News June 06, 2017

What we've learned from WWDC17

Niels Boey

Product Designer

Bram Seynhaeve

iOS Competence Lead


Each year, at WWDC (The Worldwide Developers Conference)  Apple broadcasts its vision for the future. This year, there wasn’t really a focus on one specific improvement, but more on fine tuning and upgrading visions for existing products and services.


The largest AR platform in the world

Although Tim Cook announced Augmented Reality as the next big thing last year, Apple’s hardware and software hasn’t been specifically built to enable it, until now.

Apple introduced ARKit, a new framework that will allow developers to create augmented reality experiences to hundreds of millions of iOS devices, which will instantly become the largest AR platform in the world once iOS 11 releases. It will blend digital objects with the physical objects around your, AR will bring the app experience beyond the screen of your device and will integrate with the real world.


Productivity

With iOS 11 Apple wants to put the spotlight on the iPad, their goal is to replace notebooks / laptops for most users by making the experience more productive. New features include drag & drop between apps, Slide Over multitasking (prior to iOS 11 only Split View could be used to multitask), a new dock that can be accessed from within any app, App Spaces is a redesigned App Switcher that will show all opened apps, more and better support for the Apple Pencil and a dedicated Files app for iOS.


Discoverability

iOS 10 added apps to iMessage, while the use case could be great, finding and using an app was not that quick. A redesigned app drawer that is displayed on the bottom of the screen will make is faster and easier to access these apps.

Also new in iOS 10 was a redesigned control center that could do more, but just like the iMessage apps wasn't discoverable. Swiping through the different cards to access the right controls could be a hassle. It's now redesigned again and features a one page layout from which you can access all of your controls, which can also be customised in the Settings app.


Apple Watch

WatchOS reaches version 4 already and gets a new way to navigate the interface, previously it was mainly focused on tapping the watch. A new card based layout that can be found in the new Siri watch face, Music and Workout apps, will make navigation the watch easier by rotating the digital crown instead of tapping it.


A more helpful and natural Siri

With the introduction of the HomePod (home speaker first, Siri assistant second), Siri naturally needed to become smarter. A small way of doing this is by using machine learning and artificial intelligence to be more expressing and natural in speaking. The same 3 words in one sentence can now be pronounced differently every time.

Apple HomePod

Apple HomePod

Siri is not only a voice assistant, but is also integrated in the core of the OS. It will now be more proactive, when you are reading an article in Apple News and go to Safari to look up something about the topic, Siri will automatically suggest searches based on the article.


Vision

AR will be an important part of iOS 11, but Vision is also a promising new framework Apple is introducing. It uses image analysis and computer vision to analyse images and video to detect text and barcodes in images, track objects and recognises faces and facial features.


App Store

The App Store turns 9 this year, 180 Billion unique apps have been downloaded over those past years. With more apps being submitted every single day, the store is becoming crowded. With a redesign of the App Store, Apple will make it easier to discover apps and highlight great content in the new Today tab. Removing older apps, building better product pages and adding natural search are some of the steps they are taking in making apps more discoverable.


App Store

App Store

Similar to Android, Apple will also support phased releases for iOS apps. This means a smaller subset of users will receive an update to avoid crashing your infrastructure.

Apple has also been working hard in the past year to reduce the review times to less than 24 hours and is even able to reduce it to 1-2 hours.


Business Chat

Customers will now be able to start a conversation with businesses from Safari, Maps, Spotlight, Siri and the businesses' app or website. This can be used to resolve customers issues inside Messages on their iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. This means you can also take advantage of all iMessage apps like Apple Pay to complete transactions right inside the chat.


Read NFC tags

Using Core NFC, your app can read Near Field Communication (NFC) tags to give users more information about their physical environment and the real-world objects in it. For example, your app might give users information about products they find in a store or exhibits they visit in a museum.


Looking forward

A few interface changes already indicate the announcement of the much rumoured new iPhone that should be announced later this year. New phones often come with bigger screens, Apple might be looking to remove the bezels of the screen so they can make to enlarge the screen without making the device much larger.

You can spot a few changes that should make it easier to navigate a bigger display with just one hand. The most obvious addition is the one handed QuickType keyboard, you can chose to make the keyboard more compact and slide to the left or right side to type with one hand.

Notifications will no longer have a separate notification center but will all live on the lock screen, new notifications will still be displayed first, but swiping up will reveal all older notifications, with just one hand.