The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference takes place every year at Apple’s headquarters, gathering developers, students, and media members together as Apple unveils their latest technologies for developers to use in building apps for the App Store.
This year, the Worldwide Developers Conference 2022 (WWDC22) was hosted as an online-only event from June 06 to June 10 from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California Developers are already downloading beta operating systems and SDKs to build and update applications and create new features.
Read on for our highlights summary and comments about some of the new developments from this year’s event and how these will shape Apple apps and the development of new products and features.
iOS 16 Smart Home Features
Major features: Lock screens can be customized with wallpapers and widgets. You can set focus mode or entertainment mode to limit your lock screen information and link limited information to your lock screen by setting up filters for applications and information. Also, notifications now take less space and roll from the bottom to allow viewing more info on the screen.
Apple announced the Home App redesign with better layout to control multiple devices from one screen and seamless connectivity of accessories across platforms with full support to the Matter connectivity protocol.
Another new feature is the dictation of voice-to-write messages or documents, and users can switch between voice and writing at any moment and facilitate message writing and editing.
The live text feature will now be available during video, giving users the option of pausing a video, copying information, and pasting it somewhere else to save or look up later.
One new visual feature allows users to grab a subject from an image, isolating it from its background and moving it to another app, helping users create other content quickly, such as a product with a white background for an online ad or selling post.
Other features include sharing photos between family members with iCloud Share Photo library to a Shared Library album, adding multiple stops in the Maps app, advancements in the Mail app and Message app, medication tracking, and the ability to use the Fitness app without an Apple Watch.
iPadOS 16 is coming this year with many features, but the biggest enhancement that will impact app developers is the multitasking interface and the external monitor support. Stage Manager is a feature for multitasking options in iPadOS with M1 chips that allows you to open applications in a window that you can resize or move around, and you see a tile view of apps (up to four) on the side, so you can switch applications easily. Another game changer feature is the support to extend the iPad to an external monitor and work as if running on Mac OS, with multiple windows and split screens, navigating from the iPad and monitor. Other features such as the Weather app are coming to iPad, together with multitasking features to create a new scenario for development of iPad apps.
Apple announced new features for the watchOS 9, and the most notable are the features for Multisport mode that support Triathlon and running, introducing metrics such as power output, cadence, stride length, vertical oscillation, interval runs, pace alerts, and heart rate zones. Although these features are critical for endurance athletes, the battery life (18 hours/5 hours of GPS activity) is still low compared to specialized watches; but it’s a good start as these features will be introduced mainstream and promise to improve battery life.
Other features are a medications app, sleep and rest features, and better customization and workout views, including choosing previous workout routes, swimming enhancements, and automatic transitions between swim, run, and bike. A new feature for monitoring atrial fibrillation (AFib) and seeing the frequency of heart arrhythmias is also included.
watchOS 9 also allows you to stream and control the watch in your iPhone and activate it with voice control, see metrics on compatible displays, and make VoIP calls (Connecting to CallKit).
New APIs and SDKs
The Apple app development environment provides new SDKs and toolkits for building apps in iOS 16, MacOS 13, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9, and tvOS 16. XCode 14 is designed to work multiplatform, with a single SwiftUI interface to work across all Apple platforms. A new stateful navigation API to build custom layouts and navigation is also included.
Weather Apps with WeatherKit
Apple will transition from Dark Sky weather service to WeatherKit (currently in beta). Together with the new Apple Weather Service (weather global forecast service), WeatherKit will provide weather data to your apps. WeatherKit provides app services, tools, and analytics to help build your app and uses machine learning and prediction algorithms to bring a hyper-localized user experience.
WeatherKit requires iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13, tvOS 16, and watchOS 9 and requests data with SWIFT APIs (native framework) and a set of REST APIs for other websites and platforms. The WeatherKit API requires tokens for handling authentication, so you must use a token service to enable access for requests and creation of authentication keys (JSON web token authentication).
