As an iOS developer, the release of the new iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus really caught my eye.
These are packed with cool new features that will have an impact on the lives of consumers, but little has been discussed on how this update affects us developers and in turn where we can take it. In this piece I’ll be exploring the latest iOS version and what it means for iOS developers.
The release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus marked the first time Apple have released two new phones simultaneously, with two different sizes on the market. This means developers will need to be spending more time developing apps to accommodate both sizes of screen. However, Apple has a great history of creating easy to use tools, which in turn cuts down the time of developing for multiple sizes. For example, Apple has added new functionality to its Interface Builder that allows you to layout your UI for multiple screen sizes, without the need to code it. You can even preview your changes with a live test for multiple screen sizes. This also means we can create better apps to show off products in higher detail to near enough the same quality as we do on tablet apps. From a UI perspective, we have more space to play around with, so we are less constrained thanks to the increased screen size.
Along with the announcement of the new iPhones, Apple unveiled the long rumoured Apple Watch which is available early next year. Wearables are not new, they’ve been around for a couple of years now, but in typical Apple fashion they’ve held back, looked at the competition, and seen where they can improve on it. It’s a great time to enter into the market, as experts predict that the wearables market will be worth $8 billion by 2018 – so it will be big business. As of now, third-party developers have to wait until next year before they can start creating apps for the watch – but Apple have already provided some great examples of it’s uses such as opening a hotel door with your watch and checking the electrical charge of your plug-in hybrid car.
Touch ID/Apple Pay
The Touch ID was introduced with the iPhone 5s last year, but now with iOS 8 Apple have given access to third-party developers to be used with the new Apple Pay service. This is a more secure and convenient form of payment, which allows card details to be stored in the device, rather than users needing to enter their card details and developers needing to ensure individual apps are able to store the details securely, which in itself is a big task.
Let me get the jargon out of the way. Metal is a new graphics framework that to some extent will replace OpenGL for making 3D apps. OpenGL is quite an old and bloated framework, whereas Metal is a modern 3D and gaming framework, this means developers can now extract more power from the graphics chips allowing us to produce console quality graphics on our Apple devices. Not only will this benefit people who make games, but it could also be used to showcase products. For example let say you have a space you want to show off what that would look like in different lighting conditions well using Metal you can do that as it allows us to render scenes with high quality lighting.
It’s a great time to be an iOS developer, not only because of the new hardware that’s out there, but also because of the exciting new features released alongside iOS8. Apple has really made us stop and think about the way we approach problems, and they’ve given us some exciting new tools to use in app development. I can’t wait to see what we can produce using all of it.