Apple rallies developers: Show the money, smart home, new programming language

Apple rallies developers: Show the money, smart home, new programming language

Summary: Apple dangled money via App Store improvements, discoverability and a new programming language. The result: Developers were drooling.

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Apple is stepping up its game to help developers monetize their apps, bundle products, offer discount programs, previews and improved search. On the technical side, Apple is hoping iOS' Siri can dim the lights at your house too and dangling a new programming language in front of developers.

CEO Tim Cook kept WWDC on message---given it is a developer conference after all.

CNET: New Swift coding language hopes to lock down errors

Cook said the App Store release is the biggest since the original launch. The software developer kit will also give developers new tools to monetize as well as create applications.

"We are investing a ton in the App Store," said Cook. "Everything will be available in the fall."

If you didn't get the message: Every software vendor's lifeblood is developers. Lose the developers and you're toast.

Cook knows the deal and said Apple is investing heavily in the App Store. Dangle money, discoverability and a new programming language and you have developers drooling in a hurry.

app store1
app bundles

Let's follow the money first. The following should help app discovery in Apple's marketplace:

  • Developers can invite users for beta tests in a program called Test Flight. 
  • App preview videos are available. 
  • Bundles with multiple apps available with one tap with discounts. 
  • Curation and search improvements.

The problem here is obvious. Apple needs to keep developers thinking they can still make it big. Apple has 1.2 million apps in App Store. How many apps actually break through? Google has the same issue with its Play store. The game for both players will be to encourage developers to continue even though most apps aren't noticed. Amazon has recently been courting developers with an argument that the company helps them monetize better than Google.

And on the technical side of the SDK, the most notable point from a capitalist perspective may be that Apple wants to open the smart home to developers with something dubbed HomeKit, a network protocol that plays into the smart home theme, and can allow Siri to dim the lights.

homekit
homekit2

Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, outlined the following for the iOS 8 SDK:

  • CloudKit, which provides client side access with cloud parts operating in the background. 
  • 3D graphic improvements that are integrated with Apple's processor. 
  • A Touch ID API, which has improved passcode usage. Third party apps can use Touch ID now. Touch ID keeps the fingerprint data in a "secure enclave."
  • Camera APIs for manual control for exposure, white balance and focus. 
  • The ability to add keyboards and install them in iOS systemwide. Android had this feature for years. 
  • Restrictive sandboxes for testing. 
  • Safari translations and plugs for Microsoft's Bing over Google.

But the real win---at least from the developer reaction---is a programming language called Swift that will replace Objective C headaches. Swift is as geeky as it gets, but all you need to know is that Apple rallied developers and they were stoked. 

swift
swift2

The key points:

  • Swift code can run alongside Objective C code in the same application.
  • Swift is a brief as Python. 
  • Playgrounds that run code as you type. 
  • Large classes of code to eliminate errors. 
  • Swift is like C, but the templates are more defined.
  • Apps can be submitted in Swift from launch. 

Topics: Enterprise Software, Apple, Software Development

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52 comments
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  • Swift looks pretty cool!

    looks like they took Objective C, ditched all the smalltalk messaging, and then gave it a PHP and C# flavouring.

    This is good stuff. The messaging is tough to get used to when you spend most of your time in C syntax, as I do. I take pride in knowing Objective C but I'd rather be productive. ;-)
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • Well

      Messaging is still there — it's merely a metaphor which we hope helps OOP newbies take a step towards proper encapsulation. The sugar of dot-notation was already coming into play with recent Objective-C.

      I'm noticing "lets," so I'm picking up a functional flavor. I didn't study the images.map() demo closely enough to see if there's a lambda. It is hard to imagine any one designing a serious language in 2014 without one.

      Type inference is sweet.

      Google's Go language designers made some choices that speed up compilation and I'd be surprised if some of that wasn't also going on.

      Any way, programming languages is a hobby of mine, so hello hog heaven.
      DannyO_0x98
      • Forgottem

        I have forgotten more programming language than I know.

        Please note, the language is not as important as the IDE. If I had to use this one I will bet I will forget it quickly.
        MichaelInMA
    • Portability prevention?

      I'd like to see some details on the legal status of Swift, especially in light of Oracle v Google. Like, has a patent application been filed on it, and is Apple claiming an API copyright on it?
      John L. Ries
    • where to start???

