App Development with Swift

App Development with Swift

Since its debut in WWDC in 2014, Swift programming language has become one of the most sought-after skill for developers on the Apple platforms. As part of Everyone Can Code effort, Apple has released a new app development full-year curriculum called “App Development with Swift”. The course, comes as a free download ebook on the iBooks Store, is designed for those who want to pursue careers in iOS app development.

Apple policy changes for developer

At WWDC 2016, Apple has made three changes to its policy in a bid to attract more developers to its platforms.

The first change came last week where Phil Schiller, the person in charged of the App Store, announced that Apple will open its in-app purchase renewable subscription to all categories of apps. Currently developers can adopt renewable subscriptions only for a few kind of app category, such as magazine app.

The second policy change is with Apple TV apps. Current policy states that all Apple TV apps must support the Apple remote. This is the reason why you do not see many console games being ported to Apple TV, as it takes effort to build for the Apple remote. This restriction will be gone. It is expected we will soon see more games being ported and made available on the Apple TV.

The third policy change is with regards to Mac apps and iCloud. Currently only apps on the Mac App Store is able to build iCloud features into their apps. Apple will relax this policy to allow apps outside of Mac App Store to use iCloud as long as the app is signed by a registered Apple developer. It is doubtful if this change will revert the decisions by many major apps that abandoned the Mac App Store. 

A smarter Apple? A softer Apple? 

Free technology ebooks from Packt Publishing

Free technology ebooks from Packt Publishing

If you have the appetite for learning about technology, be it a venture into Raspberry Pi as a hobby or programming your first mobile app, check out the free technology ebooks offer from Packt Publishing. Once a day, a new ebook from the publisher’s catalogue is offered for free. All you need is to create an account to claim the free ebook. You can read the ebook online or download it in PDF, ePub or Mobi format.

WWDC app has gone dark, now with tvOS and watchOS version

WWDC app has gone dark, now with tvOS and watchOS version

Apple has refreshed its WWDC app for iOS with a new black and white icon and dark theme. The app now has edition for Apple TV and Apple Watch. 

Make the most of the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference with the WWDC app. Even if you can’t join us in San Francisco, you can still follow along each day on iOS and tvOS. And because the WWDC app experience extends to Apple Watch, favorite session information is available right on your wrist.

• Watch live streamed sessions on iOS and tvOS.
• Stream or download WWDC videos from this year and previous years.
• Start watching on one iOS device, and pick up where you left off on another iOS device or on the new Apple TV.
• Browse times, locations, and descriptions for sessions, labs, and special events.
• Mark schedule items as favorites.
• Keep up with the latest news, get important notifications, and see new photos throughout each day.
• View accessible maps to find your way around Moscone West.
• Provide feedback on content and speakers for each session.
• Add your pass to Wallet for faster check-in at WWDC.

WWDC app is essential for attendees of Apple’s developer conference which kicks off June 13 Monday for a whole week. It includes track schedule and info, and sessions will be streamed live on the app. The app is also useful for all other Apple developers not in San Francisco for the event, to watch the live streams and to download the session videos.   

The WWDC keynote will start on June 13 10am (PT). Apple has invited the press to this presentation, where Tim Cook and his teams are likely to give highlights of new features of next generation version of iOS, OS X, tvOS and watchOS. 

Experience Amazon Echo in your browser at Echosim.io

Visit Echosim.io to experience Amazon Echo

With over 3 million units sold, Amazon Echo is a surprised hit and define a new category of smart home device. Its no wonder Google is developing its Google Home clone to compete, and rumours point to a similar device coming soon from Apple.

Echo enthusiast Sam Machin has created a web app based Echo simulator at EchoSim.io, complete with Alexa integration. Amazon Alexa is the bot engine (equivalent to Siri) behind Echo. The site is build to enable developers to experiment and test their Echo/Alexa apps. It is even promoted by Amazon to its developers.

Amazon Echo/Alexa is better than Siri in few areas. It is an always on device listening to you for the whole house. Currently Apple TV has Siri but is is only for query on TV, movie, song content, and is not always on. Echo has a superior and more accurate voice command detection capability. And its killer feature is an open API and platform for integration to third party apps and services. It is rumoured that Apple will release an SDK for Siri in the coming WWDC developer conference.

If you have not jump on the Amazon Echo bandwagon, check out EchoSim.io to find out what the fuss is all about.

Wish list for WWDC 2016 Part 2

We have written our Wish list for WWDC 2016 from a developers’ perspective. This is part 2 that includes some more wish lists.

MapKit for the Web

MapKit is currently limited to iOS and OS X. It is spotted that Apple is using its own map data at the newly launched WWDC site. Lets hope Apple will open up their Map database for third party web apps. Opening web API for MapKit will allow iOS and Mac developers to reuse the same data for web and Android version of their app.

