Eve of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference 2015

WWDC 2015 has come round again and I’m lucky enough to be in San Francisco attending again! So what’s the tradition? Well I’ve just scoffed down a huge pile of pancakes down at Mel’s Dinner and just picked up my badge and legendary WWDC ’15’ jacket. You know the developers are in town as these jackets decorate the streets of San Francisco just like the huge colourful Apple banners that appear down 4th street.

There’s such a lively vibe going on as 5000 developer gather in one spot to learn the latest stuff happening at WWDC. In less than 24 hours we’ll all start queuing at 3am in the morning to get into the main Auditorium for Apple’s big keynote at 10am. Yes that’s a good 7 hours but the people you meet in the queue during this time can easily become life-long friends – anyone who’s met me at 2am in the morning, jet-lagged, freezing cold on a chilly San Francisco morning and still doesn’t want to throttle me by the end of it is deserves to be my friend!

The epicenter of change

The epicenter of change

This is easily the highlight of the developer year, iOS 9 is hugely expected as well as the next version of OS X with the associated XCode tools. For iOS 9 I’m hoping for big improvements to Siri and Apple Maps. Apple Watch should feature heavily in the sessions too but most of this is all under-wraps until the keynote tomorrow so this is all just speculation. In the mean-time, I’m hoping to head down to the mothership – Apple 1 Infinite loop before a few beers tonight with my fellow attendees at the ThirstyBear Brewery Co. If you’re in town see you there. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s announcement will be just as exciting as the build-up!

Facebook’s London Mobile Forum 2.0

Scott Goodson of Facebook starting the discussions with developers

Scott Goodson of Facebook starting the discussions with developers in Hoxton, Shoreditch, London.

Last week I was fortunate to attend Facebook’s London Mobile Forum 2.0. This gathering of top London mobile developers and designers was a great chance to swap ideas and listen to a number of talks by Facebook, Big Nerd Ranch, Yammer, Bloom and Mozilla to name a few. The event was tiny with only 60 people in the room but it had many big players and it was great to talk to as many of them as possible, particularly at the free bar Facebook had laid on in the evening! So what mobile development secrets did we talk about? Continue reading

5 Time-saving Objective-C tips every developer should know

Batman Flat White Coffee Here’s a quick fire list of 5 time-saving Objective-C tips that every developer should know. Perfect for making time for that extra coffee!

1. Enum shorthand

Enums at their simplest are labelled sets of integers. Where an inexperienced programmer might use a number to represent the download state of an image lets say, e.g. 0 = queued, 1 = downloading, 2 = downloaded, 3 = complete… When using these numbers in actual code a simple slip of the finger on the keyboard and they could easily type an extra digit in their if statement or assignment. These types of errors don’t usually show up when compiling. Even worse, these are usually obscure errors that only reveal themselves at run-time and only then when things don’t work as expected often requiring considerable debugging effort.

This is where enums step in. Enums are really handy and allow you to associate symbols or ‘labels’ with integers. If you type an enum value that doesn’t exist the compiler steps in and reports an error at compile-time instead and Xcode will probably suggest a fix for you if it was a typo! The other benefit of enums is that you can quickly add new values into them and assuming your code doesn’t save the integer to disk your code will automatically work with the new values.

There are a couple of different ways to define enums but the easiest way which will also provide Xcode with some extra compiling hints is as follows:
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Bluetooth 4.0 LE – The Bluetooth Renaissance

Bluetooth 4.0 LE LogoSometimes a technology comes along that seems like such a good idea you wonder why it was never created in the beginning. For me, Bluetooth was one of those technologies. It’s been around since the late nineties and was incredibly powerful, especially for PDAs and phones but has always been overshadowed by the complimentary WiFi standard and surprisingly inflexible Bluetooth profiles which define the protocol, format and intended use of the data being communicated such as a Modem profile or headset profile.

It’s strength lies in allowing devices to talk to each other over a short distance with low energy and relatively easy setup but while many developers, makers and designers hoped to make use of it as a “wireless USB cable”, the reality was that most uses didn’t fit within the defined “profiles” and so developers opted for the Serial Profile – a generic profile that shuffles bits to virtual serial ports. Serial ports are decades old and because there is no context of what the data is inside the Serial port it’s very easy to bind the wrong program to the wrong device. For example, a data logging program trying to read the serial data from a serial port joystick would probably work or worse still would most likely silently do nothing. This adds confusion and frustration for the user. Compare this experience to using a USB device – you plug it in and open up the program and it recognises the device and starts using it. You don’t see incompatible devices, you can’t connect it to the wrong thing, it just works which is probably why USB is so popular.
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Apple WWDC 2012 Session Videos Live

This is a heads up for anyone who does iPad or iPhone development; Apple have made available their awesome WWDC 2012 sessions videos to developers! iOS 6 features such as Passkit, maps and Facebook looks interesting as does the new Game Center functionality such as “Challenges” along with a whole host of new APIs and technologies. More information can be found on the Apple iOS 6 site and the developers’ iOS 6 overview site.

You should also look at the new OS X technologies in the soon-to-be-launched Mountain Lion release. Notification Center seems like such a natural addition that I’m surprised Apple didn’t add it in back in the early days of Mac OS X and Game Center will be exciting to play with on the Mac. I just hope it doesn’t distract me too much from work!

Of course most of it is still under a non-disclosire agreement so only blog and comment about the publicly announced WWDC stuff but this will good to play with over the summer when it’s too hot to be outside.