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App Development
8 minutes read

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2020

by Mario Tatis
App Development
8 minutes read

Apple’s WWDC has become one of the tech industry’s most expected events. It is the place where developers from all over the world gather to see the company’s new releases, understand where the industry is headed, and share impressions on new features and services. 

Apple has used this stage to present some of their most revolutionary launches, so there are always good reasons to be excited. This year, even with COVID-19, the event was a success. They presented the OS updates for their mobile and desktop devices, and introduced some new features that will surely make developers and users happy. 

As iOS app developers, at Koombea we were delighted to see some of the things unveiled. In this post we discuss some of the most important aspects of Apple’s WWDC 2020 conference and how they will impact iOS app development.

General Aspects

These are some elements presented by Apple that are not directly related to mobile app development, but they will surely have an impact on the overall experience.

Chips

This was probably one of the most important announcements. Apple said that it will no longer use Intel chips, as they will be replaced with their own Apple Silicon chips. These new chips will make use of an ARM architecture and will allow Apple to reduce costs, enhance performance, and reduce dependence on third parties. They will be included in both desktops and notebooks. The transition is expected to be completed by 2021 and will begin by the end of 2020. 

Developer’s Kit

For developers who want to start making use of the new ARM chip architecture, Apple will be selling a Developer’s Kit. This will allow tests before the first computers with Apple Silicon arrive. 

OS Updates

There wasn’t a major change across the different devices’ OS. In general, they will all have redesigned UIs in order to stay in touch with new design trends. For specific details on new features check out the next section on mobile. 

App Library

Apple is helping users organize their apps on their mobile devices through a new feature called the App Library. Thanks to it, users will be able to stack their apps under categories in a newly redesigned page on the home screen. This new feature uses AI to organize your apps. 

An iPhone displaying the App Library.
Source: Apple Keynote WWDC 2020

Picture in Picture

Watching a video is now easier thanks to this new feature. When watching a video, just swipe to the home screen and the video will be reduced to a resizable block within the screen. 

An image of an iPhone with the Picture in Picture feature.
Source: Apple Keynote WWDC 2020

Mobile

Now let’s go into the stuff that matters for app developers. You might be wondering, how will the new features presented by Apple impact app development? Here are the most important things to consider.

Widgets & Smart Stack

Widgets are not something new, but they’ve been redesigned so that you can get the most out of them directly from your home screen. Users will now use widgets from their favorite apps and add them wherever they want on the home screen. They can be resized in various predefined designs. 

A great new option is the Smart Stack. This allows you to watch your favorite widgets in a designated space within your home screen without having to add every single one of your favorites on the home screen. You can program your widgets according to the time of the day you plan to use them. You may want to read the news in the morning and your calendar during work hours. 

For developers, this means that an app’s information can be on users’ home screens all the time. 

An iPhone with the Smart Stack feature.
Source: Apple Keynote WWDC 2020
An iPhone with the Smart Stack feature.

Scribble

From WWDC’s keynote, it seems that Apple wants to make handwriting as powerful as typed text. This is literally the message that was shown in the part of the presentation that introduced Scribble, a feature that will allow written text to be used in text fields. The feature transforms the text written with the Apple Pencil into typed text. 

This opens up many possibilities for all sorts of apps. The Apple Pencil gains power as it moves from being a nice-to-have-gadget to one that will surely define how users interact with their devices. We are eager to see how apps innovate to make use of this new feature. 

Translate

The new iOS 14 will include a translator app named ‘Translator’. According to Apple, it is initially designed to work with 11 languages, even when offline. It seems that it will not be sending any data to Apple, helping reduce privacy concerns and internet connection translation issues. It is yet to be seen if this can be integrated with other apps. 

Car Features

Car Key is a sort of IoT feature that allows users to use their phones as car keys. Key owners can share permissions to allow other users to use their digital keys. It is expected that the 2021 BMW series 5 will be the first car to include this feature. What’s most interesting about this feature is how this same principle can be used for other devices. 

It is worth mentioning that CarPlay has been updated so that users can interact better with their phone screens on their car screens.

Watch

A new built-in feature for watchOS 7 is sleep-tracking. An improved sports mode that can track your dance moves was also introduced. Besides these, there wasn’t really much to say about the Apple Watch. 

Face + Touch ID

Face and touch ID was introduced for web authentication purposes. This makes authentication processes phishing resistant, allows for a faster sign-in, creates strong authentications, and will be easy to integrate. This seems like something many apps that depend on high levels of security will want to implement. It is particularly interesting for FinTech and Retail apps.

App Clips

This new feature allows users to use small portions of an app they haven’t downloaded. You can think of this as a preview of an app. Users only have to put their phones near the NFC tag, a special QR code, and a card appears on screen with the desired function in the right moment and place. This is part of Apple’s goal of making it easier for users to discover new apps. In recent years the barriers of downloading new apps have been increasing, so this measure is a way to counter the trend. 

This is one of our favorite new features. We can see how this will help many new apps reach users through the physical world rather than through the App Store. 

An iPhone displaying the App Clips feature.
Source: Apple Keynote WWDC 2020

Teams for Feedback Assistant

Organizations that are part of the Apple Developer Program, the Apple Developer Enterprise Program, Apple School Manager, or Apple Business Manager can now view and respond to the feedback that’s been filed by team members. 

Refund Notifications

In-app purchases can now notify any refund, letting the user know of any changes or how to resubscribe.  

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality experiences are now even better with the ARKit4. AR experiences can be anchored in specific locations, up to three faces can be tracked at once, and new within app possibilities are expanded.

Machine Learning

Machine Learning app development has now become easier. Core ML now enables secure deployment and encryption through cloud models. Create ML brings new APIs and training capabilities for Vision and Natural Language. 

Privacy

One last thing that we consider worth mentioning is that it is now easier for users to check out app privacy settings. Developers can easily let users know what type of information is being retrieved. 

Wrapping It Up

As it is now usual with these events, there is a lot to process. We are excited to see how some of the new features will be used in creative ways to deliver engaging apps. 

At Koombea we’ve already started discussing what the possibilities are for existing and new apps. We see strong potential for IoT, FinTech, and Retail apps to integrate some of these new features. 

If you are looking for a creative iOS app development partner who understands your needs and can help you develop a world-class app, you’ve come to the right place. Our more than 12 years of experience building great apps for Apple devices is one of our greatest assets. Contact us to help you bring your ideas to life.