WWDC 2014 Recap – Making users and developers happy – Part 1

As said in my previous post WWDC showed that everything is about the users and the developers. Going through all the changes made it often hard for me to say “that’s only where developers benefit” and “that’s only where users benefit”.

So I’ve started to write down some of the major changes that IMHO will affect the ecosystem mostly. But please – no “golden Apple cage” discussions on the things. Apple does everything for their ecosystem, not for others. And at least it’s a users decision to leverage it – or not.

 

iCloud – The Past

Let’s start with the iCloud. In the past is has been a place where users can store their photos. Limited to the last 1,000 synched across their devices. Developers could leverage the iCloud to share simple key/value pairs across devices for their apps (i. e. settings). No direct data access by the user. iCloud space wasn’t expensive, but also not cheap.

 

The New iCloud

It’s getting interesting. Apple has opened the iCloud to make a users life easier. Here are the benefits:

  • The 1,000 photos limit has been lifted. Now you can store your devices photos across all devices forever (and access them forever).
  • New, compatible prices for iCloud will come. Mashable has posted a good overview on that.
  • Users can now store any files within their private iCloud and access them from any Apple device.
  • Developers can leverage CloudKit to store their apps data.

 

Now let us break things up.

 

Lifting the limits

Having now cheaper plans will embrace the usage of the iCloud. It’ll make the decision to store data in the iCloud easier. Adding the capability of a full, automatic photo backup across all devices even more. No need for backups and transferring data to other devices manually. That’s a no-brainer if you live in the Apple world.

 

iCloud file access – users perspective

Here it gets even more interesting. You’ll get a kind of file share access to your iCloud files. So that may replace for the convenience loving user the usage of DropBox or other services (only if you want). Apple has also integrated iCloud into Finder with OS X 10.10 Yosemite – so it’s just a drag or drop away. No need for additional software or setups. It’s just there.

icloud_finder

 

iCloud file access – developers perspective

Developers are enabled with iOS 8 to create so called “Document-based apps”. That means your app can register to access document (== file) resources. Like iCloud Files. So you’re able to read and write from your storage directly from within those registered apps. No need for importing by iTunes, sending files via Mail etc. It’ll give boosts to the productivity apps for sure.

 

CloudKit

That’s IMHO the biggest game changer. Those, who don’t “like” the Apple world will cry about the “golden cage” approach. But first – let’s start with a use case:

 

You’re an app developer and have an awesome idea (in your opinion ;-)). The idea is to create an app where people can post vegetarian cooking recipes. The users should be able to post/store private recipes and to post public recipes. All include information how to cook, photos etc.

Besides creating the app you have to care about the central systems. That means:

  • Setting up (hosted) servers including reachable domains
  • Maintain operating systems (updates, patches, security)
  • Managing network access (i. e. high availability, so multiple servers)
  • Managing SSL
  • User management (registration, security, access rights, forgotten passwords)
  • Managing storage (buying storage, backup, disaster recovery)
  • Setting up application web servers
  • Creating data consuming interfaces
  • etc.

A lot of stuff to care about. And to pay for!

That’s where CloudKit comes into the game. If you – as a developer – decide to use iCloud/CloudKit as your data storage you can forgot all the aforementioned points! Isn’t that awesome?!

CloudKit has also lifted the limitations of the prior iCloud development. Developers can now store more complex data types in the iCloud. Like arrays, binary data, date values etc. So most of the data types you use.

The pricing is also “very interesting”. As described in the use case the app allows private postings and public postings. That’s where it is getting neat. Everything that is “private” (belongs to the user) is credited towards the user’s personal iCloud account. Every “public” post is credited towards the developers storage. So if an app user only posts private recipes it doesn’t affect the developer. And the developers storage plan has the nice limit of 1 Petabyte (that are 1.000 Terabyte) of data! Imagine how many public recipes could be posted without paying a cent for storage.

But how does that help the users?

That’s IMHO very simple: more apps will get created. Just go through all the bullet points above. If you’re an app developer with an idea you just can realize it. No investment in infrastructure, no worries about security, no thinking about data loss, nada.

There is one ‘caveat’: you’re tied to the Apple world. But again – that’s the users and the developers decision.

By the way…CloudKit also applies to Mac OS X. 😉

 

Stay tuned for the next post about making users and developers happy…