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What should iOS app developers look out for with iOS 9?

What does the release of iOS 9 mean for mobile development? Contributor Matthew David explains what iOS app developers can expect upon its release.

Apple does a very good job of encouraging iOS owners to upgrade. IOS 9 will be available for all iPhone 4 models and newer phones, iPad 2 and newer, both iPad Air devices, as well as the iPod fifth and sixth generation. What opportunities does this open for iOS app developers?

Let's start with what developers may need to change in their code. Fortunately, the only API that should be assessed is the depreciation of the Address Book framework. Developers may have used the Address Book framework to access contacts in older projects. The good news is that the newer Contacts Framework can be swapped in to accomplish the same job.

What is now becoming an annual tradition, the release of iOS 9 also comes with an upgrade to Apple's integrated development environment, Xcode, a cloud-based, test-driven development environment. The new Xcode 7 is shipping with Swift 2.0, new testing tools and better UI tools. For the iOS app developer, Xcode feels more like a mobile-first development tool, rather than OS X-first development tool.

Swift 2.0 now supports better error handling with try, throw and catch statements. Management of SDKs, building for older versions of iOS and Protocol Extensions are all welcome additions.

While not a feature, the big news for developers is that Swift is going to become open source later this year. There is now an opportunity for Swift to be adopted by other development tools in much the same way that JavaScript is being used by many different tools today.

In addition to new features in Xcode, changes are coming to Safari 9. Mobile Safari is the default browser on all iOS devices. Here are just a few of the many new features in Safari:

  • Content Blocking to speed up the processing of resources, images, CSS and cookies;
  • Improved AirPlay media support to broadcast content to your Mac or Apple TV;
  • New support for picture-in-picture video;
  • Icons in Pinned Tabs; and
  • CSS Backdrop Filters.

Apple can encourage millions of people to upgrade through a mixture of press releases and the appearance of the red upgrade badge on the Settings app. With the release of iOS 8, it took only 45 days for more than 60% of all active iOS device owners to upgrade from 7 to 8. Expect the same with iOS 9. This means developers can start building iOS 9 apps that will be used by millions now.

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