Apple's WWDC 2016 an iOS watershed for developers

Dan Kobialka, FierceDeveloperApple (NASDAQ: AAPL) wants to empower developers to deliver a "world-changing" experience through its platforms, a mission the company promoted in its keynote address at this week's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. 

Perhaps the biggest news was the announcement that developers can now integrate their third-party apps with Siri, with the release of iOS 10. But plenty of other dev-friendly features were added to the mix as well.

Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, kicked off the keynote by highlighting Apple's commitment to the developer community. 

"We love creating great products that change the world. But we can't do it alone," he told attendees. "Developers are a crucial part of that journey. You're part of everything we do, and everything we will do going forward."

As such, Apple intends to focus on four platforms: 

  1. watchOS -- Apple Vice President of Technology Kevin Lynch said his company is focused on the "performance" of its watchOS apps. In addition, Apple is trying to make it easier for end users to access apps. With faster, more intuitive apps, Apple may be able to drive interest in its Apple Watch as well as interest in Apple Watch development. 

  2. tvOS -- Eddy Cue, Apple's Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, said there are 6,000 native apps on Apple TV, which gives developers "a modern TV platform for the living room." Apple also introduced ReplayKit (for recording videos), PhotoKit (for access to iCloud photos) and HomeKit (for controlling smart home devices), all of which could make Apple TV more appealing to developers. "There's never been a better time to build apps for the big screen," Cue noted.

  3. macOS -- Craig Federighi, Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, introduced the world to "macOS," a.k.a. the new name for OS X. Of course, developers now have plenty of reasons to be excited about Siri on Mac, which Federighi demonstrated during the keynote. "It's the same Siri we know and love, but now on the Mac," he pointed out. "It can handle sophisticated queries for files ... and you can have Siri search the web for you, too."

  4. iOS -- The introduction of iOS 10 represents a "huge release for developers," according to Federighi. It features a redesigned lock screen, quick interactions with apps, expanded use of 3D Touch and other features that may transform the way developers design and deploy iOS apps. Plus, Apple is opening up Maps and Messages to developers -- something that could prove to be a game-changer for iOS developers worldwide.

Cook pointed out that the App Store started eight years ago with 500 apps. Today, the App Store boasts 2 million apps that have been downloaded 130 billion times, and both of these figures appear likely to grow thanks to Apple's latest investments in its developer community. 

"The App Store is the best business opportunity for developers," Cook told attendees. "Our north star has been about improving people's lives with great products. ... We love creating great apps." -- Dan