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Tag : Events

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Apple WorldWide Developers Conference 2014

WWDC 2014  took place at the beginning of June in San Francisco. It spinned out lots of announcements and introducing the next major release of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.
The keynote began with the adoption statistics – 89% iOS 7 adoption and 9 millions developers in total with highest 47% annual increase. I was quite surprised with such a high iOS 7 adoption rate as I thought there were be still a lot of iOS 6 style fans.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite

Yosemite

 I won’t be spending too much time with interface changes and functionality updates as we are focusing on mobile platform, but there are several highlights I want to point out. Concept of “continuity” between iPhone, iPad and Mac. For example if you receive a call, you will be notified on your Mac and you will be given the option to answer from your Mac or iPhone. The same applies for texts and messages. “Handoff” technology which allows you to begin a task either on iOS or OS X and immediately pick it up and continue on another device

iOS 8

iOS8From a user perspective there are not so many UI changes, but Apple has added nice features, such as interactive notifications, latest contacted people, third party keyboards etc.

From a developer perspective, iOS 8 SDK is the biggest release yet with over 4,000 new API calls. This will give us access and the option of using iOS frameworks we never had before.

iOS 8 offers new frameworks including:

  • HealthKit – makes it possible for health and fitness apps to communicate with each other and use specific information to manage your health
  • Metal – new graphics technology with 10-fold improvement in draw call speed. It allows developer to bring console class games into mobile devices
  • Swift – new programming language
  • Touch ID – provides authentication with a successful fingerprint match and keeps the fingerprint data safe
  • CloudKit, PhotoKit, new Camera API, new App Store features, TestFlight, iTunes Connect with free analytics, SceneKit HomeKit, Apps Extensions and others

I am going to describe some of the features and the frameworks a little bit more, because we will use and integrate them at JUST EAT in the near future.

Size Classes

Apple introduced with iOS 6 and iPhone 5 release Auto Layout, relationship between UI elements. Now with iOS8 it announced Adaptive UI, of which main feature is the ability to specify layout rules depending on Size Classes, which are an enumeration that represent compact and regular sizes. We will be able to use same ViewController with various layout rules applied across Size Classes to adapt devices of all sizes. This is sending out a message that Apple is preparing new devices without specific resolutions or screen sizes. The other indication that something new is on the horizon is an iOS Simulator with resizable screen.

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Size classes chart

Swift

One of theSwift_Logo biggest and most surprising announcements of the keynote was the new programming language – Swift. It is meant to be faster, safer, more modern and easier to use. Swift is also designed to be concise and interactive as the code is interpreted and rendered in the Playgrounds.

Safe refers to the fact that the language is type safe, but thanks to type inference, the type declarations are less onerous which make Swift more concise than Objective-C. Along with type inference, Swift also introduces very concise closures (lambdas).

On the compilation and runtime side of things, Swift targets the same Cocoa (OS X) and Cocoa Touch (iOS) APIs, and uses the same LLVM as Objective-C. Swift code can co-exist with Objective-C code in the same project, encouraging adoption.

Swift is still in evolution and it will be nice to see how it will grow into a modern programming language that conforms to the mother methods of app development, and eventually replaces 30-year-old Objective-C.

On the other hand iOS and Android are now sharing C support and it will get more difficult to port the Swift app to Android now.

playground

Playground – interactive side bar

Analytics

iTunes Connect Analytics will provide the ways to measure engagement by being able to track installations, active devices, sessions and stickiness. Users will be able to see the source of download and retentions, but we need to remember there’s lots of information available on the other platforms for a while.

New App Store View will give you information about metrics such as how many times people viewed your app page and what is your current conversion rate. See if you are getting lots of traffic, but no downloads.

I don’t think Apple’s analytics will displace other analytics solutions like Google Analytics, but it will provide more insight into what is actually happening on the App Store.

Debugging

debugApple gave to the developers another update for Xcode. Maybe you had a situation where you had to quickly test some piece of code and you ended up creating lots of “test projects”. I have probably seven of them and the new Xcode 6 actually gives you a solution for it. It’s called Playgrounds where you can try out your code without creating a new project. With interactive sidebar you can instantly see output of your code there. It displays variables in a graph, inspects each step of your drawing and watches SpriteKit or SceneKit animations.

Xcode 6 includes UI inspector – live debugging tool to resolve difficult UI bugs, as can be seen on the picture.

Apple is following the example set by third party tools such as Reveal and Spark Inspector.

The fact that Apple included the feature in the Xcode 6 gives us the comfort of getting it for free with no need to buy any additional tools.

Conclusion

Apple shows again that it can still surprise everyone beyond all expectations by releasing new programming language Swift and a huge iOS SDK update. On the other hand we have seen some of those ideas before in other third party tools, and we can probably expect this to continue.

WWDC Announcements will affect not only design but also the architecture of our iOS applications. Our UX/UI is creating new layout to support the “Adaptive UI” and we are  supporting them from a technical perspective to get it ready by September, when the release of the iOS 8 and probably the new device is expected.

WWDC was for me a great experience where I could present our company, speak to Apple’s engineers, and meet other developers and friends. I believe this opportunity will help everyone in our iOS team to improve and I hope all of us will have a chance to attend the great conference in San Francisco.

Apple has such complete control over both the hardware and software ends of the market, which allows its devices to work so well together. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the product integration we could have seen on the WWDC stages for the whole week. That’s why I believe all the announcements will allow Apple overtake the competition with regards to the innovations, because they are so significant.

