Did you get a pre-order in? If you're hoping for a new phone (or watch) I hope you had fast clicking, or tapping skills. From watching Twitter, it looks like there may only have been about 7 jet black devices that were available for shipping next week! 😏
I've been thinking a lot more about the App Store cleanup during this week, and I've decided to run a little experiment on how effective it's going to be. It'd be easy to find some truly terrible apps and watch them disappear, but I'm interested in the grey area between good and bad. I've shortlisted some apps that are still ranked highly in searches for popular search terms, but that haven't been updated in at least 18 months and have reviews that complain about things like crashing on startup. These apps are clearly still being downloaded and I want to see what their fate is. I'm not going to name the apps as I don't want to embarrass the developers, or tip Apple off on which ones I'm watching! 😂
I have no doubt the clean up will be effective, I 'm just curious where the line will be drawn.
So this week saw a rather surprising acquisition from Apple and while I wouldn't usually cover acquisitions, this is one that could have implications for developers, so here goes.
Both the app, and the team have been acquired and while it remains on the store, admittedly without some of the existing integrations (the reason for which, I'm sure Marco Arment is correct about) we really don't know what's going to happen next.
My prediction (and hope!) is that the app sticks around in its current form, but I don't think we'll see updates with anywhere near the regularity that they've been maintaining until now. Instead, I hope that the team is already working on bringing better ways for apps to communicate into the core of iOS, and that what we see is better, public APIs that everyone can benefit from. I believe that would be a fantastic outcome and would show a commitment from Apple which might come as a surprise after last year's disappointing news about Sal Soghoian.
Given the timing of this, I'd be surprised if we saw anything appearing as a result of it in iOS 11, but maybe in 12? Oh and huge congratulations to the Workflow team! Amazing work both building an incredible app, but also having an opportunity to bring some of their thinking to iOS! 🎉
Are you involved enough with your local iOS developer community?
A tweet caught my eye this week and it made me remember all the good experiences with various developer groups I've been involved with over the years.
I also got a message from a friend that a new meet-up was starting close to where I live, which also reminded me that I haven't been to my regular local group in far too long as I have a long standing clash of events on the evening when it usually takes place. So, I changed my priorities and booked to attend both of those next meetings and I'll make them a priority in the future too!
Meetup is completely dominant in terms of community events like this, so if you've been lazy in engaging with (or even with discovering) your local developer community, take that tweet thread I linked above, and these few words as inspiration and get out there and meet some old friends, or make some new ones. I promise it'll be worth it.
Last year was the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone, and this year it's been 10 years since our world as developers changed with the release of the iPhone SDK. I'm sure you've read Craig Hockenberry's article by now as it's been widely shared, but it's a great look back at the really early days of development on the iPhone. It also seemed to trigger something and quickly Twitter was filled with great stories of everyone reminiscing on those days, so let me go next with that. 😀
I clearly remember the announcement of the SDK, I was working on a Mac app at the time and it took everything I had not to immediately abandon it and get started on an iOS app. I managed to resist, but as soon as it was done I immediately dived right in and shipped my first app to the store a few months after the launch and I was hooked.
In the years following, I wrote (and helped to write) apps both for my own company and for others. I also trained hundreds of developers on Objective-C and iOS development. I spoke at conferences everywhere from the USA, to Russia and all over Europe. I also started a newsletter! 😀I can honestly say that in my whole career I have never been so passionate for so long about any technology as I continue to be with iOS. It really did change my life.
The last few years have taken me away from primarily doing iOS work, and while I had an amazing time working on Curated, and other email related things this anniversary couldn't come at a better time because I have a little announcement to make. As of this week, I am now again an independent developer working for myself and so, iOS is back to being 100% of what I do! 🎉🎉🎉
So what are my exact plans? I don't want to make too many firm promises as I'd rather let things happen naturally and be able to say yes to things as they appear, which is something I haven't been able to do in quite a while. However, I do have some plans in progress, and there will even be a (very) small announcement of something right here, next week, so keep an eye out for that!
