WWDC 2016 – Apple’s Top 5 Announcements for App Developers

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicked off its 34th year with a host of massive announcements that will shape the landscape for app developers over the coming year. Over the span of a two-hour keynote, Apple laid out exactly what changes, improvements and alterations are coming to iOS 10. Just in case you don’t have a spare 2 hours, we’ve broken down the biggest announcements from this year’s keynote and how they could affect app developers moving into the future.

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5. Siri Comes to Desktop in macOS Sierra

iPhone and Apple TV owners have been enjoying Siri’s snarky brand of personal assistance for a while now, but Mac users have been left out in the dust – until now, that is. Apple announced a new Mac operating system with a new naming scheme to match iOS, tvOS and watchOS. OSX – now called “macOS” – is getting a new update called Sierra, and with it Siri is finally coming to the desktop.

Siri on desktop should function as a supplement to Finder and Spotlight, allowing users to search for files, switch between active apps, browse the web, and perform math functions. These features are exciting on their own, but going into the future Apple is hoping to make Siri even bigger, positioning her as an intelligent household assistant that can help you through your day-to-day.

So how does this impact mobile app developers? Combined with new Siri updates on mobile, which we’ll cover more later, developers can now feel empowered to add Siri features to their desktop apps and increase feature parity between different versions of their apps.

4. Apple ‘Junk’ Apps Can Now Be Removed

That “Apple Junk” folder we all have on the last page of our phones can finally be cleared with the advent of iOS 10. Not all preloaded Apple apps can be deleted, but the 23 that can are:

  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Compass
  • Contacts
  • FaceTime
  • Find My Friends
  • Home
  • iBooks
  • iCloud Drive
  • iTunes Store
  • Mail
  • Maps
  • Music
  • News
  • Notes
  • Podcasts
  • Reminders
  • Stocks
  • Tips
  • Videos
  • Voice Memos
  • Watch app
  • Weather

The apps you’ll have to keep around? Safari and iMessage, among others.

Now that Apple is allowing users to remove many of their official apps, it opens the door even further for developers to introduce superior alternatives.

3. Responsive Notifications Are Coming to the Lock Screen

Notifications can be a mixed bag depending on the app, but with iOS 10 Apple aims to empower developers to create more useful notifications. By utilizing 3D Touch, users will now be able to respond to or expand notifications from the lock screen.

Beyond that, Apple is also including the ability for developers to update their notifications in real time. Now, taxi apps can inform you when your ride gets close, news apps can update relevant stories as they happen, and sports apps can show you scores in real time. If your app utilizes notifications, you’ll want to start thinking about how they can be updated to take advantage of these exciting new features.

2. iMessage Gets Rich Links and Third-Party App Integration

Apple’s pack-in messaging service is about to get a lot bigger in iOS 10. Easily the largest update Apple has made to a core app in recent memory, the upcoming patch will add rich links, third-party app integration, larger emoji, effects and much more.

Let’s start with the basics: everything you love about iMessage is still there, with emojis now three times bigger than they were before. In fact, autocorrect will now prompt you to use emojis in place of words when applicable. The creative side of the app will grow from there, with text effects that can appear in your speech bubbles. Now you can make text larger or smaller, write in “invisible ink” that’s only visible after swiping over the message, or blur your text until the recipient taps it.

Beyond emojis, iMessage will now allow rich links, meaning that videos and music can be played without ever leaving the app. Similarly, third-party apps can now be integrated with iMessage, allowing you to send money, order food, and prompt all manner of activities from your messaging partners.

1. Siri SDK Lets Developers Add Siri to Apps

The biggest announcement for app developers at this year’s WWDC was definitely the big update for everyone’s favorite personal assistant AI. Apple debuted the Siri SDK for developers, which will allow anyone to incorporate Siri into their apps. WeChat, Slack and WhatsApp were named at the keynote as apps that will now support Siri voice commands, but that should just be the beginning of the Siri integration. With millions of apps on the store that can now follow your every voice command, Apple is positioning the iPhone as a serious competitor to personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, and Siri is finally getting the legs to support that weight.

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