If you’ve never heard 6,000 developers gasp in unison, I can tell you it’s a pretty impressive sound. Mine was one of those gasps when Craig Federighi, Senior VP of Software Engineering at Apple, announced Swift, a new programming language, at WWDC in San Francisco yesterday.
In beta today and generally available this fall, Swift significantly lowers the bar for developers by making it much easier and faster to build apps. More secure programming is a key feature, by eliminating an entire class of potentially error-prone code and doing away with memory management, a major source of bugs. As evidence of how excited everyone is about this major announcement, many WWDC attendees skipped the evening’s parties to get right to work learning the new language.
Apple also announced HealthKit, a secure database that shares health, fitness and medical information across apps and devices. Users store their own health information, such as blood sugar or blood pressure levels, in a “centralized and secure location,” and choose which apps can access particular data.
Swift is a game-changer in the Apple developer world, and HealthKit has the potential to significantly impact mHealth. So what do yesterday’s announcements mean for Voalte?
Swift gives us an innovative new tool to develop features and turn around new releases quickly. With HealthKit, Apple has the opportunity to work with companies such as Epic by linking end user data with hospitals’ electronic medical records.
This was my ninth consecutive year at Apple’s developer conference. Malcolm Teas, Engineering Manager and developer at Voalte, was there with me, and was also in attendance back in the 1990s when he worked for Apple and the conferences were still held in San Jose. I can’t speak for Malcolm, but I’d say this year was the biggest in terms of major announcements: a new programming language, a ton of new developer features, the new Yosemite OS X, and lots of end user features in iOS 8.
I think it’s fair to say WWDC 14 took developers’ breath away.