As part of this change, I'll also be going back to being the sole author of iOS Dev Weekly. I'd really like to say a huge thank you to both Evan and Vicc. They have been an enormous help over this last year and both brought fresh new perspectives on the iOS world. Thank you both, it's been wonderful working with you.
Sorry this turned out to be so long! Let's get on with the important stuff... The links!
Terrible news yesterday if you're using Parse for your app's back end. They have announced that the service will be shutting down next year, and I must admit I'm a bit surprised. There's no explicit reason given for the closure but if Facebook couldn't make a service like this work, that's not a great sign for the other companies with similar offerings.
It's always a tricky balance between using a BaaS platform like Parse, or building everything yourself. We're all aware that any service we rely on could potentially go away at any time but there is none more disruptive than your entire back end! On the other side of the argument, you could spend years building everything you need from scratch and completely custom, then have the app not gain any popularity and have it all wasted. It's a tricky problem and there's no right answer.
The only good news here is that the closure period is generous. You've got a year to get your app migrated to something else. There's also a migration tool to MongoDB and even an open source implementation of the Parse server. It's missing features like the dashboard, but once you've got over the bad news at least there's a plan to be made.
So, alternatives? There's CloudKit of course and there's a list of other alternatives also being put together. Or, maybe it's time to build that custom back end?
Obviously for successful apps, they will start this migration straight away and get over to some other solution. That's a much harder decision for a small/less popular apps. Migration of any kind will take significant work and I'd imagine this will kill off quite a few apps when it happens.
Full disclosure: Parse have previously been a sponsor of iOS Dev Weekly on multiple occasions. As far as I know, it wasn't that which caused them to shut down though! 😃
Such a fantastic event this week. As predicted by all of the rumours, we got everything at once including the new iPad which was a little surprising. It was such a great keynote though, even the 3rd party demos felt slightly more bearable this time.
The biggest announcement for me was the TV and tvOS, finally! I've been speculating and wishing for a TV based platform for years and it didn't disappoint. From a first look, it's everything I was hoping for. It's also great news that it's not a huge departure from "standard" UIKit and I'm sure we'll see some fantastic apps moving across fairly quickly.
There are some interesting limitations of the platform though which were at least partially responsible for some of the features of iOS 9 announced at WWDC. For example, apps on the TV have no local storage and binaries are limited to 200Mb which makes technologies like App Thinning and On Demand Resources essential. There's also plenty of APIs missing from tvOS, including no support for WebKit which is really quite surprising.
Possibly the best announcement from the event was that Apple are going to be allowing developers to order and receive Apple TV hardware before the general public. 🎉 I'm sure you've already done so but if you haven't, you can register for a chance at a device here. I wonder if this is going to follow for more hardware launches in the future?
There's lots to learn of course and I'm sure there'll be plenty of links over the next weeks and months. But for now, as always, the best place to get started is the Apple tvOS Documentation. Off you go!
Congratulations if you got lucky in the WWDC lottery! I won't be at the main event this year, but I will be in the city 🎉 which gives me a great excuse to talk about all of the other wonderful events that are going on that week.
First up, as always is the ever reliable AltConf. There will be live streams of the Keynote and State of the Union talks, then it's straight into community talks & sessions for the rest of the week. Oh, and if you fancy speaking there's also a call for speakers open at the moment. Tickets are available right now.
Taking a slightly different approach, there's try! Swift also making an appearance in San Jose. It's only a one day event, but it's an interesting one. Starting with a panel discussion on Swift it then goes into a hack day contributing to the language. If you've always wanted to get started with the process of developing Swift itself, you should definitely earmark Friday for this event. Tickets are also already available.
Finally, if you're more interested in the design side of things then Layers is also returning. No speakers or tickets available yet but there's an email list (and a simply stunning display of CSS) on the page so get yourself down on that list if you're interested!
Did I miss any other conferences in San Jose that week? I know there are lots of other events, but I'll cover those closer to the time. I'll tweet any other conferences I missed over at the iOS Dev Weekly Twitter.
Let's talk a little about Marzipan.
