Authors of numerous articles and videos have covered all the bells and whistles built into iOS 13, the latest major iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system. Rather than diving into all of these perks, though, I will focus on the changes for app developers.
As it often happens, Apple introduced many proprietary applications that successfully supersede a number of third-party ones. It’s clear that QuickPath will now replace GBoard to enter text and provide swipe features. Also, the native secondary display feature for iPad called Sidecar will substitute Astropad and Dual Display solutions. Furthermore, custom stickers and animated emoji called Memoji can be used instead of the counterpart from Mirror AI.
The to-do list application now comes with features that used to be a prerogative of the Things app users: you can set a date, create reminders with subtasks and configure various types of alerts based on location. The overhauled Files app allows users to share folders, connect to cloud services, leverage an archiving tool and do many other awesome things. The syncing of lyrics with Apple Music used to be a matter of installing Musixmatch solution, but iOS 13 has introduced a feature of its own for that purpose.
There are two main conclusions you can draw from these ongoing tweaks. On the one hand, Apple is trying to hold sway over the ecosystem of the most popular applications. On the other hand, the company is developing a transparent and clear-cut array of services for integration and interoperability.
In other words, as long as your application hasn’t been replaced with Apple’s native counterpart, make sure its development occupies a unique niche aligned with the platform’s evolution strategy. Take into account the novelties that change the user experience and require that your coders take extra adaptation efforts.
The 2018 macOS release came with the Dark Mode onboard. Users were expecting a similar feature for iOS back then, but it took Apple’s software engineers more time to implement it for iPhone and iPad. And here we go–Dark Mode is finally available in iOS 13. It functions as part of the Night Shift mode, and therefore the switching takes place automatically.
It’s beyond all doubt that most users will keep the default iOS settings so that the mode is enabled depending on the time of the day. In the meantime, app developers have to do quite a bit of cumbersome work to support the new feature. They need to create UIs with variable colors while adhering to uniform graphics so people can enjoy using the app at any time with an equal degree of convenience.
iOS 13 comes with turnkey instruments called Color Assets that minimize the amount of work required for app color theme development. iOS 11 and iOS 12 support this toolkit as well, but app makers relying on design for iOS 10 and earlier will have to stay on the sidelines of this progress.
Apple chose to depart from the general unification trend by segregating two platforms for their mobile devices. This approach gave rise to a separate branch called iPadOS. This is most likely a response to the low demand for the latest powerful iPad Pro models. Many users got the impression that the company actually created a professional, multi-functional gadget but failed to equip it with enough solutions to show its full potential. Neither applications nor compelling use cases were available to bridge the gap. The emergence of iPadOS is intended to change this as the independent, fully-fledged platform should match the hardware power.
Overall, iPadOS bears a strong resemblance to the desktop operating system. It supports desktop-type scrolling features and the option to work with peripherals such as a mouse and trackpad. The revamped SpringBoard seems to bring some long-forgotten widgets back to the home screen.
Now that all of these modifications are in place, every developer should think of the iPad home screen widgets that their users might find handy. Perhaps it makes sense to add a widget rendering certain live information or providing helpful shortcuts.
When it comes to multitasking, the all-new iPadOS appears to outperform macOS in many ways. For instance, iPad users can open multiple windows of the same app and quickly access favorite apps using the Slide Over feature.
It means there are new scenarios the developers should consider. Among other things, they have to figure out which apps can be combined with theirs on the same screen; how to implement this without sacrificing the user experience; and what role–main or secondary–their app plays in such a tandem.
To keep up with the new OS architecture, developers also need to ensure a resilient app layout. Enhanced multitasking means that your app will have to run seamlessly in multiple window sizes and proportions ranging from the traditional Full Screen to a swipeable tab in Slide Over mode. As a matter of fact, a similar interface design was available before; however, whereas it used to be optional, you definitely can’t disregard it anymore.
Safari has also become a part of the maturity trend. Now it displays desktop site versions rather than mobile ones. The fundamental change, though, is that the browser has been fine-tuned at the engine level so the iPad can work with fully-functional web applications such as WordPress and G Suite.
Coders can benefit from this tweak as it poses a great alternative to masterminding an iPad-only application. They can save a good deal of time and money, additionally offering their users a readily available tried-and-tested web app if they have one, of course.
Last but not least, the new Sidecar mode allows users to cast their Mac’s screen content to the iPad. This feature supports macOS Catalina. Aside from the secondary display perk, Sidecar allows you to use Apple Pencil in Mac apps. That’s one more way of leveraging iPad features without having to create a separate app version, which might make some developers question the need for such extra work.
Dashboards are being definitely implemented in full swing in iOS 13. Lots of Apple’s native apps are using data illustrations on their main screens that reflect the event log, explain how to take advantage of new features and give comprehensive clues about various usage scenarios. This complex approach really differs from the purely functional one that used to be the case.
