Reading the WWDC 2020 Tea Leaves

As I watched the 2020 WWDC Keynote I started seeing patterns in some of the features that were unveiled.

First is SwiftUI. Last year SwiftUI was revealed as a cross (Apple) platform way to write UI code. It significantly eases support for basic things that reside on all Apple platforms including light/dark mode, accessibility handlers, translation, and UI layouts.

Second is the new multi-platform Xcode template. It makes it easy to start building and maintaining apps for iPhone, iPad, and macOS.

Third, is App Clips. App Clips are parts of an app, the demonstrated example is a parking meter app. You may be in a new city and need to park but don’t want to spend 5-10 minutes downloading the app, creating an account, etc when you may never use that app again. With app clips you get just the experience of paying for the parking spot without permanently downloading an app.

Lastly, is the new UI for macOS. It is much more visually similar to iPad OS in many ways. They build off of each other while remaining structurally different. I think that Apple isn’t converging the platforms so much as they are creating a consistent design language across all of their platforms - which brings me to the point of all of this - what is the next platform?

The semi-obvious answer is the much rumored Apple AR Glasses. SwiftUI allows you to write cross platform UI code that can be ported to a new platform and then customized for that platform with less effort than writing a new platform specific app. The Xcode template gets you further along that path by separating UI code while sharing underlying network and application logic. App Clips seems like the perfect fit for Apple AR Glasses on the go. You want lightweight apps that can be used nearly instantaneously for a specific interaction. And the unified design language of macOS/tvOS/iOS/iPadOS will make the next platform instantly recognizable and more intuitive.

Apple is putting the pieces together for their next big platform right under our noses.