So Apple just pushed a new version of iOS, the 7.1. Good! Let’s see what’s in it…
The first things one notices after installing it is the lock screen visual improvement. Along with this one, several other small things have been improved here and there, such as colors, sizes, button shapes, font weights, etc., making iOS 7 even a bit more compelling. Definitely the shutdown screen was one of the bits I didn’t like that much (was that maybe on purpose?). It’s way more pleasant to use now.
Not only the look & feel, but also the UI performance has been improved. Apparently the gain for iPhone 4 users is notable, so if you have one you should definitely try it out.
For those working on the web, Safari has also been improved. Several bugs have been fixed and a new option Minimal UI allows websites to request a custom experience with maximized space for themselves.
The other big thing coming along with this update is the CarPlay support, which allows your iPhone 5, 5c or 5s to connect to the car. CarPlay is basically an interface between the in-car components and your iPhone, not running iOS itself in the car. According to TechRadar, no car supports AirPlay yet but several manufacturers are looking into it and plan to release some models this year. Mercedes might even make a compatible unit to install and upgrade their current models on the market.
But as a developer, what’s new in it for me exactly? Every time an update comes out, the document I look up to find out is the API diffs. As expected, this being a minor release, only a few improvements have been made to the API. The only additions being CarPlay itself. What we’ve seen:
- AVFoundation contains a new constant AVAudioSessionPortCarAudio to indicate audio playback/recording should be through the car audio system.
- In the MediaPlayer framework several classes such as MPPlayableContentManager and MPRemoteCommandCenter allow to interact with the car audio system.
Unfortunately, though, CarPlay apps are in the walled garden, at least for now. Applications which want to use it need a special entitlement from Apple, not generally available, and arguably for safety reasons. I guess if you have a good interface in mind you could talk to Apple. That might be a great market opportunity!
Here at Mobile Jazz we’ve been working on Connected Car Technology for about 2 years now and seeing such an advance makes it even more exciting!