Apple iOS 9 Adds 5 Key APIs For Developers

Apple today announced iOS 9, the next version of its mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads. The updated platform offers a number of appealing new features to end users, but also bakes in a small number of new APIs. 

A smarter, faster Siri is among the biggest improvements to iOS 9. According to Apple, its digital assistant is faster than ever at recognizing spoken language requests and does so more accurately.  Critically, Siri adds a proactive feature that will work much like Google's Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana. In iOS 9, Siri will be able to act on request such as "Play Born to Run" or "Show me the photos I took in Utah last summer." Siri will also be able to search through users' native and third-party apps for content and features. One of the new APIs pertains to Siri. With extensible search, developers will be able to add deep links directly to content within their apps. 

iOS 9 makes the iPad a much more complete work machine. Most importantly, it adds split-screen multitasking. The Slide Over feature lets you open side-by-side apps or see a peek of content in an app such as email or messaging. Even better, Picture-in-Picture mode is coming to the iPad, too, which will let people continue FaceTime calls or run other video apps in small windows when using other aps. Apple says these are supported by already existing APIs in the platform, such as those used to adjust for different screen sizes and resolutions. The iPad also gains a new Multi-Touch keyboard app that turns into a track pad for actions such as selecting text. 

A handful of apps gain solid updates in iOS 9, as well. Specifically, Apple Maps now offers transit directions. Beyond the ability to plot train or bus trips, Apple mapped out transit stations so users will know just where to enter them and exactly how far they'll have to walk to get to platforms or other areas of the stations. 

A new Notes app adds the ability to draw sketches with your finger as well as easily save web sites or links. Notes can tap into the camera and camera roll, too. 

Apple is debuting a new app called News in iOS 9. The app acts a lot like Flipboard in that it will automatically generate visually-pleasing magazines based on user interests. 

iOS 9 will expand the availability of Apple Pay. To start, the Discover Card nework will begin supporting Apple Pay in the fall, as will stores such as Kohls and JCPenny. Apple Pay also gains support for loyalty cards. 

Apple didn't provide too many details about the new APIs other than this: 

  • GameplayKit and Model I/O for building better games and ReplayKit for recording gameplay;
  • new HomeKit profiles for motorized windows and shades, motion sensors and home security systems;
  • wireless CarPlay and support for auto manufacturers to develop apps within CarPlay;
  • and new HealthKit data points for reproductive health, UV exposure, water intake and sedentary state.

The iOS 9 beta software and SDK are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com, and a public beta program will be available in July at beta.apple.com.

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.

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