The Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is Apple’s yearly summer event for developers where the tech giant announces all the major updates related to its software and hardware platform.
The event spanning from June 4-8, at McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, is expected to make big news as Apple plans to launch iOS 12 for iPhone and iPad, MacOS 10.14 for desktops among other announcements. Along with these annual OS releases we can also expect to see improvements to Apple’s very own Swift programming language slated to be released later in the year and plenty of other updates to ARKit and Siri as well.
iOS 12 will have rigorous testing and digital wellbeing in focus
A number of rumors are circulating about what new features will be added to iOS 12 and it sounds like it is going to be a subtle change rather than drastic upgrades. Codenamed “Peace” iOS 12 will heavily focus on performance and bug fixes.
Earlier this year on his visit to China, Tim Cook, stressed on the fact that due to the growing user base of the iOS devices, it becomes imperative to do rigorous testing before releasing an update to the software. This response from the Apple CEO came after a lot of advertisements featuring iOS 11 bugs surfaced on the internet.
So what features are expected to be rolled out in iOS 12? Here is a list of possible announcements at WWDC:
- A Digital Health tool for parents, enabling them to manage children’s digital time.
- Animoji Update
- Animoji integration into FaceTime
- Sleep tracking improvements
- Multi-user sessions support for AR games and FaceTime
- Improved message and presencing technologies
Another important update that is rumored to be added this time around is the Unified App Framework named Project Marzipan, which will let developers create a single app with an interface that adapts to the device it’s running on. While sources from Bloomberg say that this could be rolled out only as early as next year, we could see some sort of announcement at the conference next month.
Will macOS 10.14 finally bring iOS into its fold?
Image Source: Apple macOS
The 2018 edition of Apple’s Mac operating system is likely to be released as a public beta, a month after the WWDC; followed by an actual release in September or October, based on the release trends from the previous editions.
While Tim Cook, hinted that there would be no cross-platform compatibility between iOS and macOS applications, such a feature will greatly increase the number of available apps on Macs. It could also mean that Apple will bring some of its iOS-only apps, like Home, to the Mac.
Apart from this, we can see several minor additions to macOS like improvements in Safari for better video conferencing and AI image identification capabilities.
ABI (application binary interface) comes to Swift 5
Image Source: Apple Swift
Swift continues its evolution as one of the safest, fastest, and most expressive languages, with better performance and new features in every release. One of the most awaited features in this year’s edition is Application Binary Interface (ABI) stability, a feature which was originally intended for the Swift 4 release, but got delayed.
If you already know what an API is, then understanding ABI becomes a lot easier. It is a compiled version of an API. When you write source code, you access the library through an API. Once the code is compiled, your application accesses the binary data in the library through the ABI.
One of the big advantages of ABI is that it enables OS vendors to embed a Swift Standard Library and runtime in the OS that is compatible with applications built with Swift 5 or later. Other notable features to be announced at WWDC are:
- String ergonomics to improve processing of the string type
- Improvements to existing standard library facilities
- Improvements to the Foundation API so the Cocoa SDK can work seamlessly with Swift
- Syntactic additions
- Laying the groundwork for a new concurrency model
Is 2018 the year when users say, “Hey Siri, you the best!”?
Image Source: Apple Siri
Siri was one of the most widely-used voice assistants in the world when it was first introduced in 2011. Since then Apple has faced some stiff competition from Amazon powered Alexa and Google’s me-too efforts tied to its Assistant running on Android, iOS and most of the Google products. The pressure is mounting on Apple to compete in this wildly competitive voice platform space.
Hopefully this year Apple would address or add several key capabilities in Siri that could help them stand out. The most likely enhancements include:
- SiriKit: New domains to be the added to the current APIs. Siri already includes messaging, payments, phone calls, and ride bookings.
- Workflow: Apple acquired Workflow a year ago, a Workflow Intent for Siri could enable third parties to craft any sort of skill for users to launch with their voice, or graphically from any iOS device. Apples hope that this could be their answer to Alexa skills or Google’s Actions.
- Better “Hey Siri”: Apple has been enhancing how different Siri devices work together on the same network, an issue that neither Amazon or Google have really had. This is still a work in progress, but HomePod already does a good job of silencing your iPhone when both are listening for “Hey Siri.”
Image Source: Apple ARKit
Last year at WWDC Apple debuted ARKit and enabled developers to create engaging virtual experiences augmented over the real world. This year we can expect a lot of improvements in this tool.
For starters, the new ARKit 1.5 which was released last month brings a lot of new features to the framework such as the ability to detect vertical and irregularly shaped surfaces, detecting 2D objects and allowing developers to interact with them with better resolution. With the framework now evolving we expect to see some cool demos in this year’s conference; perhaps an integration of ARKit with Maps, along the lines of what we saw in the I/O conference earlier this month.
These announcements are exciting, confirming our hunch that Apple will show off their high-profile initiatives that will shape the coming year. While only a few thousand lucky developers will get a chance to attend, others can live stream the event on Apple’s official website.
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