One of the toughest parts of app development is the rapid pace at which technology is evolving, leading the app development cycle to constantly shrink. When your app can be rendered useless in a matter of months or even weeks, staying on top of the latest trends and practices is essential to fighting back against obsolescence. This has never been more true for iOS developers than today in 2018.

With the numerous benefits of iOS app development for various companies and applications, iOS developers have no choice but to stay with the times. With this article, we are going to review the latest updates and changes that have been made to Apple products and the operating system.

By taking these evolutions into consideration, you will be able to stay ahead of the trends and avoid falling to the wayside. Our hope is that with this information in hand, you can better serve your users and take advantage of the exciting opportunities these features present. Let’s get started.

iOS 11 and 12

The first major updates to the iOS system that we will look at came with iOS 11 last year. However, with iOS 12 on the horizon, iOS developers should keep in mind that there will be changes coming and nothing too radical should be done before this roll out to avoid unnecessary redundancies.

With that being said, there has been serious upgrades to everything from the coding language on which Apple software is built to the capabilities of iOS systems. As we review these recent improvements, iOS developers should be conscious of the greater trends within the tech industry such as AI, IoT, and more.

Swift 4

Recently released by Apple, Swift 4 is the latest update to the preferred programming language of many iOS developers and what you should be using to create iOS applications. While the obvious benefits of this update system are faster development and easier ease of use, there are numerous other improvements that have been made to enhance the user experience as well.

While we don’t have the time to explore all of these updates in this article, a full breakdown of the technical changes can be found here. We recommend reviewing these and cross referencing them with your own development project to make sure you are using the latest tools and features to get the most bang for your buck.

Advances in AI

Along with upgrading their programming language in recent months, Apple has made artificial intelligence and machine learning a focus as well. At their annual I/O developer conference they revealed a brand new software development kit just for AI that works across both Android and iOS platforms.

This is just one of many signals showing that they are serious about investing in these products and the future of AI app development. A major change here is the ability for developers to integrate offline systems into their apps. While these models are often less accurate due to reliance on the user’s device capabilities, it is still a step in the right direction. As this technology improves, so will integrations like this.

Core ML

Part of this push to improve AI within the iOS system is Apple’s Core ML or machine learning suite for developers. According to Venture Beat, this latest update to the Core ML system is 30% faster and cuts AI model sizes by up to 75%, a significant step in the right direction when it comes to making smart devices more efficient.

Again, this push for a cross-platform technology that can improve both Android and iOS apps is encouraging to all as it shows that these companies are more interested in improving the tech across the board than just keeping it for themselves. iOS developers should take advantage of the machine learning suite whenever they can to create even better app designs and features.

ARKit

In addition to their push for better AI technology within iOS, Apple has opened up doors for developers to incorporate augmented reality and the Internet of Things into their applications as well. While these technologies are still growing and evolving, iOS developers can set their work apart by using what tools are available to show off these new technologies.

The AR Kit in particular is a favorite amongst AR professionals and iOS developers. Consider Pokémon Go, one of the most popular apps in recent memory. Apple is encouraging developers to explore new and exciting possibilities with their platform and those in the space would do well to take notice. Who knows? The next Pokémon Go could be your project.

HomeKit

On the heels of AR and machine learning, Apple’s IoT solution HomeKit can help iOS developers get involved in creating Internet of Things compatible apps. Unfortunately, unlike Core ML, HomeKit is exclusive to Apple devices and can only really work with the Home app on iOS devices. While this is an obvious setback, it is still worth using to integrate with IoT platforms and devices.

As the Internet of Things continues to permeate every part of our lives, trying to make things run more efficiently and with less steps, iOS developers can get ahead of the curve by offering IoT connection through their apps. Although it is a simple addition, for the right users, it can make all the difference.

Challenges facing iOS developers

Now, as anyone who has worked in iPhone app development will tell you, all of these changes come with their own set of difficulties. Processes and systems that once worked with an older iOS may be rendered useless by new updates. Before beginning your next iOS project, make sure to review these challenges and start planning how you will overcome them throughout the process.

Compatibility issues

The first and often most common challenge you will come across is compatibility issues with newer versions of Apple’s operating system. If you haven’t updated your app in a while, certain aspects of the code may be outdated and will require tweaking or changes to be fully compatible with the new system.

While this may just require occasional mobile app maintenance, iOS developers shouldn’t put this off. Poor usability or user experience is one of the fastest ways to lose your audience, so make sure this is a priority for your development team.

Performance vs. Storage

With recent jabs at the level of storage available in iOS phones, Apple has begun to encourage developers to make sleeker and smaller apps to avoid data overload. Unfortunately, in the same way that Core ML takes up extra room offline, performance can be affected when the app has less storage to work with.

In order to avoid this issue with your own app, we recommend creating a ‘lite’ version of the app that may have a slightly reduced performance, but still maintains the core features. Users with room to spare can always use the regular app, but if you can diversify with multiple offerings, you can offer a better user experience.

Evolving App Store rules and regulations

Another reason why keeping up with the latest trends is so important is due to the ever evolving app store rules and regulations. iOS developers likely already understand this struggle, as sometimes the rules can change from one update in the app to the next, leading to a severely slowed down process.

We recommend staying ahead of the trends and doing everything you can in regards to app store optimization to avoid running into this problem. However, even when you do everything right, sometimes Apple is just annoying about this. Be sure to always review their guidelines before submitting your app.

Conclusion

As we have seen, being an iOS developer presents both unique opportunities and challenges when it comes to mobile app development. While these can seem daunting, we encourage you to continue pursuing your mobile app ideas and should you need assistance, feel free to ask for help.

These trends are only going to continue, so the most vital thing you can do for your business today is get started on the app that you want to create. Trust us, the rest will follow.