WWDC 2019: The biggest takeaways for developers

If you're trying to keep up with the slew of Apple's software announcements from WWDC 2019, here are the ones that will matter most to developers.

WWDC 2019: Everything Apple announced and what really matters to business TechRepublic's Karen Roby and Bill Detwiler break down the important news from Apple's 2019 WWDC, but more importantly, they discuss why certain applications are important to business users.

Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is underway, and there has been a whole host of new software announcements. Operating systems are being overhauled, new versions of existing software are coming, lots of new features are rolling out, and new top-of-the-line hardware has been revealed.

With all the Apple news this week, it's easy to get bogged down trying to figure out what, if anything, developers should care about. If you build apps for macOS, iOS, or iPadOS, these major announcements should be on your radar.

SEE: 10 ways to prevent developer burnout (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Project Catalyst

Perhaps the biggest announcement for developers at WWDC 2019 was the Project Catalyst reveal. This new iOS-to-macOS converter is going to open up huge new realms for mobile apps and give developers a new reason to build unified experiences across all Apple operating systems.

Turning an iOS app into a macOS one with Project Catalyst is supposed to be incredibly simple: Simply download and install the Xcode 11 beta, open an existing iOS app project, navigate to the project settings, and click on the check box labeled Mac.

The great thing about Project Catalyst is that developers won't have to do anything in order to convert an iOS app to macOS—once that checkbox is checked, Xcode does everything it needs to do behind the scenes, all while maintaining a single source code. Mac desktop features like windowing and cursor support are automatically added to the app, and it's ready to roll as a macOS program.

Project Catalyst could be a big deal for the enterprise world and its developers. The need to build multiple apps with multiple source codes built on multiple languages is a thing of the past—at least for those using the Apple ecosystem.

SEE: Project Catalyst: What developers need to know (TechRepublic)

SwiftUI

SwiftUI, a new framework for Apple's Swift programming language, is going to bring big changes to developing apps for any and all of Apple's platforms.

SwiftUI is a simplification of the existing Swift language, along with the addition of a set of low-code tools that will make building user interfaces and app designs much easier. It's built directly into Xcode, so developers will need to learn to use it when it goes live this fall.

Some of the changes coming with SwiftUI include:

  • Automatic coding of common app elements like support for dark mode, accessibility options, dynamic type, and localization. When you start a new app, those elements will already be part of it.

  • Declarative syntax, which Apple describes as "simply state[ing] what your user interface should do."

  • Drag-and-drop UI elements in the Xcode design canvas that are automatically coded into the app when added.

  • Real-time compiling and execution.

Apple said it designed these features to make life easier for developers, and if they work correctly they should; a lot of manual development time will be substituted for automatic, low-code alternatives and instant response from Xcode.

SEE: Will SwiftUI make the Swift programming language even more popular? (TechRepublic)

ARKit 3, Reality Composer, and RealityKit

These three all fall under the Apple's augmented reality (AR) envelope, so it makes sense to talk about them as a group, since each is designed to make building augmented reality apps and programs simpler.

For starters, there's ARKit 3, the latest version of Apple's AR development platform. ARKit 3 is adding a number of features that will make AR more useful, including:

  • People occlusion, which will detect humans in AR environments and place them in front of AR objects;

  • Motion capture using a single camera;

  • Simultaneous front and back camera use for expanding the scope of an AR environment;

  • AR collaboration capabilities; and

  • Multiple face detection.

Reality Composer and RealityKit are designed to make adding AR to applications easier. Reality Composer is a graphic interface that allows developers to drop AR objects into a virtual space before adding them to the real world; also, it has a library of pre-built AR objects, is included in Xcode, and has its own iOS app.

RealityKit is a new high-level framework that's designed to make AR photorealistic, have physics interactions, and otherwise help AR applications look and feel better.

If you're developing AR software for enterprise use or for everyday Apple users, these new features are going to mean big things for you. If these new features work correctly, they could increase the demand for AR apps, thereby increasing your workload.

SEE: Quick glossary: Augmented Reality (Tech Pro Research)

What's your reaction to the WWDC 2019 announcements?

So, Apple developers, what are your thoughts on these new tools coming out of WWDC 2019? Share your thoughts in the comments below to give your fellow devs a bit of insight they may have missed.

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By Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.