WWDC19: inside look
This year, the developer community was waiting for Apple with several new products. Everyone was ready for the announcement of the “dark theme” in iOS 13, the Marzipan project (simplified porting of applications from iOS to macOS) was also no longer a secret, especially since Apple already showed off last year and promised to give developers access to it tool "in the near future."
Most discussions were built around these topics. Some still remembered Apple's promise to introduce the new modular Mac Pro also “in the near future,” although new hardware at WWDC is not always announced.
Day 0. Badges and BBQ before the conference
With about the same set of expectations, with the support of the EPAM Mobile Solutions Competency Center, I flew to sunny California. Having settled in and breaking the jetlag, I started the “zero” day of the conference with a badge. Rather, from the line behind him.
In general, it should be noted the love of Americans for the queues. And also the love of individuals to be the first in any such queue.
Getting a badge was no exception when I got to the McEnery Convention Center, the queue was already quite noticeable, although there were still more than an hour before the badge was issued. However, this expectation was not boring, you can chat with other developers in the queue, and Apple employees encourage and encourage such communication. The queue may include both employees of large companies who write applications for the whole world, and independent developers who have found their niche and earn money on their personal application.
The first people wishing to receive a badge of the conference participant were personally met by Tim Cook.
Well, all the participants got badges (this time with magnetic fastening) and a two-sided windbreaker.
An interesting point was Apple's recognition of the unofficial name of the conference - DubDub (from WWDC - dub dub dee see).
Most developers then make a pilgrimage to two key Apple stores - Infinite Loop and Apple Park Visitor Center.
Actually, the stores at the first and new Apple campuses. These stores are also distinguished by the presence of branded T-shirts, which are no longer in any other store, as well as the opportunity to actually look at the company's offices. At least from the side.
The last few years, Russian-speaking developers on this day also gather in Santa Cruz for a barbecue. The format is very simple - come, fry sausages and chat on the ocean. A great way to meet, socialize, and prepare for the conference itself. Some daredevils even go swimming.
Day 1. Keynote and Platform State of the Union
As I already said, you have to deal with queues at WWDC more than once. The Queue at Keynote - the key presentation of the conference at which most of the new products are announced - is the largest. For some, it begins on the evening of the previous day. Yes, there were those who stood in line at ten in the evening to be the first in it by 10 am the next day, when the presentation actually began.
But even those who come almost to the very beginning of the presentation will all get into the room and will be able to see it with their own eyes. Again, in anticipation of the start, developers share their expectations and hopes with each other.
After several hours in the queue, a small breakfast, they let us into the hall. The conference was attended by more than five thousand developers, more than a thousand students and schoolchildren (for whom Apple pays for both the ticket and accommodation), as well as the press and Apple employees themselves. And they all fit easily in a huge hall.
By the way, it should be noted that compared to last year, WiFi in the halls worked an order of magnitude more stable (which cannot be said about the cellular network, yet a large crowd of people with mobile devices can load cell towers very much).
WiFi worked so well that it was possible to organize a direct connection to EPAM offices in Minsk, Kharkov, St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, where meetings were held dedicated to the joint viewing of WWDC Keynote.
At ten in the morning, the conference officially begins when Tim Cook enters the stage and greets all those present.
Keynote lasted a little longer than two hours. A very busy watch.
Yes, Apple introduced the new Mac Pro. And besides him, there is also a new professional display - Pro Display XDR.
Yes, Apple introduced the "dark theme" for iOS. And besides it - a new framework for building a user interface on all Apple platforms - SwiftUI . And also - its own framework that implements functional reactive programming approaches - Combine.
Yes, Apple introduced the “Catalyst project,” which will allow you to transfer applications from iPad to Mac). And along with this, she talked about the fact that the iPad now gets its own iPadOS, which will somewhat distance itself from iOS.
Against this background, updates in ARKit, independent applications for watchOS and others - seemed to be somewhat less significant.
After Keynote, it became clear that the conference will be very, very interesting to the developers. Not so often, Apple announces so many new directions that developers need to pay attention to. By the number of such new products WWDC19 can only be compared with 2014, when Swift was announced.
The second session of the first day, Platform State of the Union, is already intended only for developers. Here are a little more detailed about the news that were announced at Keynote, as well as those for which time was running out. The hall was just as full. At the same time, almost all the developers made personal plans for the conference - every day several sessions are held simultaneously, as well as laboratories, where you can ask questions to Apple engineers on issues of interest. And with so many new products - you need to carefully choose what you will watch in person, and what you will then see in the notes.
A few words about what was announced
Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR - a new hardware for those who are professionally involved in the processing of photos, video, sound. And if conversations about the Mac Pro have been going on for a long time, then the Pro Display XDR was a bit of a surprise. Apple has long ceased production of its own displays. The only exception is the screen as part of the iMac and iMac Pro.
