Although iPhone sales slowed down in recent years, one of the biggest and most popular companies in the world hasn’t. Apple continues to improve its ecosystem, finally released a separate OS for iPad, and has maintained its strong stance on privacy.
As the latest WWDC showcased, Apple is keen on catering to iOS developers and being a company one would look forward to working with. In fact, a lot has changed for the developers in 2018-2019.
Always keeping track of the latest trends, our developers discuss what’s new in the process of creating software products for iOS and the Apple ecosystem in general. From SwiftUI to addition of reactive libraries to developer program improvements, find out what has changed in the iOS development process in recent years.
SwiftUI and How Swift Fully Replaces Objective-C
Over the years, Swift has been slowly but surely replacing Objective-C as the primary language for iOS app development, and 2019 only cemented Swift as the go-to option for the vast majority of iOS developers. The language helps them build apps from the ground up easily, it is more stable, API management is very comfortable, and there’s binary version compatibility. The list goes on — Xcode IDE is evolving and the developers keep adding new features.
WWDC 2019 also saw Apple announce SwiftUI, a development framework that makes coding on Swift faster. The tool indeed saves the engineers’ a lot of time. Arguably the main feature of SwiftUI is the drag-and-drop editor where developers can add content to the app preview and start building the application without manual typing. Other standout features include automatic support for international languages and dark mode. SwiftUI allows developers to build apps with fewer lines of code for every Apple platform and is easy to use overall.
Apple Strongly Supports Reactive Programming with Combine Framework
Today most tech giants face strong criticism from their users and software development partners on a range of important issues. Meanwhile, Apple has taken fewer hits and managed to keep its reputation as a software/technology company and commercial company almost intact, taking a strong stance on user privacy and catering to their development community at WWDC 2019. So, as Swift keeps getting better, Apple also accommodates other developer groups. This includes those who prefer reactive programming. The paradigm is gaining more and more traction as a better way of building interfaces, so Apple had included more libraries for it not long ago, a big plus for many iOS developers.
Better API Management, New Tech, Prolonged Device Lifecycle
The evolution of Xcode over the last two years has led to more intuitive and comfortable API management and more possibilities with it in the Apple ecosystem. New prospects were enabled by the emerging technologies as well as Apple’s all-or-nothing approach to quality the company has been both recognized and criticized for — adding features that were long implemented by others but which work like a charm.
For example, adding a document scanning feature into your iOS app is a breeze now; more sophisticated features like face recognition are similarly easy to implement and are well-realized overall. Other tech, like machine learning algorithms, are a pleasure to tinker with in our era of AI-driven smartphone cameras and photography.
Going back to today’s possibilities of Xcode and Apple’s device politics, the company has been addressing the criticism of their products’ short life cycles in the last two years to great success. The latest iPhone models support the first Watch series, iPhones SE is incredibly snappy on iOS 13.3, and so on. Although this means more testing for software teams, it also means they can cater to a wider audience with their products, as not everybody wants or needs to upgrade to the latest Apple device models often.
Apple’s Ecosystem Slowly Becomes More Open
Many developers and users had been criticizing Apple for the lack of control they are given in the Apple ecosystem. That started changing in 2017, when the company introduced a file manager in iOS 11. Two years later, in late 2019, Apple also revealed the very first iPadOS, which addressed most of the criticism that was thrown at Apple since the release of their first tablets at the beginning of the decade. This gave both users and developers significantly more space to operate in.
Surely, Apple is not Android, but the company will likely continue giving more possibilities to both users and developers in the years to come, as these and other changes we discussed above indicate. Apple may be aiming at a happy medium, where, on the one hand, they can control the ecosystem to maintain the high level of quality and ensure privacy and security; and on the other, give developers ample space in their development process and for their ideas.
Easier App Publishing & Developer Program Improvements
As for other novelties for the iOS app development process, Apple has tweaked its developer program to introduce more automation at its different steps. For example, developers can integrate new Apple technologies to theirs product quickly and seamlessly across all platforms.
Apple has also enhanced app publishing, the step that remains controversial to some developers to this day, with the help of AppStore Connect. As a result, iOS developers can publish apps faster and easier today.
New Security Measures: Fresh Homekit Protocols, App Permissions, Anti-Bot Measures
What else the developers working with Apple products need to know? Users can now choose whether an app should ask them to allow their location information every time; in other cases, iOS will allow developers to access the data only when the app needs it function.
Apple has also upped the security of HomeKit with new extended security protocols. For instance, the new Secure Video mode encrypts videos locally before sending the data to the cloud.
Finally, there’s Real User Indicator (RUI), a powerful new feature that notifies developers when a new account user may, in fact, be a bot. Apple has not disclosed what are the precise mechanics of the feature, but the company’s spokesperson explained during its presentation that RUI uses on-device intelligence to analyze behaviour and generates a value based on which a developer will know whether a new user is a human or bot.