Apple had plenty to say to developers attending the keynote address of its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, today, and yet somehow left plenty of unanswered questions. The iPhone maker spent more than two hours detailing gobs of new features in iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS, but it hardly spoke of new APIs, SDKS, or any other developer-facing tools.
The most significant update for developers its the arrival of ARKit 2. ARKit 2 is a new version of Apple’s SDK for augmented reality. In it, developers will find a new file format called usdz, which is optimized for sharing AR content in apps like Messages, Safari, Mail, Files and News — all while retaining the graphics and animation features of the original content.
If you make any sort of measuring tape app, Apple is here to Sherlock you. ARKit 2 includes a new measuring functionality that uses AR to gauge the size of real-world objects similar to a tape measure. Apple says the new app automatically provides the dimensions of objects like picture frames, posters and signs, and can also show diagonal measurements, compute area and allow users to take a photo and share it with accurate dimensions right from their iPhone or iPad.
Persistent AR is built into ARKit 2 to help stabilize the AR experience. It makes it possible to detect 3D objects like toys or sculptures, and adds the ability to automatically apply reflections of the real world onto AR objects for an added layer of reality. Moreover, ARKit 2 allows for shared AR experiences, meaning more than one person can view the same AR content at the same time.
Beyond ARKit, the second-biggest update developers have to look forward to involves Siri. Apple is opening up Siri to new functions in iOS and watchOS that will give third-party apps even more functionality. Apple demonstrated on stage the workflow that end-users must follow to put together Siri-based routines. Routines will reach into your app and pull content or take action depending on the routine created by end users. A similar set of tools is being ported to watchOS, where people should find it easier to engage with Siri to open and interact with third-party apps.
Apple also talked about new functions in ContentML, CreateML, and Metal, though it was short on specifics.
The platforms themselves gain a huge number of features, though they are mostly limited top tweaking existing experiences more so than adding genuinely new ones.
For example, iOS 12 revises notifications for fewer interruptions; introduces Screen Time for managing device use; debuts more Animoji and Memoji for more fun messaging experiences; adds group video chat to FaceTime for impromptu family meetings; and improves Apple Photos for simpler and more personal image management.
WatchOS 5 looks particularly promising. In addition to the new Siri actions, watchOS will automatically detect workouts, play back podcasts, support walkie-talkie conversations, and help track a wider array of workouts. From a developer perspective, the new support for WebKit is kind of a big deal.
MacOS 10.14 Mojave adds a dark mode for a different computing experience, as well as a variety of new media management functions that revolve around screenshotting. Users can now preview files without opening them, take photos on their iPhone from their Mac, and view files in the new Stacks feature.
TvOS 12 kept the updates simple. It adds support for Dolby Atmos for better sound and makes UI-based improvements to the Apple TV 4K.
All of these platforms are now available for download via Apple’s developer console, along with a new version of Xcode. Feel free to take a look.