Apple WWDC 2017 Quick Takes – Day 2

As expected, Day 1 was followed by Day 2.  However, Day 2 was markedly different and very informative, not to mention exciting.

Michelle Obama

Day 2 started with “A Conversation with Michelle Obama”, where the former first lady was interviewed by Apple’s Lisa Jackson.  Without going into a lot of details, it was a very good interview. You may not like her husband’s politics, but her message is spot on.  Very encouraging about technology, especially female technologists.  Some funny comments on pictures of her and the former POTUS.  I live tweeted the whole thing if you’re interested in hearing her (@willrwills).

Sessions and Labs

The rest of the day was comprised of sessions throughout the day at scheduled times, along with labs on various topics.

Speaking of labs, you have to request a reservation to attend a lab.  And you can’t acquire the reservation until the day of, starting at 7am.  Well-hell, I logged in at 7am and went searching for labs and they were all full within minutes! I was able to schedule one at noon with an Application Engineer.

From a session perspective, you have to pick and choose because they overlap.  For me, I attended:

  • What’s New in Cocoa Touch – which covered new UI elements in iOS 11, including drag and drap, changes to certain screen layouts, etc.
  • Introducing Drag and Drop – this will be an amazing feature for folks with iPads.  You can drag all sorts of things from app to app very easily.  Makes assembling documents and mix-media emails very easy.
  • What’s new in Swift 4.0 – a good overview of Swift 4.  Some cool things in there, including auto-refactoring and simplification of Strings.
  • Introducing MusicKit – Apple makes it easy for app developers to access people’s music libraries and Apple Music.
  • Updating your App for iOS 11 – a good run down of layout changes and help functions that make programming that much easier.
  • Introducing ARKit – a run down and some amazing demos of built-in Augment Reality functionality

At 6:30pm they screened a new movie called Planet of the Apps.  I did not stay for that as it was in a nearby theater and the line stretched around the block.  Finally, there was a “Music in the Plaza” starting at 8pm.  I skipped that as well as it focused on live music (good!) and micro-brewery beers (ick, I don’t drink beer much) – PLUS, it started at 8pm (11pm circadian time) and didn’t want to stay that late.  Of course, it’s 1:20am now, east-coast time,  and I’m writing this entry!  Fool!

Summary

The technical sessions were very very good.  They placed engineers on stage to describe the various new technologies.  These guys and gals were very smart, and amazingly effective presenters.  They also brought up Xcode and showed live how to code some of the new features.  They ran the new code live and it worked very well.

I was able to take pics of screens and take notes.  The presentations were often interrupted by cheers and claps as they either introduced new functionality via API’s (Augmented Reality support, for example) or made certain programming aspects much much simpler (handling Unicode in Swift strings).

The engineer that I scheduled time with went way over our time as I asked him about various aspects of app development.  He was knowledgeable and patient.

Beta versions of applications and tools are now available.

It’s clear that Apple knows how to do these conferences.  Tomorrow, it’ s more sessions and… I’m looking forward to them!  I’ve collected tons of notes and pics and will be writing this up for staff at work that could not be here.

Personal

I hadn’t been to a true technology conference like this in many years.  About 6 months ago I decided to learn how to write iOS apps.  I watched plenty of videos from MIT and on Apple University until I was comfortable with the language.  And then most recently I created a free standing app (in the App Store) with an unique angle for audience participation at live music shows.  This included writing both the client side (Swift 3.1 and Xcode) and the server side (Amazon EC2 Linux C++).

At this conference, I knew pretty much all the terminology and was able to spend time talking to some much younger developers than I about various coding and tool challenges.  It was invigorating.  My real-work had taken me so far in the direction of administration and management that I had forgotten how FUN it is to create something yourself from scratch.

I found myself smiling as Apple unveiled a bunch of incredible new features and API’s – and am looking forward to downloading the BETA tools and trying out the various new items – especially AR!

In my career, staying technical and being able to talk tech with my developers was the key to my success.  Recent developments may provide me this opportunity again.

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