iOS Simulator Screen shot 2 Jun 2014 19.23.27

Alongside a whole of other changes to the App Store, Apple is integrating TestFlight. This allows developers to do seamless beta-testing for free. There are also a whole host of ‘extensions’ apps can access, enabling integration into share sheets, Notification Center widgets and more.

Apple is heavily stressing that this is the biggest developer release since the App Store was announced.

The SDK includes over 4000 new developer APIs. This starts with extensibility, an inter-app communication system for apps. ‘Extensions’ live within the app sandbox but can add features to the share-sheet of other apps.

iOS Simulator Screen shot 2 Jun 2014 19.31.35

Third-party document providers allow developers to add new ways for apps to save and retrieve documents, as well as iCloud.

Third-party apps can also define widgets for Notification Center. This allows third-party apps to add widgets into the Today view of Notification Center. This is also available on the Mac. Apple showed off eBay as an example — users can add a new widget for viewing bids provided by the eBay app.

Extensions also integrate into Safari. Third-party apps can get full access to the webpage in question. For instance, Bing translated the open webpage between two languages inline.

Apple Releases iOS 8 SDK With Over 4,000 New APIs

Biggest Developer Release Ever Includes Extensibility Features, HealthKit, HomeKit & Swift

SAN FRANCISCO―June 2, 2014―Apple® today released its iOS 8 SDK, the biggest developer release ever with more than 4,000 new APIs, giving developers the ability to create amazing new apps like never before. iOS 8 allows developers to further customize the user experience with major extensibility features like Notification Center widgets and third-party keyboards; and introduces robust frameworks such as HealthKit and HomeKit. iOS 8 also includes Metal, a new graphics technology that maximizes the performance of the A7 chip and Swift, a powerful new programming language.

“With more than 800 million iOS devices sold worldwide, the opportunity for developers is huge,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “This is the biggest iOS release since the launch of the App Store. The iOS 8 SDK delivers more than 4,000 new APIs including amazing new frameworks, greater extensibility and a revolutionary new programming language.”

iOS 8 offers developers robust frameworks including HealthKit APIs that provide the ability for health and fitness apps to communicate with each other. With your permission, each app can use specific information from other apps to provide a more comprehensive way to manage your health and fitness. For example, your blood pressure app could share its data with a physician app, such as the Mayo Clinic app, so your doctor can provide high-quality guidance and care.

“We believe Apple’s HealthKit will revolutionize how the health industry interacts with people,” said John Noseworthy, M.D., Mayo Clinic president and CEO. “We are proud to be at the forefront of this innovative technology with the Mayo Clinic app.”

As HealthKit combines health data to help you take better care of your health, HomeKit lets your home accessories connect seamlessly to better manage your home. HomeKit delivers a common protocol, secure pairing and the ability to easily control individual or groups of devices throughout the house including integration with Siri®. For example, you can tell Siri you are “going to bed” and it could dim the lights, lock your doors, close the garage door and set the thermostat.

“We are excited to be part of the next step in making home automation a reality, in a safe and integrated way,” said Eric Rondolat, CEO, Philips Lighting. “HomeKit will allow us to further enhance the Philips Hue lighting experience by making it simpler to securely pair devices throughout the house and control them using Siri.”

Developers can further customize the user experience with iOS extensions, including new sharing options, custom photo filters, custom actions and document APIs. Developers can now add their own widgets into Notification Center, and third-party keyboards offer additional layouts and input methods.

Gaming on iOS takes a huge leap forward in iOS 8 with Metal, a new graphics technology that maximizes performance on the A7 chip. With its dramatic 10 times improvement in draw call speed, Metal enables leading game providers for the first time to bring console-class 3D games to mobile devices. For casual games, iOS 8 now features SceneKit, making it easy to create fun 3D games, along with major enhancements to SpriteKit, including field forces, per-pixel physics and inverse kinematics.

Swift is a powerful new programming language for iOS and OS X® that makes it easier than ever for developers to create incredible apps. Designed for Cocoa® and Cocoa Touch®, Swift combines the performance and efficiency of compiled languages with the simplicity and interactivity of popular scripting languages. By design, Swift helps developers write safer and more reliable code by eliminating entire categories of common programming errors, and coexists with Objective-C® code, so developers can easily integrate Swift into their existing apps. Xcode® Playgrounds make writing Swift code incredibly interactive by instantly displaying the output of Swift code.

iOS 8 also includes Touch ID™ APIs enabling developers to securely authenticate users within apps, protect logins and user data, and unlock keychain items. With iOS 8, developers can provide authentication with a successful fingerprint match while keeping your fingerprint data safe and protected in the secure enclave.

Additional iOS 8 developer features include:

  • PhotoKit, so developers can tap into the power of the same robust framework as the built-in Photos app for faster performance, nondestructive edits and the ability to both read and write to the Photos library;
  • new Camera APIs, giving developers fine grain control over focus, white balance and exposure;
  • CloudKit, a complete and scaleable back-end solution helps developers eliminate the need for writing server code and maintaining servers; and
  • new App Store™ features for developers like app previews and app bundles, the new iTunes Connect with free analytics and TestFlight for beta testing pre-release apps.

iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch® customers have access to the revolutionary App Store, which offers more than 1.2 million apps in 155 countries around the world. The App Store receives more than 300 million visitors each week and iOS users have downloaded more than 75 billion apps.

The iOS 8 beta software and SDK are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com. This fall iOS 8 will be available as a free software update for iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad with Retina® display, iPad Air™, iPad mini™ and iPad mini with Retina display. iCloud® Photo Library and iCloud Drive™ use your iCloud storage with the first 5GB free. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.

A beta version of Swift is available immediately for iOS and OS X Developer Program members at developer.apple.com. The final version will be made available this fall, and apps written in Swift can be submitted to the App Store and Mac® App Store when iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite are released.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

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6 Responses to “Apple focuses on developer features for iOS 8: TestFlight beta testing, biggest SDK ever, inter-app communication and more”

  1. This is the key element to a more robust and competitive iOS. The iOS user experience is going to be greatly enhanced with developers utilizing the new API’s to improve their apps and integrate them further with iOS. Not a “game changer” by any means, but the “semi-open iOS” mentality by Apple is certainly a welcome change!

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  2. excellent. is siri opening now to other apps and parts of iOS?

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  3. drtyrell969 says:

    TestFlight is the best acquisition of Apple in the last 10 years.

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  4. Great to see video finally available in the app store (overdue), app integration via extensions, and move over to swift :)

    Im personally also pleased to see the integration of TestFlight which Apple purchased back in Feb – as we will be using that at OSIOS . net which is the first design and project management solution created specifically for mobile app creators

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  5. Anyone have a clue – how much Apple spent on TestFlight?

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  6. This post shows a video on how the internal testing process works with iOS8 and Testflight:

    http://blog.thebetafamily.com/2014/09/10/testflight-beta-testing-ios-8/

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