Earlier this month I attended the WWDC 2011 conference in San Francisco California. The event is held every year and brings together a global community of developers all passionate about Apple and iOS development. Apple uses these events to inform developers of upcoming technology releases through a myriad of sesisons over the 5 days.
The conference is kicked off by the Steve Jobs keynote, and this year he presented 2 major mobile releases – iOS 5 and iCloud.
iOS 5 and iCloud
All of Apple’s mobile devices use the iOS operating system, which is the equivellant of Android or Windows mobile. Apple are strategic at releasing their core operating system updates, where they are bundelled into a big annual release. Last year iOS 4 saw the includion of Facetime, Multi-tasking and gamecentre as well as other minor improvements to GPS and web connectivity.
This year iOS 5, which will be released to the public some time in September, provides a series of useful updates for users and developers, here are a few that interested me:
Twitter Integration – This took me by surprise, and almost certainly every other app developer who has already developed an application to post to Twitter (you could see peoples faces drop as it was announced). Apple have chosen Twitter as the social network of choice to directly integrate to, meaning you can snap a photo and tweet it from within the core photo app. Here are a list of very annoyed developers who’s apps will be far less useful in September (http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/iphone-gems-top-12-twitter-apps-reviewed/)
Notification centre – An enhancement to those pesky pop up windows you would get on the iPhone/iPad when you recieved a text message, or words with friends shouted at you to have your turn. Pop-ups no more, if you receive a text message when playing a game, a subtle bar appears at the top of the screen. Another enhancement is that when you recieve missed calls, text messages and appointment reminders when the screen is locked, the display is now far more readable and intuitive. Android users will be surprised to see a copy of their pull menu, a unique Android UI feature soon available on the iPhone.
iCloud – Apple have decided that wireless devices like phones and tablets, should remain wireless and have in turn rebranded their failed MobileMe offering with iCloud. You could say that Apple too have succumb to the power of marketing the cloud . All iOS5 users are given 5GB of free storage for email, photos, contacts, notes and calendars. Specifically there are some neat features for developers where data from apps can now be stores on the cloud in an app sandbox within a users account, so every device connected to the account can access the saved data. This means that if you have an iPhone/iPad version of an app, both apps will start up where you left off on the other device and have mirrored data.
Linking into the iCloud methodology of wireless connectivity, you may remember having to plug in your new iPhone to a computer before using it. This has been removed so from acquiring an iPhone to disposing of it, you theoretically never need to plug it into a computer.
Reminders App- This surprised me as much as twitter integration, again many upset developers here who currently sell to-do apps on iTunes, here is a list (http://iphone.appstorm.net/roundups/productivity-roundups/25-fantastic-to-do-list-apps-for-iphone/). With one exception, iOS 5 now has location based reminders. Meaning you can set a reminder for when you arrive at the office, leave the office or arrive/leave any address. They are location specific which is a great showcase of the technology for developers. For example in our recently released AGFG app, we ask a user if they want to review a restaurant if we detect that they have entered and spent say 20 minutes inside. Think coffee cards, Facebook places etc. Nice opportunities.
A great conference, 5000 attendees to speak too, developers of apps that we all use and love, shoulder to shoulder with Apple technicians and staff. A really great place to be and a highly recommended event that means if you are in the app development space, you will come away with the best understanding of what technology is coming next and how best to use it.