Top 10 WWDC 2018 Videos in Review

We assemble a list of the top 10 WWDC 2018 videos that cover everything you need to know, including Core ML, Siri Shortcuts, ARKit 2 and more! By Tim Mitra.

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Now that the annual migration of the “Developer Triceraptus” is over and the WWDC 2018 wrappings have come off the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, we are left with another slew of compelling session videos.

There are videos on the latest APIs, such as ARKit 2, Core ML 2, Create ML and Siri Shortcuts; ones covering Xcode 10 with the new Dark Mode support and improved source code editing; and then there’s everything new in Swift 4.2, improvements in debugging, testing, and so much more. As there are over 100 WWDC 2018 session videos available this year, catching up by actually watching the videos will be quite a challenge! What’s a busy developer to do?

Fear not, as the tutorial team and learned colleagues have assembled a list of the Top 10 WWDC 2018 videos that cover everything you need to know in a minimum of time. The polling of the sessions was pretty close this year and the last four tied for 7th place. We consider these “must-see” sessions for developers from all backgrounds and specialties!

Note: To watch more videos in less time, we recommend you download the videos in HD/SD from the WWDC 2018 Videos site and then use VLC media player or QuickTime Player to replay the videos to 1.5x or 2.0x speed. You can thank me later! :]

1) Platforms State of the Union — Session 102

Platforms State of the Union WWDC 2018

[Video Link]

If you only have time for one video, this is it! For developers, the real start of WWDC 2018 is the Platforms State of the Union session. The Keynote is a fluffy offering to surprise and delight the general public, investors and Apple faithfuls. The State of the Union, in contrast, is where the really interesting details come out.

This talk surveys the new technologies and outlines which sessions will provide more details on each technology. Here are the highlights of the 2018 Platforms State of the Union:

  • Performance and stability was what Apple had said would be the focus of these releases in 2018. Apple delivered that across all of the four platforms: macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS. Improvements discussed here covered speeding up of LLDB compiler tasks, enhancements to machine learning modeling both in speed and size, as well as tooling for development and testing.
  • Dark Mode in macOS has been on many a developer’s wish list. With Dark Mode, the entire Mac GUI is inverted in an elegant way. Through new features in macOS Mojave and Interface Builder, Apple has included tools for developers to tweak the graphics and labels to better suit the inverted color landscape. For instance, asset libraries now contain a dark variant for images and named colors.
  • Core ML 2 and Create ML make adopting machine learning in your apps nearly a plug-and-play exercise. As well as supporting all the major third-party model libraries, Create ML enables you to make your own models by defining your problem, training on your own data and deploying your own model. Further enhancements in quantization make for speed of execution and smaller model size. The result is a faster user experience with your neural network and a much reduced app bundle size.
  • ARKit 2 builds on the improvements we recently saw in ARKit 1.5. A new AR Quick Look Gallery builds on the native support of the USDZ file format for easy viewing and sharing of AR files on devices, in email and on the web. Additionally ARKit 2 supports the sharing of AR and VR experiences so that multiple devices can view and interact with the same environments. This can enable multiuser game play with additional spectators.
  • Siri Shortcuts exposes parts of your apps to Siri, enabling the virtual assistant to provide app features and services to your users. Shortcuts works across all the platforms, including HomePod. Your user’s own phrasing can call app functions to get information or call to actions — often with the addition of just a few lines of code.

The Platform State of the Union covers far more new items than I can address in this article. If you watch no other WWDC 2018 session videos, this is definitely the one you want.

2) What’s New in Cocoa Touch — Session 202

What’s New in Cocoa Touch WWDC 2018

[Video Link]

The session, presented by Josh Shaffer, starts off with an emphasis on performance improvements in iOS 12 — covering improvements in scrolling, memory use, Auto Layout and UIKit.

This session is fairly dense; here, we’ll only cover some of the highlights:

  • There is a relatively short timespan of 16 milliseconds to create a view and call drawRect on iPhone and even less on iPad Pro screens. Scrolling speed benefits from a new pre-fetch API from where data is collected with serialization, so it’s ready before rendering.
  • “Memory is performance,” is a common thought among developers. Time previously spent by the system allocating memory is also improved with automatic backing stores.
  • Auto Layout sees great improvements as common pitfalls are now dealt with. Independent sibling views and dependent sibling views rendering now grows linearly as opposed to exponentially.
  • Apple addressed Swiftifcation by auditing of UIKit and global functions and improving nested types. Moreover, UIEdgeInsets and UIImage gain property methods in a natural Swift-feeling way.
  • Notifications now support tagging so that they display in groups.
  • Automatic Password and AutoFill further enhance web and app passwords. You can mark password fields so that users not only can retrieve, but store, passwords from your app’s forms. SMS verification codes can be auto-filled.
  • Safe Area insets give access to a local coordinate space in any view. Whether apps have bars or not, they benefit on all devices, not just iPhone X.
  • Siri Shortcuts make it easy to get common actions from your app and make them available to Siri. Users can make shortcuts with their own spoken phrase or you can suggest a phrase in your apps or in an extension.

Of all of these, Siri Shortcuts steals the show. Apple also provides the Shortcuts app on the App Store for users to create their own shortcuts.

Note: To learn more about Swift 4.2, check out What’s New in Swift 4.2? by Cosmin Pupăză.