Here's what Apple's iOS 8 and iOS SDK news at WWDC means to users and developers.
and any other type of app that requires tight security can let iOS device owners use their fingerprint instead of a password or PIN.
Another key idea is extensibility -- the ability for apps to speak to one another and share features. Extensibility will let developers reach into far more of the operating system and its tools than ever before, empowering their apps with features that simply weren't possible in previous generations of iOS.
Looking briefly at some of the tent pole APIs, PhotoKit will let developers add the editing tools of the iOS Camera Roll app to their own, and the Camera API gives third-party camera apps control over exposure, focus, and white balance. HealthKit includes an app that acts as a hub for other health and fitness apps so users can not only better track their health, but also share it with healthcare professionals. HomeKit aims to simplify home automation by letting the iPhone to talk to in-home appliances, such as garage doors and thermostats. CloudKit will let developers add instant cloud services to their apps via iCloud Drive.
SpriteKit, SceneKit, and Metal all focus on making game development simple. SpriteKit makes it a breeze to add 2D animations to games. SceneKit goes one dimension further and makes adding 3D graphics a cinch. Metal takes a step towards crazy town, as it can empower console-grade gaming graphics on devices such as the iPad Air (thanks to its A7 processor).
Last, Swift is a brand-new coding language from Apple. Apple claims Swift is simpler and faster and gives developers a whole new level of freedom when it comes to writing applications. It works with Cocoa and Cocoa Touch and can run side-by-side with Objective C.
In sum, Apple has closed the feature gap between iOS and Android for both consumers and developers. During the keynote, the developer attendees offered raucous cheering when Apple announced these new coding tools. It's clear they were excited by what Apple had to say. In the end, that should translate to much better apps and services for the rest of us.
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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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