Pavol Polak

iOS

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JUST EAT @ Altconf

 JUST EAT @ Altconf

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For those who don’t know, Altconf is the free alternative to Apple’s WWDC conference in San Francisco. With 5 days of speakers and labs running at the same time you could not ask for much more. The world’s top iOS developers and solution providers come together to talk tech and answer all of your questions. There is no alternative to Altconf, not even WWDC.

What makes Altconf special and particularly important to me, is that it’s my time to sharpen my saw. It’s a great time for reflection and personal improvement. As a developer it can be hard to understand the necessity to do this. You might think “Can I show this will improve my output?”, or “What will I learn?” It’s not always that simple.

The Talks

“Being better”
Mike Lee

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This talk felt like a performance, one of those moments that you never forget. Like the first time you hear “The Planets”, your hairs will stand up on the back of your neck and you will never feel the same again. It was beautifully crafted and polished, yet felt like it could have been delivered straight from memory from the heart. One of the key messages that stuck with me was: “When good people let themselves be lazy they can do evil.”

It’s a great reminder to us all that on a day to day basis it’s important to be careful and bring it back to programming. Take time to review that pull request. If you’re tired leave it, don’t just merge it in. But obviously this is meant for larger ethical questions that we face in tech.

“Nine ways to stop hurting and start helping women in tech”
Brianna Wu

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This is obviously a very important topic and something we have talked about on the blog previously. It’s something we feel very strongly about at JUST EAT. To reference the talk, it’s not about making a big deal about it, it’s about working towards a solution. Realise it’s a large issue, but don’t hold it as other controversies and just class it as this thing that “doesn’t happen to us”. We need to continue to be sensitive and inclusive, it’s for everyone to be aware and take action when required. It should not be a second consideration for anyone.

JUST EAT welcomes and understands the benefits that a diverse team of any nature can bring. That’s why we have engineering teams across the world and are an equal opportunity company. We see no boundaries or stereotypes, just great engineers and different approaches to problems. Both of which any company would be foolish to miss out on.

“Mindful Design & Marketing”
Carla White

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Dealing with depression and a failed business idea, Carla White shows how you can come back from the very brink and be stronger for doing it. It’s so important for us to be grateful for the little things. Clara explains that it only takes 30 days of repeated work to reshape your brain and build the muscle memory to keep you interested in doing a regular task. After those 30 days it should no longer feel like a chore and just be part of what you do. For Clara this was keeping a gratefulness diary every day that became the inspiration for an app.

My favorite part of the talk was the discussion of the “happiness advantage”. When you are not stressed you should find yourself being more creative, obviously more reasonable, and in general, better at problem solving. I personally find this one hard because I work well under pressure but it doesn’t make me a happy person. The balance there is important. We should be mindful of the toll that being stressed can take.

“Networking on the Mac”
Aaron Hillegass

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Well we had to have a little bit of tech in this post, and for me this shines above all the others. Aaron Hillegass explains what will be on all of our whiteboards in the next few years.

Many clients communicating via websockets with a CSP based server that communicates with an Authorization and Authentication service as well as some version of “the truth” (i.e. a DB). He says it’s a billion dollar idea for a company to solve, they would be the “next parse”. I completely agree. Great watching and a simple message. Powerful.

“Stables and Volatiles”
Michael Lopp

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A brief history of Silicon Valley and the tech culture that we are all accustomed to today. “Are you wearing flipflops?” – Think about how many other industries are cool with that – it’s kind of cool.

The concept of “stables” and “volatiles” is a way to conceptually understand two different types of developers. Now, do not worry you are not being boxed here. Like anything in life this is actually many shades of grey. You fall on a line somewhere between them.

See, the stables are people who enjoy process and delivering results. You want to be told what to do and you think about the future intensely. You might work at a large corporation like IBM and you build huge complicated systems. At the other end of the spectrum you might be a “volatile”, you don’t want to be told what to do. You want only the ember of an idea and to be given space to run away with it. You ship code and get it done fast. LIKE, REAL FAST. It won’t scale but damn, it will get done fast.

Where do you fall ? Watch the video and take the toaster test, it will make sense soon…

This video had too much to talk about, really just go watch it.

What now?

Our profession needs Altconf, we need to take time to understand the non tech side of our world. I hope you agree that being a developer/engineer is hard, it drives us into a world of introversion and black and white decisions. Programming is less than one hundred years old, our minds and bodies as well as the world is still adapting. It presents so many new challenges for us as humans that we are do not know how to cope with. Professions like farming have existed for thousands of years, we know the pressure and lifestyle that it creates.

How do we deal with these challenges ? If you watched the videos this wont come as a surprise but in short: be grateful, don’t be lazy, challenge your expectations. Think about the future fondly, consider the past, good ideas might come round a few times. People are different, find the best way to work with everyone, be mindful of that and figure out a way to work with them. Take time to breathe, take care of yourself, build awesome things and never lose your passion. But most important, never stop improving, keep that saw sharp.

Ben Chester

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Conference: JECON 2014

Over 50 technology minded people attended JUST EAT’s first Engineering Conference (JECON) at the start of this month.

The highest rated sessions from the day were a mix of Engineering Concepts, Technical Work and Conceptual Thinking, all presented by members of the Engineering team at JUST EAT. Some particularly popular sessions were The Forgotten Process (Principles of TDD), Building a distributed system using EDA and Future technology for restaurants.

presentation

While there were some lessons to be learnt around timing of events and ensuring there is more coffee (never underestimate how much caffeine you need!), the event was declared a success and we’re looking forward to putting on another one in 6 months time.


workshop

Here’s the full timetable of over 15 sessions spread over 3 tracks – please do come and join us at an upcoming event if you’d like to find out more about any of them.

JECONTimetable2