Apple Announces Significant SDK Improvements with New 'Swift' Programming Language, CloudKit and More

Apple devoted the last third of its keynote address at the Worldwide Developer Conference today to improvements for its Software Development Kit (SDK), launching a new programming language called Swift, and development kits for health, home automation, iCloud and inter-app operability.

ios8sdk
The announcement that got the biggest reaction from developers was Swift, a new programming language for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch that Apple calls modern, fast and powerful and designed for safety.

Swift is the result of the latest research on programming languages, combined with decades of experience building Apple platforms. Named parameters brought forward from Objective-C are expressed in a clean syntax that makes APIs in Swift even easier to read and maintain. Inferred types make code cleaner and less prone to mistakes, while modules eliminate headers and provide namespaces. Memory is managed automatically, and you don’t even need to type semi-colons.

Swift also includes "Playgrounds", which allows developers to see the results of their code in a side panel in real time. The developer community appears extremely excited about Swift, with Realmac's Nik Fletcher saying he had "no words". Notable Apple pundit and developer John Gruber said that Swift is "huge, huge news" and the "future of all Apple development".

iCloud has also been partly opened up for developers with a powerful new framework for developers called CloudKit. It allows developers to avoid costly and time-consuming coding the server-side of applications, with Apple providing huge amounts of cloud storage and computing power for free, albeit with extremely high limits to encourage tight coding.

Leverage the full power of iCloud and build apps with the new CloudKit framework. Now you can easily and securely store and efficiently retrieve your app data like structured data in a database or assets right from iCloud. CloudKit also enables your users to anonymously sign in to your apps with their iCloud Apple IDs without sharing their personal information.

Additionally, Apple announced lots of new APIs for developers to take further advantage of iOS. Extensibility allows apps from the App Store, which are usually isolated in sandboxes, to communicate with each other. For instance, the Pinterest app could be updated to provide a sharing option in Safari, or Bing could be updated to provide translations within Safari. Another example includes the Photos app, which can use filters from third-party apps like VSCO.

Apps from the App Store can send widgets to the Today pane in the Notification Center. For instance, ESPN's SportsCenter could add a widget within the Today pane that allows users to easily check the latest sports scores without having to open the app. Widgets are also interactive, allowing users to, for example, bid for an item on eBay from within the Notification Center.

Other parts of iOS have been opened up to developers as well, including the ability for users to swap out the default iOS keyboard for third-party options like Swype. Touch ID has also been opened up to developers, allowing apps like Mint to use fingerprint scans instead of passwords.

Apple also announced its rumored home automation platform, called HomeKit. Previously, each home automation app used its own security protocols. Now, after working together with leaders in the home automation field, all apps can work together with a single protocol and secure pairings. This allows automated home devices, like Phillips' Hue lights, to work with Siri. Users can now tell Siri something like "Siri, get ready for bed" to turn off the lights, close the garage and whatever other functions are automated in a users' home.

Apple has also improved things for game developers, announcing Metal, which frees up resources for game developers to make better looking and more powerful games for iOS devices. For instance, EA would now be able to use its Frostbite engine for console games for games meant for iOS, like the upcoming Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare.

Xcode has been updated with live rendering, view debugging, performance testing, storyboards and more.

All of these SDK features are available for developers in the iOS 8 beta today, and will be available for consumers later this year in the fall. Much more information is available at Apple's Developer website.

Top Rated Comments

Bhatu Avatar
100 months ago
The best part so far.. :D
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iGuyS Avatar
100 months ago
These were pretty major announcements. Some of these things were assumed to simply never be a part of what Apple would do for developers or users. For example, people were assuming that a replacement for Obj. C would be years in the future, if ever. Likewise with allowing developers hooks directly into system apps to improve them.

Kind of thrilling. Not sure what to think about Apple now, to be honest. And I mean that in a good way.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
d4rkc4sm Avatar
100 months ago
Swift was the most important announcement today!

How come this is not on the front page? :confused:

This announcement didnt make front page because Swift is not important or revolutionary technology. Beats reducing bass on their headphones... now that is front page news!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alent1234 Avatar
100 months ago
WWDC 14: boring... Ok... Where's the iwatch/Apple TV... Hey Tim Sweeney, ooh shiney... I hope they have more than this... Jaw on floor, wtf! BOOM HEADSHOT!

