Last night, Apple introduced iOS 8 and OSX Yosemite to the developer world. The new OSes, will bring greater co-operation between the two platforms, making it easier to seamlessly move from phone, to tablet, to Mac computer, than ever before. Along with these new OSes, Apple launched its new programming language Swift.
Swift is the evolution of Objective-C, the language used by developers, over the past six years, for iOS development. From our perspective, Swift should make apps even greater than before. James Frost, one of Mubaloo’s senior iOS developers, is currently at the WWDC show and had been in the queue since before 3am!
“WWDC this year was huge for developers.” commented James Frost, Senior iOS developer, Mubaloo. “Apple said that the number of new APIs in this release is almost as large as the original iPhone SDK. Sitting in the Keynote in San Francisco, you could feel just how much of a big deal iOS 8 and OS X will be for developers. Ever since TouchID was announced, we have been keen to access it, to help enhance the enterprise apps we create. We have clients who need their apps’ data to be encrypted, but this is only easily achievable when a device has a passcode set (which an app cannot enforce). Up until now, the only option has been to use MDM to enforce passcodes for the entire device. With TouchID API, it looks like we can create encryption on a per-app basis, secured with Touch ID. This will be great for enterprise apps.”
Olly Berry, head of iOS, Mubaloo continued, “From what we saw briefly in the keynote, it looks like it should be pretty quick for iOS developers to pick up Swift. In many respects, it appears to be a natural evolution in programming terms from Objective-C. I don’t necessarily think it’s going to be any easier, than any other modern programming language, to learn, so novice developers will still have to go through training.
My early feeling is that it won’t make developing apps much quicker; it will however give us powerful new ways to write better code that compiles and runs faster, it won’t slow us down. Swift should tighten the feedback loop between writing code and seeing its effect in real time and allow for faster prototyping. I’ll be encouraging my team to start learning Swift immediately. This will ensure we are all up to speed by the time iOS 8 is released and, of course, we’ll be able to use it side by side with Objective-C/C anyway.”
Ben Reed, head of technology, Mubaloo: “Apple has come under criticism over the past few years for not quite cracking the cloud. We are going to be very interested to see whether CloudKit and the changes Apple has made solve some of the challenges that have persisted. We are looking forward to seeing what’s available with CloudKit in terms of content management and enterprise connectors.
Currently, developers tend to use Parse, which is only any good for apps that do not require a full CMS, where data is only ever consumed and created in-app. A lot of our enterprise clients will still want data stored on their systems, with desktop admin tools to manage the content in the app.
For enterprise customers, that increasingly makes up large chunks of Apple’s market share with 98% of Fortune 500 firms deploying iOS; we believe CloudKit will be trusted over other platforms such as Parse. CloudKit will give us a viable alternative to Parse, but APIs and CMS systems will still prevail. We have a huge amount of work to do, to help clients understand what the benefits of iOS 8 will be.”
Mark Mason, CEO & Founder of Mubaloo: “There were some pretty major announcements for business customers at last night’s show. Apple has opened up where users can access or store files from, making it easier than ever for employees to be productive on the move. For IT departments, new MDM tools will make iOS easier to deploy and manage; helping Apple target the remaining 2% of the FTSE 500.
The summer is going to be extremely busy as we help clients to look at their apps and think how they can be enhanced with the new features. As a developer that focuses on building productivity tools that transform business processes, we welcome the opportunities presented by TouchID and Widgets, which will drive new levels of innovation. Last year, the focus was on design, this year it is about giving developers the tools they need to create apps that change peoples lives and the way we work. Apple made their intentions clear for this to take place from the start of the Keynote.”