DeveloperNews

Apple previews new developer tools and technologies

Xcode Cloud promises faster app development

Apple has unveiled new tools and technologies for developers. They include Xcode Cloud, In-App Events, Custom Product Pages, and more.

Xcode Cloud

Xcode Cloud is a new continuous integration and delivery cloud service designed specifically for Apple developers. Built into Xcode 13, Xcode Cloud offers, per Apple, “a fast and simple way for developers and teams of all sizes to build, test, and deliver high-quality apps even more efficiently.”

Xcode Cloud can automatically build apps in the cloud to free up developers’ Macs for other tasks. Parallel testing in the cloud means developers can test on a simulated version of every current Apple device, then deploy a build of the app for internal testing, or deliver to external beta testers through TestFlight for instant feedback.

App Store Events

With more apps and games featuring events like live competitions, movie premieres, live-streamed experiences, and much more, it’s now easier for users to discover these events right on the App Store — in personalized recommendations, editorial selections, search results, and on app product pages. Apple says this greatly expands the reach of developers’ events — helping connect them with new users, keep their current users informed, or reconnect them with past users. 

New Product Pages

Apple is introducing new product page tools that offer developers greater flexibility and new ways to connect with users right in the App Store. Custom Product Pages let developers showcase different features of their app for different users. Product Page Optimization gives developers the ability to test different screenshots, preview videos, and even app icons. With analytics in App Store Connect, developers can see what their users like most and make the best decisions for their product pages.

Additionally, Apple is introducing updated guidelines that include support for the emerging category of apps that offer creator content experiences. There are also new avenues for developers to appeal an app rejection on concerns of bias, as well as the option for them to report an app if there is reason to believe an app presents a trust or safety concern, or is in violation of the App Store Review Guidelines.

Swift

Swift — Apple’s programming language — now features built-in concurrency support. This means developers can more easily write code that does work in parallel. With concurrency in Swift, developers can write code with fewer mistakes, and take full advantage of the powerful multicore silicon across Apple’s devices, according to the tech giant.

SwiftUI has new enhancements for improving list views, search experiences, in-app accessibility features, multi-column tables, and so much more.

Swift Playgrounds — which offers a way to learn to code right on a Mac or iPad — is being upgraded to version 4. Coming later this year, it will allow users to be able to create the visual design of an app with SwiftUI. App projects can be opened and edited in Swift Playgrounds or in Xcode, and when they’re ready, users can build a real app and submit it directly to the App Store right from their iPad.

Augmented Reality

Apple says it has the world’s largest augmented reality platform with over one billion AR-enabled devices powered by ARKit, a framework that allows developers tocreate AR experiences, and RealityKit, the rendering, animation, audio, and physics engine built from the ground up for AR.

RealityKit 2 introduces Object Capture, an application programming interfacer (API) on macOS Monterey that enables developers — like Wayfair, Etsy, and more — to create high-quality, photo-realistic 3D models of real-world objects in minutes by taking photos shot on iPhone, iPad, or DSLR and transforming them into 3D models optimized for AR. 

These models can be viewed in AR Quick Look or added to AR scenes in Reality Composer or Xcode. Apple says that, with new APIs in RealityKit 2, developers can also create more realistic and complex AR experiences with greater visual, audio, and animation control, including custom render passes and dynamic shaders.

A new Metal texture compression tool supports all of the latest formats, as well as optimized formats for Apple silicon. Additionally, a new Virtual Game Controller on iPhone and iPad provides an easy method to optimize games that build in Game Controller support.

Additional Developer Tools and APIs

Apple says that additional developer tools and features include:

— Xcode 13 adds new team development features that are perfect for working with Xcode Cloud, as well as with GitHub, Bitbucket, and GitLab collaboration features.

— With SharePlay, apps like Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount+, TikTok, and Twitch are building new types of shared experiences for users on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

— Third-party video-calling apps can take advantage of the latest FaceTime enhancements, including Voice Isolation, Wide Spectrum Audio, and Portrait mode.

— Messaging apps including Slack and WeChat can now share user status in conversations; apps like Uber Eats can have Siri announce incoming messages; and new Notification APIs enable high-priority and communication notifications from apps like Chase Mobile and Zomato to break through Do Not Disturb or a Focus.

— New camera APIs allow for better fused images and add the ability to capture high-quality stills and 1080p video in the same session.

— Apple Watch developers like Breakpoint Studio, Pandora, Qardio, and more are now creating new app experiences that offer a deeper level of customization, and are more responsive to their users’ environment.

— With TestFlight on the Mac, developers can test in-app purchases and other great Mac app features.

— StoreKit 2, which ensures in-app purchases are safe and secure for customers, now features new APIs for handling product entitlements and subscriber status, and testing support in both Xcode and the Apple sandbox environment.

— Web developers including Grammarly and Honey are now building extensions in Safari that are available across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Developers can even create new, powerful extensions in the Mail app.

— Third-party navigation apps can now show a map view in a vehicle’s instrument cluster display, and a new CarPlay simulator for Mac vastly improves testing efficiency.

— Apps can offer the theater-like experience of spatial audio and place sounds all around to bring their content to life. And Physical Audio Spatialization Engine (PHASE) makes it easy for game developers to render true-to-life audio across all of Apple’s platforms.

— ShazamKit enables developers to integrate audio recognition technology directly from Shazam into their apps, making it possible not only to match music to Shazam’s vast catalog of songs, but also to match any prerecorded audio to custom results developers create.

Availability

Developer betas for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, watchOS 8, and tvOS 15 are available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today. Xcode Cloud will be available as a limited free beta starting today, with expanding access throughout this summer and fall, and will be available to all developers next year. More details on pricing and availability for Xcode Cloud will be shared this fall.

the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.
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