Both the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR devices are not for home use. Although, I have no doubt, there will be those who will be ready to give more than $ 12,000 for such a kit home, the main buyers of this iron will be professionals from the world of photo, video and audio.
A separate meme of the conference was, of course, a monitor stand. Rather, its price is $ 1,000. For that kind of money, many people buy good monitors with their computer. And, if Apple included its cost in the price of the monitor, there would definitely not have been any indignation - the Pro Display XDR is really worth the money.
Apple demonstrated the capabilities of Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR in a special Pro Studio - a zone where representatives of various companies showed how they use this technique for editing audio tracks for films, create 3D scenes for cartoons, process photos, etc.
Honestly, after looking at the picture quality of the Pro Display XDR display, the MacBook Pro screen doesn’t seem as cool as before. Now we have to wait until Pro Display XDR technologies begin to penetrate devices for ordinary users.
For users, Apple introduced another very interesting service - Find My. It combines Find My iPhone and Find My Friends. An important difference was the ability to find turned off devices, even those that do not have a GPS module and communications equipment. This is implemented using the built-in Bluetooth Low Energy beacons that any other Apple devices that may be nearby may notice. So all iPhone users will imperceptibly begin to help in the search for lost equipment.
Even before the start of WWDC19, various sources had rumors that Apple was preparing a new framework for creating interfaces. However, the rumors were very blurry and did not give any details.
Well. Rumors turned out to be true. Apple introduced SwiftUI (along with Combine) - a framework that allows you to create UI applications for all its platforms - macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS.
This framework implements the principles of declarative interface creation when we describe the structure of the UI and its relationship with data, rather than writing methods that change the state of the screen depending on various events. In addition, SwiftUI - as you might guess from the name - was created in Swift and for Swift (yes, with some dances with a tambourine, you can try writing in Objective-C, but why?). Swift is now becoming the main development language, and may soon become the only one.
Since SwiftUI is just introduced, Apple has paid a lot of attention to creating documentation . The materials on the portal for developers are made extremely high quality and contain a lot of examples.
And, yes, the ideas of this framework are similar to those implemented in React Native or Flutter. But the important difference here is that SwiftUI is a native framework that is part of all new versions of Apple's operating systems, and is also developed and maintained by the company.
Last year, Apple said that work on a tool for transferring applications from iPad to Mac is underway, but it never fell into the hands of developers. On the network, this tool was called “marzipan”, this year Apple officially introduced it, and also announced the internal name of the project - Catalyst (however, the word “marzipan” was still played a couple of times during sessions on this topic).
So, Catalyst, or UIKitForMac, lets you port applications from iPad to Mac. The minimum version for macOS should be announced macOS Catalina. The idea is that for most elements of the UI from iOS (well, or rather, iPadOS) analogues are created in macOS. And the application code for the iPad with minimal modifications compiles for macOS. Further, the developer needs to finish some little things that will allow the application to look more “native” on macOS and you can release it.
Perhaps the first major application, apart from the actual application of Apple itself, will be Twitter - they will return the application for macOS , using the source code of their application for iOS.
In addition, Apple decided to expand the capabilities of Apple ID - with the help of "Sign in with Apple" users can log into applications that previously used some other login mechanism via social networks. Thus, the company wants to protect users from unnecessarily tracking their actions. Moreover, this tool is supported both in applications for Apple platforms and in the Web. Thus, the user can enter the application on any platform (including Windows and Android). Separately, it is worth noting that “Sign in with Apple” also allows you to limit the application’s access to user data, and, if necessary, hide the user's real e-mail address using specially created addresses.
For the user, this means that he will always be able to unsubscribe, even if the author of the application does not “play by the rules”.
Starting next spring, all applications published on Apple platforms will have to support “Sign in with Apple” if their applications have login functionality through social networks. Thus, it is expected that applications will nevertheless begin to use this mechanism, and users will have a choice - use Facebook, Google, Twitter or Apple ID to log in.
A typical conference day
The first day of the conference consists of three sessions - Keynote , Platform State of the Union and Apple Design Awards (awarding the authors of the best applications in several categories). But on Tuesday, the main activity is already beginning.
Sessions run in parallel in four streams. Of course, some sessions are more popular than others. For example, at a session about SwiftUI, updates in Xcode or new features of Swift - there were so many people that there weren’t enough chairs in the hall. Someone looked while standing, someone placed on the floor.
The fact that the sessions go in several streams makes you choose which ones to go to, which ones to look at later.
