Each year, iOS Developers like us eagerly await Apple’s big keynote in June when they announce all the exciting new toys we will get to play with all year long. Although expectations had been tapered quite a bit by Apple when they announced that iOS 12 will be a ‘performance’ focused release, there were still some interesting features that we felt will be a welcome addition to our lives in the coming year. Here are our Top 5 favorite things announced at the event:
This has been something we have been wanting for years. Ever since Siri was first launched, we envisioned a day when we would be able to have deep levels of integration and customization with the phone’s AI assistant. The possibilities really start to open up when you think about all the cool things you will be able to do, making your apps far more valuable to the user. Now with iOS 12, Developers can suggest to the user certain features in the application which they can make into a shortcut that is triggered by a voice command given to Siri.
An example of this could be a movie tickets app through which you have purchased tickets. When you get to the movies, you could simply say “Movie Tickets” to Siri and the app would automatically launch with your movie’s tickets pulled up for scanning.
This is just one quick & brief example of what could be possible with this feature. And this is not to mention that a Shortcuts app will be launched later through which the users will have the ability to create their own custom Shortcuts and assign voice commands to them. The possibilities will be endless, and we can’t wait.
When ARKit was announced, we were incredibly excited. We had dabbled in VR at the time and were eager to delve into AR. Through the year, we worked on 3 AR projects which all had fantastic learning experiences & challenges. What we learned quickly was that ARKit had not thoroughly matured just yet. However, the building blocks for something fantastic were definitely there.
Apple probably agreed with this assessment as they released ARKit 1.5 in the middle of the iOS lifecycle, which is not something they do very often. Nevertheless, it was a welcome addition to strengthening ARKit even further, but you could tell that something big was around the corner. At WWDC 2018, Apple definitely delivered on their promise of evolving ARKit rapidly. With the announcement of ARKit 2.0, we are most excited to work on Shared AR Experiences.
Now several people will be able to interact with the same virtual environment that everyone has augmented through the features available on their own display. Imagine an app where a hired professional decorates your room, and you have the ability to see it in that state in your own phone, and even be able to interact with the items.
We had been trying to solve this very problem by building the framework’s solution into our application. However, we came to the conclusion that this was not a feasible approach. We were also convinced that Apple had to be working on solving this problem as it possessed far too much value for AR as a technology to pass up.
A couple of changes to notifications were announced at WWDC. The biggest one which will be a huge ‘quality of life’ improvement for iOS users is grouped notifications. Users will finally be free of a screen spammed full of notifications from different social media apps. Notifications will be grouped together so that each app only has one row on your lock screen notifications. You will be able to tap on the group to expand it further and look at the individual notifications you received from that app.
The other notifications related update which kind of flew under the radar for a lot of people was that Watch OS will now have the ability to send interactive notifications, which are basically call-to-action buttons that come with the notification. A great idea and one that will add a lot of value to the user experience that we will be able to develop with these features.
While not exactly rocket science at this point, group video chat coming to FaceTime in iOS and Mac OS was pretty great to see. If you are someone who lives in the Apple eco-system, FaceTime is all you know. And even if you’re not an Apple fan, you have to admit that FaceTime is a fantastic product, and one that brought video chat to the masses.
It’s only just that Apple is adding the group FaceTime feature, but the fact that they are coming in hot with the ability to have 32 people on a video call at the same time. While group video chat has already existed for quite some time now with Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook Messenger Chat, etc. it is good to see Apple join those ranks. It was about time.
While this final item on our list isn’t coming out until 2019, it is such a game changer that we simply had to add it here. Apple announced that they have been working on a framework to bring iOS applications onto Mac OS and that it is in quite a mature state. In-fact, it is so far along that some of the new apps that we will get in Mac OS Mojave have been built using this framework. This includes the new News & Stocks apps that will be available with the update.
For iOS developers, this changes the landscape quite a bit. Now when developing applications, this one developer has the ability to reach out to users on their Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, Macbook (and maybe even Apple TV). That is quite a daunting task. But as developers, we would much rather have the access, than not. It will be exciting to think about this new element available to us when we build out these applications in the future.