Info-tech

Aims to spur development of next-gen apps

Apple on Monday introduced new tools, technologies, and APIs for developers at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2022).

These include widgets on the ‘lock screen’, WeatherKit, general availability Xcode Cloud — Apple’s continuous integration and delivery service built into Xcode — and Metal 3 to enable gaming developers create graphics with accelerated performance. It also announced improvements to Swift, SwiftUI, Xcode and SKAdNetwork.

“We love collaborating with our developer community and providing them with new innovative technologies that enable them to build the next great generation of apps,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice-president of worldwide developer relations, and enterprise and education marketing. 

Xcode Cloud is now available with subscription plans starting at free for 25 hours per month until December 2023 for members of the Apple developer programme, and a maximum of 1,000 hours per month.

Xcode Cloud enables developers and teams of all sizes to build, test, and deliver apps in the cloud to free up their Mac for other tasks. With parallel testing in the cloud, developers can test a simulated version of every current Apple device,  deploy a build for internal testing, or deliver to beta testers through TestFlight.

It also announced enhancements for Xcode 14. Project builds will be up to 25 per cent faster while the Xcode application is now 30 per cent smaller to download, with downloadable simulator runtimes for watchOS and tvOS. 

“The new multiplatform target creates a single SwiftUI interface for use across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS,” Apple said. 

SwiftUI live previews are now interactive by default in Xcode. The new App Icon feature in Assets Catalog will allow developers to provide a single icon size for all platforms, and Xcode will automatically generate all the required assets for the app. 

“Xcode includes language and editing enhancements with smarter autocompletion, and additional dynamic snippets get developers to the code they want to write faster,” it added.

Gaming capabilities

Apple introduced Metal 3 — the latest version of its graphics framework — with new features including MetalFX Upscaling.

The new ‘fast resource loading’ API can minimise wait time by providing a more direct path from storage to the GPU.

Game developers that integrate with Game Center can add activity views to the dashboard. It also announced SharePlay support to allow users to play together more easily in real time.

Swift and SwiftUI improvements 

Swift has added a string processing capability with new regular expression literal support built directly into the language, allowing developers to quickly check the correctness of their regular expressions and extract information with less code. 

Further, Package Plugins are now available in Swift Package Manager.

SwiftUI, Apple’s next-generation user interface framework, features an enhanced navigation API to make it easier for developers to control how their app moves from view to view. 

Other additions include Custom Layouts and Swift Charts.

WeatherKit

WeatherKit enables developers to integrate the global weather forecast that powers Apple Weather directly into their apps. 

“Using high-resolution meteorological models combined with machine learning and prediction algorithms, Apple Weather provides current weather, 10-day hourly forecasts, daily forecasts, and historical weather,” it said.

WeatherKit will be available to developers through both native Swift and REST APIs.

Ad improvements

It has added new features to the SKAdNetwork API to help ad networks and advertisers better measure how ads perform in apps or on the web while still preserving user privacy. 

This include hierarchical source IDs. SKAdNetwork also features hierarchical conversion values to allow developers to receive more information about conversions for smaller campaigns.

New APIs 

New APIs for Apple developers include Live Text to grab text straight from photos and videos found in apps, or through a live camera feed.

Further, the collaboration features built into Messages are available to third-party apps. 

“Developers can also highlight content that users have shared from their app in Messages in a new Shared with You section of their app, making it easier for recipients to get back to that content at a later time,” it said.

Other available APIs include Passkeys, MapKit, Focus filters, Automatic Shortcuts, RoomPlan and Live Activities.

For watchOS 9, VoIP calls will now be supported with CallKit.

Published on June 07, 2022