Whether you actually attended WWDC or not (I didn’t), it’s been an intense week for developers on Apple’s platforms. This year’s keynote may not have been as exciting as last year’s, but for developers WWDC 2015 brought plenty of good news – both in the sessions and outside of them.
There are relatively few headline features in OS X 10.11 and iOS 9 (which is not at all a bad thing). The one that stands out to me is split-view multitasking on the iPad. I haven’t had the chance to try this out yet, but the UI looks extremely well designed – Apple clearly put a lot of thought into this. I bet this will breathe new life into the iPad as a distinct app platform.
One year after its introduction, it seems that Swift has matured to the point where the Swift team has more or less realized its vision of the language. That’s not to say we won’t see new features in the future, of course. But through a combination of performance improvements, better compiler diagnostics, new language features, and complete annotations of the Cocoa APIs, Swift 2 no longer feels like something you constantly have to fight.
In particular, protocol extensions make the language much more expressive. The session on Protocol-Oriented Programming in Swift has been my favorite of the ones I’ve watched so far.
I think now is a good time to make the switch from Objective-C, at least if you can target Swift 2 (that is, if your next release is after the final release of Xcode 7 in the fall). Clients willing, I plan to write all my future iOS code in Swift.
Tim Cook’s Apple is Open
This is the theme of the week for me. The announcement that Swift will be open-sourced was just the biggest bombshell in this respect, but by no means the only one:
- Developers don’t have to pay a membership fee to deploy apps on their own iOS devices anymore.
- The new developer forums are now accessible without an account.
- Phil Schiller appears on a podcast.
- The WWDC session videos now show the engineers giving the talk. (This may look like a little thing and it might be for completely unrelated reasons, but it makes Apple as a company feel a lot more friendly and approachable.)
- CloudKit is getting a REST API. Of all announcements, this is the one that surprised me the most.
Here’s Ash Furrow’s take on this:
This is a continuing trend that I believe began under Tim Cook’s leadership. Swift engineers have been using Twitter as a means to engage with adopters of the language; last year they mentioned CocoaPods in a WWDC talk; we knew the native Watch SDK was coming because Apple told us beforehand. These are all data points on a trend line that leads us to open sourcing Swift.
Apple seem to be waking up to the reality that they have more to gain from working with us than in secret. There are obviously still tensions between the community and Apple, but I’ve never been more excited to see where things will go.
And Aleen Simms:
In the last year, Tim (can I call him Tim?) has done more to put a human face on the company than Steve Jobs ever did.