mind, along with those additional hardware requirements.
If you want some insights and wisdom on your next iOS mobile app project, connect with the team at NineTwoThree. We boast relevant experience in startup and enterprise mobile app development for both the iOS and Android platforms. Reach out to us to get your questions answered.