Apple’s World Wide Developer conference keynote was this afternoon, and the big news is that Apple is adding many APIs to iOS that enable developers to write even more powerful apps for the iPhone and iPad. Long time Android users will note that many of the features brings iOS on par to Android, particularly the added support for third party keyboards. Swype and SwiftKey will soon find their way to iPhones just like they exist on Android.
No new hardware was announced, but what we saw was clearly a prelude to new hardware to come. While iOS 8 will run on older iPhones and iPads, clearly it won’t run as well as it will on new hardware. The biggest demand for new hardware will be the new games, written to the hardware, that will provide more realistic animations than ever seen before on mobile devices.
Apple is putting forth their idea of improved security by providing access to Touch ID to third party apps and services, which means one will be able to use their fingerprint to access security web sites and stores and banks on iOS devices.
Finally, Apple is adding a new programming language for iOS they call Swift. The programming language will provide hardware access and is more like scripting languages than the Object-C that developers now use to write apps for iOS.
The risks of Apple providing more access to the operating system and hardware as they announced today is that users may see an impact to battery life and security. Used incorrectly, deeper level APIs could lead to apps spawning processes that consumer higher amounts of battery life than normal.
Many security vulnerabilities are accidents caused by developers making programming errors that have unexpected consequences. Does a programming language optimized to provide high performing apps on the iPhone also provide better tools for hackers? Ironically, during the keynote Tim Cook took a jab at Android for malware vulnerabilities.
My point is that the “protections” that in the past Apple has lifted up as a feature of iOS over its competitors are now at risk. The addition of features previously found on Android bring with it the same risks that exist on Android today, so in effect Apple seems to be trading what it once touted as their own competitive advantage to over come some of the advantages of its competition.