Uncharted Waters

Jun 4 2014   2:04PM GMT

An early view of Apple WWDC

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

WWDC is happening right now. June 2nd through 6th your tech news feed will be barraged all things Apple. That isn’t much different from normal though, right? There seems to be a slightly different version of the iPhone every few months now. While the conference has just begun, there is plenty of stuff to talk about. A couple things are apparent: Steve Jobs is no longer with us, the keynotes so far have been lack luster, and the audience doesn’t seem all that into it like they have been in the past. Still, there are a few big announcements.

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Swift!

Swift is probably the biggest news to come out of the conference so far. This Swift, not that Swift. Swift is supposed to make development of iOS much faster and much simpler by liberating developers from some icky parts of objective-c like non-automatic memory management and sometimes complicates syntax. As of right now, developers can submit apps in either Swift or Objective-C. Apple is also providing a guide for migrating your existing apps to Swift.

Less than 24 hours after Swift was made available to iOS developers, a new version of Flappy Birds was introduced written in the new platform. Yeah, it’s just Flappy Birds and not software that will save lives, but that was really fast!

Tools like PhoneGap have been facilitating much faster app development for a bit now. With this sort of framework, front end developers get to do what they’re already good at (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) and package that up as an iOS app. This takes out the need for special staff skilled in iOS or Swift. I am curious to see how tools like this will stand up over time against against the new language.

More device integration

iPhone, iPads and the mac computers soon will be a little bit more of a happy family. Yosemite  and iOS8 are promising cleaner integration with features like the ability for your mac to automatically recognize your phone is near by, handing off work between a mobile and non-mobile devices, and allowing you to take calls from your computer if your phone is near by.  There is also a new feature to be able to send messages from your mac to a phone which Google has been doing for a while now with Hangouts.

Instant Hotspot is probably what I’m the most excited about from the OS updates. This allows you to use your phone as a source of wifi signal for a computer when you are out of reach. I have an Andriod phone now and my provider charges for that service making airports and travel tedious when I need to get online.

Healthkit

This is one new thing I think will be popular. Healthkit is aiming to be a hub for all things health related like fitbit and the Nike Fuel band. This tool that is coming along with iOS 8 won’t replace all of your health monitoring devices, but it will give you a central place to see all of the data. HealthKit moves us a little bit closer to the quantified self. It does freak me out a little bit that all of my health data will be stored on Apple servers if I chose to use this. Security problems and how that data ends up getting used are definitely concerning.

Google is doing awesome stuff; creating self-driving cars, making wearable tech a real thing, launching satellites into orbit and Apple is tweaking a notification bar and making proprietary languages for mobile apps. None of the announcements so far have been really exciting so far. Steve Jobs may have been a jerk, but he sure did inspire the company to do great things…

That said, I’m typing all of this from a shiny MackBook Pro.

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