Under the Radar

Under the Radar 82: WWDC Wish List


  welcome to under the radar a show but

  independent iOS app development I'm

  Marco Arment at M David Smith under the

  radar is never longer than 30 minutes so

  let's get started so in a few days is

  the WB DC 2017 keynote followed by a

  week of sessions and we are gonna learn

  all sorts of new stuff it is very likely

  that we will get you know announcements

  of basically the next major versions of

  all the Apple os's we're gonna have iOS

  Mac OS watch OS maybe even TV OS if they

  remember that's a product and it's

  probably all going to dominate our

  summer time and probably for release in

  the fall so that we're all gonna have

  the typical Apple you know summer season

  as a developer and I'm looking forward

  to this from from the little bits and

  pieces of rumors here and there it seems

  like there's a good chance of this being

  a pretty big year and I think we're

  gonna spend this episode talking about

  kind of you know not necessarily

  predictions but kind of just things that

  we want out of out of these new releases

  from a developer point of view does that

  sound good yeah because I mean it is I

  always going to watc week with like this

  interesting combination of excitement

  and terror because on the one hand it's

  exciting as a developer to this is you

  know this is the time when in general

  all the new stuff comes out and it's

  certainly the time when the most new

  stuff comes out recently they've gotten

  into a pattern where there's some new

  stuff maybe in like early part of the

  year like February or so but mostly this

  is it and you know this in some ways

  dictates the trajectory that my apps

  will go on for the next you know for the

  next year at least and so it's it's

  exciting but it's also been terrifying

  because who knows what's gonna come out

  you know are we gonna have some big you

  know it's like one of these things one

  of these new features or design

  overhauls or something where there's a

  tremendous amount of busy work that I

  need to do this summer to just update

  all my apps to do something that's now

  like the new way to do it or is it going

  to be some new opportunity some new you

  know a lot of my business is built

  around the fact that you know Apple

  sometimes introduces new API is that

  create opportunities and you know should

  I be

  spending my whole summer you know diving

  into getting those done so it's like

  there's a bit of a tension there but

  it's you know it's the overall I'm

  excited I'm really you know looking

  forward to going to San Jose next week

  and to just seeing what Apple has in

  store because I was a good show at the

  very least like I always enjoy the

  actual process of discovering this

  whether or not it ends up making my

  summer nice or not so nice so what what

  is I mean I guess we could we could

  probably do a little bit unstructured

  here because who knows what there's

  gonna be exactly what's like the biggest

  thing you're expecting to be different

  this year or to be announced for

  developer point of view I mean it seems

  like the big areas that are being

  rumored to be talked about are around

  the Sirikit stuff and around I would say

  productivity stuff generally especially

  on the iPad though right

  like those these seems to be like those

  are gonna be the if I had a guess the

  broad themes of WTC because there's

  often kind of a theme and sometimes

  there's a like a marketing theme you

  know something that you'll see in the

  morning and sometimes there's a

  technical theme that you'll see in the

  afternoon like in the you know in the

  State of the Union keynote - like the

  thing that they sort of start to move

  and focus on like I'm remembering there

  was the one year there was the technical

  theme it was all about flexible layout

  and you know surprise surprise we've got

  different sized iPhones that fall so

  often there's this kind of this

  undercurrent on the technical side that

  I was trying to keep an eye on but I

  think the two overarching features that

  we're going to be kind of hit with a lot

  are going to be you know Siri kid stuff

  and then you know I've had stuff and

  productivity stuff generally like trying

  to kind of hit that stuff because it

  seems like both of those things are the

  areas where there's the most overdue

  opportunities like there's lots of

  things that Apple could do like there's

  always these api's and these things that

  I'm sure they could introduce and push

  forward with but I think those are the

  areas where what they don't have now

  feels like a like a whole like something

  they need to fill back in and to catch

  up and so I would expect that that's

  where they've been putting the majority

  of their efforts you know for the last

  year or so yeah I would I mean just salt

  in as the developer of overcast I would

  love for them to add more Siri kit

  intents because chances are one of the

  ones they would add would probably be

  some kind of audio

  library app kind of thing so that you

  could have you know so you could say

  things like hey name of assistant play

  the latest episode of under the radar in

  overcast and have it actually be able to

  send my app that command in a structured

  fashion and you know have my app be able

