Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference WWDC21 is in full swing and although much of the week is dedicated to helping developers, like us, create the next generation of apps and games, Monday’s keynote was jam-packed with big news and software announcements.

The Execs came out one by one and this time around, stuck to operating system upgrades. Some of which were simple improvements and others more impactful, as Apple seeks to transform how we use our devices and further integrate them into the ‘real’ world.

There is a lot to cover from widgets to share play, ID cards, cross-platform FaceTime and even Focus filters for mindfulness. But if you already have an app, or are looking to build a new mobile or web application, we’ve picked out our top highlights from WWDC21:

iOS 15

As with every WWDC keynote, the new iPhone/iPad OS makes an early appearance. This year we’re moving on to iOS 15 which brings with it the usual slick UI changes that we’ve come to expect from Apple, as well as new features such as focus mode, enhanced audio and Facetime upgrades and the updates to Apple Maps will open a number of new opportunities.

A New OS also means some phone models drop off the Apple Support list, so it’s worth being familiar with that to ensure you’re supporting your customers where you can.

Remote testing

Many of Apple’s announcements this year centred around the changes most of us are facing, given the global shift to remote working. Built into Xcode 13, Xcode Cloud will offer the opportunity for development teams of all sizes to commit Xcode projects to iCloud, where they can be built, tested and distributed more efficiently.

Additionally, iPads and iPhones will be able to make use of Swift Playgrounds 4 to develop and design the frontend of an app using SwiftUI. Projects can be synced across devices and also be opened in xCode, enabling remote teams to work on different areas of an app on different devices. Developers will then be able to build in the cloud and deploy to testers via Testflight from any device, enabling fast, continuous integration with rapid feedback.

Augmented reality

RealityKit 2 is seeing a range of updates, more visual, audio and animation control and the introduction of Object capture on the (newly) announced macOS Monterey. This allows developers to create high-quality, photo-realistic 3D models optimised for AR. This can be done in just minutes using an iPhone, iPad or DSLR.

“What used to be the most difficult and expensive part of building AR experiences and 3D scenes is now available to all developers in macOS Monterey.”

Susan Prescott, VP Worldwide Developer Relations, Apple

The new APIs also allow developers to create realistic and complex AR experiences, a huge step forward for Apple, and a great tool if you are looking to integrate photogrammetry into your app.

Graphics and Games

In an industry that just keeps on growing, it is clear Apple wants to keep game developers on side with new APIs and tools across OS systems. New metal texture compression, optimised formats for Apple silicon and new virtual game controllers are all part of the package to help developers continue to create all new experiences.

App store

Once your app is ready to go, the App Store is the next most important step. Apple has now made it easier for apps and games that feature events to allow them to be discovered directly on the store through In-App Events. The update will allow personalised recommendations, search results, editorial selections and on app product pages.

Alongside the new features, with the ‘product page optimisation’ (essentially A/B testing) you can test the screenshots, elements and up to three different variants of your app, for a certain period. A real opportunity for you to showcase what’s happening in your product and with enhanced analytics in App Store Connect, you can see which product pages work best for users and make decisions accordingly.

App store guideline changes

As well as the changes to the look and feel of the store, there are a number of updates to the guidelines including support for apps that are offering creator content experiences. There will also be new avenues for developers to report apps that are in violation of review guidelines, and more importantly a new route to appeal app rejection.

To watch the full WWDC21 keynote click here:


Will the changes from WWDC21 affect your project?

With beta releases as soon as July, are you looking ahead to how these enhancements could benefit your product or service?