Saturday, January 31, 2015

WWDC 2014 (Apple World Wide Developer Conference)


WWDC is one of the biggest development conferences on the globe. Taking place over five days, at Moscone West in San Francisco, Apple gave five thousand developers (from 65 different countries) an in-depth look at the latest iOS and OS X software. The conference also included a series of hands-on labs with Apple engineers for attendees.

On the 1st June I touched down in San Francisco which was the day before the conference began. After dropping off my luggage in the hotel I wandered over to the Moscone centre to pick up my event pass. Even though, I always closely follow what happens at the WWDC, I was surprised to see how much hype the conference attracts. San Francisco seemed to be catering for the WWDC tourist, offering meet ups and tour guides to all the big tech companies like Apple, Google and Facebook.

At around 7pm I arrived at the Moscone centre only to see it lined with people laying down camps to guarantee a front seat at the keynote speech the next day (one of the most exciting moments in the conference). I don’t know how many people spent the night, but by the time I left at 8pm, there but about 50 people outside.

After this I made my way to a few of the external events that different companies which benefit from the Apple ecosystem host such as Reveal app, Twitter, Pinterest, Cocoapods and others. If you come here one day I fully recommend that you attend all this meet-ups. I was able to interact with developers from Australia, Switzerland, fellow Londoners and more, and share our experiences.

The big day finally arrived, and even though I didn't sleep outside the Moscone I was there at 7 am. The queue to get in was about two blocks long and it took about 3 hours to let everyone in.

After a long wait, the keynote speech started. Apple played a promotional video with people sharing their favourite apps. To my great surprise one of the girls in the video, mentioned Sky Go! I have been working on the Sky Go app for iOS for almost two years now and to be mentioned by Apple, one of the most important companies in IT today, in the keynote of the biggest IT conference, is real validation of all the hard work that everyone in Sky has put into all the apps which give such an incredible experience to customers.

After this emotional start, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO then came onto the stage to present some of what Apple has been up to in the past year.The biggest release is the Mac OS X Yosemite. This is the latest version of Macintosh’s operative system which is set to go live in autumn. Also due at the same time is iOS 8 which includes new widgets and extensions. These will come with new apps like ‘Health Kit’ which organises data from fitness and health devices in a single place; and ‘Home Kit’ which lets you control internet connected devices from your phone. There will be the possibility to complete a task across apple devices (e.g. start an email in iPhone and finish the same on your mac).

Apple also announced a new programming language to develop iOS and Mac apps called Swift. It will allow developers to write code easier, faster and with less bugs. If you look at Swift you can see that its syntax is really similar to other programming languages such us Ruby and Groovy. But with Swift, Apple has introduced ‘Playground’ that will allow developers to run their code while writing it without the need to run a simulator. I can’t wait to start writing apps using Swift.

From here it was 5 days of talks with amazing developers. One of the most useful events was the developer labs, where you can speak to Apple engineers to get advice on how to improve your apps. For example, an Apple Engineer recommended that we should not use ‘burger menus’. He said those kind of menus don’t meet the requirements of intuitive user interfaces (being focused, clear, simple, easy to navigate and platform savvy). Don’t wait for Apple to add those as one of their UIs default component any time soon.

It was an amazing experience. It was a week that I will never forget.

Links:

Key note link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKMAV6owYh4

Apps that I can't live without link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kjFuzPk0xo

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