  to expose its catalogue in such a way

  that I can do the recognition for me and

  and say exactly which show or exactly

  which episode should be played but

  that's a lot to build and so like it

  makes a lot of sense why that wasn't

  there last year in kind of like the the

  1.0 version of these features but I

  that's something that I really would

  expect to be added you know pretty

  pretty far up the priority list so

  probably this year because it's a very

  very demanded thing it is possible as we

  expected a little bit last year that

  maybe Apple intentionally didn't want to

  do that because they wanted to protect

  and boost Apple music and have give it

  like exclusive Siri access but I think

  that's less likely than the other

  explanation which is the properties

  didn't have time to do it yet and so

  we'll see what happens this year but if

  that happens that's a game changer

  because like basically you know Siri kit

  is really really cool for like seven

  kinds of apps and if your app does not

  do one of those like seven things you

  have nothing that you can do with Siri

  kit so I'm hoping that you know any

  broadening of Siri kit is is potentially

  great for lots of people anything that

  can expand it to more types of apps

  whether it's you know my a specifically

  or you know any others like I just want

  to see movement there I want it to not

  just be a thing that they release once

  and then never expand again I want this

  to be like every year there's some kind

  of new Siri kit you know availability or

  you know new intent types that that make

  this thing more useful for more kinds of

  apps and I think that's very likely to

  be a case yeah and I think I also am

  curious to see if they continue down the

  path of the way they structured the

  intent system in iOS 10 where it's very

  like it's very rigid and like prescribed

  like you can do these following things

  and like what's awkward with that and

  what I kind of want I'm curious to see

  with how they handle it is if they

  expand that massively like the number of

  like constants that Siri kid is going to

  have we're just kind of seem like it

  might get out of control like if it's

  intact if it's not this just sort of

  general general purpose thing that you

  have to like specifically to you know

  it's like you have these categories and

  subcategories and it gets very

  structured like I mean they can do that

  I mean it reminds me in some ways of

  healthkit where you know they have just

  hundreds of different sample types and

  details that you can set on everything

  and like it kind of works there but with

  Sirikit like I wonder if that's where

  they would go because it seems slightly

  unwieldy and kind of limiting but I also

  on the flip side I also think of things

  like for example if they will get down

  the road of doing things in a slightly

  more like iOS driven approach I could

  also see like for example overcast

  incorporate integrates currently with

  carplay which means that it exposes its

  catalog in a you know in a

  machine-readable format to the phone and

  you carplay gives you commands in and

  out in order to control it and I start I

  start to wonder if they'll have that's a

  slightly different approach to taking

  that thing and like if they just if you

  implement carplay you could integrate

  with Siri kit because theoretically that

  information is available to it and so i

  wonder if they'll you know it's a

  slightly different approach rather than

  pushing all of those details of like you

  know what can overcast do with like well

  it has an intent for playing does it

  have a need to have a separate intent

  for pausing for next for adjusting

  speeds like are there how are they going

  to go into that just in the Sirikit side

  versus you know looking in other way

  other places and you know I don't know

  it's I've played around a little bit

  with Sirikit you can have an integration

  in pedometer plus plus where you can use

  it to start a walking workout on an

  Apple watch which was one of the few

  intense that like of all the intents

  that were

  well that was the one of the main ones

  that I could like I could do I don't

  know if that's used very much I think

  the biggest struggle I have with Siri in

  general and the Sirikit is Siri itself

  needs to be such a neat it would need at

  least for my own use you would need to

  be a more fundamental part of how I

  interact with my iOS devices or may have

  a whole ecosystem generally for it to

  make sense because right now it's much

  easier for me to just raise my wrist

  tap the complication and then tap star

  walk like that's much more

  straightforward and is going to work

  every time so um I guess my hope is that

  if they're going to go down the road of

  expanding surrogate that they are it has

  to I think be you know come along with

  much broader improvements to Siri in

  general to you know to make it a place

  that we're hanging out so that

  interacting with apps in there you know

  makes sense as well or if it doesn't

  we'll just sort of end up with the

  iMessage app situation where it's like

  there's this thing and it's

  theoretically very powerful but in

  practical use it's not very widely used

  and so you know as a developer putting

  much time and effort into it like I made

