Apple's iOS 10: Five key features developers will love

Apple iOS 10 hero iPhones

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) last week previewed iOS 10 at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. 

The company noted that iOS 10 represents "the biggest release ever of the world's most advanced mobile operating system" -- but why?

Here are five things that mobile developers need to know about iOS 10:

1. iOS 10 opens Siri to developers. 

Apple's SiriKit enables developers to design and deploy apps that work with Siri for messaging, phone calls, photo search and much more. 

Robbie Abed, Y Media

Abed (Source: Y Media Labs)

Robbie Abed, director of product strategy at mobile app development company Y Media Labs, noted that SiriKit could transform the way iPhone and iPad users interact with apps.

"Users will be able to fire up your app without tapping on it. But more importantly, they will be able to interact with your app on the go by simply speaking at it," Abed told FierceDeveloper. "Giving the user the convenience of accomplishing tasks within the app through verbal instructions is great because it will reduce funnel abandonment and get the user to complete a task quicker and in a more convenient fashion."

2. Apple brings "the power of the App Store" to Messages.

Apple pointed out that Messages is the most frequently used iOS app. And now, the company is enabling developers to "create fun new ways for users to communicate in a thread."

From stickers that can be peeled and pasted into conversations to the use of personalized GIFs in discussion threads, developers can incorporate Messages functionality into iOS 10 apps to deliver more expressive and fun ways for end users to communicate with one another. 

3. Maps is open to developers with new extensions. 

iOS 10 features a revamped version of Maps that is designed for ease of use. 

Apple also pointed out that Maps is open to developers with new extensions and is "even smarter" thanks to new intelligence that offers directions based on where a person is going or his or her routine or calendar appointments. 

4. iOS 10 is delivering lock screen notifications that feature a distinct look and feel. 

The changes to iOS 10's lock screen notifications may seem minimal but could make a world of difference for both iOS developers and end users, Abed said.

"Developers can now both solicit information and instruct users to engage in specific tasks directly from the notifications bar, and with a hard press, users can interact with the app without ever leaving the notification bar," he noted. "Confirming an upcoming appointment with Open Table, soliciting information from users [to] improve the application's personalization experience or directing the user's attention to a pending task, all of that can now be achieved directly from the notification screen."

5. Apple has introduced app suggestions.

iOS 10 will suggest an app for an end user "at convenient and appropriate times," according to Abed, and this feature could help developers bolster their app engagement levels.  

"If apps are configured the right way to allow iOS 10 to suggest your app, this is definitely going to increase user engagement with your mobile product. This is especially useful for location-based applications that will benefit the most from contextual callouts," Abed said.

What will iOS 10 mean for developers moving forward?

Ultimately, iOS 10 provides many new features that could drive the demand for iOS developers worldwide. 

iOS developer Dominik Hádl points out that iOS 10 also shows that Apple has "invested time into improving the overall stability and power of [its operating] system, which ... is even more important than adding new features." 

"Opening up the ecosystem to developers brings seamless flows and general ease of use for the users which is something we both love as users and as developers," he told FierceDeveloper. "It is important to notice is that all of this is made available while not sacrificing privacy ... and making the system more secure and user's data or actions private."

Abed noted that iOS 10 may deliver far-flung benefits for freelance developers. 

"For freelance developers, these updates will allow for new ways to monetize and increase the user engagement with their apps. iOS developers have been in high demand for a long time now. This trend will continue moving forward as well," he said. 

Even though iOS 10 may drive an increase in the number of iOS developers globally, there are other factors that may push developers to consider iOS, including Swift.

"We think that Swift has a big impact on why people will start developing for iOS or Apple platforms in general, as it is easy to learn and more accessible than any other programming language," Hádl noted. 

Of course, Apple has not forgotten about Swift, either.

The company has introduced Swift Playgrounds, an app that is designed to teach coding concepts and encourage creative experimentation with Swift. 

"Swift Playgrounds is the only app of its kind that is both easy enough for students and beginners, yet powerful enough to write real code. It's an innovative way to bring real coding concepts to life and empower the next generation with the skills they need to express their creativity," Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, said in a prepared statement.

Developers can try iOS 10 today, too.  The developer preview of iOS 10 is available to iOS Developer Program members, and a public beta program will be available to iOS users next month.

In addition, Apple noted that iOS 10 will be available this fall.

iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch images courtesy of Apple.