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What the iPhone X and iOS 11 mean to app developers

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Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2017 by RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor and MICHAEL HAYNES, Associate Editor

What the iPhone X and iOS 11 mean to app developers
The excitement of Apple launch day always reminds me of the Willy Wonka “opening of the gates”, you know - where the public gets a peek inside Apple's secret factory for a brief moment. But this year the Apple event feels a bit different. Maybe it’s the recent leaks, maybe it’s because we all know Apple is facing a ceiling of innovation they have to punch through - and really nail, or be faced with the heat of growing competition. Or maybe it’s just because I’m expecting more of the same, video intro with someone talking in a Harry Potter accent, keynote from Tim, operating system update from various team members, and hardware updates from Tim - with some release dates still up in the air.

So I decided to pick a few of the top iOS hardware and software rumors that are likely to come to fruition today, and introduce the elephant in the room for each from a developers eye.

3 new iPhone releases (rumored iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X)

When I hear “new iPhone”, I hear - new screen size to support! It’s already maddening enough keeping up with the scaling issues, but if Apple does announce a new “big and tall, full face OLED screen”, get ready to create a new set of screenshots and video previews. Oh and if the rumor is true about a smaller status bar too - you’ll have to make an entirely new set of screenshots anyway. 
But if Tim says “edge to edge OLED”, it will be as if a million voices all cried out at once, “take my money!” Especially considering that rumors are "X" means exclusive.

No more home button

This will take some getting used to for sure, as I know most people would opt straight in for the iPhone X because who wouldn’t want an edge-to-edge screen. But closing apps, switching apps, activating Siri, logging in to all of those “touch ID” ready apps and websites are all in question here. The replacement of touchID to facial recognition will surely usher in praises of high-security professionals, but developers be aware, this one could get weird. My guess is users can still get a “virtual” home button if they do axe it from the hardware.


Costs over $1000

Some of the media are gasping at the potential price tag, but I paid really close to a grand for my 6 plus, and over a grand for my 7 plus. Given, I did buy the largest amount of built in memory I  could get at the time, but I think most of us power users have already paid $1000 for a high-end device. No, we don’t like it and as developers it would sure be nice if Apple finally gave us a break on pricing -especially when they already privy themselves to 30% of our revenue. It would be nice not being thrown into the general pool with non-developers too, or to offer a monthly program so you can get the latest hardware without having to do the whole buy & sell like everyone else?


A11 processor with up to 6 cores

What this means is your games will rock! More physics on the screen, more shading, more lighting effects, and eh-um, you get to put rewriting those heavy handed CPU sucking functions off a bit. I’m also sure the new ARkit will benefit greatly from the added horses as well.


New Airpods 

Longer battery life, and even more amazing sound, to me this will be a “misc bug fix” style update. I kinda hope they shorten the stem that hangs down from the ear. I wish I could just get an earpiece like they used in the hit TV show "Person of Interest", where I just graze the ear with my finger and magically I'm talking to someone over my phone, and the entire device is invisible.


Animojies (yawn)

Isn't MSQRD already doing this? Hopefully they will open this usability up for developers to capitalize on too, but I think regardless -the feature will be used alot at first and I can't wait for my annoying friends to get a hold of it.


USB-C coming to new iPhones (please Apple, noooooo) 

This better not be true, but it does open the conversation up to when are we finally going to get wireless building to device? You have made such an emphasis on wireless - but what about developers being able to build and send to any connected device over wifi at the same time? The benefits of this are obvious.


Apple Watch LTE

Not interested in another data plan at the moment thanks - though it would be more Dick Tracey than ever. Besides, why would I orphan my new iPhone X? I guess for runners and those people on the move all the time, this will come in handy. Not to mention apps like our Chirp GPS location tracking app will benefit from it as well.


New Apple TV with 4K

I like the Apple TV, but shouldn’t Apple just buy “Channels” already and actually make the Apple TV feel like “TV” with real channel numbers? And please make the remote fatter or less slick feeling.


iOS 11 and the new app store redesign

Among the many cosmetic, and usability changes in the new OS 11 - including major overhauls in some areas like Control Center, the changes in app store visibility through the iOS devices are among top interest to developers. Will it change the way your apps are presented to potential customers? Yes. Will it look completely different than it does now? Yes. Is it going to help or hurt your app store ranking? Only time will tell.
 
Whenever Apple changes the app store, they also change the way apps get discovered. But Apple has taken a clear tone that they want to be more engaged with the developers publishing to their app store through developer's interviews, spotlights, game of the day, etc. 

But Apple is changing the developer rules some too. There will be new limits put on developers when asking users to review your apps, plus users can turn off reviews completely in device settings if they wish. Tips are being introduced as a new way to monetize. Tips let users give you a tip (sorta like a cap driver). They are basically in-app purchases but can be ongoing and on-demand.

ARKIT is going to be huge, and used everywhere. I think there will be a time that we remember as “pre ARKIT”. AR is amazing, and Apple is onboard. Too bad not all of their latest devices will support it because developers will be publishing to a small audience at first.

Offloading unused apps is a part of iOS 11, which could get your app uninstalled if a user doesn’t open it enough.

The camera can automatically read QR codes now too - woot! So developers will finally not have to use a 3rd party utility to read codes for coupons, discounts, more info, etc.


High Sierra

Finally, Sierra gets updated! But why the name, why Apple, why? I can’t get past imaginary meetings in my mind when they finally landed on the title “High Sierra”. The good news for one of the leading manufacturers of outdoor gear “High Sierra”, they are no-doubt going to benefit from the name change through accidental landing page impressions.

We know the name sings “minor release” and keeps in tune with other OS releases of the same blend. Overall there will be no more 32 bit, we get a new file system, an update to photos, better videos, Safari and more. Biggest note to mention is VR, which ties nicely into ARkit.

After all that, am I still excited? Yes of course :) even though I have a pretty good idea about what’s coming, and I yawn at some of the updates - I have a feeling Apple has some surprises in store. As a developer constantly releasing to the Apple app store, and sharing many of the same frustrations as every other developer - I still want to be at the bleeding edge of it all, and more importantly to know, how soon I can order?




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