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New in iOS 7: What developers need to know

Tom Thompson | Oct. 2, 2013
The revamped UI, dynamic type, new multitasking modes, and 64-bit support point to new classes of apps -- and devices

A significant advance
iOS 7 is a great leap forward in many ways. The new UI offers the developer more screen room to play with, even on small devices. The smarter text layout will enable a new category of publication and reader apps, I have no doubt. The 64-bit OS offers better computational throughput. This allows developers to use more powerful algorithms for speech and signal processing, and it will enable new apps to be published that until now were too computationally demanding for a mobile platform. In short, Apple has covered its existing consumer base with a top-notch software release.

This brings me back to the yin and yang of iOS 7 and Xcode 5. Apple touts iOS 7 as a desktop-caliber OS, and when you consider the advanced typography system and greater processing power, you might concede the point. Still, you have to wonder where the company is going with iOS.

Here are some clues we can follow. Apple has been pushing the auto layout features supported in Xcode 5 hard, so you have to figure there will be "iDevices" with different screen sizes. Might there be bigger tablets or even iOS-based laptops? Or "iDocks" that allow iPhones and iPads to use Apple's full-sized monitors and keyboards? iOS and OS X do seem to be on a collision course, so all three possibilities may eventually come to pass.

For the near future, however, I think iOS 7 enables Apple to enter specialized vertical markets or perhaps make a few new ones. In short, the yin and yang of iOS 7 and Xcode are poised to expand the mobile platform's reach beyond the competitive consumer market. The rest will be up to developers.


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