That was one hell of a start to WWDC. There were so many announcements to be covered that it felt like the whole event was rushed through. As usual, the hedgehog lab team was really excited for the amazing things that would be announced at WWDC, and we weren’t disappointed.
During the event, Apple announced its 9th version of the OS - iOS 9. There were a bunch of updates to this popular OS, along with a few new announcements. Let’s take a closer look at some of those updates and announcements, and discuss what we at hedgehog lab think about them.
Apple's search system on the iOS has been a simple way for users to search through apps and content on their mobile device, as well as content available online. During this WWDC, Apple announced that they are making this search section more interactive and productive.
How? They are enabling it to perform searches within the mobile device and online, as well as inside various apps installed on the device, when mobile app developers integrate the search API in their app. We at hedgehog lab think this is an amazing feature - our CEO Sarat Pediredla said that "Search API is huge with spotlight integration. Deeplinking is a killer".
- Deep Linking Apps:
Another feature that was discussed along with the search API was the ability to deep link apps within the iOS platform. This will enable users to directly launch an app and instantly access context-specific content from a link, arriving either from other apps or via the search section. Deep linking has the potential to significantly improve the user experience of interactive apps.
What’s more, users can search for content within an app using the search API, and use links to open context-specific screens in that app. For example, the user could search for a document in iOS search and open it directly within Dropbox or iCloud. By doing so, they can view the file directly by launching the app through the link provided in search, rather than opening Dropbox and searching through folders to find the correct file.
Along with updates to the simple search program, Apple has also made some changes to their intelligent assistant Siri, to improve search performance for user requests. Apple also announced that Siri can now understand context-based requests, harnessing the information that is already on the user’s screen. For example, if the user had an email open and wanted to remember something in the text, they could now bring up Siri and ask for a reminder about this later. Siri will understand what the user is talking about when he/she says "this".
Here’s what our client partner, Jonathan Denby, has to say: "Siri is an interesting one - I'd expect to see developments in this space in terms of opening up to developers in the future. Right now it's more just Siri being contextual"
And we could not agree with him more. hedgehog lab thinks that the next natural progression for Siri would be to finally provide an API that would allow mobile app developers to use it to interact with their apps, in a similar way to Search API and Deep Linking.
- Update to Notes App:
Notes has been one of the most under-discussed yet essential apps available on iOS devices. But since it was launched along with the first iOS release, the app has not seen any real innovation. Apple has finally decided to up its game and improve the Notes app, updates which were announced during WWDC.
Now users can enjoy better interaction with the Notes app, as it supports images and also offers the option to create a checklist within the app itself. The ability to take an image, link or content from a website and put it into a note is just exceptional. It goes without saying that this will vastly improve productivity for anyone who uses this app to take notes and log memos.
- Apple Maps:
Apple has so far enjoyed little success from its Maps app, and has been tirelessly working to improve it on a daily basis. Even the most impressive and useful features have mostly been constrained to the US. However, bigger fish in the mapping business have prevented Apple from gaining more market share.
Hence Apple has been forced to innovate to stay relevant, and has invested heavily in identifying and creating a better experience for users who rely on mass transit for most of their transportation needs. Apple has announced enhanced and smart transit mapping, as well as interaction abilities for users, in this WWDC. We think it will be amazing to see these features implemented, not just in Maps but also in third party apps, enabling users to reach their end destination easily.
- Low Power Mode:
Apple has been trying to improve battery performance to ensure users get the best possible mobile experience, but has not made much of an impact in this area until now. Currently, when a user's device has almost run out of battery, there is no other option than to find a charging point.
With iOS 9, Apple plans to enable users to switch to a Low Power Mode when they think they are about to run out of battery. This will disable all unnecessary features and activities on the iPhone, allowing the user to get at least a few hours worth of battery life before the charge runs out completely.
- App Thinning:
Apple has been evolving the iOS annually, continually adding amazing new features to its ecosystem. Although the benefits are obvious, these updates do have their downsides, particularly relating to the size of the apps and updates. Older versions of the iPhone with a storage capacity of either 8GB or 16GB don’t do any justice to users when it comes to installing updates or apps. These installations would end up taking so much space on the device that they would have to delete some of the content from their devices to create free space.
As the ecosystem keeps growing, more and more apps are using too many resources to ensure that users get a PC-quality user experience, as well as extra features, on their mobile devices. This inevitably leads to bigger app sizes, which end up eating up a lot of hard disk space on the device.
With Apple's new App Thinning feature, mobile app developers can squeeze the size of the app download by only installing features and assets that are supported by the user's device. Another feature called on-demand resources enables mobile app developers to prompt resource downloads into the app when required, instead of pre-installing them all at the time of purchase.
This may sound like a simple performance enhancement, but it also means that all of the previous models of iPhone - which continue to be prevalent in developing countries - can now enjoy the latest apps as if they were built to support them. In doing so, all iPhone users can have the best possible experience of using those apps.
We love Apple and everything that was announced this WWDC, but there were a few things that left our team disgruntled…
Our CEO, Sarat Pediredla, was not happy with the fact that Apple is going to continue to use the 70/30 revenue split for Apps, considering all the praise that mobile app developers got from the Apple team during the event. Sarat also said that if Apple did change the revenue split option, it could completely kill Android and other mobile OS ecosystems, by encouraging developers to invest completely and exclusively in the Apple ecosystem.
Our developers Pavan Krishna and Craig Tweedy expressed their disappointment about the lack of updates to the Control Centre in iOS 9. Surely users should be able to interact directly with commonly-used features such as location services, and switch between cellular data services?
These are just few of our opinions on various features announced for iOS 9 during WWDC 2015. If you have any comments or opinions of your own on iOS 9, join in the conversation by commenting below or tweeting @hedgehoglab on Twitter.
Did you know that app developers can integrate apps to work with Siri?