This year’s WWDC 14 keynote was a treasure trove for developers. From an all new coding environment to a bounty of new API’s, and even an improved iCloud architecture to leverage — the show was pure developer candy. Apple also gave consumers something to look forward to coming this Fall. Apple’s Sr. VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, delivered iOS 8 Extensibility. For users of Apple’s mobile devices iOS 8 Extensibility is going to be a very big deal.
Regularly used iPhone abilities stand to reap great rewards. Consider the iPhone’s camera. There are a myriad of camera apps within the App Store to take advantage of this one feature. Many users load their iPhones with dozens of camera apps in order to capture the right type of photo or add the right filter or effect to a given image. However, with iOS 8 Extensibility the camera app (and tens of thousands of other applications) can gain the internal support they’ve been missing from other 3rd party developers.
This idea is nothing new, it just simply hasn't been done in iOS until now. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he was keen on the idea of writing several simple programs that could leverage other portions of code from other programs. Apple might write a basic word processor, but then a user could install the dictionary of their choice, a special formatting tool for legal documents and a simple drawing program. The Apple word processor would then leverage the dictionary, legal formatting tool and drawing program within the word processor. This idea was completely counter to Microsoft’s monolithic, feature laden programs. Microsoft delivered a memory hog word processor with 500 features that may never be used. iOS 8's Extensibility delivers upon how Jobs’ vision of how apps should be simple blocks of code focusing on specific features, that work together in harmony.
Adding new abilities into Apple’s default camera app through the use of 3rd party extensions — to set focus and exposure, or to incorporate Photo Editor’s blemish touch up ability or quality pro filters — will soon be a reality with iOS 8 Extensibility. A dozen camera apps can now be easily installed into one app, cleaning up massive iOS icon clutter and making the core photo application amazingly customizable and powerful.
For Apple, iOS 8 Extensibility gives their non-delete-able iOS applications additional features without Apple engineers having to write a single line of new code. Apple no longer needs to keep up with the Jones’, as iOS 8 Extensibility lays the groundwork for the developers to leverage Apple’s base set of apps, instead of competing against them.
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