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Three Takeaways from Apple’s WWDC 2014

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Let the round-ups begin. Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) took place this week in San Francisco, spinning out tons and tons and tons of summaries on what was announced – and even a few on what wasn’t.

To my eye, three things jumped out:

Swift – Apple announced support for a new programming language: Swift. Right now Swift is looking like it will coexist with Objective-C, but from what we’re hearing it’s likely to replace it eventually. This PC World headline gets it right: Swift is a big deal. Why launch a new language when you’ve already built an enormous following around the existing one? Well, Objective-C isn’t a simple language to learn, so this smooths the onboarding process for new developers (without losing any of the developer lock-in a specialized language guarantees). And who knows, maybe there are performance improvements in Swift, just as Apple claims. (Although these are more likely in productivity than runtime.) But at least as big as these reasons is the fact that Swift lets Apple put up a higher wall between its ecosystem and Android’s and Microsoft’s.

In other words, Swift reminds us that the mobile OS wars are going to get more intense, not less. If you wanted another reason for a native, cross-platform development capability based on a single, simple language like JavaScript, you got it. As we noted on our developer blog, Swift not only compiles to the same binary as Objective-C, but developers can use Objective-C and Swift side-by-side. This means that you could build a Titanium or Appcelerator Platform native module for iOS in Objective-C or Swift and start taking advantage of all of the great features of iOS 8 and Swift right now. (We have even more innovations coming on this front, so stay tuned.)

(App Store) Analytics – Apple also announced tools to make monetization of apps through the App Store that much easier. The new dashboard will show how many people visit your app store page, and of those who download how many of them remain active over time. This is good news for mobile developers, but make no mistake. As ReadWrite’s Dan Rowinski put it, “Apple’s new App Store analytics will not necessarily displace third-party analytics, which tend to track user interaction and behavior within an app and across platforms.” In other words, this is primarily a monetization tool. In-depth analytics around engagement, retention, conversion and app quality will still need to be incorporated from third parties.

Touch ID API – As Jordan Golson from TechRepublic reported, only 49 percent of iOS users were taking advantage of the passcode feature on their devices before Touch ID came along. With its release, that number skyrocketed to 83 percent. In Touch ID, Apple found a way to make security more accessible and user-friendly, and thus more widely-adopted. Now they’re offering developers the ability to add Touch ID functionality to any mobile app built on the iPhone. We’ve talked about app-level security before, but being able to add biometric authentication is another level altogether. This may be the one announcement that caught the attention of our enterprise customers more than any other. You’ll be seeing Touch ID support in the Appcelerator Platform soon.

One thing didn’t change — Apple’s dominance in delivering great experiences and making those experiences interwoven. Their creativity in thinking through how to make all our myriad (Apple) devices cooperate more seamlessly is especially striking. If “mobile” has become another way of saying “great experience,” we have Apple to thank.

WWDC 2014 reminded me we’re still in the early days of the mobile shift. The next couple years promise to be unlike anything we’ve seen since maybe the introduction of the original PC…

What announcements caught your eye?

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  1. Georges

    Surely Swift is the big news and a motivator to start innovating… My first instinct is to build custom Modules for Titanium iOS.

    Though (still new to everyone) a small tutorial on using Swift to create Ti Modules would be extremely helpful… Surely we’ll be seeing new Modules for iOS

  2. Hi Jeff,

    How do you see Ti.Next coupling up with Swift?
    That WWDC open a new wide range of questions to be asked during a Ti.Conf

    ( See you in Sydney 😉

  3. Gary

    I would love to see some boilerplate Swift code for creating a Titanium module.

  4. Conny

    I know Titanium is all about JavaScript and I like it, but sometimes I would like to have a more structured language like Java or C#. In a dream world I would love to have the Titanium API but write in Swift, I really like this new language. Ti.Next + Swift would just kill everything else. But I think this is more a pipe dream than anything else…

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