As those of you in the iOS development community likely know, WWDC 2011 is winding to a close today. Despite Apple not releasing a new iPhone as many anticipated, the keynote was far from a disappointment. This year, WWDC was all about software and empowering the iOS development community. While much of the event’s publicity so far has focused on the negative impact the latest release will have on existing iOS applications, this post will take a different approach and highlight the many iOS 5 features that every iOS developer should be excited about.
As mentioned, our goal is to talk about a few new tools, and how knowledge of these tools will increase your potential as an iOS developer.
With the release of iBooks, Apple has seen 130 million book downloads to date. Now they’re releasing Newsstand, which is like iBooks but for magazines and newspapers. At first glance, Newsstand may seem irrelevant to developers who aren’t already working within the publishing industry. While this may be true, consider this: all of those publishing companies now have a brand new distribution model, and they’re going to need talented developers to capitalize on it. This means freelancers and mobile development companies would do well to learn how to use Apples tools to create Newsstand applications now while publishers are still looking for talent to bring their offering to iOS devices.
Picture Editing and Photo Filters
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could develop an app that could easily detect faces, perform picture editing, and can use filters for great effects? Well, with iOS 5 Apple just made your life easier. Face detection can allow for some exciting new experiences on the platform. Using it in conjunction with the device camera has endless possibilities. If you’re currently thinking of entering the competitive space of photo applications, it’s in your best interest to pay close attention to any apple documentation surrounding these features.
There are few marketing tools better than having a great application. Great applications may sell themselves, but a great application that is connected to the social web makes it that much easier for your fans to spread the good word. Now, with single sign-on features, users of an app can quickly authorize an app to post to the user’s Twitter account.
New functionality makes this a very simple process. Users can sign into Twitter from their device settings and any app can then request to use their Twitter credentials.
While the method of implementation was not mentioned during the keynote by Steve Jobs, Scott Forstall did mention that apps can take advantage of this new iOS feature in his public presentation. In the past, developers would have to use a third-party library like ShareKit or just do the heavy lifting themselves to integrate their applications with Twitter, so a single sign-on system will make the job of most iOS developers significantly easier. We can be sure that other social networks like Tumblr, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more will soon request the same single sign-on for their users. This has positive implications for developers as we continue to create apps that leverage our user’s social accounts to indirectly market our apps.
This new addition to iOS 5 deserves the attention of any serious mobile entrepreneur or developer. In recent years, we’ve seen our society transition in several important ways, starting with a more social and open culture willing to share, tweet, or post anything online. Another important change is the rise of the smart phone and the consumer expectation that a mobile device should do it all. While these trends are still evolving, with the rise of iCloud we are seeing that Apple and other companies are betting their chips on the rise of a society that will expect to access their data from anywhere on any device. In iOS 5, we see how apple is merging all three of these trends together to create what will be a unique, ground-breaking experience. Android and Windows will soon follow. This means any serious developer has to start planning on utilizing cloud storage and social experiences into their applications. Your users may soon expect nothing less!
Apple is constantly looking at ways to make their product offerings better. With that in mind, remember this is iCloud 1.0. And as impressive as it may be now, it’s not something every developer is likely to use on a daily basis, but by version 2.0 we may see functionality that every app must have. I recommend getting at least a base level understanding of how it works and even beginning to test it out for yourself, and if you are a freelancer or contractor, this is a skill that you really should pick up right away.
This has been just a small overview of the new offerings in iOS 5. Mobiletuts+ will be revisiting many of these features in greater depth after the iOS 5 NDA is lifted. In the meantime, If you’re a developer, I recommend you take an afternoon and look over the applicable documents available for paid developers. Who knows, you may just find a competitive edge that will separate your app from the competition!
Want to talk about this article? Find me on Twitter @williamherring.