Weeks removed from Apple wrapping up its first all-virtual WWDC, many of us are still digesting what the conference’s announcements mean for the future of our favorite products.
Federico, John, and I have all shared various takeaways from the conference, and I’m sure we’ll have a lot more to report as we continue using the betas this summer and review Apple’s OS updates this fall. But our perspective is limited to our profession as journalists, so we also wanted to hear from the people this conference was really built for: developers.
WWDC has grown into an exciting conference for Apple users all around the globe, but its core identity is still ultimately an event for app developers. As a result, I wanted to speak with a variety of developers to get their reactions to the conference. These included:
My sincere thanks to these developers for taking the time to share their thoughts, and for their years of valuable contributions toward making Apple’s app ecosystem as strong and robust as it is today.
Interview questions for each developer ranged from the things that most excited them at the conference to surprises and disappointments, their read on how in-touch Apple is with the developer community, the current evolution of software development, and each developer was also generous enough to share a sneak peek at new technologies they’re working to implement in their apps.
Today Apple announced an expansion of its initiative of partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to create hubs for training the next generation of coders. 10 new HBCU coding centers are being added throughout the US, from which nearly 500 teachers and community leaders will soon participate in “a virtual Community Education Initiative Coding Academy that Apple is hosting for all initiative partners.” During this training:
Educators will learn the building blocks of coding with Swift, Apple’s easy-to-learn coding language. Participants will work in teams to design app prototypes to address real community challenges. After completing the coding academy, educators will begin to integrate the coding and creativity curricula into their communities by launching coding clubs and courses at their schools, hosting community coding events, and creating workforce development opportunities for adult learners.
“Apple is committed to working alongside communities of color to advance educational equity,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We see this expansion of our Community Education Initiative and partnership with HBCUs as another step toward helping Black students realize their dreams and solve the problems of tomorrow.”
These last couple months have seen many companies express a desire to work toward pursuing racial equality and justice, but true change takes more than just words, so I’m glad to start seeing the early fruits of Apple’s new commitments.
Hey is a new approach to email that was launched earlier this week by Basecamp. The service, which comes with its own hey.com email address, has a number of unique features for managing messages with an emphasis on screening tools. Hey does not, however, allow you to use its client app with other email services like Gmail, which is important to keep in mind.
Equally important to this story as it unfolded over the past several days is the fact that Hey does not offer an In-App Purchase for its service. The service is available from Basecamp only. As a result, if you download Hey’s iOS app, but have not yet purchased a license from Basecamp, the app doesn’t do anything except request your Hey login credentials.
The service launched on Monday with access provided via the web and native Windows, Android, Linus, Mac, and iOS apps. At the same time, Hey was being launched, an update to its iOS app, which fixed bugs, was rejected by Apple. The timing is unclear, but TechCrunch reports that Hey’s Mac app was rejected too.
A group of indie iOS and iPadOS developers have joined forces to offer a pack of over 100 stickers of many of our favorite apps, the proceeds of which will benefit two great causes. According to the sticker pack’s purchase page:
All proceeds will be split 50/50 between the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidity Response Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative for combatting racial and economic injustice.
It’s terrific to see the developer community come together to offer such a wide array of stickers for two excellent charities. Ever since I started attending WWDC, I’ve collected stickers of my favorite apps from the developers I meet. With WWDC online this year, I didn’t think I’d be able to add to my collection anytime soon. However, thanks to the Indie Sticker Pack, I’ll have more stickers at once than I could ever have collected at one WWDC and contribute to two great causes.
One unique component of Apple’s online WWDC this year is that the company opened a Swift Student Challenge where students could submit a Swift playground creation for special recognition. Today in a press release, Apple is highlighting three of the 350 winners: Sofia Ongele, Palash Taneja, and Devin Green.
For Sofia Ongele, 19, who just finished her sophomore year at New York’s Fordham University, her focus for change lies at the intersection of tech and social justice. ReDawn, her first iOS app, is a powerful example. After one of her college friends was sexually assaulted during her freshman year, Ongele created ReDawn to help survivors access resources in a safe, easy, and sensitive way.