  a couple iMessage apps when it first

  launched I don't think I'm going to be

  probably putting a lot more work into

  there because I don't hear from a lot of

  customers that they like use it or have

  feature requests or issues and even in

  my analytics like they're not used too

  much and so if Siri ended up going down

  that same road like that would be kind

  of disappointing and a little like

  frustrating to have this game new

  capability but it's in this place that

  no one goes because it's awkward or they

  don't know how to do it or it doesn't

  work often enough you know to be

  reliable because that's always that's

  always the you know the big oh no

  whenever Apple releases some kind of

  brand new territory or brand new type of

  thing you can do a brand new app store

  it you never really know and they don't

  even really know like is this gonna be a

  thing or not you know I think early on

  there was an assumption that a brand new

  app store would always be a thing

  because the early ones were pretty big

  because there was all this pent-up

  demand and a lot of low-hanging fruit

  and then over time as they've they've

  brought it and they've made a lot more

  like specialized capabilities and

  specialized app store

  and more specialized platforms like the

  TV and the watch and and you know and

  then the last year they added the Ibis

  app store and and I think what we've

  seen from a lot of these is like yeah

  well you know it's when it launches its

  a big unknown and then afterwards a lot

  of them just kind of don't go very far

  or they go far but only for very narrow

  app types like like on the TV like you

  have video apps like video playback apps

  and you have basically a handful of

  games that are that are decent on it but

  not much else like you know when they

  demo these things they show like oh

  here's like a real estate app and a

  shopping app and all these different

  things that you can do on your TV but

  then most people don't actually do those


  same thing with messages where like you

  know you can make a really complex

  advanced app for for iMessage but most

  people aren't doing that most people

  aren't using those and most people who

  aren't finding those or looking for that

  it's like they're most people just using

  like the built-in stuff and maybe some

  stickers and so it's you know you know

  but you don't know that when they launch

  it you kind of have to take a risk with

  some of these new categories because as

  we talked about before like there is

  potential upside if you guess if you bet

  on the right horse and like if you if

  they open up something new that ends up

  being awesome and really taking off and

  if you're there early you have a huge

  advantage and so to kind of move this on

  a little bit one thing that that I'm a

  little bit excited about tentatively is

  that over the last couple of releases

  they've added in each OS they've added

  like extremely specialized extension

  types that basically makes sense for

  like one app or one kind of app and

  nothing else so this would be things

  like the Safari content blocker

  extension or what they did is last year

  phone call blocking extensions and what

  this enables is basically like it's like

  I've been able like one kind of app but

  those one kinds of apps are usually like

  game changers for certain people who

  need that like I was getting I was

  having a huge robocall spam problem like

  phone call spam it's getting out of

  control in recent years for a lot of

  people are and it was hitting me hard

  and ever since call blocking extensions

  came out last year I've had a massive

  weapon against this similarly like you

  know the content blockers before that


  you know before Safari content blockers

  you know my whole piece drama side

  before counter blockers there was no

  good way to control ads or privacy or

  data usage in mobile safari and with one

  extension point that they made that then

  became possible and actually fairly easy

  to do so kind of unspecific aliy what

  i'm looking forward to this year is to

  just see like what other kinds of weird

  little extensions are they going to add

  to the system because those always

  enable new kinds of apps or brand new

  types of features and apps that you

  could never do before and that's always

  exciting to me yeah I mean I always have

  I always love playing the game of trying

  to guess what those things are and I

  think one thing that I was thinking

  about recently is it seemed kind of odd

  that Apple is never into it's not odd

  but it's know worthy that Apple has

  never done any integrations with a male

  app yeah on the iPhone doesn't even use

  a share sheet yet yeah it's very like

  that and like understandably in a lot of

  ways that like letting a third-party app

  have access to your email is you know is

  it's a complicated thing I mean

  obviously the same times like people you

  give your third-party apps access to all

  of your photos which are you know in

  some ways just as just as a personal or

  all of your phone calls or all of your

  or all of your web browsing activity

  like you know and the way Apple the

  apple designs these extension points to

  protect people's privacy like a call

  blocking extension is not notified on

