Most Apple fans don’t start drooling at the mention of speech-recognition APIs, Xcode thread sanitizers, Metal tessellation or Pixar USD model support. However, if you’re a developer, those can be huge game-changers that mean you can make your apps better than ever.
While Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2016 keynote revealed loads of fresh features coming in iOS 10 and macOS Sierra — including some amazing stuff that should delight iPhone, iPad and Mac owners when the final versions launch this fall — developers watching Monday’s event saw tons of seemingly minor updates that will let them make apps better than ever.
To find out what the little updates could mean for typical users, Cult of Mac asked some of this year’s Apple Design Award winners what WWDC additions they’re most excited about.
Here’s what they told us.
Developers can maximize iOS devices’ graphics power thanks to Apple’s powerful Metal API — and its getting even more robust this year. Daniel Fountain, lead designer behind the gorgeous game INKS, which scored an Apple Design Award this year, told Cult of Mac he’s ready to push Metal to unimaginable levels.
“I am keen to see what new uses I can find for the new tessellation features in Metal,” Fountain said. “This looks like it could be very powerful feature. I look forward to seeing what it is capable of when used from something unconventional that no one has imagined yet.”
The opening of iOS
Apple is giving developers access to more parts of iOS than ever before, and that could lead to some really crazy new ways to interact with apps besides the obvious examples Apple showed off during Monday’s WWDC 2016 keynote.
“I wonder if all of these Siri, Messages and Notification extensions might form a platform for some kind of augmented reality phone-controlling game,” mused Fountain. “Someone could create a scenario like the one in the film, The Game. Alternatively, maybe the new voice-recognition APIs could be used to talk to our characters in the future.”
Apple’s keynote didn’t cover the big improvements made in Xcode 8, but to many developers the updates to the software used to create iOS apps was the most important part of the event. The developers behind 2-D arcade game Dividr, which also won an Apple Design Award, say they’re looking forward to being able to squash bugs more quickly.
“One of the things we’re most excited about is the new debugging tools in Xcode that show you a map of objects created in code and how they connect,” said Dividr dev Erik Lydick. “This helps find memory leaks and bad memory management in apps and will be extremely helpful in streamlining and cleaning up existing apps.”
Improved 3D Touch
One of the iPhone 6s’ flagship features, 3D Touch, got everybody excited when it was revealed last year. But while it’s been ripped off by various Android device makers, it hasn’t really reached its full potential on iOS.
That’s about to change, thanks to changes coming in the next version of iOS that put 3D touch front and center.
“I’m extremely excited that Apple is sticking with supporting 3D Touch and enhancing its abilities in iOS 10,” Lydick told Cult of Mac. “It was a powerful input they added in the iPhone 6s but I feel it went largely unnoticed by most this past year.”
Increased speed and a big, long-needed UI overhaul mean big, positive changes for Apple Watch when watchOS 3 arrives this fall. That’s got Quentin Zervaas, who created the popular productivity app Streaks, excited about the future of Apple’s wearable.
“Apple played it really conservatively on the first two iterations of watchOS, and now that they have a better understanding both of how people use the watch, and also how developers have approached the platform, they’ve been able to make the necessary adjustments,” Zervaas said. “The evolution of Glances to a Dock is really good example.”