We just wrapped Day 1 of Apple’s highly anticipated Worldwide Developers Conference. As software engineers from around the world tuned in, Apple unveiled a host of cutting-edge advancements and updates that will shape the future of their app ecosystem. The top headline is the unveiling of Apple’s Vision Pro headset, so as you might expect, I’ll talk about basically everything but that in this article (check out this companion piece for more on Vision Pro).
Here are four key takeaways that are particularly relevant for engineers as they position themselves for success across the iPhone, Apple Watch, tvOS, and more…
1. Interactive widgets unlock powerful new app experiences.
As an Android user, I’ve known for quite some time just how powerful app widgets can be when creating a seamless user experience. Apple’s gotten the message as they rolled out interactive widgets across their entire hardware ecosystem, from the Apple Watch to the new MacBook Air. Users can now control application behavior from widgets on their device screens, even extending to their lock screens. As you think about your app’s feature set, extending common user behaviors to widgets and rich push notifications is now incredibly easy, creating massive opportunities for engagement and convenience.
2. If you’re not using SwiftUI, you’ve officially missed the train
Every new feature discussed today by Apple was built with SwiftUI, across every platform — the Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple TV, and even Vision Pro. At the Platforms State of the Union, Apple further detailed Swift's increased power with C++ interop, SwiftData, and Macros. The SwiftData & SwiftUI symbiosis is going to be incredible for UI engineers. Oh, and those widgets I mentioned above? Yup, all SwiftUI, and more importantly – the same idioms and patterns can be used across watchOS, macOS, iOS, and visionOS. If you’re still building with UIKit first – stop.
3. Don’t forget about Safari
While Safari usage generally hasn’t moved much in the last few years, it’s the default browser for visionOS. So when it comes to your web app experiences, particularly in the Apple ecosystem, there are clear signals that first-party is best-party. For early adopters of Vision Pro and for web apps with a large macOS contingent, that Safari experience might make a massive difference in how users experience your app. Building your browser experience to support Safari is well worth the investment.
4. You really shouldn’t need TipKit… but hey, it’s there.
It’s always a bit strange to me when an app needs a bunch of tooltips to explain how it works. If you’re designing and architecting an intuitive UX, walking a user through a half dozen buttons and flows seems like a quick way to drop engagement. Apple, however, announced TipKit to help address this simply and consistently (in particular, the framework is smart enough to not show the same tip across multiple devices). By all means, take advantage of it where needed, but consider using TipKit sparingly. If you’ve issued a major app update and moved a key user flow, a tooltip could certainly point users in the right direction, but popping up too many pointers may lead to a frustrating end-user experience.
The Bottom Line
Apple unveiled some incredible new features at WWDC that will make engineers’ lives easier and enhance the user experience in nuanced but meaningful ways. While none of them may have the draw of Vision Pro, they help reinforce some industry trends. Declarative frameworks like SwiftUI, Jetpack Compose, and React Native aren’t the future — they’re here now. It’s more apparent than ever that the Apple way is the Correct™️ way to build software living in their ecosystem and that if you don’t hop aboard, you’re inviting future headaches. Our team is psyched for the remaining sessions this week, so stay tuned for more from Cupertino!