Apple‘s 2018 World-Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) took place this week in San Jose, California. WWDC is Apple’s annual developer conference where developers of macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS apps get together to learn about the latest improvements coming to Apple’s development tools. The conference has a lot of low-level uber-geeky content that is beyond most mere mortals. It’s also where Apple shows off what the public can expect in the next version of their operating systems in the fall. The main event for public and press attention was the opening keynote presentation on Monday. Also of note are the Platforms State of the Union presentation, and Daring Fireball’s The Talk Show where John Gruber talked to Apple’s Greg Joswiak and head of AR, Mike Rockwell. If you are a developer and weren’t able to score a WWDC ticket in the lottery, you won’t get direct access to Apple engineers… but the good news is that all of the session videos are available for free. At LuminFire, we primarily leverage tools like FileMaker and WordPress for most of our custom app development, but we do keep our eyes on other tools and Apple tech. Here is our WWDC 2018 wrap-up, and some thoughts on what it means for FileMaker.
The majority of the keynote was spent talking about iOS 12, which will be a free update in the fall. A big focus of this release is going to be on improving performance for older devices. Greg Joswiak joked during The Talk Show about just how ridiculous is the notion that Apple would cripple older devices with each release, that you’ll buy a new one. They are combatting that myth by focusing performance improvements on older devices, and supporting all of the same devices as iOS 11. Here are some of the other key features to watch for this fall:
- Improvements to Augmented Reality (AR) – Apple is introducing a new file format called USDZ, with support from industry leaders Pixar and Adobe.
- Measure – a new app for… measuring things in 3D space, with your camera.
- ARKit 2 – updated framework for AR now supports improved facial tracking, 3D object tracking, and shared experiences. There was a cool demo by Martin Sanders, Director of Innovation at LEGO.
- Photos – new search suggestions and improved searching with multiple parameters. For You suggestions can make sharing photos much more intuitive and collaborative.
- Siri Shortcuts – More apps can make actions available to Siri. You can build custom shortcuts and build strings of actions from multiple apps. It’s pretty clear that the Workflow team has been busy.
- Included apps – improvements to News, Stocks, and Voice Memos… all are now available on iPad, and offer iCloud sync integration. iBooks is now Apple Books.
- CarPlay – now supports 3rd party mapping apps like Google Maps and Waze.
- Distraction – More granular controls for Do Not Disturb, including event- and location-based options. Instant tuning of notifications and grouped notifications promise to tame notification hell. Screen Time will let us know how we really spend our time on our devices, and set limits for ourselves… and our kids!
- Messages – Animoji now supports Tongue Detection, and new Animojis like 👻, 🐯, 🤖, 🐨, and 🦖. You can now make custom “Memoji” of yourself and add stickers and camera effects.
- FaceTime – now supports Group FaceTime with up to 32 people.
- Passwords – strong password suggestion is now supported in Safari and 3rd party apps. There is also support for 3rd party password managers like 1Password or LastPass.
Updates coming to Apple Watch this fall are mostly focused on fitness, but include some other goodies as well. Note that watchOS 5 supports Series 1 and newer. Those of us with the original “Series 0” Apple Watch are out of luck.
- Fitness – challenge friends to a 7 day challenge, and win new badges. New working types, including yoga and hiking. For runners, you can now see your rolling mile pace, cadence, and set custom pace alerts. Automatic workout start and end detection ensures that you can get credit for your workout, even when you forget to start it on your watch.
- Walkie Talkie – just what it sounds like. Friends and family can set up a direct voice link between their Apple Watches.
- Siri – now just raise your arm and start talking, without needing to say, “Hey, Siri…”
- WebKit – view web content in Mail and Messages without needing to go to a larger device.
- Audio – the Podcasts app is now on Apple Watch. 3rd party apps can now play background audio.
- Student ID cards – now supported in Wallet.
- Watch faces – a new complication for air quality will have you breathing easy. There is a Pride watch face, and matching watch band (both available now). Unfortunately, there is still no support for 3rd party watch faces.
There wasn’t as much to talk about with the OS for the AppleTV. They did share some info about AppleTV sales seeing 50% year-over-year growth, but they don’t share specific AppleTV sales data, so we can’t translate to actual unit numbers. Here are some of the new features that we know about from the keynote and the What’s New in tvOS 12 session.
