Our DNA is written in Swift

The WWDC Keynotes

Don’t believe what the blogs are telling you. What they have witnessed – and live-blogged about – was not the entire story. They only got to see one third of the whole story.

Most people queue for the Keynote presentation in the morning, some as early as midnight. Fewer – but still hordes – queue for the second presentation following a boxed lunch: The Developer State of the Union. This second is the actual meat because here Apple elaborates on the buzz words they might have dropped in the first keynote.

Then there is a third one, usually attended the the least amount of people. I have to admit, that in past years, I skipped the Apple Design Awards in all years, but once. This year I was glad I didn’t, so I was witness to something that made shivers roll down my spine.

At the Design Awards Apple’s chief Evangelist John Geylense demoes the award recipient’s app to show what makes great apps. This year, one app wasn’t demonstrated by him, but rather by two blind Apple engineers. We sat in awe how these guys navigated a productivity app for building workflows just by touch and Voiceover. I promised myself that I will make sure my future apps are all accessible.

More Open, More Diverse

These days, I keep getting the vibe from Apple engineers that Apple is being imbued with a greater sense of openess. Apple peeps are much less afraid of being on Twitter. The might still refrain from discussing work-related matters in depth in the public, but at least do they seem appreciating of when somebody sends them bug report numbers which fall into their area of expertise.

Another welcome trend seems to be that Apple actively encourages women to be on stage. Both the keynote and the state of the union talks featured 2 women each, but never as an obvious “quota woman”. I very much liked the inclusion of famous Apple engineer Eliza Block (most know her as Mrs. ScrollView) who got a few minutes in the limelight talking about watchOS.

Incidentially, Apples new native OS for the Apple Watch sounds like “watch ass”. Are they just watching their ass? I think they are actively trying to set themselves apart from other large corporations where the glass ceiling is still a very real thing. Apple is making an important statement for a tech company and it is good that they are.

Not just Mac anymore

There are further hints that smart people at Apple have stopped the thermonuclear war with Google. Apple will release at least 2 Android apps before the end of the year: one for migrating from Android to iOS, one for playing music. The Swift language will become Open Source later this year as well, as soon as work on version 2.0 has finished. And Apple will even do one better: they throw in a Linux implementation of the LLVM compiler and core library. Linux advocates might mumble into their gray beards “see if I care”, but hey, Apple is at least taking the very first step.

Which brings us to another painful omission that might see a remedy soon. If you can target Linux with Swift code then it is only a very short leap to infer that this might lead to us being able to run Swift code natively and super-fast on Apache servers in the not too distant future.

Speaking of the web: CloudKit will gain the ability to have JSON web services access the database. In the first iteration this will be via JavaScript, but I can easily imagine that Swift will become a native option there as well at some time. But it is a first timid step towards making us iOS developer also be able to write web apps. The jury is still out whether we like that, but hey! More options are always better than less.

It’s for the developers

There will be a ton of improvements for end-user- and Apple stock apps coming in iOS 9 and OS X 10.11. But none are really breaking new ground. Yes, Passbook is now named Wallet to account for the fact that you now also have payment information in there. Wallet just makes more sense.

Another neat new feature might be the split-screen mode, provided that you have at least an iPad Air 2. Leave it to Apple to keep finding new ways to force us developers to having to procure new test devices.

IMHO, the most important feature is what went by the internal codename “Proactive”. Siri will get more insight into the user’s context. Then we saw something that Google just had presented two weeks earlier: the ability to deep-link into apps after Google has indexed them. The ability to say to Siri “Remind me about THIS” and Siri knowing what THIS is, is amazing.

The major difference here is also the biggest differentiator. Apple’s goal is to be seen as the “secure by default” company. A stab in the direction of Google was made, that the big G is mining your data in the cloud with which you might not be too happy. Apple protects your privacy.


I didn’t have any chance yet to give into the details of the OS changes, so I won’t comment on these just yet. But you can definitely see philosophical changes going on an Apple. A fresh and generous dash of humor makes our favorite company even more endearing.

“Shut up and take my money!” – “what?! No new devices yet”? – “Ok, then I’ll get an iPad Air 2 so that I can debug split screen ode.”

Categories: Apple

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