iOS 8: “Biggest release since App Store launch”

Apple has released its iOS 8 SDK, with more than 4,000 new Application Programming Interfaces (API).

iOS 8 allows developers to further customise the user experience with major extensibility features like Notification Centre widgets and third-party keyboards; and introduces robust frameworks such as HealthKit and HomeKit.

iOS 8 also includes Metal, a new graphics technology that maximises the performance of the A7 chip and Swift, a powerful new programming language.

“With more than 800 million iOS devices sold worldwide, the opportunity for developers is huge,” says Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.

“This is the biggest iOS release since the launch of the App Store.

“The iOS 8 SDK delivers more than 4,000 new APIs including amazing new frameworks, greater extensibility and a revolutionary new programming language.”

iOS 8 offers developers frameworks including HealthKit APIs that provide the ability for health and fitness apps to communicate with each other.

With your permission, each app can use specific information from other apps to provide a more comprehensive way to manage your health and fitness.

For example, your blood pressure app could share its data with a physician app, such as the Mayo Clinic app, so your doctor can provide high-quality guidance and care.

“We believe Apple’s HealthKit will revolutionise how the health industry interacts with people,” adds John Noseworthy, M.D., Mayo Clinic president and CEO.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of this innovative technology with the Mayo Clinic app.”

As HealthKit combines health data to help you take better care of your health, HomeKit lets your home accessories connect seamlessly to better manage your home. HomeKit delivers a common protocol, secure pairing and the ability to easily control individual or groups of devices throughout the house.

“We are excited to be part of the next step in making home automation a reality, in a safe and integrated way,” adds Eric Rondolat, CEO, Philips Lighting. “HomeKit will allow us to further enhance the Philips Hue lighting experience by making it simpler to securely pair devices throughout the house.”

Developers can further customise the user experience with iOS extensions, including new sharing options, custom photo filters, custom actions and document APIs.

Developers can now add their own widgets into Notification Centre, and third-party keyboards offer additional layouts and input methods.

Gaming on iOS takes a huge leap forward in iOS 8 with Metal, a new graphics technology that maximises performance on the A7 chip.

With its dramatic 10 times improvement in draw call speed, Metal enables leading game providers for the first time to bring console-class 3D games to mobile devices.

For casual games, iOS 8 now features SceneKit, making it easy to create fun 3D games, along with major enhancements to SpriteKit, including field forces, per-pixel physics and inverse kinematics.

Swift is a powerful new programming language for iOS and OS X that makes it easier than ever for developers to create incredible apps.

Designed for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, Swift combines the performance and efficiency of compiled languages with the simplicity and interactivity of popular scripting languages.

By design, Swift helps developers write safer and more reliable code by eliminating entire categories of common programming errors, and coexists with Objective-C code, so developers can easily integrate Swift into their existing apps.

Xcode Playgrounds make writing Swift code incredibly interactive by instantly displaying the output of Swift code.

iOS 8 also includes Touch ID™ APIs enabling developers to securely authenticate users within apps, protect logins and user data, and unlock keychain items.

With iOS 8, developers can provide authentication with a successful fingerprint match while keeping your fingerprint data safe and protected in the secure enclave.

Additional iOS 8 developer features include:

• PhotoKit, so developers can tap into the power of the same robust framework as the built-in Photos app for faster performance, nondestructive edits and the ability to both read and write to the Photos library;

• new Camera APIs, giving developers fine grain control over focus, white balance and exposure;

• CloudKit, a complete and scaleable back-end solution helps developers eliminate the need for writing server code and maintaining servers; and

• new App Store™ features for developers like app previews and app bundles, the new iTunes Connect with free analytics and TestFlight for beta testing pre-release apps.

The iOS 8 beta software and SDK are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com while a beta version of Swift is also available immediately.

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