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.
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.
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.
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.
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.