June 4, 2014

WWDC 2014 Keynote (and Aftermath) Reactions

By now, I’m sure almost anybody interested in mobile development in general, and iOS development in particular, has seen the WWDC keynote video or has read about what was revealed at the keynote. I’ve been going over everything since the keynote and since it appears that Apple might at least be partially lifting the NDA (at least according to these posts), I thought I’d jot down my thoughts in between watching WWDC session videos 🙂

Just so you know, I’m not going to be talking about anything revealed during the WWDC session videos (at least the ones released so far). Instead, I simply want to talk about the big picture stuff – the stuff revealed during the keynote. Even there, wow, how much is there to talk about?

First of all, I’m just staggered by the number of features that was announced. Sure, some of it was expected but there was some really exciting stuff there that just came out of the left field 🙂

From my own wish list of items (I mentioned those in my previous post, here), some items did make the cut. Apple did revamp their keyboard with the QuickType keyboard. But not content with that, they also opened things up to allow third-party keyboards. That’s huge! I’m looking forward to the variety of keyboard functionality we might have soon – at least three well-known Android alternative keyboard developers are already on board to bring their keyboards to iOS according to what I’ve read.

But even if Apple had not opened up the keyboard, it looks as if the new QuickType keyboard might have been enough. It does a far better job than the old iOS text prediction system and according to Apple, not only will QuickType predict words, it will also predict phrases and sentences. So, good times ahead 😀

We didn’t get user profiles or system profiles with iOS 8. But what we did get was family sharing. It’s not quite the same thing but it’s something. It does solve an issue that I at least have had quite a bit of the time – how do I share apps or content that I’ve bought on iTunes, with my wife easily? Family sharing does seem to address that part of the issue. Of course, it still doesn’t address how I keep my high score intact when my wife takes over my iDevice … but baby steps, I suppose 🙂

SpriteKit did get a fair number of enhancements. I’m happy about that since that seems to indicate that Apple is serious about helping game developers. I still haven’t had enough time to play with SpriteKit and so don’t know all the interesting bits. Plus, talking about additional stuff is probably not wise at this point.

The same probably goes for universal storyboards – a feature that I did get to see a bit more in action 🙂 I don’t know how much I can talk about, but it’s definitely looking like Apple is ticking another box in their plan – the one I mentioned in my previous post where I said that I was sure that Apple had a roadmap on how to extend the UI for iOS. Or rather, the building of the UI for iOS. I’m very interested to see where that goes.

But one thing that I can talk about (and everybody already is talking about) is Swift! I believe that that announcement caught almost everybody totally by surprise. And what a surprise it has been! I think a lot of people are going to be talking about Swift for a long time to come – at least, I hope so since I love the language and all the nifty features it brings with it.

If you haven’t checked it out, at least do yourself the favour of downloading the free e-book that Apple made available the same day as the keynote, here. The first 40 pages or so should be enough to get you up to speed on the basics and all the goodies that Swift has to offer.

I’ve heard a lot about Swift over the last day or so – some people are like, “I don’t want to learn another language!”, and others say “Why did they have to go create a new language instead of enhancing an existing one?”. I’ve heard still others moaning about how long it’ll take them to learn the ins and outs of Swift.

I don’t want to get into each of those issues. Plus, some of those topics can be pretty subjective depending on where you’re standing. But what I can tell you is that I understood the basics of Swift within a couple of hours (and 40 or so pages of the above mentioned e-book). Swift is nothing new, the syntax and the coding structure should be pretty familiar to you if you’ve worked in Objective-C, Lua, PHP, Java etc.

But what it does is make your iOS development work that much faster and better 🙂 No more header files. No more lengthy lines of code to simply set up a string just the way you want. No more @ signs.

Instead, you get cleaner, more concise, and more powerful code that works with the same iOS APIs and classes you’ve already come to learn – if you’re an iOS developer that is 🙂 I, for one, am looking forward to doing a lot of coding using Swift. Bring it on!

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Tags: Technology
Posted by Fahim at 5:12 am   Comments (0)