What do the iOS 8 changes mean for developers?

by    Nov 30th, 2015

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Six years after Apple pioneered what it means to be a mobile app, the company has reinvented the concept in iOS 8. The following is a recap of the newly announced iOS 8 features and how, in our opinion, it affects iOS developers.

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TestFlight: TestFlight – recently acquired by Apple in February – is the new beta test service for developers and users. We at Bellurbis have been TestFlight for several years now and  its  integration in iOS  SDK. It will allow developers to open up their apps in beta directly to their users and receive  feedback  seamlessly. This should mean more open access for beta  and better stability upon release.



Extensibility: Apple has added over 4,000 new developers APIs (application programming interfaces) in the SDK. The most profound perhaps is Extensibility, which allows the ability for apps to offer services within other apps.   So the way that Apple includes the ability to share via Facebook and Twitter within iOS, now an app like Pinterest can do the same.



Widgets: Apple made a big deal about the inclusion of widgets in its interface, and the ability to participate in that extends to third-party developers. Those developers will be able to define their own widget as it appears in the Notification Center and in the Today view.
For users, this means getting the information you want from apps right from the always-accessible Notifications Center.



Third party keyboards: For the first time ever, Apple will open up its mobile OS to third-party keyboards. Apple will allow users to choose their own keyboard from other developers to use as their primary typing option. Keyboard customization has been huge for Android and the ability to use an alternative keyboard in iOS will be a welcome addition.



Touch ID:  iOS 8 will allow third party apps to utilize Touch ID. Developers will be able to utilize the authentication service to protect the user data stored within their app. For apps with sensitive information like Mint or 1Password, the extra layer of protection beats the standard, hackable one-layer password protection.



New camera and photo kit APIs: Not much was really mentioned about this, but Apple did make a point to say that it has updated its camera and photo kit APIs. We assume at least some of this has to do with the previously mentioned Extensibility features. Apple also made note of opening up the ability to tweak the settings of the camera.



HomeKit: While HealthKit was Apple’s solution to health information existing in many different apps, HomeKit is its attempt to bring all home automation options into one place.  The idea is to turn iOS devices into a smart remote for the home. Smart devices including garage door openers, security cameras, and locks can be managed from within HomeKit.



CloudKit: CloudKit is another tool designed to simplify the work of developers. Apple takes on the server-side responsibility for the apps, giving the developer a cleaner and easier to use development experience on their side. This should eliminate the need for managing servers while building an app.



Metal: For game developers using iOS, Metal dramatically reduces OpenGL overhead. OpenGL is the current standard in 3D graphics for iOS, but Metal looks to take over. The results produced by Metal are improved performance and graphics.



SceneKit: While Metal is for high-end graphical gaming, SpriteKit is the SDK for casual games. Apple added a new feature to it, which it called SceneKit. SceneKit adds a 3D scene renderer along with improved per-pixel physics, light sources and field forces, and inverse kinematics.



Swift:  To simplify the programming language that has been used for the past 20 years, Apple stripped out the “baggage of C” and introduced its new programming language: Swift. Developers using Swift will be able to see the results of their coding in real time as they write the code. As the name would suggest, Swift is considerably faster than Objective-C, as well. Swift will also be able to run side-by-side with Objective-C and C code within the same app. Swift is included in the Xcode 6 beta, which is available now so they can get their hands on it immediately.