Adoption of Swift has been slow — developers are wary about fully embracing the new language because its bugs and issues are being worked out. I expect to see a large uptick in Swift adoption in 2015, especially since there is a possibility that the majority of code samples provided by Apple at WWDC will be written in Swift.
In addition, developers could see forced adoption of the language, as Apple might start writing Swift-only APIs for new technologies. Currently, all APIs and frameworks provided by Apple are still written in Objective-C, allowing them to be interoperable between Swift and Objective-C and in keeping with the Objective-C naming conventions.
One of the biggest things to hit the block this year and debuting in 2015 is the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch introduction in September 2014 was short; I bet there are features that won’t be unveiled until the watch’s debut in “early 2015.”
Developers are excited about being able to start shipping their WatchKit-based applications for Apple Watch. These applications are currently limited to Glances, Interactive Notifications, and applications that are not fully native to the watch.
Later in 2015, I expect Apple will unlock the ability for developers to write fully native watch apps that do not require an iPhone to work. This will unlock the potential of wrist-top computing in the same way that Apple unleashed the full potential of desktop-class applications on mobile devices with the App Store and iOS.
I predict that Apple Watch apps will be the next gold rush.
The Apple TV UI hasn’t had an update in quite a while. And even though it is still the best user experience on a larger screen, I think Apple will either refresh this experience or unveil the ability for developers to write applications (potentially through extensions) for the Apple TV, in the same way that we can write apps for the Apple Watch.
In any case, I do expect a revitalization of the Apple TV through software updates and potential new hardware updates.
Extensions in iOS 8 have proved to be very useful to developers and users, allowing developers to extend their applications throughout the iOS and OS X systems, in Today widgets, Photo sharing, Safari sharing menus, and more.
There are many untapped potential areas when it comes to where extensions could be deployed, and I expect Apple will release more extensibility in the next versions of iOS and OS X.
The iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, and the iPad Air 2 feature Near Field Communication (NFC) chips for Apple Pay (although the iPad Air 2’s chip isn’t enabled for Apple Pay). Just like Touch ID on iOS 7 didn’t have developer access, I anticipate Apple will unlock NFC for data transfer initiation, Bluetooth pairing, and other uses with iOS 9, making it available for more than just Apple Pay, while still keeping the payment abilities locked to their own payment platform and keeping the chip secure for their implementation.
One extension I’d like to see is Siri support. iOS 7 received support for text-to-speech support, but I’d like to see more support (such as the ability to integrate applications into Siri), and I believe extensions in iOS could be the transport to support that functionality.
iOS 9 and OS X 10.11
Developers will most likely see new versions of iOS (iOS 9), and OS X (OS X 10.11). In these new versions, it would be nice to see Apple slow down and take the next year a little easy; Apple should do Snow Leopard-like updates to iOS and OS X that refine the technology and make these systems more stable.
What do you hope to see from Apple in 2015? Let us know in the discussion.