Well, it’s more a wish list than real predictions about what will be announced in June, at the WWDC 2014. Let’s go!
iPhone 6 with a 5 inches screen
Having a new iPhone with a bigger screen is an evidence. What the physical screen size could be? And maybe more important (for a developer), what would be the screen size in pixel? Let’s imagine that the number of pixels will be the same as the current iPhone 5x line: 640 pixels by 1136 pixels: no need to redesign apps, the whole UI will be simply bigger. Given this, a safe bet would be also that this new iPhone will use the same PPI (pixel-per-inch) as the current iPad Air: 264 ppi.
A pixel-width of 640 with a 264 ppi give us a 640 / 264 = 2.424 inches width; and we get 1136 / 264 = 4.303 inches for the height.
Our new screen will measure 2.424 inches by 4.303 inches, by consequence a 4.94 inches diagonal… Let’s simply say: a 5 inches screen.
Get a paper, a rule and draw a 2.424 inches by 4.303 inches (6.2 cm by 10.9 cm): it’s big, but not insanely big… Of course, you have to add extra space for the home button and the phone bevels: I can really see the iPhone 6, top of the iPhone line, with a screen this big.
But a 640 x 1136 pixels screen is a very very conservative number of pixels, especially regarding the current Android phones: the Nexus 5 has a 1080 x 1920 pixels screen, with a 445 ppi density. If you look at high-definition smartphone displays, you will get 3 different sizes: 720px by 1280px, 800px by 1280px and 1080px by 1920px, with a maximum ppi of 468 for the HTC One: all these sizes will introduces a kind of fragmentation if chosen for the iPhone 6 (even with AutoLayout), and some additional effort for developers.
In my dream: the iPhone 6 has a 1280 px by 2272 px screen, double the pixel size in width and height of the current iPhone 5s. No need to redesign apps, just get
@4x resources and done. But certainly not this year.
New Apple TV
This WWDC will introduce the App Store for Apple TV, with a dedicated gamepad. Based on the iOS 8 beta SDK, developers will be able to develop apps for the Apple TV, and the Apple TV will receive a Back to the Mac treatment: Game Center, Push Notifications etc… The Apple TV will become a true home media center: video game console, VOD, apps, a Siri driven UI, etc… it’s the Apple Bandai Pippin on steroids!
Why do I think this year will be the Apple TV’s year ? Basically, four things:
1. iOS 7 Game Controller: iOS 7 has seen the introduction of a Game Controller framework, making it easy to discover game controllers connected to a Mac or iOS device. Apple has even created specifications for distinct kinds of MFi game controllers with many common characteristics that must be implemented strictly according to the specification.
Allowing gamepad accessories just for iPhone and iPad seems to me too limited and I dream for an Apple console, with a dedicated gamepad and an unlimited App Store.
2. Amazon Fire TV:
Few days ago, Amazon announces the Amazon Fire TV, available in the US for $99:
- Over 200,000 TV episodes and movies, and over a hundred games (Minecraft-Pocket Edition, The Walking Dead, Monsters University etc…),
- Voice search,
- Fast quad-core processor, 2 GB of memory, dedicated GPU, plus 1080p HD video and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound
In my mind, the Amazon Fire TV is a direct Apple TV concurrent, and Apple has to respond to this threat with a better Apple TV.
3. A7 aka Cyclone:
Apple has undoubtedly great plans for the A7, the CPU used in the iPhone 5s. This analyse by AnandTech shows that the A7 has a bright future and this future could be the Apple TV.
Cyclone is a bold move by Apple, but not one that is without its challenges. I still find that there are almost no applications on iOS that really take advantage of the CPU power underneath the hood. More than anything Apple needs first party software that really demonstrates what’s possible.
Looking at Cyclone makes one thing very clear: the rest of the players in the ultra mobile CPU space didn’t aim high enough. I wonder what happens next round.
4. PrimeSense bought by Apple:
Apple has recently bought PrimeSense, an Israeli company which provided 3D sensors for the first generation Microsoft Kinect. Seems like a really good fit for the Apple TV team…
WWDC 2014 will usually introduce new APIs for iOS 8. If you look at the current iOS 7 private frameworks headers, you will find some interesting ones:
- OAuth: wouldn’t it be cool to have this, built-in in the system as as public API?
- VectorKit: how about an object-based for vectorial stuff (animations, 3D etc…); everything you need to re-build the Maps app.
- RemoteUI: do you remember the Ole Begemann Remote View Controllers saga (part 1, part 2, part 3)? It could be really useful to easily share data and even UI between apps: think about a mini Drop box explorer in your app for instance… Data sharing between apps is the most obvious low-hanging fruit to me, so I expect Apple to address this in iOS 8.
Another interesting indicator is to look a Github Objective-C popular projects on last month:
- UI components: DZNSegmentedControl, FXForms, BRFlabbyTable, JTSImageViewController, RPSlidingMenu, DeepBeliefSDK
- Core Components: DateTools, AFNetworking, ReactiveCocoa, HHRouter, SDWebImage
- Tools / Debug: Tweaks, Xtrace
UI is the crown jewels of iOS, and developers want more and more built-in UI components. Regarding AFNetworking and SDWebImage, I find it sad that we still need a third party framework to deal easily with HTTP request, and web-based images. Come on Apple, bring-us something like Requests for iOS 8!
Developers tools: Xcode 6
Better developer tools for better apps!
For WWDC 2014, I see: an enhanced version of XCTest with code coverage for instance; some new tools à la RevealApp, and finally a better Xcode editor / refactor, à la AppCode.
Since Xcode 4, Apple has really improved the Xcode tests tools; and even introduced last year the XCTest framework, a new test framework for Xcode. Currently, XCTest is not really more useful than the venerable SenTestingKit; but I bet Apple has great ambitions for XCTest. Why no add code coverage this year for instance?
Apple has to integrate RevealApp in Xcode. RevealApp has save me many times on really difficult UI bugs: it’s an indispensable addition to the iOS developer arsenal. RevealApp gives you a visual representation of the views hierarchies of your app, and you can event interact with:
It’s like FireFox 3D View, for iOS!
In any case, just buy it, you will not regret it.
3. Xcode enhanced editor:
XCode 6, the same Xcode with some good stuff from AppCode.
I do not expect big news in the Objective-C land, apart new features to deal with dependencies. Embrace CocoaPods (the current de-facto standard dependency manager), and include it in OSX / iOS developers tools.
WWDC 2014: no iWatch.