Developers Talk iOS 7: 10 Things To Know10:00 AM EST Tue. Aug. 20, 2013
After its release to developers at the beginning of June, iOS 7 has undergone a series of improvements and is nearing official release. In fact, two new iPhones expected to be unveiled Sept. 10 and on shelves later that month will be loaded with the operating system. Though touted as one of the most innovative Apple products to hit the market since the original iPhone, developers have conflicting views. Here are 10 points to know about iOS 7 as reported to CRN from six developers at New York-based software development company DataArt.
The appearance of the new user interface is one of the first-glance notable differences, according to developers. Developer Yaroslav Vorontsov said the new operating system "keeps the benefits of the previous versions: smooth animations and transitions." Vorontsov added "declining skeuomorphism and gradients was for the best." In addition, developer Andrey Gluschenko said he was "surprised by the total omission of the decorative elements." Overall, several developers noted the operating system was visually appealing, though not entirely unique from other operating systems on the market.
Apple has been under fire for allegedly copying the look and feel of its competitors' operating systems. Developer Helen Timofeeva said, though her overall impression of the operating system is "rather positive," she believes "this is the beginning of the end. Apple has ceased to be a flagship; they adopt ideas from their competitors." Timofeeva said in the past, when Apple has borrowed an idea, it took raw ideas not yet implemented and added its own innovation. Now, if users want to get a glimpse of the new interface, Timofeeva said, "take a look at Google+ or Google Drive." In regards to the new task manager, Timofeeva said, "it has already been realized in Android."
Gluschenko said his first instinct upon being presented with the new operating system was to create an app exclusively under the new version. Gluschenko added it could be difficult "to support an application that was supposed to work both on iOS 6 and iOS 7. Developer Anton Garkusha added, "It is too costly to support all the existing iOS versions, so the development exclusively for version 7 will become routine."
Developers say after working through the third beta version of iOS 7, the operating system began moving with adequate speed. Confirmed by Timofeeva, iOS 7 is "running more rapidly than iOS 6," which was not the case upon its original release to developers. Improved multitasking capabilities add to the user's experience to move from one task to another at greater speed, according to developer reviews.
Though some developers tout iOS 7's new multitasking work mechanism as one of its greatest strengths, others think it is overrated. The new multitasking API allows data to be kept up-to-date within an application, according to Garkusha. Developer Nikita Korchagin praised the multitasking improvement, but said it was important for developers "not to fall into a decrease of battery life time." Developer Alexey Rybakov said he is "not sure that [multitasking] is a real super-feature breakthrough."
Sprite Kit is Apple's development framework with an Open-GL based renderer for 2-D and 2.5-D game developers. According to Apple Insider, the framework's "built-in support for physics makes animations look real, and particle systems create essential game effects such as fire, explosions, and smoke." Previously, iOS developers were able to use third-party platforms for the same purposes. Now that Apple has created its own tool, it is capable of staying with and growing with Apple, rather than being acquired and taken in a different direction. Rybakov said, "Ninety percent of the purchased applications are games, which are 2-D games in more than half of the cases, and Apple cares about its game developers."
AirDrop gives iOS 7 and Mac OS X 10.7 users the ability to share files, and P2P connectivity allows nearby users to communicate through Bluetooth, bypassing the need for Wi-Fi. Vorontsov said, "P2P connectivity's capabilities were missed in projects with large amounts of content." Garkusha said new P2P connectivity "gives way to realization of new experiments and entirely new applications."
Rybakov said new capabilities under the Game Controller framework will "allow Apple to enter the video game consoles market." Rybakov used Apple TV as an example. "Apple introduced Apple TV supporting Full HD displays," he said, adding that "All Apple's mobile devices that are released nowadays can share their screens to Apple TV and a connected display. Many games work not only in a mirror mode, but use TV as a primary display and iOS devices as additional displays and controllers."
Korchagin said the new iOS Text Kit framework will probably, "become a headache for developers." Text Kit supports dynamic font sizes. According to Korchagin, "Apple invented a trick with font families, i.e., depending on the size not only will the letters be changed, but also the font itself will improve readability." He said it's difficult to know how it will look in real projects.
The UIKit Dynamics, according to Korchagin, are, "designed to add a bit of realism to the interface. I actually liked the idea of adding tangibility to the UI by the means of complex animations, dynamics and the feel of an imaginary 3-D." Korchagin said the UIKit Dynamics adds "some flexibility to designers and at the same time provides the necessary tools for developers." In addition, he said the status bar's integration with the interface means "applications will work in the full screen by default, which should ease the UI design process and its further changes."