By the way, just doing it now is pretty easy. Recordings of sessions become available quickly enough. In recent years, Apple has significantly accelerated the process of publishing records. If earlier you had to wait more than a month, then about a week, now they are available on the same day. For those who did not get to the conference itself, now you do not have to wait to be in the know. In addition, in the WWDC application, it’s pretty easy to make a list of what you need to see.
In addition to sessions at the conference, laboratories were opened in various areas - these were also technical aspects (for example, development issues on Swift or issues related to interaction with the network). People come to these laboratories with specific questions about their applications and communicate with engineers who are trying to solve certain problems right on the spot, or pass these questions to the team that will accompany the request further.
In addition to technical, there are separate laboratories for design and promotion in the App Store. They are especially useful for independent developers, as they provide advice from Apple professionals on how to make the application better for users, and how to find new customers using the App Store.
Throughout the conference, there was also a game in Swift Strike - an AR game in which you need to push a huge bowling ball with your iPads towards the opponent's pins. Compared to last year’s game, Swift Shot - a new game requires more movement and can already be considered an active form of recreation.
Apple also helps people get together in interest clubs. For example, there were breakfasts for girls and women in IT, for the African American and Latin American communities; for those who develop educational applications. Such meetings allow you to find like-minded people, share experience. Moreover, they are open to all comers.
At lunchtime, the so-called lunch-time sessions take place - when employees of large companies (such as Pixar) or agencies (such as NASA) speak to the audience. They are extremely interesting, and allow you to briefly distract from technical reports.
In addition, Apple focuses on physical activity. There were three events at WWDC19 - high-intensity interval training, 5 km race and yoga. These trainings took place at 7 am at Activity Studio, located near the main conference venue. Such events are especially useful for developers who spend so much time on computer screens and physical activity will definitely not hurt us.
Mobile People Talks at WWDC19
In addition, at WWDC there is a studio for recording podcasts - Apple Podcast Studio.
Our podcast, Mobile People Talks , was fortunate enough to use it to record an episode dedicated to the WWDC19 announcements themselves. In addition to the venue, this issue was also distinguished by the fact that guests were present for the first time.
Our podcast appeared not so long ago and is dedicated to the development of mobile applications and everything related to it. Leading podcasts are located in different cities (Minsk, St. Petersburg, Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod) and focus on different technologies - these are iOS, Android, and frameworks for cross-platform development - Flutter and React Native.
In the issue about WWDC19, together with the guests of the podcast, we tried to evaluate how the announcements will affect the lives of users and, of course, developers. Given the number of new products - there was nothing to talk about. It was a great experience for both our podcast and guests.
According to tradition, on Thursday evening at the Discovery Meadow (near the conference venue) a concert is held for participants.
Actually, Apple can arrange music events - until recently, the regular iTunes Festival was held in London, and some musicians such as Sia, OneRepublic and others performed at Apple's presentations.
This time, Weezer performed. The concert was definitely a success. The audience sang many songs in chorus.
And it should be noted that here at the concert there were practically no bursts of food and drink, nor entry, nor anywhere else. Amazing
It should be noted that during the WWDC in San Jose and its environs, other conferences traditionally take place, interesting to developers for Apple platforms. These are AltConf , and Layers , and many others. In addition, different companies organize various events - concerts, parties, and just meetings.
Some developers travel to San Jose even without WWDC tickets, just to chat with the development community at these alternative events.
Fifth day. Closing
Friday is traditionally a little sad day - a busy week is drawing to a close. Some leave in the middle of the day.
Last time, the reports ended at about three in the afternoon. This year, Friday was still full of reports until the evening. And the last report was a standing ovation. The conference is over.
To get a little distracted, many of those who leave later travel to the nearest cities - San Francisco, Santa Cruz. Someone takes a short tour in neighboring states.
We, with a small initiative group, decided to take a ride to San Francisco and look at the city from the Twin Peaks hills. Well, on Saturday morning - take a walk around Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf - eat the very Clam Chowder, which was so often mentioned in the example of the Soup Chef app about sessions about Siri.
And then - once again look at the ocean and move home.
WWDC - a conference for developers
In recent years, the question has been raised more often - should I come to conferences. Indeed, reports are usually available online fairly quickly. Technical consultations can also often be done remotely.
However, the very lively communication with developers from around the world is still impossible to transfer to social networks. At such a conference, you can meet many interesting and very savvy developers. This not only provides an opportunity to share experiences, discuss pressing issues, but it energizes to create something new.
I know several stories when such conversations led to the emergence of personal projects that developed into full-fledged applications with thousands of users.
This year the conference really succeeded. There were so many new products for developers that there was more than enough topics for conversation.
And many of us need to learn again - it’s impossible to “learn everything” in the profession of a developer. This year, however, still have to learn a little more than usual. But the more interesting this process will be.