Everything That a Swift App Developer Must Know to Build iOS 10 Compatible Apps
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Swift App Development in the Purview of iOS 10
No sooner than Apple announced iOS 10 at WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in San Francisco, California, June 13–17, 2016, the technology market got abuzz with the news regarding its expected release date and feature updates. While the Apple consumers are still afloat in the sea of speculations of yet-to-come digital experience, it’s time for every iOS app development company to send their Swift app developers back to the school of programming to let them learn new skills required to harness the capabilities of the latest iOS 10 SDK (Software Development Kit) and Xcode 8.0 IDE (the official Integrated Development Environment) so that they can build iOS 10-compatible apps in adherence to the policy of the App Store and stay up to the ever-rising aspirations of the Apple’s consumers.
This, in turn, on the one hand, will help developers embark on a bright and accomplished career ahead and, on the other, give a fresh impetus to the company’s capability, earning and reputation in the highly competitive mobile app development industry. However, before getting started with the learning and app development processes, developers/companies need to have a clear understanding of what objectives Apple is planning to achieve with iOS 10.
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What Objectives Apple is Targeting with iOS 10
Apparently, there could be two prime objectives. First, Apple wants to become more dominant in the Swift app development industry. Not getting its raison d'etre? Well, in its SDK, it has provisioned a set of APIs linked with its patented apps like Siri, Messages, Phone, etc., to allow developers integrate these apps with the apps they build. No doubt, the usage of those APIs is at the sole discretion of developers, but citing the user’s penchant for the so-called patent apps, developers are left with little choice. Second, the Cupertino-based company wants developers to deliver apps matching its iOS Human Interface Guidelines so that apps can drive the user engagement factor and help their owners to provide the best experience to users. Interpreting both, one can easily conclude: Apple is getting more user-centric. However, developers or iOS app development companies in the industry should not take it otherwise. The customer is the ultimate boss of a company and the rest are getting paid for their endeavor of keeping him/her satisfied with the product or service they offer.
What Users Can Do with iOS 10
Control Apps with Voice Commands
You will have the option to interact with an app directly through Siri, the personal voice assistant. Siri can be made to sync with apps offering services in the following categories.
- Audio or video calling
- Sending or receiving payments
- Searching photos
- Booking a ride
- Managing workouts
What is Your Take on iOS 10
Send/Receive Animated Messages
Send and Receive Creative/Animated Content
Messages will no more be mundane texts. Bringing in animations (floating bubbles, fireballs, heartbeats, sketches, etc.) representing feelings and moods, you can be more expressive than ever. For instance, if you are greeting someone with a happy birthday message, add flying balloons of different shades in the background. Dislike people peeping into what you text to your hubby? Indeed, it's a stupid question to ask. Don’t worry! iOS 10 gets you covered. Send texts resembling a captcha or being covered with an opaque film, waiting for the recipient to swipe or tap to get visible. Replacing words with emojis and decorating a message with stickers, you can make messages more vivid. Above all, without leaving the iMessage, you can edit/share content, make payments and do much more with other apps.
Book Location-Based Services from Maps
The iOS 10 Maps not just serves the navigational purpose, but also suggests users what apps to use to enquire about or book services related to transport, restaurant, fun, entertainment, hospital, etc. Interestingly, you don’t need to quit Maps for doing so as the service-based apps are linked with it. With the help of a newly introduced feature, Stree Smarter, you can come to know about the shortest path to take in order to reach your favorite destination.
Control Home Appliances
Apart from extending the reach of its patented apps, Apple plans to bring Home app on iOS 10 devices to let users control their home appliances like lights, oven, doors, locks, curtains, heating and cooling appliances, etc., remotely from anywhere, anytime. In addition, the latest SDK has an enhanced HomeKit to push development of similar high-value apps.
Get Started with a Device in a Lightning Fast Way
Notifications, 3D Touch and Raise to Wake -- all have got a new power. Raise to Wake, the cool feature from watchOS has found a way to iOS as well. 3D Touch goes compatible with more apps with a bid to allow users do more by just applying a pressure. And based on some settings, the phone screen comes alive, the moment the device gets picked up by its owner. Tech experts say that it will work only with the phone or device having an M9 co-processor or higher. The notification section also gets richer. Users can view photos, videos and even respond to messages from the same.
What’s New in iOS 10 SDK to Favor Developers
Cheers, if you are one of them! iOS 10 SDK has over 100 APIs for Swift app development. Hence, use the device’s capabilities, including the accelerometer, auto-focus-camera, Bluetooth-le, etc., efficiently in your app to build more purposeful apps. However, use only compatible APIs for integration and don’t forget to mention the details of configuration and compatibility of the app in "Info.plist" file in Xcode.
More Extension Points
Leveraging extension points, available with iOS 10 SDK, you can create app extensions like Call Directory, Intents, Intents UI, Messages, Notification Content, Notification Service and Sticker Pack to extend the functionality of Siri, Messages, Maps, Photos, etc. to apps you are going to build.
Enhancement with AVFoundation framework
The SDK says goodbye to AVCaptureStillImageOutput and brings in advanced “AVCapturePhotoOutput” class to streamline the photography workflow. It will regulate the functioning of the camera supporting image capturing with more color formats and, thereby, add more life to the pics taken.
Now a media player app can easily read the type of media content, including movie file and HLS, and decide about the right quantum that can deliver an uninterrupted experience to the users. Developers don’t need to manually notify their media app regarding the behaviors of different content materials available with “AVPlayerItem”.
Playback becomes more smooth with the inclusion of the AVPlayerLooper class. Downloading of an encrypted HLS stream also becomes easier and faster with the use of “AVAssetDownloadURLSession” classes.
