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The Technical Impact of iOS 7

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Apple’s recent announcement of iOS at WWDC has certainly generated a lot of buzz. A good deal of attention has been focused on the interface updates, and this is certainly warranted since this is the biggest interface makeover for iOS. However, there are equally ground-breaking changes on the technical side with Apple giving developers access to over 1500 new API’s. Understanding what new functionality is available to your application as well as understanding how the changes affect your current experiences is paramount for your organization.

In this article I will cover items that have been publically announced in regards to iOS 7.  If you are a current or potential client with an existing iOS developer account (and thus under Apple’s NDA), we can go into more detail with you around some of the features that are still covered under the developer agreement.

The Enterprise

iOS 7 provides new levels of integration with enterprise architectures. For enterprise organizations where security is crucial, you will want to look at your entire application ecosystem and determine what needs to be changed so you can fully take advantage of the new security and compliance capabilities provided to you with iOS 7. Apple has provided new ways of integrating with single sign-on, enhanced integration with MDM (mobile device management) providers, single-app VPN, as well as greatly enhancing the security around what can get into and out of your corporate applications. For enterprises dealing with sensitive data, these capabilities will be crucial, and they will require some updates to the code in your applications.

Secure and Limitless Sharing

Applications in iOS 7 can now take advantage of secure sharing in ways that they previously could not. “AirDrop for iOS. It lets you quickly and easily share photos, videos, contacts — and anything else from any app with a Share button.” Let’s say you were using a tablet based point-of-sale system and could transfer an open ticket from one device to another securely using AirDrop. In addition, you could easily send your travel itinerary to another device seamlessly. The possibilities here are pretty much endless as sharing becomes a true first class citizen in iOS.

While this opens the doors to all kinds of new experiences, if applications want to take advantage of this new sharing capability there will need to be development done to support both the sending and receiving of your app’s data.

Gaming and High-Performance Experiences

For experiences that rely on high-speed rendering or complicated physics engines, Apple has provided a new solution set as well. SpriteKit is a new framework, which allows for high-performance rendering of sprites. While this may be used most in gaming, there are many use cases including high performance interactive data visualization. In addition UI Dynamics provides a robust physics engine which can be used with both SprikeKit as well as UIKit for creating experiences that need to live in a physics environment.

Rapid Version Adoption

Apple gave some great statistics at their developer conference this year around iOS adoption.  iOS 6 was released to the public on September 24, 2012.  Since then over 90% of user have migrated to iOS6.  The OS adoption path for iOS users is the steepest for any major mobile platform.  For organizations, this means that you can take advantage of new features and capabilities earlier than with other platforms.  Because of this rapid adoption, organizations can avoid having to support multiple old versions.

For most organizations, supporting iOS 5 will be unnecessary with the public release of iOS 7 in the fall of this year.

Conclusion

While these features are compelling, there are many other items I didn’t even address yet including new multitasking support, new Bluetooth 4 LE beacon support, and sharing of audio streams. iOS 7 brings a lot of massive changes and new functionality.  One thing is for sure, this is the best time in years to revisit your iOS experiences to determine how to best be ready before the release of iOS 7 to the public.  This will include preparation in planning, design, and development.

To assist with this transition, our technical practice can provide some engagements that will you help you determine how ready you are for this release. On the technical side, these are:

  • iOS 7 Preparation Review – Our development team can take your application and run it against iOS7 to determine if there are any technical areas that will need to be tweaked prior to iOS7 being released to the public.  This offering is essential for apps currently in development or apps that are currently released either internally at your organization or externally through the app store or B2B licensing program.
  • iOS 7 Application Performance Review – Our development team will take the code from your existing iOS application and analyze performance for the end user.  We will run your application through tooling to determine if there are efficiencies that could be taken advantage of that you are not currently utilizing.  Out of this quick engagement, we can determine the steps needed for optimizing your application.
  • iOS Modernization and Version Analysis – Older applications have unique challenges with iOS.  From deprecated API’s to multiple version support these challenges takes a good deal of planning and organization to be sure that your application is ready not only for iOS 7 but also future releases.  Our technical team can perform an in-depth analysis of your application’s code base to determine how to best modernize it as a whole.

Our user experience practice also has a set of engagements that can help you assess the readiness of your user interface for iOS 7.