iOS 8 is for the developers .. then the users

By: Marawan Alwaraki, June 13, 2014
On June 2nd, Apple announced iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite at it's World Wide Developer Conference. In this post I'll be focusing more on iOS 8.

Considering that just last year Apple redeisgned iOS 7 from the ground up, it wasn't expected that we see any major redesigns this year. Additionally a Mac redesign took place this year. When Apple redesigned iOS last summer the Mac got a very small upgrade so I wasn't hoping for much to begin with.

Although I am pleased with some of the user-end upgrades in iOS 8 I'll admit that I was disappointed by having no major breakthroughs. That's the case for now. But what most people aren't aware of is that iOS 8 is an update that empowered developers to do much more so that in return the users are happy.


Notice the emphasis on developers in the image above? This is the first time Apple does that when promoting a software update on their site. iOS 8 is for developers. Also I'm not sure if this is a coincidence but notice how developers comes before everyone else? That's because for iOS 8 to really be a game changer it's up to developers to improve it for the users .. or maybe that was just a coincidence.

From a user point of view right now there isn't much. That's because developers haven't updated their apps to take advantage of the new features that will change the way we all use our iPhones. iOS 8 is about to change so much about the iPhone, it's all in the hands of the developers.

One thing everyone should know about in iOS 8 is extensibility. This allows apps to connect with each other. Perhaps you could argue that Android had a similar model for years, but for an iPhone user it's great to see this happening on iOS. Additionally, extensibility allows users to use features of other apps without actually having to leave the first app. In the video below from the WWDC Keynote, Craig Federighi edits a photo using the built in photos app, but the filter used in the editing is offered by VSCO Cam. It's really really great. Extensibility may lead to users having only one app to edit their photos, only one app to send messages, only one app per activity. And that one app will use features from other apps.


Source: Ars Technica

iOS 8 also introduces interactive widgets in the Notification Center for third party apps. The possibilities with that are also great. Overall, it's really brilliant to see Apple moving towards that direction, and what's even better is how closely monitored and regulated these extensions are to ensure iOS remains as secure as ever.

Below is a list of the extensions offered by Apple:

  • Action extensions: these allows apps to "manipulate or view content within the context of another app". In other words it lets apps work within each other. And this is probably the most interesting of all extensions.
  • Custom keyboard: this replaces the default Apple keyboard with a third party keyboard such as Swype or Fleksy. Custom keyboards are tightly secured by Apple. They even need the user's permission before they're given internet access, but I'm assuming 99% of users will hit allow before bothering to read the very long popup message.
  • Document picker: this allows productivity apps such as Pages to open other compatible files found in other apps such as Dropbox without needing to open Dropbox to find the document.
  • Photo editing extension: this allows apps to add their own filters and editing tools to be used directly from within the built in Photos app.
  • Share extension: this allows other apps to add a share icon for themselves with the built in sharing functions (Twitter, Facebook, Mail, Messages..).
  • Today extension: this is widgets in the Today view of the Notification Center. Widgets can be interactive, so a user can increase their bid for ebay from the Notification Center itself rather than having to launch the app.
The potential that extensions have on iOS can be groundbreaking, we just have to wait and see what developers do. I'm really excited for this.

To top it off here's the part of the WWDC Keynote where Craig announces Extensibility. If this is interesting to you then make sure you watch the video.




Which extension from the ones above are you mostly looking forward to?

Oh btw, if you're eager to try out iOS 8 but don't want to pay the ridiculous $99 fee, contact me for a good deal. 

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