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Apple’s WWDC 2016: What’s in it for developers?


Apple is opening up its native voice assistant Siri, navigation app Apple Maps, and native messaging platform iMessage for developers. The announcement was made during the Apple WWDC developer conference held yesterday. Third-party developers can now combine the functionality of these three applications directly into their apps. Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the event by mentioning that in a few weeks, Apple would have paid out $50 billion in commissions, and fee to developers.

Siri for developers

Third-party app developers can now integrate Apple’s voice assistant Siri into their apps. Users will be able to launch these apps and work on certain functionalities of the app within the Siri interface. In yesterday’s keynote presentation, Apple said that Siri will be available on Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch as well. This means that third-party Apple developers now have three new platforms for integrating and testing Apple’s AI powered voice assistant. On iOS, apps like WeChat, WhatsApp gets a deep integration to Siri. Users can ask or instruct Siri to do complex in-app function like “WhatsApp Nikhil to say I will be 5 minutes late”, book rides through Uber and check for driver updates, search for photos, all within the Siri interface and without launching any app. Apple has released SiriKit for developers to perform such in-app functions.

iMessage extensions for developers

Apple has also opened up its iMessage messaging platform to developers. On iOS10, developers can create app extensions that allow iMessage to let users send text, stickers, media files, and interactive messages. Developers can create a custom user interface within the Messages app, create a sticker browser, include text, and media files within a conversation, and create, send, and update interactive messages. For eg: Extensions on iMessage can let users to search for images and videos that are hosted on and third party app while they are accessible within in the iMessage app. Developers can also integrate Applebot— a web crawler or search service for Apple, used by products including Siri and Spotlight Suggestions.

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Maps with third-party extensions

Apple is also opening up Maps and navigation feature to third-party developers. On iOS 10, developers are allowed to integrate third-party extensions into the Maps app. For example while a user is previewing Maps, extensions will help book rides using Uber, reserve tables using Zomato, etc. This functionality is also possible on Apple’s CarPlay system; developers can utilize voice commands of Siri, and map items to make ‘proactive suggestions’ like showtimes when the passenger is passing nearby a movie theater. If an app displays hotel reviews, Maps can use third-party extensions to pop-up those ratings when a user searches for hotels nearby. Extensions can support a wide variety of suggestions, more on that here.


Image Credits: Flickr user  Mike Deerkoski under CC BY 2.0

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