- Dolby Atmos – the latest surround sound standard now accompanies Dolby Vision picture quality. Existing iTunes movie and TV content will be upgraded for free. The AppleTV is the only streaming device to support both standards at this time.
- Zero Sign-on – if your cable provider supports it, and they are also your broadband provider, you will automatically be signed in to video content apps.
- Continuity keyboard – now supports password autofill from your
- Set top box – some cable providers are offering AppleTV in place of a traditional cable box, including Charter Spectrum, later this year.
- Aerial screen saver – now lets you see the location of each vide with a tap on the remote. New videos coming of Earth from the International Space Station.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Apple still cares about the Mac. Hopefully we’ll see some hardware updates soon to go along with the software updates they are delivering in Mojave. Support for the latest operating system now requires hardware from about 2012 or newer, depending on the Mac model.
- Dark Mode – Batman and Darth Vader fans erupted with applause for this feature. It looks really cool. The perfect compliment to your iMac Pro.
- Desktop – Dynamic Desktop updates your desktop wallpaper to match the time of day. Desktop stacks keeps your clutter organized by file type.
- Finder – a new Gallery view replaces Cover Flow. Sidebar supports quick actions without needing to go into an app. Examples shown include rotating a photo and signing a PDF, right from the Finder or QuickLook. You can customize these actions with Automator. In other news, Automator is not dead!
- Screenshots – Some nice enhancements to match what was done in iOS 11. An on-screen thumbnail of the screenshot you just took lets you jump in to markup the image. You can now record video as well as images of your screen, without having to use QuickTime or another app.
- Continuity Camera – use the camera on your iPhone to drop in pictures or document scans.
- Included apps – News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home are coming to the Mac. They spent an awful lot of time talking about these apps… wonder why?
- Security – more areas of your data are being protected, and will require your permission for apps to access them. Safari is blocking more trackers, such as “Like/Share” buttons and comment fields that could track you, even if you didn’t interact with them before. Less system will be presented to sites, to prevent “fingerprinting” that could have uniquely identified you. Now your Mac will look like every other Mac.
- Mac App Store – new design with Create, Work, Play, and Develop tabs. Apps can now have video previews. Some notable omissions are coming to the Mac App Store, including Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Lightroom CC, as well as the return of BareBones’ BBEdit, and Panic’s Transmit.
- Metal – the graphics rendering engine has support for multiple external GPUs. Metal’s ray-tracing performance on multiple GPUs can render a complex scene 40x faster than on the CPU. Apple is deprecating OpenGL and OpenCL support. They will still work in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, but developers should move to Metal, if they haven’t already.
- CreateML – a tool that allows developers to train machine learning in their apps. For example, create a training set of known data; photos of different types of flowers, for instance. Then it can start to identify flower types in new photos.
- New coding tools – there are a lot of new tools to allow coders to work more efficiently. There is now support for Bitbucket and GitLab, in addition to GitHub.
- Sneak Peek – So why did Apple spend so much time talking about the News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home apps? As it turns out, they are working on some tools that will make it much easier to bring iOS apps to the Mac. UIKit on macOS maps events from touch to mouse/trackpad events. They are still developing them, but they are using them internally for things like these apps. They will make this available to other developers next year. Apple did make it clear that they are not merging macOS and iOS, and they are not de-emphasizing the macOS AppKit tools. The core OS substrate for macOS and iOS started the same, but have drifted apart. Apple is working on making them the same again to make developing for both platforms easier.
So what does this mean for FileMaker?
Our favorite rapid application development platform, FileMaker is a subsidiary of Apple but they operate somewhat independently. FileMaker was not mentioned in the keynote nor is the app found in the Mac App Store due to the way it is licensed. Since apps need to be built against the macOS Mojave SDK to use Dark Mode, and FileMaker likes to maintain feature parity with Windows, we’re not expecting to see Dark Mode support right away… but that would be an awesome addition to the Themes and Styles. Xcode Interface Builder lets you add dark variants of all colors and images, and toggle between light and dark modes. That could be a nice future addition for the FileMaker themes inspector. With the FileMaker iOS App SDK, we can compile native apps for iOS from our FileMaker apps. Could the new tools that were previewed mean that we could see a FileMaker macOS App SDK, to replace the deprecated FileMaker RunTime apps? Who knows?… but it’s fun to dream!