Keeping OS X Command Line Utilities Current

As with any Unix based operating system, OS X contains a large number of command line utilities and tools. Apparently Apple is not keeping these tools updated even if there are security vulnerabilities.

This post highlights one example with the git tool. The version that is in the latest OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 contains two bugs that allows remote code execution. Worst still, it is not easy to remove the git version installed in OS X due to the rootless protection by El Capitan. Lets wish Apple applies their security update practice to these command line tools.

Sample Android Java app

Apple has its own Android app. How about teaching its developers how to develop one that uses CloudKit? WWDC will shock Android developers if there is such a talk.

Mac Bootcamp for Linux

It is possible to install Linux operating system such as Ubuntu for dual boot usage on a Mac. But there is no official support and installation instructions are coming from the communities. There is always the concern of hardware compatibility. There are large number of developers using Linux for their work. There is definitely a market as evident by Dell’s Linux based XPS 13 notebook. It makes sense for Apple to target these segment with a bootcamp for Linux. Apple is in the hardware business and not the OS business.

Siri API

It is long overdue. Apple seems to be ok with Amazon Echo and Alexa taking over the market.

Migrating from Parse to CloudKit

To reduce the number of non functional apps in the App Store that uses Parse, it might be in Apple’s interest to guide developers on how to migrate from Parse to its platform.

Swift Playground for iOS

It will probably be a few more years before we see Xcode for iPad, but there is no reason why there is no standalone Swift Playground for iOS. 

Push Notifications Kit

Push notifications is basic requirements for many apps but it requires a third party server in order for app to send out notifications. It is straight forward to implement such server using open source push notification server, or developer could implement push notifications via a provider.

The wish list is for Apple to be a push notifications provider in order to simplify the interfaces for apps to use push notifications. This could be implemented as add-on services on top of CloudKit. Interface could be implemented using web API or using server-to-server key similar to CloudKit.

Safari Downloader for iOS

Have you ever try to download a large file via mobile Safari? Its time Apple implements a background downloader for Safari in iOS.

Print to PDF for iOS

Print to PDF is basic feature in OS X. It is curiously missing in iOS. It should be implement right within iOS system printer to allow saving PDF output to iCloud Drive.

News app for the Rest of the World

Apple News app is available only in U.S., UK, and Australia. It appears to be an experiment for Apple as it is not rolled out to more countries months after its debut last September.

“Login With Apple” Identity Kit

Games that uses iOS Game Centre API is able to obtain unique user identity. This allows games to bypass user account registration and signin process. Apple prohibits non-games app to use this API. For normal apps, CloudKit provides similar mechanism whereby apps are able to obtain unique identifier for each user. Thus it is possible to implement a “Login with iCloud” to provide seamless signing without password.

However “Login with iCloud” requires user to grant additional permission by switching on iCloud. Not all users have iCloud enabled. The wish is for Apple to implement a general purpose Identity Kit that allows apps to implement “Login with Apple” that ties to users’ Apple ID. 

API for Notes App

Many are using Notes app for note taking. Notes app has become a goto app to store all sorts of personal data. It would be ideal if there is an API that allows third party apps to use Notes as the base for user’s data collection, be it notes, links, snippets, quotes etc.

Core Data sync with CloudKit

It is possible to roll your own codes to enable Core Data sync using CloudKit as store. It is however a complex undertaking. An official reference implementation from Apple is most welcomed.

Siri: WWDC 2016 will be held June 13 through June 17

WWDC 2016 will be held June 13 through June 17

There is no announcement yet on Apple’s WWDC website but Siri is telling us that WWDC 2016 will be held June 13 through June 17. Based on past years, Apple will be announcing ticket sales for WWDC anytime now. Are you as excited as Siri?

Updated: Hours after Siri broke the news, Apple officially announced WWDC 2016. Similar to past years’ practice, tickets are sold to developers through a lottery system. Visit Apple developer website now till April 22 10am PDT to register your interest. Apple will then select attendee randomly. Ticket at $1,599 can not be transferred or resold.  

WWDC 2016

Apple releases Safari Technology Preview for developers

Apple releases Safari Technology Preview for Developers

Apple has released a version of Safari for OS X called Safari Technology Preview. The app contains bleeding edge browser features that is under development, and is meant for web developers to help them get ready.

Safari Technology Preview is a version of Safari for OS X, distributed by Apple, that includes a cutting-edge, in-development version of the WebKit browser engine. It’s a great way to test upcoming WebKit features and give feedback to the people building them when it’s most useful — early on in development.

Web engine technology is evolving at a fast pace, both Chrome and Firefox have had a preview version of their browsers for years. Apple has finally made an effort to be helpful to web developers. Safari Technology Preview is useful for developers targeting iOS as the same WebKit engine is used in both OS X and iOS.

Download is free without registration for anyone at Apple developer website. You can run the preview app side-by-side with Safari and other browsers. Updates to the app will be delivered via Mac App Store.