  every call it receives all it does is

  provide Apple a block list what you know

  when it's asked to and then Apple

  actually enforces it same thing with

  Safari content blockers where the

  content blocker is not itself getting a

  feed of all the URLs you're visiting and

  say and returning yes or no on all of

  them it is again simply supplying like

  block patterns in a block list and the

  system is doing the enforcement for so

  it has no insight into your activity so

  if they wanted to do something with mail

  extensions which I love that idea

  they could do things more like that

  where the where what you can do as the

  extension provider is limited in a way

  that protects user privacy very well

  yeah because I doubt we would end up

  with something that's like the like mail

  kit that's the equivalent of like

  photo kit or something where you can

  like completely you can read all of

  someone's email you can send emails on

  their behalf like they've created API is

  for that for other content types like

  email seems a little a little much and

  of course as a result all of the third

  party email apps on iPhones you know

  they all need all your credentials and

  information and like there's a whole

  other issue there potentially but it's

  it's an area certainly that I think of

  that I could see them going into and in

  some ways it speaks to the maturity of

  the platform that there aren't that many

  other areas that I can think of that are

  sort of be like obvious new extension

  points yeah

  like they've done a really I mean it's

  it's kind of crazy if you've just for

  fun go into Xcode and open like the you

  know ad extension panel you know so long

  it's so big there is so much stuff that

  you can do in there and there's stuff

  that like that you forget that you can

  even do like there's there stuff that

  they mentioned once in a keynote two

  years ago and you forgot about an hour

  later and you get there oh wow that's

  right I can build this thing that's

  crazy oh sure I mean it's crazy now even

  just like when I build spindly some of

  my apps like the number of targets that

  yeah are included and it's you have to

  know I mean it's gotten a lot better but

  I've been dealing with like code signing

  and things with these things we're now

  you have like six or seven different you

  know target things that you need to deal

  with and manage and I mean in some ways

  you know you all you always hope that

  like maybe they'll do something on the

  tooling side to improve that but overall

  I'd say this extension approach that

  they've taken since whenever that inch I

  was eight maybe whenever that assay this

  came like it seems like it's been a big

  win in terms of they've you know created

  this mechanism by which you can create

  logic and have it tie into different

  parts of the OS in a way that is fairly

  reliable is fairly isolating and doesn't

  require like your main app for example

  to be running all the time in the

  background which you know we're gonna

  add would you know would expect would

  have you know battery life concerns you

  know like you can add a widget to your

  app that you know just sits there and

  it's only active whenever the the

  widgets are shown

  but it doesn't necessarily you know and

  it doesn't fire up your main process and

  do all that kind of stuff like it so you

  can build these really focused detailed

  things and yeah so I mean I would expect

  and hope we would kind of you know add a

  few more extension points but it is

  funny to think at what point like did

  they run out of those do they run out of

  like the the obvious and impactful

  extension points and I mean I don't

  think we're there yet certainly but it

  is certainly something that you know

  like iOS is turning 11 or whatever it is

  like it's getting old it's it's you know

  it's heading off to high school now it's

  it's well on its way to adolescence so I

  mean maybe we'll have some awkward

  puberty kind of like growing pains kind

  of situations but I think that was iOS 7

  that was iOS 7 it started orally but

  yeah but it does feel like it's more

  mature I mean in some ways it makes

  reminds me of the Mac right like at what

  point does iOS have that kind of

  stability in capability that you know

  Mac oh the Mac has right now and you

  know I don't know if we're quite there

  yet but I think we're certainly getting

  closer to there yeah we're certainly

  like closer to that then to the

  beginning you know but it but if they

  actually do the the semi rumored things

  about you know promoting the use of

  files and interact communication and

  data sharing kind of rethinking some of

  that file and document model in iOS that

  also could enable all sorts of new types

  of apps and all sorts of advances to

  existing applet that could be a huge

  change to the OS and and especially from

  the user point of view and that you know

  just even if we could do a certain thing

  before if it's now like way easier for

  people to do that alone can change

  markets and can change what kind of apps

  people can practically make and sell and

  and and survive from so that is all very

  promising like if any of that stuff

  happens but we'll see in a responsive

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  show and all of real AFM so there's also

