Top 3 takeaways from Apple’s WWDC 14

Jon Hocking
By Jon Hocking under Engineering, Insights 04 June 2014

It’s that time again. The TAB team rigged up the big screens, got comfy and waited with baited breath as Apple’s 25th annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC14) in San Francisco kicked off on Monday. And it didn’t disappoint.

It was there that Tim Cook introduced us to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite – billed as the biggest launch since that of the App Store 7 years ago. Here’s a quick round up of 3 things that particularly stood out for us:

1. iOS 8 is laser-focussed on ease-of-use

A lot of the features of iOS 8 seem to be about improving the ease of use of the platform.

Apple has added things like interactive notifications and 3rd party apps to the lock screen and notification centre. This means you can comment on a Facebook post, reply to a tweet, or even bid on something on eBay – and all right from your notification centre in just a few taps, without ever having to jump into an app.

This is great news for us developers. It means we can get crucial information straight to our users when they need it and people can get much more out of our apps. We’ve already got great ideas in the works for some of our latest releases, and we can’t wait to get started on them this autumn.

2. One device to rule them all

The iPhone has long been used as a device to track calories, daily steps, and just about anything you can put in a list. Apple have recognised this, and with iOS 8, they’re launching the brand new Health Kit framework.

This is a central store for all your health data. Apps and wearables can add to it, and even share that data between other apps. Imagine My Fitness Pal getting your running data from Nike+, and at the same time, your weight tracking data from your Fitbit scales. And all of this is happening automatically without you needing to input a single thing.

Not only that, but Apple have branched out into home automation. They’ve created a protocol that allows your iPhone to talk directly to the devices that automate your home. They’ve even included Siri integration so you can turn your lights on and off just by saying “Get ready for bed.”

Apple are really doubling down on their strengths, here. They’re not diversifying by making washing machines and pedometers. Instead, they’re turning the iPhone into the lynchpin: the key device that links all of these things together.

3. A nod to the developers

Tim Cook called this the ‘mother of all releases for developers’. And our team was not disappointed.

All iOS and OS X apps are built using something called Objective C. It’s a strange but much-loved programming language that Apple has been shaping since the early days of Next Step in the 1980s.

But as of last Monday, all that completely changed.

Instead, there’s an entirely new language in town. Known as Swift, it’s already causing quite a stir.The idea behind Swift is to bring iOS programming into the modern world. Whilst Apple’s platform itself was leading the way, the language it was built on – Objective C – was starting to lag behind. With Swift, we should be able to write cleaner code, fix more bugs, and build better apps…it’s something that we, and the Cocoa community as a whole, are really (really) excited about.

And there’s still plenty more to discover in iOS 8. Here at TAB HQ, we’re eagerly keeping an eye on the WWDC14 news. Ideas are beginning to form, and we can’t wait to see what we can do with it all.