Apple WWDC 2015: What Did You Miss?

Written by: Reinder de Vries, June 14 2015, in App Development

One week ago, the main keynote of the World Wide Developer Conference 2015 happened. Every year, Apple presents new technologies and products for developers during WWDC. This year, Apple announced a lot of exciting stuff for app developers – what did you miss?

Key Points

Here’s what stands out the most for iOS app developers:

  • Swift 2 is open source. Apple announced that its new programming language will be open source! Swift 2 will arrive next fall, and will have Linux support. Swift on Rails – HELL YEAH!
  • iOS 9 / El Capitan. Same old, new looks. But… iOS 9 looks like it is what iOS 8 was supposed to be. Interesting feature: Split View and Slide Over, for iPad, lets you use 2 apps at the same time.
  • UI Testing In Xcode, App Thinning, Metal. Loads of improvements in the app development toolset, neat!
  • One Developer Program. The Mac Developer Program and iOS Developer Program are now merged, bringing them together under one account. You only pay for one, and get access to the other platform too. And best of all: you can install and run developer builds of apps on any device, without adding that device to a developer account!
  • Swift 2. Open source, improved error handling (try-catch!), use Markdown in comments, use pattern matching in conditionals, better compilation times – it appears Apple’s finally listening to developers!
  • Watch OS 2. Unlike before, your watch can now run its own apps instead of just being a helper for the iPhone.

Swift 2 Is Open Source

Swift 2 is open source. What does that mean?

Well, open source simply means you can see the source code that was used to create Swift, as well as the source code of all the tools within the build process. You can probably also redistribute your own, changed, version of Swift and charge for it. Thanks to open source, many great software products have been made better by the community. See, a developer can now actively make changes to the Swift language (for the better) and request that his or her changes get merged with the final Swift language. That’s for the betterment of the community!

And, Apple going open source is like Madonna retiring and the Spice Girls getting back together again. It’s not very likely, so from an ideology standpoint it’s great that Apple open sources. (Of course, Apple distributes and uses many open source projects. But none as big as flagship Swift.)

Linux support means you can build back-end apps with Swift. That could convert almost your whole app stack to Swift-only, which is a huge win for hiring developers, productivity and maintainability. Heck, you could end up writing Swift apps for Android.

Then, although I’m not quite sure about this, open sourcing and Linux support could mean third-party builders and cross-platform tools (like Phonegap) could finally produce native apps (instead of exporting to Xcode).

Last point: Swift’s a great language and the community has picked up on that. It’s seeing a greater adoption than Go (Google’s language, based on number of StackOverflow topics), thanks to it being easy to learn as a beginner and advanced features for intermediate-level programmers. I’m sure the “Apple open sources Swift” news is getting a lot of attention, increasing the adoption rate. That’s good for developers (and for Apple).

Still, make no mistake. Many open source companies have made millions by giving away their software for free. Apple would love for you all to use their language.

Now What?

Now that you’re up to date, feel free to:

And of course: Watch the keynote of WWDC 2015 here!

Reinder de Vries

Reinder de Vries is a professional iOS developer. He teaches app developers how to build their own apps at Since 2009 he has developed a few dozen apps for iOS, worked for global brands and lead development at several startups. When he’s not coding, he enjoys strong espresso and traveling.

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