  you know in addition to like big things

  in iOS I'm also just kind of looking

  forward to the SDK changes you know

  every year there's some kind of like you

  know new sdk new api new UI kit widgets

  and stuff that make things better or

  easier or enable new uses and i'm always

  looking forward to this especially

  because this year it there is the

  rumblings of a like mid-level redesigned

  happening system-wide and that usually

  comes with some cool new widgets and and

  stock controllers and things like that

  as well and you know kind of the design

  trend that's in right now involves

  things and this is kind of i tried to do

  with overcast but involves things that

  kind of looked like apple maps right now

  where you have like these like sliding

  sheets and everything's kind of curvy

  and everything's kind of like you know

  it slides up with depth but not

  translucency and it's kind of like

  moving around these these swiping cards

  and doing this with stock uikit now is a

  lot of manual work it's a lot of custom

  work and so if they are redesigning the

  OS to be more like that i would love to

  see sdk to basically make that stuff

  easy and standard to have like this is

  now your like UI card controller or

  whatever they would call it you know and

  then have stuff like that happen because

  if you're designing an app today that

  that you want to feel new and modern

  that's the kind of stuff you have to do

  and if they build it in it becomes way

  easier and it really and it standardizes

  the implementations so they all feel the

  same and they all work the same which is

  better for everybody so i'm I'm very


  looking forward to the potential of that

  yeah and I think too I always am hopeful

  for them to find the areas that are

  these like little pain points that these

  aren't things that would even yeah

  they're not gonna show up on the

  keynotes they're not gonna show up on

  that thing at the State of the Union

  like these are just these little like

  pain points that they can alleviate like

  in some ways it makes me think of what I

  won my my favorite changes are ones

  where I can remove a third party library

  or dependency for my app look like just

  instead switch over to using there it's

  you know like I think of things like a

  like a blocking progress HUD which is

  something that like most apps at some

  point need to integrate because you have

  some part of your app where you know you

  need to say like you need to block the

  user from doing things while you do some

  operation that takes a little bit of

  time and like that's like there is no

  built-in UI way to do that and so you

  end up with like hundreds of different

  third-party universes of that and or you

  can build your own and add a hundred and

  first or I think of things like like

  with all the rappers that exist around

  keychain access and it makes me think

  like when are we gonna get like hey just

  a nice clean it you know interface

  that's not based on the audio low-level

  see stuff that we end up you know

  because ultimately I know it's just the

  further my first includes is I include a

  wrapper for keychain because I'm gonna

  need to store credentials and purse you

  know of like you know in sensitive data

  somewhere and doing it the other way

  like it isn't so much that I can't or is

  that I worry about doing it wrong that

  you know it's it's you know they're very

  it's the the the whole point is that

  this is a sensitive data and I want to

  do it properly and so and if using a

  wrapper it's like I'd love to see little

  things like that like these little bits

  of API that just make things better and

  then I think like you're saying yeah

  like if they're if they can if they have

  a direction they would like developers

  to head from a UI perspective making it

  so that you know in the same way that

  you have to build it yourself it's much

  better if it's built in because that

  especially I would say they've gotten a

  lot better too of when they do introduce

  new stuff like that they make

  extensible to a degree that you can

  still kind of make it your own and tweak

  it and customize it and hack around it

  less in a way that like collection views

  for example are way more extensible like

  sometimes in ways that make them hard to

  understand but they're way more

  extensible than you you a UI tableview

  was and I think that's a lesson that

  they seem to be learning around making

  when they add a new bit of UI like that

  you know they make it really extensible

  so that everybody can use it and then

  everybody can benefit from it and I

  think more importantly so then customers

  and users of iPhones have a much more

  consistent experience that you know you

  you don't have these weird edge cases or

  like well in this one I do this and it

  just feels different or they even just

  like the physics of it like the way it

  slides up and down is different and

  anytime you have those differences like

