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let’s dev Blog |
by Julian
10. Juni 2021

On June 7, it was that time of the year again: Apple's big developer conference (WWDC), where usually new software for iPhone, iPad, the Apple Watch and for Mac is presented, took place. With excitement, we were looking forward to the big new updates. Especially now that Apple's own M1 chip could use the maximum software power of the respective device. Instead, there have been advancements and improvements that make the operating system more user-friendly and consistent.

iOS & SharePlay

The iPhone is Apple's most important product, so iOS is also one of the most important operating systems in the world. For the already 15th version of iOS there are a lot of new functions and features e. g. for the FaceTime app. Especially in times of a pandemic, while many people live and work separately from each other, Apple offers the possibility to experience various media such as series, music or even podcasts together via FaceTime call with SharePlay. Apple also offers developers an API here, but more on that later. Employees also have the option to schedule meetings directly via the app and send appointments to colleagues via a link. For the first time, this also works via the browser on Android smartphones and Windows PCs. To enable iMessage to keep up with competing apps such as WhatsApp, the UI is adapted for receiving content. Photos or even articles from the web will be segmented more clearly in the future. And it now also will be easier to see from which person the content was sent. Another significant feature from Apple is the "Focus" function: Notifications are now summarized directly in the notification center on the lock screen. Important messages from contacts, on the other hand, are displayed directly first.

This is made possible by profiles that users can configure themselves by selecting certain apps, contact lists and even a customized home screen. All settings are transferred and applied directly to their iPad or Mac via the cloud. The weather app, on the other hand, has been redesigned. The weather forecast can now be viewed on live maps and individual weather information is made easier for the user to understand with several tiles. Apple's Safari web browser has also been redesigned, and as always, there are a number of improvements, including in the area of data protection. The voice assistant Siri is now also available offline after the update and completes tasks that do not require an Internet connection faster than before. Inspired by Google Lens, there is now also a function to analyze and copy texts in photo shots. With shots of certain landmarks, animals, plants or paintings, Siri can output more information to the user.

SharePlay; Experience media together via FaceTime on different devices

Figure 1: SharePlay; Experience media together via FaceTime on different devices


iPadOS & Swift Playgrounds

The audience also had many expectations for iPadOS. At the end of last year, Apple's own M1 chip was presented to the public. At the beginning of this year, it was now included in the new iPad Pro. A chip with this much power could also run performance-intensive software without any problems - if only the right software was available. Basically, all the functions described above that are available for the iPhone are also available on the iPad. Widgets, which were introduced last year, now also get a place on the home screen of the iPad. And since the screens of the tablets are also much bigger, there are customizable and bigger tiles too, which now catches the user's eye more quickly. Speaking of the larger screen: Multitasking and split screen become even clearer with the new update. With new shortcuts and notepads, it is now possible to work more efficiently. Colleagues and friends can now also be addressed directly in the notes app or linked with specific #tags.

Beginners in the field of software development could easily learn to develop with the Swift Playground app. Now the initial theory is to become real practice. In the future, the app will be able to be used to simply click together various components using a modular system. Components can be clicked together, so that the developed app can later actually be offered in the App Store. For beginners, this is certainly an easy way to learn code. According to the reactions and expectations that can be read about the WWDC, professionals would have liked to see Xcode, Apple's big development program, finally make its way to the iPad. The new iPads with the M1 chip would definitely have enough capacity and performance. Instead, there is "only" an update of the Playgrounds app. Other performance-intensive apps such as Final Cut Pro or graphics programs for graphics processing can be found in vain in the tablet's App Store.

macOS Monterey

Another fixed component of the software updates is of course macOS. Last year, there were already a number of new Improvements, in addition, a completely new UI in the Neumorphism Design. The new macOS bears the name Monterey and focuses in particular on the further development and improvement of the features announced last year. Of course, all the new features from iOS and iPadOS 15 will also be brought to the Mac. Completely redesigned and more minimalist than ever will be Safari. The collaboration with Macs and iPhones is supposed to work better with "Airplay to Mac" than before. Music can be played with a click on the smartphone directly through the Mac speakers. The "Shortcuts" app will also be integrated into the new macOS and will replace the previous "Automator" function. Working is supposed to be smoother with "Universal Control" between iPad, Mac and iMac. For the first time we get the possibility to control the mouse and keyboard between two Macs or the iPad. Moving files should then simply work via Drag & Drop between multiple devices.

Universal Control; Seamless transition of the cursor from Mac to iPad

Figure 2: Universal Control; Seamless transition of the cursor from Mac to iPad


Group Activities API & Xcode Cloud

As already described in the first part, Apple also offers the SharePlay service as "Group Activities" API for developers and their third-party apps. This gives users the ability to share events directly in FaceTime. With an API for Group Activities, movies, TV, music and other shared media can then be brought from an app into an area where people are already connected. For example, TikTok videos could then be watched together during a FaceTime call.

SharePlay is a powerful way to reach people. When someone in a FaceTime call initiates a group activity with an app that someone else on the call doesn't have installed, SharePlay directs them to the app store to download it. The group activity API gives the ability to create onboarding flows for new users or offers that are Specifically designed for SharePlay users, can be set up. A quick and easy way to get people to share your app experience together with friends.

The new "Xcode Cloud" online service seamlessly introduces Apple to the Xcode 13 development environment. The service is intended to be a quick and easy way for developers to more efficiently create, test and deploy apps to internal and external testers. The service can automatically build apps in the background of a cloud to free up the processors of local developer's Macs for other tasks. Parallel testing by multiple developers should also be able to take place via the cloud. Programmers can test their products on a simulated version of any current Apple device without physically owning it. The beta build can be sent to internal or external testers via the Testflight app. Testflight will now also be available for macOS for the first time. Whether it is still possible to develop Mac apps with Xcode 13 can develop Mac apps that do not have to be distributed exclusively via the Mac App Store is still unclear.

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