Enhancement with Core Data
Core Data introduces several API adjustments to facilitate better integration with Swift and Xcode. This eases the maintenance and update process of an app. Thanks to NSPersistentStoreCoordinator, an iOS 10 app can have a better connection with SQLite stores. “Root NSManagedObjectContext objects” (those without parent MOCs) help with concurrent fetching and faulting without any conflict.
Enhancement with Core Image
The Core Image framework (CoreImage.framework) includes several enhancements, including RAW image file support (on iOS devices using A8 or A9 CPU). Core Image can decode RAW images derived from any source. For creating a CIFilter object, modifying RAW processing options, and reading the processed image from the filter’s “outputImage” property, developers have to use “filterWithImageData:options: or filterWithImageURL:options”. And to apply custom processing into a Core Image, use “imageWithExtent:processorDescription:argumentDigest:inputFormat:outputFormat:options:roiCallback:processor:” method.
5 new filters available with Core Image
Enhancement with Core Motion
Notification is an area that gets quick attention of users. With the inclusion of pedometer in Core Motion framework, on an iOS 10 device, apps will be having faster real-time notification update. Both app genres, running in the foreground and background, can use CMPedometer APIs.
Enhancement with Foundation
Calculating a time interval, scheduling events, and checking any overlapping in-between become easier with the new “NSDateInterval” class.
Getting and displaying information about a location is easier with the new properties of “NSLocale” class.
The new “NSMeasurement” class adds value to educational and measurement apps. Users can convert measurements into different units and perform other logical mathematical operations over them.
Enhancements with GameKit
Leveraging the improved GameKit framework (GameKit.framework), developers can build more interactive games. The inclusion of “GKCloudPlayer” class, supports “iCloud-only” game accounts; thereby, it helps gamers to participate, invite, unite, and compete in a common game.
Enhancements with GameplayKit
The GameplayKit framework (GameplayKit.framework) includes all key elements required to build rich gaming apps with vivid textures and actions. Developers can take help of spatial partitioning so that the data in the game world can be searched efficiently. While building a gaming app demanding intensive computation power, developers can take advantage of a new “Monte Carlo strategist” (GKMonteCarloStrategist) and impart extra spontaneity into the game.
Likewise, taking benefit from the enhancements made with HealthKit, developers can build advanced health and fitness apps for iOS 10 users. Improvement with HomeKit will favor the development of better home automation apps.
What’s New in Xcode 8.0 to Favor Developers
Enhancement with Source Editor
Navigation, selection and modification of coding within the editor’s text is now easier and faster. Thanks to the inclusion of Xcode Extensions in the Source Editor, developers can choose the desired app template matching the display size of the target device, configure and enable keyboard shortcuts to make reformatting faster and extend their helping hand to others in the community by creating and sharing editor extensions via Mac App Store.
Enhancement with Interface Builder
Along with coding, with the help of Canvas, an app developer can see the live preview of his/her action, that is, how the app will exactly appear on the user’s device. He or she can customize the look on the Storyboard to match it with different real Apple devices. This is a significant improvement over the previous Xcode versions, where an app build was mapped against abstract rectangles only, which sometimes led to conflict with the screen size. Now, a developer can watch the interactions among iOS views as they appear at runtime. Thus, Xcode takes a more realistic approach towards programming.
Enhancement with Runtime Sanitization
Compiler instrumentation and runtime monitoring have been made faster and easier in Xcode 8 with the newly introduced Thread Sanitizer. This helps with checking data races and other concurrency bugs along with memory corruption errors in the Swift app development process.
Enhancement with Clang Static Analyzer
Programming errors related to logic flaws (e.g., accessing uninitialized variables and dereferencing null pointers), memory management flaws (e.g., leaking allocated memory), dead store (unused variable) flaws and API-usage flaws (happening on account of the violations of the policies required by the frameworks and libraries the project requires) that often dodge the compiler and get manifested in runtime can now be efficiently detected by Clang Static Analyzer.
A Word of Caution for Developers
Xcode 8.0 is a beta release. Only developers registered with Apple Developer Programme can access it. If you are a beginner and want to avoid unpredicted programming issues, go with Xcode 7.3.1, a stable release. Xcode 8.0 Beta also supports the latest programming language, i.e. Swift 3.0, which brings Swift Package Manager and many more features along with enhancements of the previous ones to make programming easier and faster. As of now, its preview 1 is available (released on June 13, 2016). Apple recommends programmers to submit apps built using the languages made available with Xcode 8.0 only.
Concern About Previous App Builts
Leveraging the Swift Migrator tool available with Xcode 8.0 Beta, developers can migrate the coding of iOS apps built with Objective-C or any previous versions of Swift, e.g., Swift 2.2 or Swift 2.3, into the latest Swift 3.0 language. The IDE automatically detects the language and does the migration as requested. Developers can have a preview of the syntax changes on the Xcode dashboard before taking the final call.
10 Proven Tips to Avoid Rejection by App Store
The induction of loads of new features and improvements with the existing ones in the SDK, IDE and the Swift language as discussed above, will also serve one more key purpose of bringing down the App Store’s extremely high app rejection rate (currently at 46%). Not just the iOS app development industry and the Swift community members but their takers are also quite hopeful about the tech innovation ushered in by the Cupertino-based company. Now, the onus is entirely on Swift app developers to efficiently leverage the available resources and build excellent apps keeping a check on potential bugs that are responsible for derailing the customer experience and thwarting the objectives of stakeholders involved in the business. With their active support, unequivocally, iOS 10 would be a game changer for one and all.