Today the typical dev-geek was glued in front of his web browser to get as much information as possible on the pending release of the next version of the operating system that powers all touch-enabled devices under the Apple brand. I stuck with the major two, Gizmodo and Engadget, especially because those two by now have mastered the art of interspersing illustrative photographs amongst concise journalistic commentary.
Apple claims that there are 1000 new API’s coming in 3.0 that they have been busily developing over the last year. An impressive number of news by any rate and it was put to the test by the scrutiny of many an iPhone user who threatens to leave the platform for Android because of the lack of cut&paste, stereo bluetooth, tethering, background processes and the like.
Most of those deficits will be remedied in OS 3.0, or so it seems. With an Apple twist. Background processes, no way. But amazing notification infrastructure, that is nicer to stand-by times anyway, yes. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Just watch and be amazed at the magic with the Apple.
As a developer I paid really close attention to what new features might work in my existing or future apps. The single most important thing I found was cut&paste. As simple as this might sound, even “standard”, as numerous are the uses I can imagine for it.
The guys on stage kept dealing out new APIs and features as if they where handing out candy.
- Turn-based navigation will be possible … if the creator brings his own maps. Garmin, where are you?
- “Stereo Bluetooth” aka. A2DP. Finally wireless music to my ears.
- MMS, send voice memos, locations, vCards to other phones
- “Spotlight” a seperate screen that searches everything on the device, even apps
- Multiple Calendars with synching, especially noteworthy: CalDAV
- Voice Memos, also with an external Microphone
- Cut and Past, Shake to Undo. Copy full paragraphs e.g. from Safari
- Push Notifications will finally enable a slew of multi-system IMs
- Much improved Video Streaming capability with automatic best rate adaption
The bits that I thought most interesting to developers:
- in-app e-mail support, maybe the end of the attachment shortcoming?
- Shake API, no longer do I have to code this myself?
- access to the users music library on the phone, probably also the voice memos
- use the push notification API to invite other people to activites, e.g.games
- USB/Bluetooth external-device API might allow for interesting add-on hardware possibilities
- In-App Purchaes (iAP)! From within the app you can sell new game levels or other content
- Access to the Proximity Sensor
- Battery information API – maybe apps can now be smarter about how much CPU and energy they use
- In-Game Voice – wow, about an online-multiplayer LuckyWheel that lets people talk to each other?
- And many minor tweaks to existing classes UIAlertView, UITableView, table cells, etc.
Still there were so many more buzzwords that did not get treated with an explanation. Or do you know that those are?
- Core Data – a new API for handling data? A nicer way to interact with Sqlite?
- Localized Collation – Digital Alphabet Soup?
- GPS Lingo – are they going to put even cooler GPS buzzwords into the SDK?
It still remains to be seen behind all these cool announcements how much liberty and creativity Apple will actually permit it’s developers to have. All these new features are really quite overwhelming for us small-time developers and it remains to be seen who of us can embrace them quickly.
Did anybody get to 1000 counting new announcements? I did not, but I am still excited.
It was also announced today that there would be a BETA available for paying developers. So far I cannot report anything about that because we are greeted with the usual “We’ll be back soon” because most likely the developer site is totally overrun by people hungry for more info.
In summary I am glad that Apple today showed that they are taking the touch platform seriously and they are willing to put in extra work to catch up to other platforms that boast many features where the iPhone fell behind. I feel reassured that I can relax and stick to developing for the iPhone because with all those shortcomings finally getting remedied the market of my potential customers will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.