WWDC 2016 Recap for iOS Developers

Mike James

Yesterday, Apple announced several exciting innovations during the WWDC keynote presentation to kick off Apple’s annual developer conference. No matter what Apple platform your building for today, there’s an update that will provide you with brand new APIs and features to explore.


iOS 10

Let’s start off with Apple’s most popular platform, iOS. This year we’ve seen Apple announce iOS 10 (sadly not iOS X as I’d secretly been hoping for) which has some existing OS features being made available to app developers.


Apple have created a new set of Siri APIs for developers to consume dubbed ‘SiriKit’, which allow apps that provide specific services to use the digital assistant. These services are currently limited to:

  • Audio or video calling
  • Messaging
  • Sending and receiving payments
  • Searching photos
  • Booking a ride
  • Managing workouts

To make use of SiriKit, you’ll need to create one or more App extensions using the Intents framework of iOS. When a user makes a request involving your service, SiriKit will send your extension an intent object describing the data relating to the request.


Following the SiriKit approach of using extensions, we’re also now able to create extensions for iMessage. These could be something simple like a sticker pack (which requires no code, so we’ll be seeing a lot of these) or the more adventurous may be interested in creating a custom UI, which can be displayed within the Messages app.



iOS introduces a brand new framework for user notifications, which supports handling both local and remote notifications. It’s possible to schedule notifications based on specific conditions such as geo-fencing or time.

In addition to the new framework for handling notifications, we’ve also been given access to the notification UI framework that allows us to customize the appearance of notifications.

You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the new APIs if your existing app uses notifications, as many of the existing notifications APIs for iOS 9 or older are now deprecated.

Other exciting additions

There have been enhancements all over iOS that will subtly change the way we write our mobile apps. Such improvements include a new animation API: Core Image now supports RAW and Core Motion now supports pedometer events. You can find new APIs in HealthKit, HomeKit, Metal, Foundation, Core Motion, AVKit, Core Data, and many more.

If you’re a game developer, you’ll be pleased to hear that Apple now includes several frameworks that exist on other platforms such as SceneKit. SceneKit allowing you to create 3D models that make use of a high-performance rendering engine, all from one easy to use API.

watchOS 3

As an Apple Watch user, watchOS 3 is probably the most exciting release of the day. It sees huge performance increases in app performance from 3rd parties, which has been the biggest issue with developing for the Watch.

The new version of the OS does include some new APIs, including the ability to interact with the digital crown and add support for in-app payments.


You read that right: after 15 years, Mac OS X finally has a new name, macOS. Not only is there a new name, but a whole new version called macOS Sierra with a bunch of new features packed in for developers.


The biggest of these features is that Siri will now be on your desktop, which opens up some interesting capabilities if SiriKit, available on iOS 10, comes to macOS. Today, you can start by taking advantage of the new contacts API, live photo editing, and the universal clipboard that enables your apps to copy and paste content from your macOS to iOS devices seamlessly!


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