The refreshed home page of Apple Maps is a good example of the current trend. It includes new tools to work with geolocation and arrange or add places to favorites. The Health app displays daily infographics, too. These features encourage users to open the application over and over.
The ubiquity of real-time data and infographics has actually turned into a big trend for all Apple products, including smartphones, tablets, desktop computers and smartwatches. Therefore, if your app generates some potentially interesting or useful information, be sure to demonstrate it to the user. That’s what will fill the app’s dashboard. But first, you should understand what types of data your users prioritize: nifty content or strictly functional stuff.
The updated Photos app is one of the most conspicuous changes brought by iOS 13. You can’t go wrong if you say that creating and editing photos is currently among the main iPhone use cases. Apple developers have rethought the whole process to deliver the best graphics experience.
The app’s home screen covers all the photo gallery browsing scenarios imaginable. It seems to have been designed specifically for hours of gazing at a time. In addition to the use of machine learning technology for choosing the most captivating images, the photo and video editor boasts amazing visualization of the settings and allows you to view the results immediately in the context of the other content. You can barely notice the process of switching between modes–from browsing to editing and taking photos. All in all, the iOS 13 Photos app exemplifies a mobile solution that surpasses its desktop counterpart in many ways.
This is a serious challenge for developers because it calls forth a whole new level of coherent user experience in mobile app design. The users will be expecting equally elaborate and smooth apps flawlessly aligned with the rest of the iOS 13 ecosystem.
Apple has marketed their operating systems as ultimately safe and privacy-friendly for years, consistently highlighting the leak-proof gist of both iOS and macOS as their competitive advantage. As many of you may know, it is not always the case considering how many new malware pieces target Apple users these days.
Trying to be on top of privacy defense, Apple updated the Location Alert feature lets the user know about background applications requesting geolocation data. Although, some programs need these details to operate properly, quite a few app authors keep such data harvesting enabled in the background just in case.
In iOS 13, this characteristic can become a way to ruin your app’s reputation. As soon as the user gets an alert showing a bunch of points on the map that the application has been recently keeping track of, they are likely to follow the system’s recommendation and block this activity without a second thought.
This security feature is meant to restrain developers from collecting redundant data that isn’t required for their apps to work properly. It also encourages app makers to notify users when and why they need to know their whereabouts.
Sign in with Apple
This feature has been anticipated for quite some time and it finally went live with the release of iOS 13. You can now use your Apple ID to sign into various websites and applications. This functionality secures the authentication routine by means of Face ID or Touch ID. Many developers will find it convenient because it introduces a simple and intuitive authentication workflow eliminating the need to store and manage passwords. The security of this process is now entirely up to Apple.
Programming with Swift
Apple has been endorsing the Swift programming language for a while. iOS 13 gave these initiatives a boost by introducing SwiftUI that overhauls the entire paradigm of creating applications for Apple devices. Effectively, it is a critical link between programmers and designers that was missing before. SwiftUI also propels a shift toward a reactive programming style. Apple Developer libraries now support a bevy of UI models. Furthermore, the Combine framework will be henceforth heavily used for coding. These instruments are currently in beta testing and things may change dramatically over time, though.
Nonetheless, Apple has already provided developer tutorials aimed at facilitating the process of switching to reactive programming. The beta testing will definitely unearth a lot of roadblocks and there will be tons of bug fixes and tool replacements further on. However, Apple engineers will certainly address these issues in the long run.
It appears that the age of Objective-C with its numerous drawbacks is doomed to fade away, succumbing to more competitive development instruments.
SwiftUI already allows programmers to compile applications without high coding proficiency. You can easily add modules that will complement your new app. That being said, designers and managers with entry-level skills will be able to compile prototypes of new software products.
Overlapping Apps for iOS and macOS
In the aftermath of the growingly close ties between iOS, macOS and the newly released iPadOS, mobile applications can now run on macOS. You actually couldn’t compile a mobile code using Apple’s desktop operating system till the summer of 2019, but now it’s possible. At the 2019 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2019), experts claimed this could be done without having to use a simulator.
However, since the layout structure of iPad applications has more in common with macOS style than the iPhone app layout does, we’re mainly talking about executing iPad apps on desktop machines. Given that some Apple apps look very much alike on different devices (Reminders and Stocks), the proprietor of the platform is expecting the developers of third-party apps to stick with the same uniformity across environments.
It comes as no surprise that some mobile devices are starting to support desktop mouse and trackpad, and the user interfaces are being unified at the level of the smallest details. For instance, the design of the user icon has been concurrently updated in all the services and applications on iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and macOS. To maintain the rebuilt environment, Apple is busy expanding the app development sections on their website. The company has provided UI kits even for products in beta testing and created a library of interface icons, lagging slightly behind Android in this regard.
To recap, it’s clear that Apple is trying to establish and push forward a convenient ecosystem for app developers. At the end of the day, this is one of the fundamental elements of a long-term competitive strategy and we may expect more changes with the advent of iOS 14.