Last night, Apple held its annual Worldwide Developers Conference 2020 to share the latest developments and upcoming changes for Apple software and devices. Unlike previous years, the conference was streamed online due to the ongoing pandemic.
As app developers, we need to be on top of all the latest tech to understand what it could offer to our clients and their iOS apps. And we’re always excited to hear Apple’s announcements. We’ve picked some of the developments that stand out to us the most to review them and see how our clients could take advantage of them for their products.
Home screen widgets
As expected, Apple is rolling out iOS 14 across its devices later this year. Apple is changing the way we can manage the home screen by providing app libraries and helping us sort them into folders. But one of the main things that stands out the most are the widgets. So far, we’ve been able to use them on Apple Watch, so it’s exciting to see they’re incorporating it for mobile devices too. Soon, you’ll be able to expand certain app functionalities into widgets, such as the weather or fitness apps without having to launch them.
This could be a great feature for igaming - having the upcoming games or matches on display to be able to play or bet on. Banking apps could also use it to display account balance (something that we did for CardOneBanking once). The possibilities are endless and it’s a very exciting feature. Although it’s not new, and Android users can smirk that they’ve had widgets for years, we’re excited that Apple is bringing this to their devices too.
It feels like they’re taking control centre to the home screen with all the different sized widgets so you can see more info at a glance. All the different ways you can customise your home screen will be great to make use of these features to aid our everyday lives.
We like the smart stack widget and how it changes throughout the day to help you see relevant content. That could actually come in quite handy at certain times throughout the day, depending on what you want to see.
Picture-in-picture video updates
Picture-in-picture looks like a really cool feature which is Apple’s answer to YouTube’s premium option to carry on watching videos whilst browsing other apps. The screen can be made smaller to allow users to view other content without stopping the video. YouTube only offers this to their subscribers, so it’ll be interesting to see how this feature will be used on Apple.
The PiP feature might be a great asset for betting operators for allowing punters to watch live events while doing something else. Although some of them already offer smaller video screens within their apps, bringing them outside of these apps will be a great addition.
Apple has also caught up with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger by optimising group messages and allowing users to reply to specific messages. The new memoji is also a great addition to be able to customise them more and help users communicate better.
Maps and the focus on the environment
Apple is bringing a larger update to its Maps app, focusing on cycling and accessibility. We also like its focus on the environment by offering a route that would be the best fit for it.
Car owners that rely on smart devices in their vehicles can also benefit from the new update. Soon they’ll be able to unlock cars and share access keys to cars from their phones. We have to question the security of this, as well as being able to use across a wide range of cars. But it’s great that Apple is developing new features for different products to help us in our daily lives.
Apple is rolling out App Clips which allow you to discover app features without downloading it. This is similar to Android’s Instant Apps and might be a useful way to introduce apps by spending less time downloading and launching them. We see this becoming a popular feature, similar to the quick preview on Safari. But this could also be a great sales tool for onboarding customers to your app in store or in a meeting. Lots of great uses for B2C and B2B brands.
Apple Watch faces
We like the versatility of Apple Watch faces. And now, you can copy someone else’s watch face into your own. This feature comes with an option to download the same apps if you don’t have them yet too. We can see how this could be a branded feature and there’s lots of opportunities for businesses to design their own watch faces.
This year, Apple is really catching up with Google and going beyond to offer a more secure and enjoyable experience with their products. One of the main updates that stands out to us is the addition of Intelligent Tracking Prevention to Safari which beats Chrome.
This year, Apple announced that they will start rolling out its own processor towards the end of the year. What does this mean for the Apple ecosystem? What does this mean for performance? What does this mean for Apple development across all platforms iOS, MacOS, iPadOS, tvOS & WatchOS?
First of all, Apple has made performance and battery life their main priority with this new processor by promising both. Also, since this new processor is built in-house, this opens up endless possibilities for not only Mac applications but also iOS andiPad applications. Apple has already demoed their new OS Big Sur and shown it running on Apple Silicon along with default Mac apps, such as finder, messages and maps.
With Apple pushing for their new processors, they will gradually start to move away from the standard Intel Core processors in their current products. Developers will have the ability to build their apps once and release them on all platforms. As a result, the apps will run both smoothly and efficiently. This is massive for developers since we can focus on developing in one programming language and unified API, which will not only speed up development, but will also make our codebases lighter and more maintainable.
Apple is offering Dev Kits for developers which cost $500 and require you to sign up to register your interest. This will help companies easily make the transition of making their current Mac applications compatible with Apple Silicon. Although you will not be able to keep this dev kit and it will need to be returned at a later date.
Universal 2 app
Using Universal 2 application binaries, developers will be able to easily create a single app that taps into the native power and performance of the new Macs with Apple Silicon while still supporting Intel-based Macs. With the translation technology of Rosetta 2, users will be able to run existing Mac apps that have not yet been updated, including those with plug-ins.
Rosetta 2 app
Through a new version of the Rosetta app, ARM Macs will be able to run programs written for Intel-based Macs. New virtualisation software will allow those Macs to run other operating systems like Linux.
The most important of the changes announced this year are the new app privacy disclosure prompts. This new privacy disclosure display system will be added to all of the company's app stores, and not just for iOS apps. The disclosures will be clearly visible on each app's page, so users will be able to take informed decisions and avoid data-hogging applications.
In addition, Apple also said that apps that engage in cross-app tracking will now have to request a special permission from users going forward.
Apple’s updates are quite big and we can’t wait to get our hands on iOS 14 and other new developments. It’s clear that while Apple might not be the first to bring certain features to market, it continues to rival Android/Google and improve its own products.
By optimising the Home screen and using widgets, Apple brings in new product features for many apps across a number of industries. The new video option to carry on watching it while browsing something else is also a big take on YouTube. Whereas limited cookie tracking and improved privacy settings will bring more security to Apple devices.
We’ll get the Beta version of iOS 14 to begin testing, so we’ll be ready to advise our clients ahead of its official launch. Our team of designers, app developers and testers will begin reviewing the current products to find out which features could be best optimised for the new software.
If you’d like to chat to us about updating your app or developing a new one, get in touch!