Apple’s CEO Tim Cook took to the stage at the 2014 WWDC to announce a range of new products to add to Apple’s already impressive mobile product line, and announced changes to its mobile operating system that would feature in iOS 8.
Starting with the new iPhone 6 and its bigger sister the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s first foray into the smartphone and tablet hybrid market, the new smartphones have a range of noticeable changes compared with the iPhone 5.
For a start, the physical dimensions of the iPhone 6 has changed. It’s now .7mm thinner than the 5, and has rounded corners and edges that should make it more comfortable for the user to hold in their hand. In addition, the power button has moved from the top to the side, which ought to enable easier use of the button.
The screen size has increased by .7 inches to 4.7 inches from the iPhone 5’s 4 inch screen, and the iPhone 6 Plus has an even bigger screen at 5.5 inches. The display is ion-strengthed, which should be a very sturdy screen. The resolution of the phone has been increased to 1134 x 750 with a total of 326ppi. The desktop-grade scaling system that is being built into the new iOS8 ought to ensure a consistent look and feel across all its apps, which should eliminate issues caused by the resolution change.
The built-in camera hasn’t increased in megapixels, but the 8MP sensor will enable phase detection autofocus, speeding up the snapshot time. The phone will also be capable of 43MP panoramas, and can record slow motion video at 240fps.
Under the hood, the phone’s new A8 processor is 25% faster than its predecessor, and will enable a 50% increase in graphical power too. The iPhone 6 also includes a new M8 motion co-processor, which enables elevation tracking, and can differentiate between cycling and walking.
It will also have Apple’s new Apple Pay service built in, which is an NFC system enabling you to make contactless payments with a fingerprint scanner for encryption.
With the new iPhone, battery life is expected to outperform the iPhone 5 with up to 50 hours of audio playback or 250 hours of standby time. With the iPhone 6 plus, these numbers increase with 80 hours of audio playback and 384 hours of standby.
However, arguably the most important development of the new iPhone will be the iOS 8 operating system, which has packed in a great deal of new features. Of these are perhaps the most exciting apps to be added to Apple’s operating system - Apple Health and Continuity. Apple Health is the company’s new biometric system that will enable you to keep a track of your health and movements, presumably in conjunction with its forthcoming Apple Watch.
Continuity will enable integration of the device with Mac systems.
The biggest visual change will be the landscape mode, which takes advantage of the larger screens of the new devices, and enables the home screen to work in landscape mode in the same way the iPad does.
With the new iOS 8, there are lots of exciting changes for users, but perhaps the most crucial changes in the operating system are those “behind the scenes”. iOS 8 has been modified with a developer-centric view, delivering a whole host of improvements in its iOS 8 SDK.
For starters, the App Store has been changed so that developers can be more easily located. With trending and related searches now appearing, it will be a lot easier for users to locate apps. In addition, there’s a new Explore tab that has modified the way apps are categorised to make it easier to navigate.
The preview feature in the app store will now feature a demonstration video rather than just static screenshots, and developers can bundle all their products together in packages, making it easier for users to access their apps.
Apple has rolled out TestFlight, which is a new beta test service for developers and users, and will enable developers to roll out beta versions to get feedback before the full launch. This should improve the app’s stability upon launch.
Extensibility is another new feature and one of over 4,000 APIs being rolled out in the SDK. This will enable apps to offer services within other apps, much like the Facebook share feature included in iOS.
Widgets are now being included in its interface, with the ability for users to customise the information they receive from apps.
Keyboard customisation is an all-new feature to the iOS, with Apple opening it up for third parties to develop keyboards and enable users to choose their own keyboard, a feature that has been popular with Android devices.
Touch ID is also being made available to third party apps, improving the authentication within apps from a single layer to two stage authentication.
Although not much has changed in the camera and photo kit APIs, there is now the possibility of tweaking the settings of the camera.
HomeKit is a new solution to bring home automation options into one place. This is to enable iOS devices into smart remotes for the home, such as garage door openers and security cameras.
CloudKit will take the burden of managing hosting servers during the app development process, making the development process easier for them.
Metal is a new feature that is set to take over OpenGL for 3D graphics in games development. Metal greatly improves the capabilities of visual-heavy games, delivering even greater performance on iOS devices.
However, for more casual games developers that aren’t quite at the Metal level yet, SceneKit has been rolled out, which has been designed to make app development easier.
Apple has also stripped out the programming language of C from its toolkit Objective-C and replaced it with a new programming language called Swift. Swift is considerably faster than Objective-C, and enables developers to see their programming results in real time. However, it can also be run side-by-side with Objective-C and C code in the same app.
Although the user experience of iOS 8 and the new iPhones won’t dramatically change, the main improvements will definitely help developers.