Late spring and early summer is one of the most exciting times of the year for mobile developers. Google held its Google I/O event in May, announcing that it is putting the finishing touches on Android N, its new mobile operating system that will be released later this summer.
More recently, at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference in June, the Cupertino company announced updates to its software platforms, including iOS, OS X (now called macOS), tvOS, and watchOS.
The iOS 10 release, which is expected to be available to the general public in the fall, includes redesigns of the user experience and interface, improvements to system functionality, and new system integration extensions that I’ve been exploring with the iOS developer beta.
System integrations for third-party applications were initially announced two years ago with the use of app extensions, which give users access to an app’s functionality and content throughout iOS. For example, I normally have to switch between several apps to find a restaurant, read reviews, book a reservation, find directions, and get transportation. In iOS 10, I can do all of those things directly in Apple Maps.
Apple has doubled its extensions into system functionality in iOS 10. It now provides third-party applications integration into iMessage, Maps, Siri, Phone, and Notifications. Here’s a few examples of the applications that most of us use daily:
- iMessage – Applications can now present themselves right in the iMessage interface. Imagine getting a message from a friend and texting her a payment or ordering lunch together as a group, all by directly interacting with a third-party application through iMessage.
- Maps – Apple Maps is getting some great functionality enhancements with the additions of restaurant reviews, filtering, reservations, and ride booking.
- Siri – One of the biggest announcements at WWDC 16 was the ability for third-party apps to integrate with Siri. Unfortunately, Apple has limited the ability for integration to audio/video calling, messaging, sending/receiving payments, searching photos, booking a ride, and managing workouts. Apple often slowly tests the waters with limited functionality for new features in order to work out any problems before enabling more use. As a developer, it is sometimes frustrating to be limited in this respect, but it almost always results in a better and more stable outcome for future development.
- Phone – The CallKit extension now gives Voice over IP (VoIP) apps the ability to integrate with your classic iPhone user interface. Now, when you get a call through an app such as Skype and you are on your lock screen, the phone will ring and the Skype call will be shown on your device like a regular phone call. This allows you to answer calls instead of just getting a notification for a missed call.
- Notifications – Through the Notifications extension, developers can now potentially modify local and remote notifications before they are delivered. For example, end-to-end push notification security can be implemented or media can be downloaded before the notification is pushed to the user.
Mobile development is a fast-paced industry that requires developers to learn and deploy rapidly. Thanks to iOS 10’s new system integrations, I look forward to working with Trifecta’s clients to integrate and expand their apps to use the new functionality.