The Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) happens in San Francisco each year and is where Apple typically releases new versions of iOS and OS X. This year’s conference was bigger than any in recent memory. While no new hardware was released, it was huge on the software front with lots of new features for users and a ton of new features and tools for developers. In this blog post, I’ll be focusing on the features and tools that will be most interesting to EverTrue customers (and potential customers).
The Flight Out West
The week started for me by taking a flight from Boston to San Francisco. On the flight was former Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis, his wife Julie Brady (Tom Brady’s sister), and their toddler son. That kid was tearing up and down the aisle like he was already rounding the bases or running a QB sneak…but no pressure kid.
On to the Keynote!
I line up every year at WWDC with all the crazy ones at 3am. This year was no different. The line is always an experience that I just can’t bring myself to skip. As expected, the keynote brought the introduction of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. What was unexpected was the number of developer-facing features, including an entirely new programming language.
New Features Announced
While I don’t know exactly how everything will fit into EverTrue’s applications, I’d like to describe a few of the most exciting new features announced at WWDC.
Passcode & Touch ID for 3rd Party Applications
Security is a priority for our customers, so this has been a huge feature request to EverTrue (and other application developers). But—until now—Apple never provided a built-in solution; application developers were forced to cobble together solutions on their own, which were not ideal. With iOS 8, Apple is introducing this capability directly to application developers. Not only passcode but also the biometric Touch ID will be available to secure any 3rd party application! This is implemented by securing “keychain items.”
What does this mean to you, our customer? Once you log in to GivingTree, you are given a token from our servers. This token is stored and encrypted in the secure iOS Keychain. When you return to GivingTree later, the keychain is queried for the token, which is validated against our server. With the addition of this passcode and Touch ID feature, when GivingTree interacts with the keychain (asking for your token), GivingTree will prompt you to enter your passcode (or fingerprint). This will prevent any unauthorized person from using GivingTree on your device. Further, if the passcode is later removed from your device, the token will be automatically deleted from the keychain, which will require a re-login the next time GivingTree is launched. All of this functionality is provided directly from Apple, so the fingerprint data is stored securely on the device, and neither EverTrue (nor Apple) have access to that data.
In short, this will provide the most security, while giving up the least amount of application usability.
The location permission functionality has been changed in iOS 8 to make it more clear to users when and how an application is using their locations. This is particularly important to EverTrue applications, as they access a user’s location (only to show where the user is in respect to other users on a map, not to constantly track users in the background). Now we can be explicit on our use of location, which will keep our users at ease that we cannot and will not misuse that data.
Extensions & Widgets
Application extensions are a way for application developers to provide functionality to other applications and areas of the operating system. This can take the form of a customized Share Sheet to allow sharing to any social network outside of Facebook and Twitter (which are already built in). Another extension type is a widget, a small portion of an app that show up on the today screen of a user’s phone. The example Apple uses is scores from ESPN: The user can interact with these scores a bit, but they’re primarily used for quick reference. Both the new application extensions and new widgets will make your alumni’s experience of the EverTrue app even more enjoyable and more easily shared, increasing adoption.
App Store Analytics
The iTunes Connect website is where applications are published to the app store. Previously, Apple only told developers how many times their applications were downloaded. With the addition of App Store analytics, Apple is giving application developers the ability to track:
- The number of pageviews their applications have in the App Store
- Where those people came from (what link they followed)
- How many of those people downloaded the application
- How many of those people then launched the application
- How many of those people keep using the application
This will be extremely useful to make sure EverTrue applications are reaching the right audience.
New Language Announced
Lastly, Swift was introduced as a new programming language and the future of development for Apple products. While users won’t directly know, the next few years are going to see huge changes in the way applications are developed for iOS and any other devices Apple releases. I have already started rewriting some of my side projects in the new language, and I plan to do the same for EverTrue applications as soon as iOS 8 is released!
The new features and language Apple has released for iOS 8 are very exciting, and several of them will have a huge impact on our EverTrue customers. We’ll be hosting a free webinar next Tuesday to show you the apps of 2014 that will make your a huge impact on your life as a fundraiser even before the release of iOS 8. You can register here.
While iOS 8 is all new to me as much as anyone else, if you have any questions on the new features or how they will affect your applications, you can ask your questions in the comments below or send me a message on Twitter at @pj4533. I’d be happy to answer (as best I can!).
PJ Gray is EverTrue’s Lead iOS Developer and can be contacted at @pj4533.