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TIMO ZIMMERMANN

balancing software engineering & infosec

WWDC2019 – iOS and watchOS

posted on Thursday 13th of June 2019 in ,

When you look back at the last few WWDCs it felt less like a general developer conference and more like an iOS conference with some add ons at the end about the rest of the ecosystem. This year was different, it actually was a developer conference. But this also means certain topics do not get as much or in depth attention as you might have been used to during the last few years. But still: There were a few very exciting news, primarily for developers.

The developer page for iOS gives away the core focus of this year – ML and AR. While this sounds like something the end user does not really care about, they will care the moment applications start to leverage those technologies. One of the key factors to me is that machine learning is actually running on device.

I cannot stress enough how important “on device” actually is – ML in the cloud is a great idea and surely got some advantages… until you do not have an Internet connection. Or only have Edge as mobile data connection. The moment you have to rely on a network connection on a mobile device for a great user experience you are in for a very bad time.

AR is something Apple seems to toy around with to show its potential. Guess why people were standing in front of a $999 monitor stand with iPads up. Hint: not because they are as stupid as you would like the Internet to believe. While Apple is clearly is trying to show off the capabilities of AR, companies like Ikea and Pok√©mon Go leverage it in a way that got users excited. With all the focus I hope we will see a lot more innovation in this sector, even if that means going through tons of mediocre experiences where developers believe running through a city with an iPad in front of your face is a pleasant user experience. (It is a start.) But there will be some features that can be used by end users and it seems like people are really excited about them.

Dark mode is coming to iOS. I am using it since the release on macOS and for some reason my code does not magically pop out, policies I am working on to explain people why they cannot leave workstations unlocked and the weekly sprint planning does not bring me any more joy. I like the optics, but I cannot get on the hype train.

Follow up questions for Siri on the other hand are something I am really looking forward to. This should make using Siri a lot more enjoyable and useful. Features like reservation reminders are not really something I care about – living in Germany I will most likely have to wait roughly five to ten years before I can make use of them.

For watchOS we will see stand alone applications. Being a big fan of the Apple Watch – not necessarily as a watch though – having more capable apps on the road might be quite beneficial. How far developers are willing to push the watch and if the market will actually be open to buy watch only apps is something we will have to see. I could easily see Things on the watch becoming yet another version of the app you have to pay for for example.

In conclusion I like the general approach of WWDC becoming a developer and not an iOS conference again. I hope this trend will continue. And there are some exciting features users will be able to enjoy right away when iOS 13 will be released.