WWDC18 – lots of polish but still some surprises

Written by Kai Armer

Monday saw the start of the heavily anticipated WWDC 18 along with excitement, beer and pizza at shinobi HQ! The lengthy keynote outlined Apple’s future plans for iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS.

We were particularly interested in the roadmap for iOS, expecting a polish rather than a slew of new features. Apple seem keen to get back to their core philosophy of stability and good user experience; an area where they’ve received criticism of late. Promises of faster performance, even on older models, will come as a blessing, especially after media coverage of performance throttling on hardware with degraded batteries.

The announcement of greater parental controls and screen-time monitoring was well received by the parents among the shinobi team. These features along with previous offerings such as night shift and bedtime demonstrate Apple’s continued focus on being the ‘good guy’. Health and wellbeing is still front and centre on Apple’s agenda; clearly many benefits in this sector present themselves to the company, both moral and monetary.

Privacy is clearly high up the users’ agenda and Apple wasted no time in using terms like ‘end-to-end encryption’. We were impressed with Safari’s promise of improved tracking prevention and expect it to be well received by users.

An announcement that somewhat surprised us was the deprecation of OpenGL ES support on iOS 12. This decision will be frustrating for OpenGL developers. However, given the exciting possibilities offered by Metal’s performance, and the AR and graphics-focussed direction mobile is taking, it seems like a sensible decision. As some of you will be aware, the impressive performance and fluidity of shinobicharts is in part attributable to the use of OpenGL ES. As such we have already started investigating migration paths to Metal.

By the time the keynote had ended we were already downloading the first iOS 12 developer preview. We are pleased to mention that initial shinobicharts testing has been very positive with no failures observed. In the short term we expect our products to be fully compatible with iOS 12 by the time it is publicly released. Looking further ahead, moving to Metal sits high on our priority list.