Building CarPlay AppsBuilding apps for CarPlay is useful for many categories of apps that help consumers accomplish tasks (specific features) related to driving by making iPhone apps appear in their car’s built-in display. Some examples include fueling apps, music, navigation apps, EV charging, parking, etc. For many existing companies, it is necessary to incorporate CarPlay apps into their product strategy. You can add CarPlay support to existing apps, or create new apps, so that when users connect with a CarPlay-enabled vehicle, the app appears on the car’s screen. Existing apps incorporate functionality by creating customized UI elements and capabilities that are handled by iOS 16. Creating apps for CarPlay requires you to follow some guidelines and to use specific UI templates, and apps must be designed for specific features to avoid interaction with the iPhone. For example, CarPlay apps are not allowed to access social networks, email, gaming, or text messages. Messaging, calling apps, and voice interaction are supported by SiriKit intents and CallKit for VoIP. These apps also support the CarPlay framework.
Creating Augmented Reality (AR) Apps with ARKit 6
Augmented Reality (AR) apps are built by combining the user experience live view from the user’s device camera and adding elements in 2D or 3D to that user’s environment (scene), including elements such as visual effects, audio, or objects. ARKit 6 improves motion capture and process display aspects to create AR experiences.
ARKit 6 provides 4k video capabilities for apps that require high resolution videos; it is supported with HDR video technology and background image capture. Designers can turn images of real-life objects into 3D models and AR experiences using Object Capture API (computer vision technologies) and RealityKit. These objects are improved or reconstructed using the new ARKit 6 (background photo API) that can capture photos using the full camera resolution while running another AR session. ARKit 6 allows users to maintain the streaming AR session without interruptions and allows capture of the underlying metadata.
Build Machine Learning (ML) Apps
Designers can create machine learning apps using the Create ML framework, available as a Swift framework in iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS. You can build and connect your app to create and train machine learning models or leverage training APIs with a model fully represented with its components available for common tasks.
Create ML is a new API for training machine learning models from user input or device behavior from predefined tasks or by building custom tasks for a particular situation with independent components. There are components that transform and others that learn from data and are combined to create a method to train a model that fits the use case and deploy to your app.
IOS 16 provides a new option for scanning data (text form and readable codes) using VisionKit framework and DataScannerViewController to perform common tasks. Data scanning is supported by devices that have Apple Neural Engine. You can define the type of data and parameters needed to be recognized by your app, including text, code symbology, language or other specific type of content (date, URL, time, etc.). Then, a DataScanner instance is created, providing a delegate method and custom highlights suitable for your app needs.
Hardware Innovations Presented during WWDC2022
The M2 Chip
M2 Chips (System on Chip or SoC) is the second generation of Apple’s M chips (Apple silicone) that brings a breakthrough in performance and capabilities for Mac, extending the features of M1. The M2 chips bring an 8-core CPU (18 percent faster), next-generation 10-core GPU (30% more powerful), and a 40% faster neural engine compared to M1. The M2 chip’s memory controller delivers 100GBs of unified memory bandwidth capable of handling complex workloads with 24GB of unified memory (50% more), and a media and video engine to stream more 4k and 8k videos. M2 chips allow fanless designs and silent notebooks that provide twice the performance compared to the latest PC chip.
MacBook Air Redesign
MacBook Air, the world’s best-selling laptop, has been redesigned with the M2 chip; the new design is thinner (11.3mm), lighter (2.7Lbs), and faster. The new MacBook Air comes with a 13-inch liquid retina display, aluminum enclosure, a better camera, and incredible performance with up to 18 hours of battery life and MagSafe charging port (dedicated charging port). It also features two Thunderbolt ports and a 3.5mm audio jack.
MacBook Pro Update
MacBook Pro, the world’s second-best-selling laptop, and Apple’s most portable notebook, is also designed around the M2 chip. It comes in a 13-inch display with battery life of up to 20 hours, 24GB of memory with 50% more bandwidth. The MacBook Pro also comes with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU for faster processing of images and graphic-intensive games performance. The MacBook Pro comes with the operating system macOS Monterrey and later this year will run with macOS Ventura, which promises more features.