Apple has new features for iOS 14 for the iPhone and iPad, and the corresponding series of updates for developers. Want to take advantage of the new home screen widget to surface dynamic info or App Clips to show off your app in miniature form, download the latest SDK and get to work. Here's what's new.
First off, Apple provided updates to all its core platforms: iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, tvOS, and macOS 11 Big Sur. Moreover, Apple discussed its move away from Intel chips and the X86 architecture in favor of "Apple silicon." That's a lot.
Apple dedicated the bulk of its time on stage pitching user-facing features, rather than talking about the code for developers that makes it all work. That doesn't mean there aren't new developer tools.
MacOS developers will rely on Xcode 12. Xcode 12 has an all-new design, customizable font sizes, streamlined code completion, and new document tabs. Xcode 12 builds Universal apps by default to support Mac and Apple silicon, often without changing code. What are Universal apps? Universal apps are the new normal. With Apple moving its Mac computers to Apple Silicon — the same A-series processors found in the iPhone and iPad, such as the A12z Bionic — developers will be creating single apps that run on all three hardware platforms. Yeah, that's a big one, too. You can learn more about Univeral apps here.
Beyond Xcode 12 for macOS and Universal apps, Widgets and App Clips are what developers need to know about most.
Similar to how they function on the Android platform, Widgets deliver "a small amount of timely, useful information or app-specific functionality." In other words, they surface up-to-the-minute data such as the latest weather report, calendar appointments, and more. Developers will use the new WidgetKit framwork, widget API for SuiftUI, widget gallery, and Smart Stacks to create them. Widgets will work across iOS iPadOS, and macOS. Widgets can be placed anywhere on the iOS/iPadOS home screen, and come in several different shapes and sizes.
Then there are App Clips. Android has a similar function that allows users to run apps without actually installing them. Apple's App Clips function in a similar manner. The point of App Clips is for them to be easily accessible and quick to launch exactly at the right moment. It's a small part of an app that allows users to start and finish a specific experience in just a few seconds. Apple suggests that "after you've demonstrated the value of your app with your App Clip, you can provide the opportunity to download the full app from the App Store." What's more, App Clips work with Apple Pay and Apple sign-in.
The requisite SDKs for all the new Apple platforms are available here.