September 8, 2017 Last Updated 3:06 pm

What to expect with iOS 11 and how developers need to get their media apps ready?

Guest Column: Damien Jardon, Technical Lead Supervisor at Rakuten Aquafadas, says that though iOS 11, to be released soon, might not revolutionize the apps world, it will come with exciting new features developers should not miss

Apple announced its new iOS 11 at the annual WWDC developers conference in June 2017. Long awaited operating system became available as beta soon after and to date developers had 5 versions to play with. With the new iPhone expected on 12th September, it’s an exciting event in the industry. Considering an impressive 83% adoption rate of iOS 10 achieved in 114 days from the release, app creators need to get ready. But what should they pay attention to?

iOS 11

End of support for 32-bit apps – long coming
With iOS 11 comes the end of support for 32 bit-apps. Apple gave developers nearly 4 years to get ready since the 5S arrived in September 2013 as the first 64-bit iPhone. Today majority of the apps are 64-bit architecture only or both. But those developers whose apps might be covered with dust on the App store, will quickly need to review and introduce changes to avoid losing them and disappointing their users. Some predict that this could affect 8% of all the apps in the App Store which translates to 187,000 apps. (Mashable)

iOS 10.3 comes with a menu item allowing to check the apps status. In Settings > General > About > Applications comes a list of all the installed apps that don’t run in 64-bit mode. The 32-bit apps content remain valid but the architecture needs adapting. On top developers have to check their app licences, Apple accounts, settings as well as their developer certificates.

Enhanced PDFKit – no more third-party libraries required
Developers interested in better control of app content display, search and highlight functions, will be excited to find out that, previously available on macOS only, a library to display and edit Portable Document Formats: PDFKIt is coming to iOS 11. All PDF type of viewing and navigation operations will be possible without third party libraries: UIWebView, third party SDKs or Core Graphics routines.

What does it mean? The possibilities are endless when it comes to for example enterprise content apps with key functions such as PDF viewing, editing, quick search and highlight of key information. Finally developers will be able to offer their app users a PDF rendering as currently found in Apple’s own apps only (Preview, iBooks, Safari). They will not doubt also want to benefit from following options:

  • Easily altering the way pages are displayed
  • Customisation of the thumbnail list for navigating the PDF
  • Content security thanks to encryption, password locking, and disabling printing or copying

Drag and drop and FileProvider – inter-application multitasking on iPad
Finally a breakthrough when it comes to App Sandbox! The FileProvider is great news as it will significantly help to reach the online content and the drag and drop will enhance the communication between previously tightly shielded applications.

It’s coming to iPhone and iPad (but with emphasis on iPad capabilities) and it looks much better to what was until now possible on Macs. It allows for dragging and dropping items between apps or even moving apps themselves. Developers should be ready to write a fair amount of code to get it working. But possibilities this feature gives are worth the time spent to achieve the option of mixing the content of other apps inside the same device!

App users and developers should be excited. Those using enterprise apps need to be productive and app creators will be able to provide this intuitive but massively time-saving feature.

Natural language processing – Apple wants developers to focus on machine learning on the device

It’s hard not be excited about new in iOS11 machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). When other features tend to make mechanical tasks easier, this is all about inside of the apps, their intelligence and what’s hidden and considered as ‘invisible’.

iOS11 is promising to recognise names of people and places and linking sentences to related content. Similar words can be found, based on language used, when searching this can trigger an app to instantly change its UI into that language. And the mood of the user when searching can be transformed with a relevant content served. It might sound like a feature of tomorrow but combined with search in a huge amount of data, it can be really interesting!

Damien Jardon is Technical Lead Supervisor at Rakuten Aquafadas, a mobile apps, digital publishing and rich content software company from France, a part of the Rakuten Group. Damien helps enterprises and publishers with content conversion (from print to digital) and code-free mobile apps creation and digital publishing.

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