Watching new operating systems is always a potent mix of “what new treats will we get?” and “what are they going to break?” Fortunately in this case, it seems Apple is mostly crossing items off users’ and developers’ wish lists on both iOS and OS X, though further details will come in coming developer sessions. Now, those are under NDA, but the wait for public information is unlikely to be long, now that Apple has announced a public beta of OS X Yosemite and an aggressive release schedule for both OS X and iOS 8.
We also know a lot now.
For developers. We know there are some fancy new toolkits (Metal, SceneKit) for graphics – some of which are likely to make creative 3D visual programming more accessible and higher-performance. That should translate to some interesting new creative audiovisual apps and woo at least some digital artists to Apple platforms. And Apple’s new Swift programming language takes the performance of Objective-C but brings it more modern features. There’s even an interactive Playground that offers live feedback and live coding. (TechCrunch has a good write-up.)
That’s already big news: for the first time, Apple’s own platform starts to look like a creative coding environment, one in which the prototype or artistic idea can also become production code.
For musicians and developers. Apple kept parts of the schedule under wraps until the end of the WWDC keynote. Much of this is to do with new APIs for notifications, data, cloud services, and the aforementioned visual goodies.
But Core Audio is, as rumored, getting an update, too. From the (public-facing, non-NDA) session description:
See what’s new in Core Audio for iOS and OS X. Be introduced to the powerful new APIs for managing audio buffers, files, and data formats. Learn how to incorporate views to facilitate switching between inter-app audio apps on iOS. Take an in depth look at how to tag Audio Units and utilize MIDI over Bluetooth LE.
So, improved inter-app audio is of course welcome, and we get a clue as to what changes are coming to the Core Audio plumbing on which our music-making apps rely on Apple OSes.
Bluetooth MIDI is also interesting to users. MIDI over Bluetooth is possible today, so it’s unclear what Apple is adding. But with more convenient support, we could see scenarios like:
1. Connecting a Bluetooth-based MIDI accessory (like a portable keyboard or drum pad) to an iPad or iPhone or Mac. On mobile devices, in particular, that makes far more sense than a cable – cables kill the mobility of the device, they often require extra adapter hardware, and they can take up ports needed for sound or power.
2. More easily pairing a mobile controller to a Mac. WiFi does this now, but with a greater power draw and some complexity in connection – and we’ll have to see how performance is doing in the new Apple implementations.
3. Wireless connections for music and sync between devices – mobile to mobile, between computer and iPad, iPad and iPad, iPhone and iPhone, and so on.
(and various other combinations, of course…) We saw lots of Bluetooth MIDI hacks at the MIDI Hack Day in Stockholm; it’ll be great to see more support for this format. And that means we’ll need to do more testing of latency and connection ease.