Apple kicked off WWDC22 on Monday, June 6th. As usual, they filled a two-hour segment with exciting hardware announcements, including the release of the M2 chip and a long awaited MacBook Air update.
The event was even more exciting to us than most, as it was largely focused on software, including game-changing new features to coincide with major operating system updates. We love how Apple increasingly gives users more control over their devices. For instance, iOS 16 allows users to customize their lock screen with multiple versions. The new iMessage update enables editing and recall of sent messages, and marking already-viewed texts as ‘unread’ to make sure you address them later.
In addition, medication and sleep tracking are enhanced in the new version of WatchOS. iPadOS is adding great new multitasking features as well as a whiteboard tool, called Freeform, that enables team collaboration directly from iPads. Spotlight search, shared tabs and Mail were all a focus for macOS updates and the CarPlay experience has been completely revamped.
With all of this and so much more, we put together a non-exhaustive list of some of the most interesting features for app creators and promoters:
We’re excited about some updates to SwiftUI, such as the addition of a new Navigation API, that will allow for programmatic control of the app’s navigation behaviors. New layout controls will make it easier to build more advanced reusable layouts through the new Custom Layout API and Grid Layout API. Developers will be able to more easily build advanced layouts for various app experiences and build multiple variations of the same view. SwiftUI will automatically pick the best fit for a device from the variations. It also offers better UIKit interoperability. Swift Chart is another new addition that allows a customizable chart framework using the declarative syntax, complete with accessibility features like voice-over and animation.
A new feature to drive engagement for apps was introduced with App Intents. This is a huge improvement for users over the existing Shortcuts feature that required manual configuration. Now the process is automated and included in Spotlight Search and Siri. The framework allows users to access app features from anywhere on their device without even opening the app. For instance, an app for a coffee shop could allow users to order a drink using Siri, or directly from search after typing “coffee drinks.” A sports app could also benefit by sending users directly to streaming live video of a specific game the user has shown interest in. These features can be discovered organically in the shortcuts app or search, while the app can also deploy a Siri tip explaining how to invoke the feature. If an app is already using Shortcuts it’s almost there. Just convert Shortcuts using Xcode, add some custom handling code, a catchphrase for Siri, a tip to train users, and App Intent is ready. A Focus filter feature was introduced that is built on top of App Intent. It allows control of the content of the app displayed on the lock screen based on the focus filter.
SharePlay has been enhanced, allowing it to start from the app without FaceTime integration. A custom UI can be presented to the user when no session is available to start a group activity so users can launch SharePlay directly from iMessage.
One new feature in iOS 16 is the ability to customize your iPhone’s lock screen. Users now have the ability to add Widgets to their lock screen to quickly access the information they want. A new framework has been added called WidgetKit to aid developers in creating these views for their applications. WidgetKit leverages the power of SwiftUI to make it easy to write widgets that can be reused as complications on watchOS or displayed on an iPhone's lock screen. Since widgets written with WidgetKit can be used on iOS and watchOS, it is a great way to provide users multiple ways to access your content with minimal development effort. In a future update to iOS 16, developers will be able to build Live Activities with WidgetKit that will help people stay on top of what’s happening in your app in real-time.
Another notable announcement this year was Apple implementing support for Passkeys. Passkeys are based on industry standards for account authentication and are easier to use than passwords while being far more secure. Apple hopes that the adoption of passkeys will put an end to phishing attacks and will protect servers from leaks as the public keys they store are not useful to attackers. Passkeys must be implemented on your server as a means of authentication but will greatly improve the security of your servers to your end users.
As Apple has increasingly moved to protect user privacy, mobile advertisers have complained that their ability to understand the effectiveness of ads has significantly decreased. Later this year, Apple will take some small steps to rectify these issues. Apple’s SKAdNetwork will provide more granularity when it comes to attributing installs and conversions to the ads that acquired them. Where advertisers previously only had a single campaign ID field tied to an install, they will soon have the ability to identify further details about the specific ad the user viewed or tapped, such as the ad creative version. Similarly, advertisers will be given more granularity and control over how in-app conversions are attributed to those ads. Apple has also enabled privacy-compliant tracking between web-to-App Store advertising.
WWDC22 will continue for the rest of the week and we’re eager to dive into the details of all the keynote features to learn more. We’ll be keeping a close eye out for other major announcements throughout the remainder of the week and helping clients plot out updates and app releases on roadmaps.