iOS 6 WWDC Keynote Updates

The Apple WWDC 2012 keynote highlights in a nutshell:

  • New MacBook Pro hardware including a model with retina display.
  • Mountain Lion available in July for $19.99.
  • iOS 6 coming in the fall with a beta available in the iOS Dev Center today.

The keynote is naturally heavy on user facing features and light on the deep details that are of interest only to developers. There is no way that Scott Forstall is going to announce during the keynote that they have improved core-data sync with iCloud. Unfortunately the WWDC sessions and the iOS 6 beta are covered by NDA so it will be a few months before we can discuss any of the details.

Apple do like to show a single page preview of the SDK changes during the keynote which does put some information into the public domain (see about 109 minutes into the keynote). A couple of the features caught my eye:

  • Pull to refresh on Table views
    I guess it was the Twitter/Tweetie app that first popularised the concept of a scrolling action to refresh the content of a table view. It is an approach that many App developers have adopted and that users seem to understand. It is good to see Apple standardise the concept and build it into the framework.

  • In-app purchase hosted content
    One of the things that can make In-App Purchase (IAP) a pain to implement is the need to host the extra content on an external server. It always surprised me that Apple did not want to control the whole experience and host the extra content along with the App on their servers. Now with iOS 6 they will do exactly that which should make IAP more attractive to many App developers.

Some other features that, pre-beta, sound intriguing:

  • State preservation
  • Collection views

Of course there were also all of the big user features such as Facebook integration, new Maps, Passbook, a Reminders API which might overcome some of the limitations of local notifications, new API's for the camera and WebKit improvements. Finally mention was also made of improved privacy controls so that a user can refuse an App access to the calendar, photo library or address book.

Without having peaked under the NDA covers it is hard to assess the full impact of iOS 6 but first impressions make it look like a decent upgrade for both users and developers. We don't yet know what new hardware might arrive to run iOS 6 but we did learn that iOS 6 will not be available on the original iPad. I was a little surprised to see that it will be available on the iPhone 3GS and fourth generation iPod touch. I have to wonder how well it will work on those older devices with limited memory and processor power but it seems odd that they would support the 3GS but not the first iPad?