Once again, San Francisco was the venue chosen by Apple to celebrate its Worldwide Developers Conference. The company didn’t make any announcement about new hardware products. Rather than that, the event focused on the presentation of its latest software technologies, among which the stars were the new operating systems iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite, plus a new programming language which the company has named Swift.
“This is the biggest update since the launch of the App Store.” This is how Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, presented the launch of the company’s renewed operating system for mobile devices: iOS 8.
The new platform certainly offers features that make it more powerful than its predecessor. Among them, we can highlight its notification system, which is now more interactive, allowing the user to interact directly with the application. For example, you can answer an SMS or Facebook message directly from the notifications panel. Another interesting feature is that the new iOS 8 includes a system that allows iPhone and iPad users to monitor which application is consuming the battery of the device. Of course, this is something you could do before, but only through third party applications.
But what will interest most developers is that Apple, along with the presentation of this operating system, has released a new SDK with over 4,000 new APIs already available for those who want to work with it. This is a development kit that will allow developers to further customize the user experience with important extension features, such as Notification Center widgets and keyboards by third parties that allow new ways and methods of writing. It also incorporates powerful frameworks, such as HomeKit.
Thus, developers can customize with extensions (or App Extensions, as Apple calls them) almost any application for iOS. For example, it is possible to develop new options for sharing a website through social networks, custom filters for pictures, and APIs for documents. Actually, you can add multiple extensions in a single application.
To create an extension, Apple offers templates based on Xcode for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. Each template includes specific files to implement extensions and also systems for their configuration.
OS X Yosemite
Another major presentation was the OS X 10.10 Yosemite. The update contains significant changes regarding the previous OS X 10.9 Mavericks operating system. On the one hand, the new platform for laptops and desktop computers has updated its look, which is now cleaner, with a new font, new icons and new transparencies that allow seeing overlapping elements. On the other hand, Apple wanted to make a big effort to improve the communication with iOS, allowing users to transfer images and other data between mobile devices and desktops without having to use a cable. This means that, for example, you can make voice calls between a Mac and an iPhone, besides being able to write SMS and MMS from your computer.
However, the most striking feature is the new Handoff function within the renovated Mail application, thanks to which if the iPad or the iPhone are within the scope of a computer, a small icon will appear on their screens. When pressed, we can continue working from the tablet or the mobile, for example, on the same document we were handling on the computer. In the same way, if you’re writing an email on the iPhone and you’re close to the computer, you will see on your screen the option to continue using the Mail application of the computer.
The new Yosemite, just like iOS 8, is already available for developers, who can experiment with this new version and create extensions for their apps and widgets for the Notification Center.
Other important news during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference was the launch of Swift, a new programming language that the company has been developing for four years and that finally sees the light.
Swift aims to be a programming language that encourages more developers to create applications for iOS and OS X. It works on code C and Objective-C (a programming language object-oriented), and is based on patterns that, together with a new syntax and greater simplicity, will facilitate to many developers the arduous task of programming. One of its main features, for example, is that you can develop applications faster and you can test and fix them on the fly.
To know more about it, Apple has made available to everybody in iTunes a book that offers a tour through this new language and a detailed explanation of each of its features, serving as a reference guide for whoever wants to develop using Swift.