      As a newbie to apple world,I want to know where to start for app development. I mean what programing language should I know,which language to use for coding,ide etc etc
      bjoey999
  • Snoozefest!

    Nothing worth drooling.
    RogerWhite
  • New . . . proprietary . . . programming . . . language . . .

    New . . . proprietary . . . programming . . . language . . .

    . . . and probably still requires a Mac.

    I'm looking for the reason to be excited?
    CobraA1
    • Yes, because clearly proprietary languages have never existed before

      Visual Basic, C#, Java, nope, obviously never happened before!!

      For Mac developers, there's a lot of reasons to be excited. You couldn't do Cocoa without Objective C before. You simply had to.... being able to do it in a purely C lexicon is a BFD for Mac programmers.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • Java?

        Java?

        Last I checked, that was pretty multi-platform, even became open source.

        And I should note that for CLR-based languages, there's Mono.

        Microsoft never really cared if you went off the "beaten path" so to speak with their tools. You could use C#, or you could use straight C. You can even use your own language, if you know how to do so.
        CobraA1
        • Well, guess what?

          Neither has Apple ever cared.... never sued a soul for GNUStep, or GCC's Objective C support, or anyone else who has done an implementation of it.

          They haven't been as good as Microsoft about supporting the open source parallel processes (Darwin basically collapsed), but Apple's never guarded their programming language turf at all.
          Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • No Reason

      I didn't think you were one to care about proprietary.

      There is no reason, if you do not do any development for iOS/OS X. It may be Mac only, though I doubt it as llvm and clang are open projects. Still, without access to Apple's frameworks, why bother using it on Linux or BSD where I expect it will be ported. It'd be like those days I struggled to do C# on the Mac via mono. I gave up.

      As far as that goes, why worry about Swift's merits on another os when Go is an intriguing systems programming language.

      And this may be another truth along the lines of "If you have to ask the price, it's too expensive." If you have to ask for a reason to get excited, there isn't any.

      This morning, a roomful of developers who had been discussing for years about features other languages have, saw those features now available to them for the platform from which they make their living. Smaller code, no memory management, type inference, less bugs. Bonus points for there not being a leak of the new language. That's exciting for them. If there's no empathy on your part, if you can't get excited when others are excited, well, okay, no one said you had to care.
      DannyO_0x98
  • Gimmicks...

    Sorry... serious developers are not drooling.
    Owl:Net
    • Serious Mac developers will be interested

      That's for sure. Some might stick with Objective C. There's always some pride in knowing the original tech on a platform. But this will be good for those of us who do not make a religion of languages.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • Bingo

      No LINQ
      No native async functionality
      No attributes

      It's better than Java, but that isn't saying much.
      jackbond
      • Every non-procedural language of note can do async

        that's like the dumbest complaint ever. In fact, Objective C is uniquely well designed to do async, due to its smalltalk style messaging system, and the Grand Central dispatch system. Async in Swift stands very little likelihood of being less powerful than Objective C, so this isn't even a thing.

        LINQ is very nice, and I use it a lot. But it isn't everything, and tends to get used a lot by weaker programmers who can't write SQL because there's no autocomplete for database calls. For more experienced programmers, it is a great time saver over writing your own looping, filtering, and sorting systems, but hardly a necessity.
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
        • Oh, the filth is back with more brain dead comments

          LINQ to objects, not LINQ to SQL.

          As for your statement, "it is a great time saver," no kidding. That's the point filth. That, and it's declarative, so it's more self documenting, and helps reduce maintenance costs. But brain dead amateur scum programmers don't think about things like that. As for your moronic comments on async, there are varying levels of support for async programming. New languages should at least be on par with C#. Again, not something that brain dead amateur scum thinks about.
          jackbond
          • Shut up

            .DeusExMachina.
    • As if...

      ...you would know.
      ewelch
  • Yet another programming language

    Don't we have enough already? Java, C#, multiple variants of C and C++, multiple variants of different scripting langauges, multiple variants of dynamic languges which can also be scripting languages.... on and on. Its a problem enough just worrying about C# and Java and their respective frameworks - now we have swift!!! Geez, enough already.
    BruinB88
    • Swift is designed to make that easier if you know those languages

      than mucking about in Objective C, which is tough to learn if you're a straight C guy.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter