App Marketing Conversations: WWDC, Swift & Metal

by GameHouse

In this weeks App Marketing Conversations, Ryan Morel of GameHouse, Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ and Robi Ganguly of Apptentive discuss Apple’s release of the new programming language: Swift and the Metal API at WWDC. Watch the video here, or read the transcript below!

Ryan Morel: Good morning and welcome to another edition of App Marketing Conversations. I am Ryan Morel with GameHouse. As always, I’m here with the Ian Sefferman of MobileDev HQ and Robi Ganguly of Apptentive. So this is the week after WWDC and we’re going to go, like a lot of people talked about, the announcements and have some opinions about those announcements.

So in this particular segment, we’re going to talk about two of the more hardware-focused elements of WWDC. One was the release of Metal and the second, which is obviously software, is the Apple’s invention of a new programming language Swift. So why don’t we start with Swift and Ian because I think he maybe have an opinion. So why don’t you tell us what it is and what you think about it?

Ian: Yeah, sure. I haven’t read too technically about it, but it’s essentially a new programming language that will replace or augment objective C for native Mac, iOS apps. That does bring it relatively more modern. In my opinion, it’s really worthless. There has been a lot of fanfare about it. Most of that fanfare has been by the already Mac/Apple fan boys. To me, I still don’t understand why they don’t- what the purpose of Apple is creating their own programming languages like this that are only used within the context of that? You talked about developer lock-in which is partially true, but the flip side to that is that it means only people with that knowledge develop for it. So I’m pretty pessimistic about it.

Ryan: So you were at WWDC, first what do you think about the release of Swift and what was the general developer reaction?

Robi: So the first thing I thought was “Holy cow. They created an entire programming language and it took them apparently four to five years and nobody knew.”

Ryan: The lack of leaking on that one was awesome.

Robi: That’s incredible. That’s a big undertaking for a long period of time and nobody knew and inside of Apple. If you weren’t working on it you didn’t know. So I thought that was really amazing. Second thing was a bunch of developers at first were like, “Ah, crap.” There was definitely a collective “We’re going to have to do a lot more work.” But by the end of the week a lot of people were feeling pretty optimistic about it and I think they were feeling optimistic about it because, for a couple of reasons. One was when they dug in they started to see that a bunch of common errors that happened as a result of objective C’s sort of syntax and formatting and rules, that a lot of the common errors that happened where knowing iOS apps won’t be possible. So SDK pushed that out there like, “That’s exciting. That’s good.”

The second thing was that as people got into it, they started to realize that it’s pretty early. It’s definitely being released before it’s done. I think that’s interesting because that means that Apple is very much expecting a period let’s call it 6-12 months for them to get feedback from it being in the wild and then tweak and iterate. So nobody should look at it and say it’s ready for primetime now. But they should view this as a place where you can get your hands dirty. If you want to be a first mover, you can get potentially an advantage, but it’s not ready. They’ll do ship outs, but they’re not going to be fully done. Even the app that Apple shipped that was built in Swift, the App 4WC was a hybrid. It wasn’t fully written. So that came up a bunch.

I think the third thing that started to come up and people are still sort of unsure about this, but this was like a hypothesis I put out there and people started checking on it. It was that my guess is this is not about iOS devices today. This is about Apple’s connected devices tomorrow. So I would imagine that when we finally get an Apple TV-SDK which at some point that’s going to happen. I think we can all agree that just makes too much sense not to. At that point in time that SDK is probably only usable by people running Swift and that there are probably a bunch of things in Swift that are thinking about resizable devices. In fact the next codes, there are menus to target iPad and iPod and iPhone resizable devices if they just happen to switch screen sizes. So I suspect that some of the benefits will come out as we start to see more of the screen sizes coming from that one.

Ryan: Okay so, that’s a good segue into the second topic which is around Metal. So which as far as I understand and I think maybe Robi you understand a little bit better than I do. Metal was essentially the removal of open GL and more of a direct access for developers for the GPU and the lower level hardware to improve performance. So what was your take on Metal and what was the overall developer sentiment to that?

Robi: I think that most of the developers I’ve talked to were not actually talking about Metal at all. It didn’t seem like independent developments were there. But then you saw Unity already announcing some support for it and so it seems like maybe some of the game engines, those people are going to be hopping on this and it’s going to give them better access to the hardware as we log in and better performance. But in general, independent developers weren’t talking about Metal that much.

Ryan: Okay. Any opinion about it?

Ian: I think you had an interesting point before which was “How does this affect Apple’s chances of playing into the console business?” I think that’s the most interesting piece of the puzzle to me right now. Where games today on iOS are you can be relatively sophisticated about it, but ultimately they’re slow and performance matters when you’re trying to have high-quality and high-performance games. Metal seems to be a necessary component to get that done.

My view is that there’s probably a much larger… Well, the console market is big. There might be a larger market for casual medium-core games on television powered by an iPhone and an Apple TV, so to speak, which if you combine those two things, maybe you’re spending $200-300 on them versus a $700 console and $70 games. That’s pretty interesting. So if you’re an app marketer my view would be that there’s not a whole lot of takeaway from the release of Swift and Metal. Maybe you guys have a different opinion, but app developers for sure have a different opinion.

Ryan: I think it’s different for the developers, the marketers. For the developer you’ve got to go start digging into it and seeing if there’s really use cases for it.

Ian: I think if you’re trying to get an extra edge and you have the resources, you start having people developing Swift and playing with Metal early so that you can go to Apple and say “Hey we have one of the earlier games or apps.”

Ryan: Yeah, that’s a really good point.

Ian: I think if you look at it this way you have resources and you’re trying to get on the edge. You go after this early because you know Apple will be looking for people to champion around this sometime in October.

Ryan: Yeah, totally Apple is long known for rewarding people who show off their hardware and software capabilities.

Robi: Yeah, good point.

Ryan: Okay. Well, thank you very much for watching. Make sure to like this video, subscribe to our channel and check out the other segments from Ian and Robi.

By Ryan Morel

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