Naturally the last few weeks have been full of speculation about what it means for future versions of both iOS and macOS. Is this the start of a transition to ARM based Macs or touch screen "laptop" style devices? I'd say both of those are quite possible in the next few years. Is this the beginning of the end for AppKit? Maybe, eventually? Could AppKit eventually host UIKit views rather than being completely separate? Possibly! Will UIKit be extended to include more laptop and desktop exclusive controls? I'd say this is very likely.
Then, what about that rumour from the end of April of a new declarative UI framework? If Apple is putting all of this effort into UIKit on macOS is that rumour automatically false? Absolutely not. I'd say that even if there is a completely new, declarative framework in development somewhere inside Apple that it's quite likely that the things it produces will still be made out of UIViews. If anything, Marzipan is a really good sign that macOS might be able to join in with the declarative party, if the declarative party ever actually happens.
I also think that the work that people like Steve Troughton-Smith, Guilherme Rambo and many others are doing to uncover what Marzipan is as of today is fantastic. I'm also really glad they are doing it, but just remember that everything we have right now is based on a ten minute announcement on stage and some bits that are in early beta.
I'm personally just trying to keep in mind that we are more than a year away from version 1 of what might partially resemble what we are seeing as a result of spelunking these betas. I'm excited by what's coming, but I'm also not going to spend a huge amount of time thinking too hard about what s being dug up today. It's just too early. ⏳
What a week! Anyone would think this was WWDC week, not the week before which is usually pretty quiet.
My plans have changed a little over the last few weeks and in the end I am going to be in San Francisco for WWDC this year! In fact, as this email is being sent I'm on my way. I hope to meet plenty of you out there, as usual. Please do say hi if you see me!
I'm not going to make a list of what we may or may not see announced next week, but I am going to make one prediction which is outside of the obvious things like new versions of iOS, OS X/macOS and Xcode. I think there's a good chance that we'll see Apple announce a Swift Playgrounds app for iOS which will ship alongside 3.0 later this year. This won't be a full blown Xcode by any stretch of the imagination, but it will be a step towards it.
There's several good reasons that Apple might do this, and why it might be this year:
It may not happen, but it feels like the time might be about right. So, maybe!
You’ve almost certainly seen the rumour this week about a potential cross-platform AppKit replacement code named Marzipan. It all started with this article by Mark Gurman and while he's had great success with predictions the past, let's just keep in mind that everything that is being written on this subject this week is based on one article which is nothing more than a rumour.
That said, the rumour does fit well with my thoughts on the future of macOS. I’ve talked several times here about how I believe we’ll eventually see iOS in some form on a device with a form factor more like a traditional laptop/desktop, and if true, this is a step towards that potential future.
If the default development environment for tomorrow's macOS uses iOS compatible frameworks, then it opens the doors to an eventual retiring of macOS without having to abandon all of the amazing software on the platform. What happens to AppKit if we get to that point? It’s probably going to go the same way as Carbon, but don’t worry too much about that because if that happens (and it’s still a huge if) it’ll be many, many years away. Will any transition be a lot of work for macOS developers? Absolutely. Will it be worth it? I'm not sure that can be answered yet but I think there's a very bright future for Mac software that becomes possible in a future where this happens.
My main disappointment this week though has been the hugely negative reaction to this on Twitter. Most complaints focus on sustainability of macOS software with fears of customers being conditioned by universal iPhone/iPad apps to then have an expectation of getting the macOS app bundled in with their $0.99 purchase. Sustainability for small software businesses is a huge issue, but when we have been bemoaning the lack of attention that the Mac has been getting for so long, to immediately treat something like this (which, if true, shows an unbelievable commitment to macOS software) so negatively seems crazy. Are we ever happy?
I'm personally excited about the possibility of this rumour being true and for the future of the Mac if it is.
As usual, iOS Dev Weekly will be taking its annual break next week for the holidays. I hope you all also manage to take some time away from your computers to spend some time with friends and family and I'd like to thank you all for continuing to read what we publish here every week! Happy Holidays and here's to a great 2018! 🎅