  that's not as good as if every app kind

  of gets the same thing and then every

  you know every app can benefit from it

  as it improves over time I actually did

  have on my list here will this be the

  year they finally resolved the tableview

  slash collection view discrepancy in

  some way you know probably by by making

  by either making table view like a

  special collection view subclass or just

  by a deprecating table view and making

  it and just kind of adding things to

  collection view layouts that can make

  that easy to do but I would love to see

  some motion there I would also on my

  rest of my hit list here it's pretty

  quick I would love to see the

  system-wide dark mode that's been

  rumored forever that could be nice to

  have and to have like kind of a system

  toggle kind of like the dynamic text

  toggle where you can you can just make

  your app respond to that and you don't

  have to build UI for that and then my

  stretch goal here is it has seemed like

  in the last year or two

  like fairly recently Apple has kind of

  revitalized the Mac in in some way and

  started putting you know a lot of a lot

  of big effort behind the Mac again I

  would love to see and and I'm not asking

  for UI kit on the Mac that's that's a

  big stretch oh I know I know

  there's lots of reasons why that will

  probably never happen and some of them

  are even good reasons but I would like

  to see the needless distance between app

  kit and UI kit reduced so because

  there's so many classes that are similar

  but just different for minor or legacy

  reasons like and as

  color versus UI color and as image

  versus UI and makes things like that

  that are just kind of like needlessly

  different I would love to see just let's

  reduce some of those differences let's

  let's get some kind some kind of

  indication here of making uniting these

  two platforms on a on some level just to

  make it a little bit less painful to

  work between them and to kind of then

  encourage more Mac development I would

  love to see that that's kind of a

  stretch goal of mine but I'm not sure

  how realistic that is yeah and I mean

  it's I would say is one of these things

  that seems to be a slow march that

  towards that we're you know almost ap is

  now that like all of the new stuff with

  if it's on both platforms it tends to be

  fairly consistent across both platforms

  and it's like the yeah whether they will

  do through the work of slowly kind of on

  undoing some of the older stuff to make

  it more consistent and exactly how they

  do that who knows but it is definitely

  something that it feels like a that this

  kind of awkward thing that all of the

  modern or I don't modernist era are the

  wrong word all of their new platforms

  are UI kit based you know in terms of

  the the watch the iPhone and TV OS

  they're not it's not that they're like

  they don't use UI kit necessarily but

  they all seem to live in that family and

  will like use UI colors and then none of

  it's based on the Mac stuff and it feels

  like that Mathematica comes the odd man

  out that you can have a library now that

  you could use across all of their

  platforms except the Mac and that that

  odd man out Ennis it's definitely

  something that I think would be great

  for them to resolve yeah and it's hard

  because you know a part of the reasons

  why the Mac has different stuff is

  because in many cases it can do a lot

  more like it has to accommodate more use

  cases or more you know configuration

  options and things like that

  but I think that there are ways to

  resolve this and I think it would be

  really nice for the entire ecosystem

  including Apple's internal development

  if this was resolved alright any closing

  thoughts I'm looking forward to next

  week we're gonna be doing a live show at

  cocoa conf next door we're happy to see

  anybody next week oh we really look

  forward to you know if you if you want

  if you see us and you want to go up and

  say hi please do we love that don't feel

  bad or guilty or awkward

  just come up and say hi and yeah any

  closing thoughts yeah no I mean I think

  that is I would say I'm looking forward

  to next week I hope to always enjoy like

  it is a a rare thing to like I love

  meeting listeners I love running into

  people who listen to the show or you

  know know what I do and WBC week is

  always you know it's a special week

  because it's the one week where the

  people around me actually know that

  actually like care about what I care

  about and if anything it's gonna be kind

  of interesting because I get the

  impression that we're going to take over

  downtown San Jose it'll just be

  developers as far as the eye can see

  which is kind of exciting in some ways

  that will just kind of everyone everyone

  around me will be interested in the same

  stuff well we're out of time so thank

  you for listening everybody and we will

  see you maybe literally some of you next

  week bye