“We are thrilled to provide our developer community with powerful new tools and technologies to help create even more compelling and high-quality apps, while engaging with their users in all-new ways through theApp Store,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of worldwide developer relations.
Further, she said, with the set of tools included in Xcode Cloud, continuing innovation in the Swift, a wide range of new APIs, and even more ways to reach users — Apple’s platforms have never been more robust.
Xcode Cloud is a delivery service built into Xcode (Apple’s integrated development environment) and designed especially for Apple developers. Swift is Apple’s programming language used for developing apps for iOS, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV.
Tools and technologies announced by Apple at WWDC21:
Apple’s Xcode Cloud is a new continuous integration and delivery cloud service designed for Apple developers. It brings together the multiple tasks and tools required to develop, test, and deliver apps using cloud services. The new tool automatically builds apps in the cloud to free up developers’ Macs for other tasks.
Moreover, it also provides parallel testing service in the cloud, where the developers can test their apps on a simulated version of every current Apple device for internal testing and external beta testers through TestFlight for instant feedback.
Xcode Cloud platform helps individual developers and teams build, test, and deploy apps seamlessly. (Source: Apple)
The App Store provides new ways for developers to promote their apps and connect with users via in-app events and custom product pages.
New features added to the App Store:
- Developers can promote timely events happening in their apps and games
- Users can discover events easily with personalised recommendations
- Users can find in-app events right in their search results
- In-app events can also be viewed in the ‘Today’ tab
- Users can see upcoming in-app events right on their Home screen
App Store latest features (Source: Apple)
Besides this, Apple also introduced custom product page tools that offer developers a new way to connect with users in the App Store.
Custom product page lets developers showcase different features, capabilities, or content of their app for different users. (Source: Apple)
With privacy-friendly analytics in AppStore Connect, developers can now see what their users like the most to make informed decisions for their product pages.
New guidelines & App Store policy
After being criticised for its discriminatory app policy and fake apps, Apple is now introducing updated guidelines, alongside a developer code of conduct to help keep the App Store a fair marketplace for developers and users.
Developers can now appeal an app rejection on concerns of bias, as well as report an app if it presents a threat, safety concern or violates the App Store Review guidelines.
Apple’s programming language, Swift, now features built-in concurrency support. Meaning, developers can now easily write code that works in parallel, while doing more work in the background.
The built-in concurrency feature in Swift helps developers write fast, modern, safe code with fewer mistakes and take advantage of the multicore silicon across Apple’s devices.
Showcasing SwiftUI interface, which lets developers build sophisticated apps efficiently and run them in real-time. (Source: Apple)
Plus, its latest SwiftUI lets the user develop great-looking apps with as little code as possible. It also helps developers bring more user experience, including enhancements for improving list views, in-app accessibility features, search experiences, multicolumn tables and more.
Soon, users will be able to create the visual design of an app using Swift Playground–coming later this year. For instance, app projects can be opened and edited in Swift Playgrounds or Xcode, and when they are ready, users can build a real app and submit it directly to the App Store right from their iPad.
Users can submit a finished app project directly to the App Store using Apple’s Swift Playgrounds on iPad. (Source: Apple)
AR is a huge part of Apple’s future ambitions. Currently, Apple has one of the world’s largest AR platforms with over one billion AR-enabled devices powered by ARKit, a framework that allows developers to easily create AR experiences. It also has RealityKit, the rendering, animation, audio, and physics engine built for AR.
Google’s ARCore — a platform for developing AR experiences for Android — powers more than 850 million smartphone users and is installed in over one billion devices globally.
What’s new in AR?
Apple’s RealityKit 2 introduces Object Capture–a simple and powerful API on macOS Monterey that enables developers like Wayfair, Etsy, and more to create high-quality, photo-realistic 3D models of real-world objects in minutes by taking photos on iPhone, iPad, DSLR camera etc and transforming them into 3D models optimised for AR.
Once the 3D models are ready, they can be viewed in AR Quick Look or added to AR scenes in Reality Composer or Xcode. Developers like Maozon and Unity use ‘Object Capture’ to unlock entirely new ways of creating 3D content like Cinema 4D and Unity MARS.
With the latest APIs in RealityKit 2, developers can also create more realistic, and complex AR experiences with better visual, audio, and animation control, including dynamic shaders and ‘custom render passes.’
Apple’s Prescott announcing RealityKit 2’s Object Capture feature at WWDC21. (Source: Apple)
Graphics and games
Apple has introduced new APIs and tools in iOS, iPadOS, and macOS to help game developers create next-gen games.
The latest Metal texture compression tool supports all of the latest formats and optimised formats for Apple silicon, thereby making it easier for developers to create high-end games for all of Apple’s platforms.
Apple has also launched Virtual Game Controller on iPhone and iPad, which provides an easy method to optimise games built using Game Controller support.
Developer tools and APIs
Apple has launched a plethora of developer tools and APIs to push their app experience forward and enable them to create entirely new features.
- Apple Watch: Developers like Breakpoint Studio, Qardio, Pandora are now creating new app experiences that offer a deeper level of customisation and are more responsive to their user’s environment.
- CarPlay simulator: Third-party navigation apps can now show a map view in a vehicle’s instrument cluster display, and a CarPlay simulator for Mac improves testing efficiency.
- FaceTime Enhancement Tool: Third-party video calling apps can leverage Apple’s latest FaceTime enhancements, including Voice Isolation, Wide Spectrum Audio, and Portrait mode.
- Mac: With the new TestFlight on the Mac, developers can test in-app purchases and other Mac app features.
- New Camera APIs: The latest camera API allows for better-fused images and captures high-quality stills and 1080p video in the same session.
- Notifications APIs: Messaging apps including WeChat and Slack can now share user status in conversations; apps like Uber Eats can have Siri notify incoming messages; and new notification APIs enable high-priority and communication notifications from apps like Zomato, Chase Mobile to break through ‘Do Not Disturb’ or ‘Focus.’
- Physical Audio Spatialization Engine: App developers can offer the theatre-like spatial audio experience to bring their content to life. It also makes it easy for game developers to render true-to-life audio across all Apple’s platforms.
- Safari: Web developers such as Grammarly and Honey are now building extensions in Apple’s web browser Safari available across iPhone, iPad and Mac. Developers can create an extension in the Mail app too.
- SharePlay: Using this, popular short-video and OTT apps like Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, Hulu, TikTok and Twitch are building a new type of shared experience for users on iPhone, iPad and Mac
- ShazamKit: It enables developers to integrate audio recognition technology directly from Shazam into their apps, making it possible to match music to Shazam’s vast catalogue of songs and match any pre-recorded audio to custom results developers create.
- StoreKit 2: The in-app purchase experience platform now features new APIs for handling product entitlements and subscriber status and testing support in Xcode and the Apple sandbox environment.
- Xcode 13: The new team development feature lets developers work with Xcode Cloud and GitLab, GitHub, and Bitbucket collaboration features.
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Amit Raja Naik is a senior writer at Analytics India Magazine, where he dives deep into the latest technology innovations. He is also a professional bass player.