What did you expect from a DEVELOPER CONFERENCE
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wilhoitm Avatar
100 months ago
This was one of the few things I wasn't expecting.

Wow, this changes everything! Swift! :apple:

A 21st Century programming language!

Apple just might crash the Internet today!

Swift was the most important announcement today!

How come this is not on the front page? :confused:
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ralf The Dog Avatar
100 months ago
Metal blew me away. I thought it would be the IOS announcement of the decade. Then they hit us with Swift. (One more thing!)

I only wish Swift was available for server side development.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 15

Everything New in iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4: Face ID With a Mask, Emojis, Apple Card Widget, Universal Control and More

Thursday January 27, 2022 12:08 pm PST by
Apple today seeded the first betas of iOS 15.4, iPadOS 15.4 to developers for testing purposes, adding a slew of new features to the latest iOS operating systems. iOS 15.4 is the biggest update that we've had to iOS 15 to date, and it brings Universal Control, Face ID with a mask, new emojis, and tons more. Face ID With a Mask With iOS 15.4, there is now an option to unlock your iPhone...
iOS 15

iOS 15.4 Adds New Emoji Like Melting Face, Biting Lip, Heart Hands, Troll and More

Thursday January 27, 2022 11:33 am PST by
With the iOS 15.4 update that was introduced today, Apple has added support for Emoji 14, introducing a selection of new emoji like melting face, biting lip, heart hands, and more. There are 37 new emoji and 75 skin tone additions in Emoji 14, resulting in a total of 112 characters. New faces include melting face, saluting face, face with open eyes and hand over mouth, face with peeking eye, ...
intel vs m1 max chip purple

Benchmarks Confirm Intel's Latest Core i9 Chip Outperforms Apple's M1 Max With Several Caveats

Wednesday January 26, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI's new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel's new 12th-generation Core i9 processor. Intel previously said that its new high-end Core i9 processor is faster than Apple's M1 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and, as noted by Macworld, early Geekbench 5 results do appear to confirm this claim, but there are several...
MAsk On Face ID iOS 15

iOS 15.4's Face ID With a Mask Feature Requires iPhone 12 or Newer

Thursday January 27, 2022 1:22 pm PST by
In today's iOS 15.4 beta that's available to developers, Apple added a useful new feature that changes the way Face ID works. There's now a Face ID with a Mask option that allows the iPhone to be unlocked when you're wearing a mask, but you need to have an iPhone 12 or newer. Right now, an iPhone can be unlocked with a mask if you have an Apple Watch for authentication to add an extra layer...
MAsk On Face ID iOS 15

iOS 15.4 Beta Lets You Use Face ID With a Mask On

Thursday January 27, 2022 10:54 am PST by
The iOS 15.4 beta that was introduced today added a new feature designed to allow Face ID to be used with a mask and without an Apple Watch for authentication. Apple says that the feature can "recognize the unique features around the eye" for authentication purposes. If you opt to use this feature during setup, you will need to rescan your face for Face ID. From there, Face ID will be able...
Apple Watch Red Yellow Green Feature 1

Apple Launches Black Unity Braided Solo Loop With 'Unity Lights' Watch Face

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:05 am PST by
Apple today announced the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop for the Apple Watch, as well as a new downloadable watch face, to celebrate Black History Month. Following the launch of the limited edition Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6 and Sport Band in 2021, Apple today launched the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop as part of its celebrations for Black History Month this year.Apple is launching a...
ios 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 With Fix for Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3, the third major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3 come almost two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor bug fix updates. The iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in ...
General Dropbox Feature

macOS 12.3 Will Include Cloud Storage Changes Affecting Dropbox and OneDrive

Tuesday January 25, 2022 3:31 pm PST by
Dropbox today announced that users who update to macOS 12.3 once that software version becomes available may temporarily encounter issues with opening online-only files in some third-party apps on their Mac. In a support document and an email to customers, Dropbox said it is actively working on full support for online-only files on macOS 12.3 and will begin rolling out an updated version of...