Palash Taneja…went on to create a web-based tool that uses machine learning to predict how mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever would spread. And for his Swift Student Challenge submission this year, created against the backdrop of COVID-19, Taneja designed a Swift playground that teaches coding while simulating how a pandemic moves through a population, showing how precautions such as social distancing and masks can help slow infection rates. He created it to help educate young people, after he saw others not taking warnings seriously.
Devin Green…was having trouble waking up in the mornings, so he designed a program using a pressure mat under his bed. If weight is still on the mat after he’s supposed to be up, an alarm goes off and won’t stop until he uses his phone to scan a QR code.
Apple has also created, naturally, a new post on the App Store where it’s highlighting three more winners and their apps: Lars Augustin, creator of Charcoal, Maria Fernanda Azolin, creator of DressApp, and Ritesh Kanchi, creator of STEMpump. Out of these, Charcoal is an app we’ve covered in our newsletter in the past, it’s an elegant way to perform quick sketches on your iPhone or iPad.
The Swift Student Challenge is a unique way for Apple to highlight some of the best and brightest young coders working on Apple platforms today. I loved reading the details about each of the six winners featured today, and hope we’ll get to learn about more of the 350 winners in the week ahead. With so many winners to recognize, perhaps we’ll see new App Store stories each day leading up to the conference.
Apple has created a new open source project to help developers of password managers collaborate to create strong passwords that are compatible with popular websites. The Password Manager Resources open source project allows you to integrate website-specific requirements used by the iCloud Keychain password manager to generate strong, unique passwords. The project also contains collections of websites known to share a sign-in system, links to websites’ pages where users change passwords, and more.
Apple has continually deepened its investment in the area of password management with iCloud Keychain upgrades in recent years and new APIs for third-party apps. Today’s announcement takes things a step further down the path of openness and collaboration, enabling apps to share important site-specific information with one another so that users have the best, most secure experience possible no matter their choice of password manager.
As noted by Steve Troughton-Smith on Twitter and reported by 9to5Mac, Apple has invited developers to attend an online event to learn about the accessibility features of its devices. According to an email message sent to developers, the event will include opportunities to ask questions during and after the presentation and schedule individual consultations.
Last month, Apple announced that WWDC will be online-only this June for the first time. As Troughton-Smith suggested in his tweet, it’s not hard to imagine that Apple is using this week’s accessibility event to test systems that it will use to move WWDC online.
Apple periodically holds events for developers outside the annual WWDC cycle, but this event is a little different, especially the interactive component. I’m curious to see how the accessibility event goes and the mechanics Apple uses to implement developer participation.
From the start, the iPad has always been rife with potential. This is partly because it launched as a new type of product category, with unexplored use cases prompting users towards a different computing experience. But it’s also because the device’s very nature – a slab of glass that becomes its software – evokes countless possibilities.
To celebrate 10 years of iPad, I spoke to the developers of many of the device’s best apps across areas of productivity and creative work. They’re the people who make that slab of glass into something new, realizing the iPad’s potential but also showing, by their constant work of iteration and reinvention, that there’s always more that can be done.
In sharing their stories from the last decade, the people I spoke with outlined some of the best and worst things about iPad development, memories of their reactions to the product’s introduction, and dreams for where its future might lead. All throughout, it’s clear how much excitement remains for the iPad’s potential even 10 years on.
Universal purchases, which will allow developers to offer an app across Apple’s platforms, are now available for Mac apps. In a short notice posted to Apple’s developer news site, the company said:
The macOS version of your app can now be included in a universal purchase, allowing customers to enjoy your app and in‑app purchases across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS by purchasing only once. Get started by using a single bundle ID for your apps in Xcode and setting up your app record for universal purchase in App Store Connect.
The feature began appearing for some developers on App Store Connect a little earlier in the day:
I was (finally) able to add a MacOS Platform to our iOS app in App Store Connect today. If you tap the + button App Store page for the app, it now lists “MacOS” in addition to iOS and tvOS.
Prior to universal purchase, Mac apps were treated as separate products by Apple’s stores, which meant developers had to either charge separately for apps and, in some cases, jump through complex receipt-checking hoops to bundle their apps. This change should make the process of charging a single price or signing up for one subscription for apps across the Mac, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS much simpler and will enable cross-platform In-App purchases too.