WWDC Initial thoughts

June 9, 2022 • 09:31 AM

New APIs

There are a bunch of new APIs available to developers. Some are entirely new but most are what’s been in use in iOS 14 or even earlier.

WeatherKit

WeatherKit is a paid set of APIs. I initially thought that half a million calls per month was a stingy quota—comparing with Open Weather Maps that I adopted in PlantPal—but most developers found it quite generous as it’s basically half the price of DarkSky (which, mind you, was acquired by Apple years ago).

No plans for me to adopt it anytime soon. I’m already bought in on Open Weather Maps. On iOS 14 or earlier I can only implement that with a REST API so that’s not ideal. I’ll wait.

Notifications (Live Activities)

Officially branded as Live Activities, this notification feature is a new way to keep the user updated on “things that are happening in real time, right from your Lock Screen.”

I can see my PowerTimer app adopt this new feature. Instead of sending a bunch of sequential notifications as the timer updates, I can now pin the time live on the Lock Screen.

There’s a small asterisk saying Live Activities are coming later this year. So it could either be missing from the entire beta, or available as early as July.

App Intents

App Intents seems to be the new way for apps to interact with Siri and Shortcuts. I may adopt that for apps that currently don’t use SiriKit (the original Intents framework) but not for PowerTimer yet. I’ll wait until iOS 16 prevails in the market.

Not sure why they are upgrading to App Intents. Maybe there’s too much baggage on SiriKit, interacting with Siri, Shortcuts, and — since iOS 14 — Widgets.

Charts

There are finally charts. Officially supported charts, programmed in SwiftUI.

At first glance, there isn’t anything fancy for data-intense charts that you might see in a normal day of a data analyst. But bar charts, line charts, and scatter plots are more than enough to show basic data in most of the apps.

Maybe there are ways to layer these basic charts to form a more detailed visualization—I’ll see.

I’ll definitely adopting those in PlantPal. In PowerTimer, maybe.

Miscellaneous

Screen Time is now accessible to developers. Hopefully I can implement categorized time tracking with PowerTimer. I’ll see how the framework looks like.

I can totally see many other apps adopt Screen Time. Ulysses, which I’m using right now to right this post, will likely adopt folder based time categorizing, to give one example.

Focus Mode is now accessible to developers. There’s definitely an update coming for PowerTimer on that.

Shared with You is now accessible to developers. Interesting addition to the now open to developers category. Not sure if it adds value to my app. But apps like Instagram can likely have a section that shows in-app content shared over Messages.

One thing to note: apps have no access to what’s shared. Instagram cannot tell which posts were shared with you with Messages. Apple really nailed the privacy aspect.

There’s now a good reason to revisit Watch Widgets. They appear on the Lock Screen now, so… there’s that.

Object identification might be available? Now developers can make text recognizable in videos or in UIImageView objects. This might be possible for plant recognition for PlantPal, but I’ll see what’s opened up to developers and what’s not. I’ve been using the Camera app to take photos of trees and flowers around Vancouver, and the identification rate is top-notch. Would be a shame if this part isn’t open to developers.

Photo library can track changes. This is likely helpful for those app that heavily integrates with the Photos Library.

M2 and the New MacBooks

M2 looks great by the numbers. It’s expectedly not as revolutionary as the Intel–to–Apple Silicon jump, but still good improvement over two years.

I like my 16-inch MacBook Pro’s look—it’s not deceiving or trying to please anyone. It looks hefty and dependable. Along the same line, I like the look of the new MacBook Air.

Compared to the M1 MacBook Air that’s still selling for the foreseeable future, for $200 more, you get M2, slightly larger display (with a notch), better camera, MagSafe (which gives you one extra port when you’re charging), fast charging.

For the new MacBook Pro, you can spend an extra $100 than the new Air. You lose all those features above (except the M2) in exchange for a fan, and a lump of coal called the Touch Bar. I’ve never met anyone—developers, college students, designers, photographers—that said anything nice about the Touch Bar. The 13-inch MacBook Pro definitely exist for some people out there. I’m just in a different world.

Finally, I was expecting to see the new Mac Pro at WWDC. There was nothing. Traditionally, it’s not out of ordinary to show the Mac Pro at WWDC, as advanced developers love it. Today, the Mac Pro is just too “Pro” for most developers, the vast majority of whom are served well by the models with M1 Pro, Max or Ultra chips.